Welcome to Cadillac, Oklahoma,
a former Dust Bowl town with ambitions to be a garden spot. The two
main characters, the young sheriff and an aging lawyer, join forces
to defend a teenager accused of murdering her abusive father. Some
citizens take sides, but many in Cadillac's population are
overwhelmed with their own problems of domestic abuse, incest,
religious rivalry, and stale marriages. Chaos, politics, and a lot
of humor make this book both moving and funny. Book clubs will talk
their heads off. You know these people. Come find yourself in
Praise for Cadillac, Oklahoma
"As Sherwood Anderson created Winesburg, Ohio, Louise
Farmer Smith presents a subtle, deep and generous
portrait of the fictional Cadillac, Oklahoma. The voices
and visions of its citizens are at turns sweet, cruel,
ignorant, and full of yearning, and always they are the
real thing. On every page of this smart collection,
Smith's good humor and light touch brighten the dusty
landscape." ---Bonnie Jo Campbell, bestselling author of
the story collection Mothers, Tell Your Daughters and
the National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage.
"Louise Farmer Smith has created a community of beguiling
characters living in the fictional town of Cadillac,
Oklahoma. I would place this collection of short stories on
the shelf between Spoon River Anthology and Winesburg, Ohio
but not far from the stories of Anton Chekhov that have
inspired writers for generations. The short story is one of
America's great contributions to literature, and if Louise
Farmer Smith has her way, the tradition will continue. She
takes her characters seriously allowing them and their
landscape to transcend territory and time. It is a very
impressive book." ---Edward Swift author of Splendora, Miss
Spellbinders Point of View and other fine books
"CADILLAC, OKLAHOMA... is a raw, beautiful, tender story
combining facets of Sherwood Anderson in its homage to Winesburg,
Ohio, with touches of Harper Lee...[and] with aspects of courtroom
drama, and psychological tension. Townspeople come face to face with
the quiet evil that wears a mask of religious and sexual purity."
Read the write-up in The Story Prize's Official Blog.
ATTENTION BOOK CLUBS: See the CADILLAC, OKLAHOMA
Discussion Suggestions at right. The second edition of
One Hundred Years of Marriage includes Book Club Discussion
Suggestions as well as an interview of the author by Ronna Wineberg,
Senior Fiction Editor at Bellevue Literary Review.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE received a cash award as a finalist for the Prairie Heritage Book Award. A second printing of this novel in stories will be out next summer from Upper Hand Press.
In "Voice of Experience" a 17-year-old boy is in hot pursuit of
an older woman to teach him about sex. This story, nominated by
Crosstimbers Literary Journal for a Pushcart Award opens
a story collection that yields the satisfaction of a novel.
Book Tour Highlights
A crowd of over 70 people gathered at THE MUSEUM OF THE WESTERN PRAIRIE for “The Woman in the Dugout,” my program of period photographs, history of dugout dwellers (beginning with a photo of my own family’s dugout in 1898) and the dugout story from ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE.
In the flat, treeless part of western Oklahoma where my family settled dugouts were necessary for shelter and buffalo dung was the necessary fuel for cooking and heating. This woman looks to be the same age as my great aunt Minn, an educated and lady-like woman who claimed to be the best chip gatherer in Custer County.
The cost emotionally, physically and financially was immense for these unknown settlers. My own family, seven adults and a baby girl, arrived in Custer County with two dozen hens, four pigs, two horses, a pony and a cow. They were $450 in debt and had 30 cents to live on until making crop.
Fifty members attended the Coffee Cup Bunch Book Club of Altus Oklahoma for The Woman in the Dugout program. Also old and new friends viewed it at the Main Library in my home town of Norman where I also spoke at a writing workshop on the issue of betraying family in memoir and fiction. I am indebted to my dear, generous hosts, Susanne and Ed Corr and Linda Tucker and to my son, Tim Smith, a filmmaker, who restored these old photos.
The last to leave in a photo with the author at the winter book launch.
