Author: Amy Krohn

Publisher: Wiseblood Books, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0615829500

ISBN-10: 0615829503

Midwestern women must be reckoned with, in life and literature. Female descendants of the sturdy farm wife maintain decorum with steady hands, strong convictions and, when called for, steely presence. Into this resolute culture where “a sneeze gets the devils out” comes an artist. To create or be created; that is the question.

Amy Krohn’s sketches are regionalist, set in semi-rural Wisconsin, though one might say the uneasy evolution of the settler into the settled is the story everywhere in the United States. Krohn’s canvasses contain glimpses of life in small towns, in living rooms where church ladies perch lightly on borrowed sofas and chairs, in bedrooms where sisters share secrets, and in cars, where riders wish for escape, or long for the sight of home. These all-too familiar settings are energized by intruding thoughts, dangerous to a society that grasps so tightly to its belongings, its memories, and ways of doing things. A fresh breeze blows through. New ideas are toyed with. Different possibilities might almost be imagined. Ultimately, there is baggage.

A belief in love still motivates the women in Krohn’s landscape. This legacy, however dented by the vicissitudes of living in a larger and more mysterious world, twists the reader’s gut as each woman dreams, blushes, prays, and remembers, as each feels confusion, dread, and disappointment.

The habit of making art winds its way through these stories and colors small incidents with vivid meaning. There is a riveting moment in the concluding novella when the professor and his love-struck student look at the drawings they have made of one another, strong, impulsive strokes propelling them into an understanding far beyond their sensible, mortal means. It is just one of several examples of Krohn’s ability to catch her subjects poised, waiting for an authoritative voice to say, “Go!” -- or one, equally definitive, to shout, “Stay!”

There’s much more to appreciate. This is an intelligent as well as cultured writer, whose inner monologues, dialogues, and images are exemplars of what she attributes to one of her characters: “He’s rather . . . choosy about his words.” The use of the art process and artworks made the reading a particularly rewarding experience for me, somewhat like being guided through a gallery of paintings that I had seen before but whose secrets I had not fathomed on my own.

Follow Here To Purchase A Flower in the Heart of the Painting