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Extended Audio Sample Driftless, by David Rhodes Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 5 3.80 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Rhodes Narrator: Lloyd James Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Driftless is an unforgettable story of contemporary life in rural America. Home to a few hundred people yet absent from state maps, Words, Wisconsin, comes richly to life by way of an extraordinary cast of characters. Among them, a middle-aged couple guards the family farm from the mendacious schemes of their milk cooperative; a lifelong invalid finds herself crippled by her resentment of and her affection for her sister; a woman of conflicting impulses and pastor of the local Friends Church stumbles upon an enlightenment she never expected; a cantankerous retiree discovers a cougar living in his haymow, haunting him like a childhood memory; and a former drifter forever alters the ties that bind a community together. At once intimate and funny, wise and generous, Driftless marks the triumphant return of a significant American writer.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A series of portraits that resemble Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology in their vividness and in the cumulative picture they create of village life. Each of these stories glimmers.”

    New Yorker

  • “A symphonic paean to the stillness that can be found in certain areas of the Midwest…The writing in Driftless is beautiful and surprising throughout…It’s this poetic pointillism that originally made Rhodes famous.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “In the Driftless region of Wisconsin, the rural town of Words is no longer on any map, but twenty-first-century concerns still manage to intrude. Lloyd James delivers a low-key yet deeply engrossing performance as the lives of the people are indelibly etched into our consciousnesses. James presents farmer Rusty Smith as a curmudgeon who eventually bites the bullet and hires local Amish carpenters. The portraits of James’s women characters are well done, especially those of new minister Winifred Smith’s and sisters Olivia and Violet Brasso. As Graham and Cora Shotwell, the couple caught in a Kafka-esque web for trying to expose a corrupt milk co-op, James is appropriately angry and perplexed. The pace is slow, the rhythms are easy, and James is top-notch.”


  • “In vividly realized scenes involving family secrets, legal battles, gambling, and miracle cures, Rhodes illuminates the wisdom acquired through hard work, the ancient covenant of farming, and the balm of kindness. Encompassing and incisive, comedic and profound, Driftless is a radiant novel of community and courage.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Though Driftless is a deeply contemporary tale—what it has to say about the way corporations treat small farmers is, for example, quite pressing—it also has the architectural complexity of the great 19th-century novels, but without the gimcrackery too often required to hold their stories together. It partakes as much of the moral universe of Magnolia as of Middlemarch. And it earns comparison to both.”

    Books & Culture

  • A 2008 Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • Winner of the 2008 Milkweed National Fiction Prize
  • A 2008 Christian Science Monitor Book of the Year for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Shelley | 2/15/2014

    " Really really wanted to like it, but it just did not click for me. There were bright moments, but I wanted it to move a little faster. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Monica | 2/14/2014

    " Made for a lively book club discussion! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nancy | 2/6/2014

    " I think this book is definitely worth reading. I always have a hard time with books that change the narrator frequently, and this was no exception. I just don't easily keep track of the names to go along with each one's personal story. Definitely one of my hang ups. But, once I figured them out, I thought the characters were wonderful. The book made me laugh, and it made me cry. Always a good sign. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Stacy | 2/4/2014

    " LOVED this book. Every character is so humanely and honestly drawn. "

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