Pamela Carter Joern
Comments from Readers
Your book was just lovely. I just loved it. It hits all my sweet spots as a
reader (rural culture, dark and light together, Winesburg, Ohio
comparisons). But aside from my own personal preferences, I though the
writing was wonderfully straightforward and literary, which I know to be a
feat. It reminded me a lot of a hopeful Larry Brown. And I love the
undercurrent around the redemptive power of art to save. Just wonderful.
Thank you for your work!
--Stephanie Ash, senior editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine, facilitator for the
Mother of All Book Clubs
Most late afternoons Nancy and I make a practice of reading out loud to
each other while drinking a glass of wine. Sadly yesterday we came to the
end of In Reach. What a strong sense of place! What interesting characters
and situation! Congratulations on a quite fine collection of stories.
--Joe and Nancy Paddock
I am amazed at your ability to step into the hearts and thoughts of people
who are so different from you, both physically and psychologically. It
seemed that there was a lot of exploration of illness, loss, crossed paths,
trauma. Food for my soul. I think you are brilliant at writing short stories
and I can't imagine those stories being told through any other genre.
Somehow the economy of the form suits the Nebraska life you are
I read In Reach once. And then, as with the occasional stellar book, I
threatened to turn around and re-read it immediately—only with your book,
I did just that! I am entranced and finding details that I missed in the first
read. Subtle and tiny things … I will read a sentence and then loop back and
read it two or three more times, just to relish it, to taste it on the tongue
once again. All the senses are there. Your writing is extraordinary. This
book is a prize-winner, if there ever was one. It is a joy to spend an hour
within its pages.
This week I finished your lovely, lovely book. Each story left me feeling
achy and melancholy - but then I couldn't wait to read the next one.
Along with other fans who've read both of your books, I was waiting for
your next book! I am not disappointed. I am savoring In Reach, reading one
or two stories a day, like dessert after dinner. I graduated from high school
in a small town on the North Dakota prairie in 1955, so I find much to
identify with in your work. But I just finished "Redeeming the Time Being"
and am overwhelmed. This story goes far beyond place and time. As a
daughter, a mother, and grandmother of young adult women, I am nodding
with recognition of the complexities of our relationships and marveling at
your capturing all of it in this story. I will put In Reach aside until
tomorrow, so I can pause, absorb, and revel in "Redeeming the Time
I saw the book in the Nebraska Press catalogue, ordered it, and read it in a
few big gulps over several days. What got me was the silence, the pauses
and the unknowns that draped all of your characters. In your imagination,
Reach came to life.
I loved each story, setting and character. I found myself putting off starting
dinner in order to finish the last few pages that had captured my interest. I
took the book to the cabin and when I was finished with laptop work I
would sit by the fire and read away...typically just one story at a sitting.
Today I finished your gift. Oh, how I loved it. It was just what I needed.
Just read your latest book, I really enjoyed it. You make the people in your
books so real.
I finished reading IN REACH at the Tucson airport yesterday. Thank you
for writing it. I was going to tell you which story I appreciated the most,
but as I thumbed back through the book, I noted the following as my
* "All the Wildness in Her" --a wonderful love story
* "Fire on His Mind" --This is the one you read from, wasn't it? I didn't
listen to the questions and answers after the reading, because I had to finish
* "Don't Call Me Kid" -- intriguing that Jason was the only one with clear
understanding of Shorty, Leo, Amos (though he stumbled onto that
conversation), his father, and himself.
* "The Sky is Falling" --so tender, the best baptism story I've heard or read.
* "Confessions" --made me think about the many students with severe
disabilities I have known, and--even more--the many I never got to know.
* "Lessons at the PO" --could feel the tension.
* "After Death" --Hazel and Iris--I felt like I knew them by the end of the
story, with layers peeled back.
* "Harvest" --OK, this is my favorite.
You are such a good writer. I appreciate how you capture the complexity
of people's lives and characters in short-story format: you plunge right in,
bringing the reader with you to experience a brief but very significant
connection with the characters and the circumstances of their lives. Your
writing is so sharply descriptive: with a phrase you paint a picture which is
clearly in focus.
I have started reading your new book and once again am amazed by the
detail of your subjects, their surroundings, and their thoughts. Such a gift
I just finished In Reach, . . . and really, I loved nearly every word. I think
you deal with life and death with the perfect balance of horror and