Evel Knievel Jumps the Snake River Canyon . . . and Other Stories Close to Home
Kelly Jones, author
When ten-year-old Pick Patterson finds himself stuck with his bossy Grandma Grace and his unemployed, easygoing Uncle Buddy in Twin Falls, he thinks he’s in for a boring summer in a hick town in the middle of the Idaho desert. But when Evel Knievel announces he’ll jump the Snake River Canyon just north of town, everything changes. In the novella and short story collection, Kelly Jones departs from the settings of her earlier novels—Paris, Florence, and Munich—and writes of ordinary people in towns much like where she grew up. Written for grownups, often with a touch of nostalgia and a child’s point of view, the settings range from a Laundromat in Boise, a Catholic grade school in the ‘60s, a public library, a riverbank with a couple of septuagenarians, to the open road with an unlikely duo of runaways.
Jones’s collection of tales of recent middle-American life covers a wide range of protagonists: a 10-year-old boy spending the summer with his grandmother when Evel Knievel comes to town; an elderly woman confronting the loss of yet another husband (she’s had five); a woman putting her life back together after an abusive relationship. These stories all are deftly told character-driven tales set in quiet towns, with sensitivity and affection for the characters. Jones moves fluidly between (mostly) female protagonists of various ages and life experiences and a young boy’s coming of age; the small town, and the Watergate-era life portrayed in the title story, creates a strong sense of that world. Though there are no serious revelations, the very intimate character (and setting) studies of this collection create an incredibly strong sense of contemporary Americana. (BookLife)