The Last Fair Deal Going Down
“This is my book. I must write it in order to survive.”
Survival has been difficult for Reuben Sledge’s family since his father first moved to Des Moines. Scorned and feared by their neighbors, they persist on the outskirts, near the edge of the City—“not a city like Des Moines itself, but an inner City of Des Moines . . . or a lower City.” However one describes this surreal place, no one who enters has ever returned.
As his family slowly disappears, Reuben attempts to write “a real story of real people, my family, and a real place, Des Moines.” But when the woman Reuben loves ventures into the City, he sets off on a harrowing journey with an impossible goal: to find her and return. Once in the City, he discovers a ghastly assemblage of inhabitants who have crafted a new life for themselves, and Reuben’s resolve to return to the world he once loved is threatened.
Both a lament for a disappearing generation and one family’s wrenching tale of survival, this extraordinary novel—the debut of David Rhodes, written with his “painterly eye for minutiae and folklorist’s way with an anecdote” (New York Times)—is a stunning achievement.
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Praise and Prizes
“One of the most ambitious first novels to come along in quite a spell . . . David Rhodes understands our discontent, feels our loss of a sense of place, and knows that where a lot of us are these days is nowhere.”
“The Midwest becomes a metaphor for loneliness, for a sense of the self as stranded in a symbolic geography, almost before the writer has done anything to make this happen.”
“David Rhodes has a painterly eye for minutiae and a folklorist’s way with an anecdote.”
“David Rhodes proves that there is still vigorous life in the dark Gothic roots of great American novels.”
“David Rhodes’s depiction of Des Moines is as a complex, preternatural city. . . . He captured precisely what I look for in a city and in a book; a spirit. He created for Des Moines a spirit that runs through the pages, that captures everything, the life and death of its people, and that in a way understands its own creation, is reflexive.”