Chancellor’s literary award honors David Rhodes

October 09, 2009

Author David Rhodes will be honored with the fifth annual UW-Whitewater Chancellor's Regional Literary Award on Oct. 26.

The event is free and will be held in the Summers Auditorium of the James R. Connor University Center. The public is invited to attend the reading which begins at 7 p.m.. Rhodes will sign books after the reading and books will be available for purchase at the event.

Chancellor Richard Telfer said, "Although I read a lot, I don't always get absorbed into a book. That was not the case with 'Driftless.' Rhodes' ability to craft character and description so that you see, hear and know the people and the locations is exceptional. He provides the reader with a window into the lives and motivations of the people within this special region of the country. And the driftless area is not merely a location for this story. But, rather, the area is, in some ways, almost a character of the story with the events and the people so intertwined with the location."

"The Chancellor's Literary Award was established to recognize the works of the Midwest region," Telfer said. " 'Driftless' is an excellent example not only of quality literature set in the Midwest, but of a captivating story that provides insight into an area and its people."

Publishers Weekly wrote, "After a 30-year absence from publishing due to a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed, Rhodes is back with a novel featuring July Montgomery, the hero of his 1975 novel, Rock Island Line, which movingly involves him with the fates of several characters who live in the small town of Words, Wis. Through July, we meet Olivia Brasso, an invalid who loses her family's savings at a casino; parolee Wade Armbuster, who befriends Olivia after she is mugged; Winifred Smith, Olivia's new pastor; Jacob Helm, a widower who finds himself falling in love with Winnie; Gail Shotwell, a local musician who has an unusual reaction when her idol offers to record one of her songs; and Gail's brother, Grahm, and his wife, Cora, who blow the whistle on the milk cooperative that has been cheating them and other farmers. It takes a while for all these stories to kick in, but once they do, Rhodes shows he still knows how to keep readers riveted. Add a blizzard, a marauding cougar and some rabble-rousing militiamen, and the result is a novel that is as affecting as it is pleasantly overstuffed."

Rhodes is the fifth author to receive the Chancellor's Regional Literary Award.  The first award was giving in April 2006 to C.J. Hribal, a professor at Marquette University, for his novel, "The Company Car." In April 2007 A. Manette Ansay was honored for her body of work including author of "Vinegar Hill," "Limbo," and most recently "Blue Water." In April 2008, Michael Perry was given the honor for his body of work including "Population 485" and "Truck: A Love Story." In October 2008, Jane Hamilton was honored for her body of work including "A Map of the World" and "The Book of Ruth."

The award recognizes writers who celebrate all that makes the Upper Midwest special.


Sara Kuhl