In the year between the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dorrie Vane returns home to a small Montana town perched on an ocean of empty, ancient prairie—a prairie made potent by hundreds of buried nuclear missiles. Rima in the Weeds probes beneath the surface of Madrid, revealing the drama, emotion, even violence that emerges in the apparently unremarkable lives of its inhabitants.
In her dazzling second novel, Deirdre McNamer uses an enigmatic and haunting narrative voice—one that recalls Toni Morrison’s Jazz—to limn a story of three siblings who venture from their muffled Midwestern childhoods into the heedless 1920s….. Each of them yearns to fulfill the promise of a more exciting life in the brash, go-for-broke environment of America between the wars, where the most extravagant dreams can be had for the asking, and the most modest hopes can be dashed in a moment.
“One morning I stood on the back deck of our handsome house and I realized that my interior self, the self I did not present to the world or even to those closest to me, seemed to have burned out.” So confesses the narrator of Deirdre McNamer’s remarkable new novel. … Her voice is searching, specific, unsparing, and sometimes darkly funny. In the process of listening, we learn the answer to a modest mystery that rests on a larger one: what makes a fully lived, fully conscious life?
Red Rover is the story of three Montana men who are swept up in the machinations of World War II and its fateful aftermath.... two childhood friends, Aidan and Roland, join the FBI, while Aidan’s brother, Neil, becomes a B-29 pilot. After the war Aidan returns to Montana ill and emotionally shattered. On a cold December day in l946, he is found fatally shot—an apparent suicide that becomes illuminated, amplified, and fully put to rest only when Neil and Roland are very old men.
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Praise for Deirdre McNamer's Red Rover
An engaging and propulsive read that stirs profound emotions - Alice Munro
A rare and considerable achievement, stunning actually... McNamer is a master weaver of prose. - Jim Harrison
...vividly observed and original... - Richard Ford
Such is the richness of the writing that one is constantly engaged with it on the levels of language, imagery, and wit, even as one is responding to the appeal of the story itself. - Lydia Davis
...not a stitch is dropped in this remarkable book. - Tom McGuane
A harshly lovely lonely story played out against Montana's harshly lovely lonely land.
- Joy Williams
This is a book filled with the most perceptive kind of love for its characters, and sorrow for what they have to endure. - Jim Shepard
Additional praise - My Russian, One Sweet Quarrel, Rima in the Weeds
It’s a riveting novel, written with grace and assurance. - Ann Beattie, My Russian
A work of extraordinary beauty….[McNamer’s] understanding of human nature and her ability to convey it to readers makes her one of the more remarkable writers of our times. - Milwaukee Journal, One Sweet Quarrel
A splendid novel….Nothing that happens is quite what you’d expect, just as no one is quite what they seem on the surface. Everything packs a secret punch. - Chicago Tribune, Rima in the Weeds
Aviary - Milkweed Editions, April 2021
Grateful acknowledgment to Dana Boussard for use of her painting Her Whisper Saved Us as cover art.