David Rhodes earns praise as a writer with a gift for conveying a sense of place — at least, a sense of one particular place. Rhodes is the author of "Driftless," a novel set in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin. Now he has written another, "Jewelweed," once again set in the Driftless Area and the fictitious town of Word, Wis.
If you're not familiar with the picturesque Driftless Area, here's an explanation from Boing Boing science editor and Daily Circuit friend Maggie Koerth-Baker:
The name "Driftless Area" has nothing to do with snow. Instead, it's referring to a different kind of "drift"— a mixture of rocks and gravel, boulders and residue that's normally left behind by retreating glaciers. The geology of the upper Midwest owes much of its shape to the movement of glaciers. Minnesota's 10,000+ lakes, for instance, are largely divots scraped out of the Earth by these massive walls of ice. The depressions later filled with water and became lakes. But the most recent glacial marches to the south — "recent", in this case, meaning things that happened 100,000 years ago — seem to have bypassed the Driftless Area entirely. Because of that, the geography here looks very different compared to the glacier-shaped land around it.
The result is land with hills and valleys, spectacular views and winding roads. Rhodes writes vividly about the landscape and about the people he creates to live in it.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DAVID RHODES AND 'JEWELWEED':
• Beauty and healing blossom in Rhodes' 'Jewelweed'
From the first pages, Rhodes once again transports the reader into this tightknit community where everyone knows each other. They gather in the parking lot of the local repair shop that shares a space with the craft store, the only commercial establishments left in town, to catch up on the news and gossip in idle conversation that generally proves to be anything but. In this timeless space, people favor talking face-to-face just as their parents and grandparents did before them. (By Elfrieda Abbe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)