NEWS

 

Smith's New Book is Non-Fiction

"And this is my story as I've tried to uncover the mysteries of the pioneer women in my own family--Ida, Mary Lillian, Zoe, and Phebe Ann, the one they left behind."


"Saving Family Memories" workshop in the Genealogical Division of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Library.

PRAISE FOR THE WOMAN WITHOUT A VOICE
Louise Farmer Smith has written a part of history we aren’t taught in classrooms. She has shown us the true resilience of her female ancestors and provides a brief glimpse of what it really meant to be a wife of a pioneer. The Woman Without a Voice is a heartbreaking, moving, and ultimately inspiring memoir about the strength of women.
  JoAnna Woolridge Wall, J.D.
  Lecturer, Women’s and Gender Studies Program
  University of Oklahoma

“Husband and wife sat side by side on the wagon bench. Though they looked down the same rough road, diaries suggest that they lived in different worlds.” Based on her own family’s experience, Louise Farmer Smith sets us squarely by the side of the woman...A compelling tale and an inspiration to anyone considering writing their family’s often complex and difficult history.
  Lisa Kindrick
  Librarian, Geneological Center, Albuquerque

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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 Cadillac.

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." ---Collin Fletcher

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 Cadillac, Oklahoma, 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.

Praise for
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE

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
    Susan Shreve

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 ways."
    Jay Neugeboren, author of  
    Imagining Robert
, 1940, The Other
    Side of the World
, etc.

"An excellent read, suffused with humanity and humour."
    Clare Morrall, author of Astonishing
    Splashes of Colour, short-listed for
    the Man Booker Award

"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."
    Karen Lyon
    Literary Editor, The Hill Rag

"Refreshing and almost addictive."
[ read full review ]
    Amber Hodge
    Norman Transcript

"Raw and realistic; a Micheneresque structure"
    Terry Clark
    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."
    Starr Review
    Starr-review.blogspot

    http://starr-review.blogspot.com.

 

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 Cadillac.

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 Concord, Massachusetts!

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 justice.

------------------------------

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 :

  1. Did you find yourself in Cadillac?
  2. What was the effect on the town of Hillary's Cadillac Voices in the local newspaper?
  3. Was the body count (six) alarmingly high or about right for a town this size?
  4. Was the sheriff, Jake Hale, a tragic hero--flawed, but admirable? Or was he just a weak man?
  5. Why was Hillary, the reporter and single mother, having trouble sleeping?
  6. Victoria St. Buckingham, the sex worker from Las Vegas, enters the story and then leaves. How did she change things in the town of Cadillac?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. In this book the women struggle with love and work. Are they modern women? If not, what is holding them back?
  10. "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.

Enjoy!
Louise Farmer Smith

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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 staff@upperhandpress.com.

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Suggested Book Club Discussion Topics for ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE:

  1. This book is about four women's choice of husband. What do believe were the strongest influences on each woman?

  2. 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 to understand?

  3. 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?

  4. Did you have a favorite character? How did that person cope with the pressures in his/her life?

  5. What part did guilt play in the lives of the characters, especially Patricia? What part did religion play?

  6. How did denial help Alice, Victoria and Margaret cope?

  7. 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 made?

  8. 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?

  9. The Bradys are a family with histories on both sides of the Civil War. How can this heritage play out in a marriage?

  10. 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 other trends?

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.

 

   
© Copyright 2011 Louise Farmer Smith