“I loved this book. I admire the risks Louise Farmer Smith took in telling this four-generation story from back to front. As she says in her note to the reader, “By the time we ask, all the compelling details have cooled into whatever myths they’ve chosen to tell us.” To correct and augment this situation, Smith has given us a wonderfully satisfying work of imagination as well as a perceptive dose of social history. I also admired the surprise ending.”
Gail Godwin, author of Flora
"One Hundred Years of Marriage: a Novel in Stories" is a series of lovely, imaginative, moving stories of one family over a hundred years of marriages. Not that the marriages explored recommend the institution--but the generosity of spirit, the humor and compassion in Louise Smith's honest, compelling voice, her gift for the telling detail, her sense of the absurd are so winning I was left with a sense of intimacy as if the book was full of secrets I had been chosen to overhear."
Susan Richards Shreve YOU ARE
THE LOVE OF MY LIFE
“One Hundred Years of Marriage is a brilliant and empathic journey into the prehistory of the modern women’s equality movement. Through a series of interlinked historical narratives about dysfunctional marriages, the author explores the many ways that marriage operated tragically upon wives and the ways that dysfunction in one generation can have unanticipated ripple effects in subsequent generations. Yet, throughout the book, the hard lives of the female characters are offset by moments of dignity and caring.”
William Eskridge, Jr.,
John A. Garver Professor of
Jurisprudence,Yale Law School
and teacher of “Sexuality,
Gender, and the Law.”
"Louise Farmer Smith's novel is as compelling as it is
enchanting-full of wonderful tales, and with a lovely sense of the
strange, sad, and touching ways our destinies are shaped, over time,
by the often odd couplings that bring us into being. One Hundred
Years of Marriage renders the mysteries and complexities of
family life-of how we become who we are-in profound and original
Jay Neugeboren, author of
Robert, 1940, The
Side of the World, etc.
"An excellent read, suffused with humanity and humour."
Clare Morrall, author of
Splashes of Colour, short-listed for
the Man Booker
"Tender, funny wise voice that recalls Eudora Welty...heartbreaking
and hilarious"old-fashioned storytelling at it best."
Writer's Digest Contest Judge
"A beautiful debut book by an award-winning short story writer."
Literary Editor, The Hill Rag
"Refreshing and almost addictive."
[ read full review ]
"Raw and realistic; a Micheneresque structure"
Coffee With Clark.Blog
"A brilliant observer with the eye that serves both the clinician
and the comedienne, the equal drives for survival and sharing
that power marriage."
When you step off the train in Cadillac, Oklahoma, you'll wade through currents of hilarity and romance where the
sheriff is in love with the wife of a prominent lawyer, and the
banker's widow and a Las Vegas sex worker team up to beautify
Not until a young female reporter cracks open the self-satisfied
surface of the town is the folly, anger, and pain revealed.
The resentments of tree-huggers, store-owners, and the town fathers
ignite over a proposal to create a New England-style town green in
this water-starved former Dust Bowl town. This is not
Citizens who don't care about town politics, deal with
domestic abuse, religious rivalry and stale marriages. The
sheriff, Jake Hale, seeks help from a retired
lawyer, Sloane Willard, in an effort to save the life of a teenage girl
accused of murdering the father who raped her.
The town's guiding forces of football, religion, and guns unite as a praying mass of church-goers overwhelm
Jake's attempt to manage an out-of-control hostage
situation at Cadillac's Youth Detention Center.
Before you get back on the train, you will have grown to love
these people and their thirst for love, beauty, water and
Book Club Discussion Suggestions for Cadillac, Oklahoma
Reading a story collection is a different experience from reading a
novel. Each story has a beginning, a middle and an end and can be
read separately, so the reader can feel a sense of satisfaction
without finishing the book and can dip in any place, front to back,
to get a good read.
