The Book of Famous Iowans


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“A novel of considerable nuance and power.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Douglas Bauer is a consummate storyteller, his prose is hypnotic, charged with beauty and pain, his characters drawn with intelligent and pristine detail… This is a novel possessing tremendous heart, and that much less affable quality—soul.” —Melissa Pritchard, Chicago Tribune

“A distinctive story because of the emotion that drives it… Poignant and sensitively portrayed.” —Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

“A gem of a novel… It is the art that makes this book a prize.” —Kurt Jensen, The Philadelphia Enquirer

When Will Vaughn’s mother falls in love with the star pitcher of the town baseball club, she scandalizes not only her husband, son, and eccentric mother-in-law but also the God-fearing inhabitants of New Holland, Iowa. Looking back with an adult’s perspective and still wounded by his mother’s abrupt departure, Will recounts the story of his parents’ courtship and marriage during World War II, his life on the family farm, the erosion of his parents’ affection, and their memorable final break. And looming above them all is the extraordinary figure of Will’s grandmother, who from her upstairs apartment presides over the fulminations beneath as she compiles her “Book of Famous Iowans” in an attempt to fathom the Janus-like faces of fame and infamy.

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