South Dakota author getting noticed nationally
I was sitting in the waiting room of an optometrist office last week when I noticed a People magazine on the chair next to me. I picked it up and began flipping through it, and the book-review section caught my eye. The reviewer gave a glowing endorsement of South Dakota author Kent Meyers’ latest novel, "Twisted Tree."
"Once you enter Twisted Tree," says the review by Andrew Abrahams, "you’ll be spellbound."
A few days later, I noticed that "Twisted Tree" had also been reviewed by The New York Times. That reviewer was similarly impressed.
"Meyers creates a stunning narrative," says Times reviewer Don Waters.
If Meyers’ previous books received such rave, national reviews, I don’t remember it. I’ve read one of his previous novels, "The Work of Wolves," and I thought it was excellent. It doesn’t surprise me that his work is finding a broad and eager audience.
Meyers is an associate professor and writer-in-residence at Black Hills State University in Spearfish. You can learn more about him by clicking here to read a press release from BHSU.
As I understand it, the book is set near the Black Hills. Here’s the book description from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:
Hayley Jo Zimmerman is gone. Taken. And the people of small-town Twisted Tree must come to terms with this terrible event–their loss, their place in it, and the secrets they all carry.
In this brilliantly written novel, one girl’s story unfolds through the stories of those who knew her. Among them, a supermarket clerk recalls an encounter with a disturbingly thin Hayley Jo. An ex-priest remembers baptizing Hayley Jo and seeing her with her best friend, Laura, whose mother the priest once loved. And Laura berates herself for all the running they did, how it fed her friend’s addiction, and how there were so many secrets she didn’t see. And so, Hayley Jo’s absence recasts the lives of others and connects them, her death rooting itself into the community in astonishingly violent and tender ways.
Solidly in the company of Aryn Kyle, Kent Haruf, and Peter Matthiessen, Kent Meyers is one of the best contemporary writers on the American West. Here he also takes us into the complexity of community regardless of landscape, and offers a tribute to the powerful effect one person’s life can have on everyone she knew.