Book review: Setting of David Rhodes’ novel ‘Jewelweed’ depicts Driftless region

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

“Jewelweed” is Rhodes’ second novel following his lengthy absence from publication. Like “Driftless” before it, “Jewelweed” is set near the fictional community of Words, Wisconsin, in the west-central Driftless region. Blake Bookchester is nearing completion of a 10-year sentence for delivering drugs. Though he did it unknowingly, he was set up to take the fall. The result was not only to mess up his life, but to a large extent, his father’s, and to an even larger extent, his girlfriend’s.

Like the novel before it, “Jewelweed” explores several subjects while telling an engaging story. A personal examination of faith by Minister Winnie becomes an important aspect. And what does 10 years in prison do to one’s spiritual beliefs? There are references to “Spinoza’s God.” Google, anyone? And Rhodes again makes note of the divide between the common man, the government and the monied class. But in this novel, the real culprit is the prison system. And Rhode’s case is, though somewhat crudely stated, quite convincing.

As mentioned in an earlier review, Rhodes has a talent for expressing a picture in a few words, perhaps a simile or metaphor. When an elderly lady got in the vehicle for a ride to the hospital, Rhodes says, “The truck filled with oldness ….” A full Amish buggy was described as “a nest of humans ….” One of several references to the prison system: “… prison shoveled you like compost inside oblivion’s garden.” And later, speaking of an elderly woman, “And then she paused, and asked at the speed of ice melting at the North Pole….” Finally, when one of the characters is speaking of repetitive tasks as a way to keep the mind in check, “Having a mind is like having a child — you won’t have any peace until you can keep it busy.”

There’s always push for the value of buying local. To a large extent, that holds true for reading also. It’s great to use books to explore foreign places and ideas but to find the stories that are close to home adds a dimension.

Comments are closed.

  • Letter to the editor: Former Town of Glendale patrolman’s health is good

    May 9th, 2019
    by

    I’d like to express my thanks to the many of you who have contacted me regarding my health and my employment with the township.


    Letter to the editor: Why are trees, brush being removed from along creeks?

    May 9th, 2019
    by

    I would like to voice my concerns as to what’s going on with the pulling out of trees and brush along our creeks.


    Letter to the editor: Enjoy the easy lifestyle in Ontario

    May 9th, 2019
    by

    Sunday was a nice day. My oldest daughter took me to a very distinctive bar in Ontario.


    Editorial cartoon

    May 9th, 2019
    by

    […]


    Ontario chief initiates food-drive challenge with Norwalk, Wilton police departments

    May 7th, 2019
    by

    When I returned to the Village of Ontario as the Peace Officer, I was pleasantly informed of the food pantry at Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Schools.


  • Editorial cartoon

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    […]


    Your right to know: Body cam bill balances privacy, openness

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    When so much about politics is partisan, one might expect a topic like police body cameras to be contentious, particularly as it relates to public access to recordings.


    Letter to the editor: Support appreciated for Wilton food pantry

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    St. Paul’s Food Pantry continues to serve many needy families in the Wilton area. Over the last two years, we have had more than 60 different families visit the pantry, and about 30 of these families use it regularly. 


    Letter to the editor: A nation of sheep

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    “A Nation of Sheep,” authored by William Lederer, was published in 1961. Its purpose was to shed light on and discuss the effects of the apathy and ignorance of the American people at that time.


    Letter to the editor: Republican confusion

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” are words from a pop song of the 1960s. It may become the Republican theme song.


    Letter to the editor: Choice: Populism or compassionate socialism

    April 25th, 2019
    by

    I never thought people of Wisconsin would even have thought about electing a party that called itself socialist Democrats.


  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Archives