Anne Panning’s fiction has been described as warm and original by Publishers Weekly, intelligent and humorous by the Boston Globe, graceful and wry by Booklist, and infectious and enchanting by the New York Times. In fact, Panning’s last collection of short stories, Super America, was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Enter this exciting new novel, the best work yet from a writer whose astute observations of American life are as honest as they are engaging.Butter is a coming of age tale set against the backdrop of small-town Minnesota during the 1970s and told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old girl, Iris, who learns from her parents that she is adopted. The story of Iris’s childhood is at first beguiling and innocent: hers is a world filled with bell-bottoms and Barbie dolls, Shrinky Dinks and Shaun Cassidy records, TV dinners and trips to grandma’s. But as her parents’ marriage starts to unravel, Iris grows more and more observant of disintegration all around her, and the simple cadences of her story quickly attain an unnerving tension as she wavers precariously between girlhood and adolescence. In the end, Iris’s story represents a profound meditation on growing up estranged in small town America—on being an outsider in a world increasingly averse to them. Passionate, lyrical, and disquieting, this intensely moving novel is a rich exploration of a crucial theme in American literature that will confirm Anne Panning’s place as a major figure in the world of contemporary fiction.
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Small-town Minnesota culture of the 1970s comes to life in this perfectly rendered, sad-sweet coming-of-age novel by an English professor at the State University of New York-Brockport who grew up in Arlington, Minn., and got her undergraduate degree from Minneapolis' Augsburg College.Oct 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Butter: A Novel (Switchgrass)
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