On the other hand, after finishing the first story, "Voice of
Experience," about a 17-year-old boy on the lookout for an older
woman to teach him about sex, the reader may wonder what kind of man
Sloane Willard turned out to be. In the next story, "The Estate,"
Sloane is over sixty years older, a retired lawyer, a town father,
and the head of an ordinary, squabbling family. The details of his
hard life--the loss of his wife and only child, the betrayal by his
next of kin, and his courage in putting his sterling reputation at
risk in one last court case--are told in other stories or only
glimpsed as you read by.
Cadillac, Oklahoma is a town one citizen described as "wide but not
deep," so jump in any place and enjoy.
The following questions are not homework. They are merely matches to
ignite your own thoughts and discussion :
- Did you find yourself in Cadillac?
- What was the effect on the town of Hillary's Cadillac Voices in
the local newspaper?
- Was the body count (six) alarmingly high or about right for a
town this size?
- Was the sheriff, Jake Hale, a tragic hero--flawed, but
admirable? Or was he just a weak man?
- Why was Hillary, the reporter and single mother, having trouble
- Victoria St. Buckingham, the sex worker from Las Vegas, enters
the story and then leaves. How did she change things in the town of
- After being tempted to burn down her husband's new glass house,
in "The American Mind," how does Judianne remake herself by the end
of the book?
- Issues regarding the relationship of the sexes romp through this book including in the
story, "Sloane on Trial." Do these stories add up to an attitude by
the author, or are they representative only of the characters?
- In this book the women struggle with love and work. Are they
modern women? If not, what is holding them
- "Sugar House," p. 182, is perhaps the oldest story in this
book. I wrote it in the middle 1990's and didn't believe it
would ever be published though it found a prestigious home in
the Virginia Quarterly Review. The editors' faith in it
encouraged me to believe in myself as a writer and to continue
to write about wonderful Oklahoma characters of the sort who
make up Cadillac, Oklahoma.
Louise Farmer Smith
One Hundred Years of Marriage, A Novel in Stories, pierces the
myths parents tell about why they got married. The book follows the
mismatches of four generations of one American family 1970 to 1870,
moving backward, so the reader is not asking what happens next, but what
went before that shaped these people's marriage decisions. The readers
see what the characters don't know about themselves.
Any library or
bookstore in the world can order it via email@example.com.
Suggested Book Club Discussion Topics for ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE:
This book is about four women's choice of husband.
What do believe were the strongest influences on each woman?
The author has arranged this book to go back in time
because that is how we find out about family history and secrets. We
see our parents in their present situation and ask, "What were the
influences on them at the time they met that caused them to choose
each other?" Did this backward looking order of the book mimic an
experience in your own life or did it cause the book to be too hard
Each story is set in a different era: the Civil War,
the westward expansion, Victorian morality, the Great Depression,
the age of free love that began in the late sixties? How did these
periods make a difference in the characters" education,
opportunities to make a living, sex lives, attitudes about raising
children? Do you have any stories from your own family's coping with
these historical periods?
Did you have a favorite character? How did that
person cope with the pressures in his/her life?
What part did guilt play in the lives of the
characters, especially Patricia? What part did religion play?
How did denial help Alice, Victoria and Margaret
Patricia is the point-of-view character in the
opening chapter and in the last one. Has she escaped the patterns of
her family? How is Josh like the choice her grandmother Victoria
There are several physical elements: the canoe in the
attic, the little embroidered footstool that continues to show up
from Margaret down to Patricia, the wedding photograph of Margaret
and Gilbert, the house that becomes swallowed by the town and the
back lot that gets leveled by Patricia's father. Did any of these
have an emotional resonance for you?
The Bradys are a family with histories on both sides
of the Civil War. How can this heritage play out in a marriage?
So many changes have occurred in marriage in the
last sixty years. Living together is no longer a shady business;
divorce is easier; same-sex marriage is more common. Do you see any
The Pushcart Prize is for short story writers the
equivalent of the Oscars for the movies. In 2005 "Return to Lincoln,"
the first of my stories to be nominated, is about the Hale
family's staking a claim in Indian Territory. This story is part of ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE.
"Voice of Experience," the story that opens CADILLAC, OKLAHOMA,
was nominated for a Pushcart Award in 2014.