OUR OTHER TWO CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “CODA,” BY ARTHUR LEVY AND “REPTILE WINES,” BY JOHN HEWITT, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING ON THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
THE BOOK: Six Months in the Midwest
PUBLISHED IN: 2014
THE AUTHOR: Darci Schummer
THE PUBLISHER: Unsolicited Press.
SUMMARY: In the dark heart of a Minneapolis winter, a young boy struggles to understand his mother’s failing health as she teaches him Polish, the language of her dead mother. From a distance, a frustrated English professor dines with her mentally ill ex-husband in a park on which a mansion once stood. A single mother struggles to let go as her teenage son seeks his independence. A drag queen and his partner battle a snow storm while debating the future of their relationship. A retired garbage collector finds solace in the ballet, and the owner of a liquor store tries to find companionship on the streets and in the bars of Minneapolis. Equal parts bitterness and beauty, the sixteen stories in this collection are plotted snapshots of a city in its most unforgiving season.
THE BACK STORY: Shortly after moving to Minneapolis, my car died, and I decided not to buy a new one. I spent a lot of time riding the bus, which gave me a different perspective of the city. I fell in love with Minneapolis while riding buses—its shifting neighborhoods and people—and I wanted to write a dark love letter to the city and its people. At this time, I was also greatly influenced by Edward P. Jones’ collection Lost in the City, a book which pays careful attention to the geography of Washington, D.C. It didn’t take long for me to connect these two influences, and Six Months in the Midwest was born.
WHY THIS TITLE?: All the stories in this book take place during the cold months in Minneapolis, which is essentially half the year. Cold weather is one of the defining factors of life in the upper Midwest, and it has a strong impact both on human interactions and human behavior. Once I started calling the collection by that name, I couldn’t call it anything else. The title just stuck.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Fans of character-driven fiction will enjoy the depth and complexity of character that propels these stories. Readers who revel in a strong sense of place will appreciate the attention to setting throughout the book, and those who like sad stories will bask in the melancholia of each piece.
“In this ambitious debut collection, Darci Schummer inhabits the secret houses of the lost and lonely in the often-overlooked Midwest. Truthful, wise, gifted with empathy and imagination in equal measures—this is a writer to read.” — Sheila O’Connor, author of Keeping Safe the Stars and Sparrow Road
“Darci Schummer’s “Six Months in the Midwest” is a potently observed portrait of Minneapolis, an ode to its peculiarities and its characters. Many people call the Midwest “flyover country” but the clarity and humanity in Schummer’s sixteen stories will make them want to land.” — John Jodzio, author of If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home and Get In If You Want To Live
“Darci Schummer’s debut collection of short stories opens with a calm and provocative preface—and then we are taken into some defining moments in the lives of many characters brought to life by this fine writer. These defining moments are both small and large, and many speak to the sad and compelling distances between people. Here are characters demanding something that another cannot give, or lies told to protect another that have the opposite effect. The opening story is a beauty, about real loss, and the legacy of love and language. It reminds us of how any of us might call out in the dark for one we love. Schummer’s gift is her deeply felt yet fiercely unsentimental portraits of human beings who struggle to understand their choices and their fates.” — Deborah Keenan, author, most recently, of From Tiger to Prayer, and so she had the world, and ten other collections.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Darci Schummer, a Wisconsin girl, lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and teaches writing at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. She enjoys long walks down busy streets, cheap drinks, and bruised paperbacks. In addition to Six Months in the Midwest, she co-authored HINGE, a collection of 30-word poetry and prose pieces, with poet Liza Docken.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Here’s where you can perhaps tie your book to some larger issue, or what you hoped to accomplish.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: Read a story from the collection here: The Parade. http://www.around-around.com/parade/
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com or Unsolicitedpress.com.