Suzy Approved Book Tour Reviews: Scenes From The Heartland by Donna Baier Stein

Posted 15 June, 2019 by Molly(Cover To Cover Cafe) in 2019 Reads, Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Suzy Approved Book Tour Reviews: Scenes From The Heartland by Donna Baier Stein
Title: Scenes from the Heartland: Stories Based on Lithographs by Thomas Hart Benton
Author: Donna Baier-Stein
Published by Serving House Books
Date Published: 31 March, 2019
Pages: 154
Genres: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
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When a contemporary writer turns her imagination loose inside the images of an iconicartist of the past, the result is storytelling magic at its best. Here are nine tales that bring to vivid life the early decades of the 20th century as witnessed by one of America's most well-known painters. Thomas Hart Benton sketched fiddlers and farm wives, preachers and soldiers, folks gathering in dance halls and tent meetings. Though his lithographs depict the past, the real-life people he portrayed face issues that are front and center today: corruption, women's rights, racial inequality.

In these stories we enter the imagined lives of Midwesterners in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A mysterious woman dancing to fiddle music makes one small gesture of kindness that helps heal the rift of racial tensions in her small town. A man leaves his childhood home after a tragic accident and becomes involved with the big-time gamblers who have made Hot Springs, Arkansas, their summer playground. After watching her mother being sent to an insane asylum simply for grieving over a miscarriage, a girl determines to never let any man have any say over her body.

Then as now, Americans have struggled with poverty, illness, and betrayal. Thesefictions reveal our fellow countrymen and women living with grace and strong leanings toward virtue, despite the troubles that face them.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Author/Publisher and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.

My Thoughts
Who is Thomas Hart Benton? Someone I’ve never heard of for sure. But, I knew who he was when I was finished with this cleverly written book! He was an artist that took everyday people he saw in history and created images for them. Donna Baeir Stein is an author who took some of his Lithographs, and created her stories for them.

Each of the stories is created beautifully. The image of each story is portrayed in detail within the story  that Baier Stein created, and as I sat reading each one, I was transported to a different time and place. That’s skill, if you ask me! I loved reading each one and watching the images dance in my head. Her story telling ability is on point with this book.

Donna Baier Stein is truly talented. The way she created this book was refreshing. I definitely am getting copies of this book to share with friends and family! It’s an interesting read and definitely captivating. If you want a 5 star read from an author who truly and beautifully uses a masterful skill to create imaginative stories around them, then look no further! I will definitely be checking out more of Baier Stein’s work in the furture!

About Donna Baier-Stein

Donna is the author of The Silver Baron’s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award, Bronze Winner in Foreword Reviews 2017 Book of the Year, and Finalist in Paterson Prize for Fiction), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Short Fiction), Sometimes You Sense the Difference (poetry chapbook), and Letting Rain Have Its Say (poetry). She was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She has received a Bread Loaf Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars Fellowship, grants from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and Poetry Society of Virginia, a Scholarship from the Summer Literary Seminars, and more.

Donna’s stories and poems have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Confrontation, Prairie Schooner, New York Quarterly, Washingtonian, New Ohio Review, Ascent, Puerto del Sol, Gargoyle, and many other journals as well as in the anthologies I’ve Always Meant to Tell You (Pocket Books), To Fathers: What I’ve Never Said (featured in O Magazine), Men and Women: Together and Alone from Spirit That Moves Us Press. Her story “A Landing Called Compromise was Runner-up in the 2018 Saturday Evening Post Fiction Contest.

The Fellowship she received from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts led to a highlight in her writing career: seeing the story she had submitted with her Fellowship application performed by Tony-award winning actress Maryann Plunkett at the Playwrights Theatre in Madison, NJ.

For many years, Donna also worked as a freelance direct mail copywriter, working primarily for environmental groups and membership organizations like World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Smithsonian, and more. During those years, she published two nonfiction books on copywriting with McGraw-Hill and Thomson Publishing Group.

At age 40, she took a sabbatical to get her MFA in Fiction from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she studied with John Barth, Steve Dixon, and Peter Sacks. Her thesis became a collection of stories that was a Finalist in the Iowa Fiction Awards judged by Marilynne Robinson.

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