Letters From Wheatfield by Patrick Shannon

Hello readers. So, I've figured out I'm on a list for self-published books looking for review spots on their book tours but I haven't figured out how. I don't remember what all I signed up for when I started this blog besides LibraryThing and a BookBloggers site. But I am and this is one of the books I emailed back about. Sometimes it can be risky depending on how much effort went into a book before it was published but I can say so far I haven't been disappointed. This book is a good example of a well-written and self-published book that readers who enjoy humor when reading will like. Don't miss the interview of Patrick Shannon over on my other blog: author-interview-patrick-shannon.

About the book: What do you do for fun if you live in a small rural town, dauntingly far from the nearest city's plentiful amusements? Upon what resources do you draw to spice up your existence? Letters from Wheatfield provides the answer - and it isn't always pretty.

      The fictitious town of Wheatfield is a tiny island in a vast sea of wheat fields and cattle ranges. Its nearest neighboring towns, similarly small, are well over the horizon. But its isolation has no effect on its inhabitants. Theirs is a society of mirthful, blithe, spritely wags - a condition abetted by the presence of not a few eccentric individuals.

      In Letters from Wheatfield, two transplants from Manhattan write to a cousin back home about the remarkable community that has assimilated and transmuted them - much to their amazement and great pleasure.

I enjoyed reading this book. Then again, I come from a small town in Wyoming that has some similarities to the town in the novel, which the author placed in Montana. I laughed out loud often, even when my stepdad was in the room. And I liked that. I rarely read humor books even though I prefer comedy in tv and movies but it felt good to laugh instead of crying. Not that I don't like emotional books, honestly, it was just a relief to have something different in the mix.

This is not a typical novel. The story is told in letters that are sent which relay stories from the small town that are being sent to a friend who wants to write a book. It doesn't have the arching type of plot or plot-line and part of that comes from the fact that this is a little like a creative nonfiction book with a bit more fiction. Creative nonfiction tends to be mostly true with elements/techniques of fiction while this book, as the author explained in the interview, contains about 40% true stories with the other 60% being the embellished fiction elements. Despite being different, the letter works and weaves an amusing tale of things that can happen in a small town.

A couple times I wished I could say it was unrealistic. Like the gossip that started with a bit of junk mail calling the letter writer a professor that went from "oh he must have taught at Columbia University" to "he must have taught in the country of Columbia where the drugs are" because it's not the brightest twist on a rumor. But I know for a fact that type of rumor situation happens. We once had an issue with medicare since my family owns a medical supply store and at one point the rumor about what was going on morphed into people saying the business was selling drugs to Columbia. Umm... I'm guessing that's the wrong direction of trafficking but some people actually believed it. Not everyone in town is very bright and rumors are just like that sometimes. So, some of the stories really hit home personally and I'm betting readers from the area and neighboring states will enjoy reading this book in particular.

There is only one problem I had with this book. The editing was good, the tales written in letters really did work and I didn't even mind it not having the normal fiction layout. My problem is with the ending. I won't give too many details but the book basically doesn't have a concrete ending. It just kind of stops.... I was reading along, expecting something to sort of provide a conclusion coming up soon and all of a sudden there were no more pages. None. It was just over. No more. I do wish a little that there had been something, a final letter or one that says more will come later, anything. I'm not a fan of the ending that just stop in almost any novel, so it may just be a personal quark.

Still, I liked the book, overall. The voice, the little stories, and the humor were very enjoyable. I definitely recommend this book for people who have lived in small towns, especially in the west, though I bet others will enjoy reading it too.

Dawn's Verdict: 8/10



Susan Kane said...

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy. Thanks for giving it a good score.

Dawn Embers said...

Susan Kane - Thanks for commenting on my review.

SweetMarie83 said...

Great review, I'm going to have to check this book out! I'm SO glad to see that you support indie authors, I'm hoping to have a book independently published at some point this year and I've been making the rounds of book blogs, trying to make connections and network, and not many people say upfront whether they're willing to read and review self-published books. I think it opens a book blogger up to a whole new world of possibilities. As people who love to read, I say what's the difference between something that's published traditionally or independently if it's good, right? Anyway, I'm rambling, just wanted to say hi, I came from your other blog and the A-Z challenge. This blog is beautiful!

Dawn Embers said...

SweetMarie83 - Thanks so much for coming over and following this blog. And for your kind comment. From my limited experience is that those who don't review indie/self-published books had bad experiences with novels that weren't edited, which can happen. So far, I've only had good experiences. There will be more indie books in the future on this blog, that I can guarantee.

L'Aussie said...

Hi Dawn. Great review as always. I like your honesty.


Dawn Embers said...



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