Book Review | Scenes From The Heartland by Donna Baer Stein #suzyapprovedbooktour

Genre: Short Stories

Published: March 31, 2019

Pages: 154

My Thoughts

Do you know who Thomas Hart Benton is? He was an American painter and muralist. The figures in his paintings showed everyday people in scenes of life in the United States, particularly Missouri where he was born in 1889.

Author Donna Baier Stein has written a unique collection of nine short stories based on her interpretation of Benton’s lithographs.

It was interesting to read about the early 20th century – so many hardships and sacrifices. The author does an excellent job of bringing the artist’s paintings to life. The stories are complex and don’t shy away from the harsh realities of the time.

This heartfelt collection is available now and would make a lovely gift for anyone interested in American art and history.

Goodreads | Amazon

About The Book

From the  New York Journal of Books:
Scenes from the Heartland is a book to read for anyone interested in American values and history, told in lingering prose that sinks into the soul.”

When a contemporary writer turns her imagination loose inside the images of an iconic artist of the past, the result is storytelling magic at its best. Here are nine tales that bring to vivid life the early decades of the 20th century as witnessed by one of America’s most well-known painters. Thomas Hart Benton sketched fiddlers and farm wives, preachers and soldiers, folks gathering in dance halls and tent meetings. Though his lithographs depict the past, the real-life people he portrayed face issues that are front and center today: corruption, women’s rights, racial inequality.

In these stories we enter the imagined lives of Midwesterners in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A mysterious woman dancing to fiddle music makes one small gesture of kindness that helps heal the rift of racial tensions in her small town. A man leaves his childhood home after a tragic accident and becomes involved with the big-time gamblers who have made Hot Springs, Arkansas, their summer playground. After watching her mother being sent to an insane asylum simply for grieving over a miscarriage, a girl determines to never let any man have any say over her body.

Then as now, Americans have struggled with poverty, illness, and betrayal. These Fictions reveal our fellow countrymen and women living with grace and strong leanings toward virtue, despite the troubles that face them.

About The Author

Donna Baier Stein is the author of The Silver Baron’s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award, Bronze Winner Foreword reviews 2017 Book of the Year in General Fiction and Finalist Historical Fiction, and Finalist in Paterson Prize for Fiction), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Short Fiction), and Sometimes You Sense the Difference (poetry chapbook). She was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She has received a Scholarship from Bread Loaf, a Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, four Pushcart nominations, runnerup status from the 2017 Saturday Evening Post fiction contest, and prizes from the Allen Ginsberg Awards and elsewhere. Her writing has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Virginia Quarterly Review, New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Confrontation, Gargoyle, and many other journals and anthologies. Donna was also an award-winning copywriter for Smithsonian, Time, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and many other clients in the direct marketing industry.

Many thanks to Suzy Approved Blog Tours for sending me the complimentary review copy.

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