Boys' House: New and Selected Stories
Chosen as an "Editors' Favorite Books of 2001" by The Bloomsbury Review
These sixty-four sharply honed stories, selected by the author from more than twenty years of work, showcase Jim Heynen’s equal mastery of terse, elegant prose and old-style country wit and wisdom. Every tale is an unerring slice from the lives of a group of farm boys, each full of mischief and witness to the world’s tiny miracles. They make coat sails to carry them down a frozen road, teach a three-legged dog to shake hands, build a house from the junk grown-ups throw away, but they also rescue pigs from an unexpected blizzard, feed apples to a blind pony, and learn the songs of different birds. Along the way, they encounter an unforgettable cast of characters: the goose lady, the girl at school with six toes, the man who kept cigars in his cap, Spitting Sally, their crazy Uncle Jack, and dozens more. Heynen’s stories, as uniquely American as those of Mark Twain or Sherwood Anderson, are ribald fun, but, like all good country tales, they are also filled with surprises and unexpected, deeper implications.
For this book Heynen has written twenty new stories and revised many of those tales originally published in his first two collections, both now unavailable. This retrospective volume serves as a wonderful companion to his much-praised collection, The One-Room Schoolhouse: Stories About the Boys.
JIM HEYNEN was born on a farm in northwest Iowa and received his first eight years of education at one of the state's last one-room schoolhouses, Welcome #3. He has published three previous collections of stories: The One-Room Schoolhouse, You Know What Is Right, and The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Cap. His novels for young adults include Cosmo Coyote and William the Nice and Being Youngest, and his collections of poetry include Standing Naked, A Suitable Church, and How the Sow Became a Goddess. He is also the editor of Fishing for Chickens: Stories about Rural Youth. Since 1992, he has been the Writer in Residence at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Praise for The Boys' House:
"Sometime, someone should give Jim Heynen a writing prize. A big writing prize. Like the Pulitzer or the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a storyteller for the ages. From the ages. For more than 20 years, this backwoods poet has been telling of life on the American farm with a half-smile and a raised eyebrow. His is the archetypal voice: sage, preacher, scribe, storyteller, wit. . . . Like Wendell Berry and Kent Haruf, who have staked rural America as their turf in long fiction, Heynen is the Pied Piper of farm life in short fiction." -- Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal
"Each story is a sliver of rural boyhood that summons nuggets of wisdom from the most unexpected situations. . . . Heynen brings us back to a time of youth and innocence, reminding the old and wise that being young and innocent has its own sagacity. . . . Heynen's book is a masterful peephole into the young male psyche and the family farm culture." -- Nick Fauchald, Minnesota Monthly
"In this sturdy yet elegant prose, this Minnesota writer evokes rural characters, seasonal rhythms and the gradual maturation of three boys on the cusp of manhood." -- John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Heynen's stories . . . have a plainspoken, homespun quality and wry humor. Heynen has the talent of conveying a great deal in only a few words." -- Lori D. Kranz, The Bloomsbury Review
"This collections of short-stories about boys' life on the farm sings with clarity, humor and wisdom." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune