Bone Chalk

978-1-62288-203-8 Cloth
6 x 9. 160 pp.
Pub Date: 11/30/2019
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Ride shotgun down the back-roads of the Great Plains as Jim Reese becomes Willy the Wildcat at a small Division II school, drives a tractor into an outbuilding his first week on the job, and discovers, sometimes with horror, the truth—after immersing himself in the lives of strangers, friends, family and prisoners. Travel to San Quentin prison in San Francisco Bay where he has full access and isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. Join him in a superstore pharmacy prophylactic aisle. Explore teenage angst and desire with him at a Midwest skating rink. Accompany him as he archives his mother-in-law’s peculiarities, often verbatim.

Reese was born in Iowa, but moved to Omaha at age seven where he grew up in what passes for "the big city" in Nebraska. He married into a farm family, moved to northeast Nebraska, and this book captures the disparity between urban and rural America. He takes sympathetic, comic, and serious looks at the people he writes about, offering a humorous and equally critical view of himself. He captures those moments in the belly of the heartland, where all are welcome to the strangeness of good company and rural behaviors, and in doing so, these essays record the zeitgeist of the time. The intersections of Reese’s stories about the incarcerated or genuine mid-western sensibilities allow readers to take the reins and become part of his ongoing journey to find his place in the world. Reese is a wandering minstrel, and as the author of four widely-praised books of poetry, he knows how to blow our hearts sideways.  

"JIM REESE'S NEW BOOK is what we might think of as 'an evening's entertainment,' and it's an enriching entertainment at that, witty and funny, shadowed by feelings deeper and more meaningful, a kind of operetta in prose, and it will stick with me for a good long while. I recommend it."
—Ted Kooser, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 13th Poet Laureate of the United States     

“JIM REESE... HE'S OUR MARK TWAIN of this century … Jim writes about the everyday experience, and he, in my view, is therefore America’s poet.”
—Grace Cavalieri, from the Poet and the Poem at the Library of Congress

"WE CALL IT THE HEARTLAND, but we seldom drop by for a visit. Jim Reese catches the dying fire of the small town wasteland that staggers on with meth, desire, and neglect. These loving poems open the door to the real little house on the prairie. Time to step inside and finally have one honest moment with the forgotten center of our people.”
— Charles Bowden, author of Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields
 

Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press