The Short, Sad Life of an Unsuccessful Novelist
An essay about the journey to the publication of Maud's Line. Authors Guild Bulletin. Winter, 2017:23-24.
Maud's Line has been selected as a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Although the protagonist, Maud, is eighteen years old, the novel is written for adults, not for a YA audience. Anyone looking for a YA book about Indians should look elsewhere.
Maudís Line is set in 1928, a year after the worst flood in American memory and a year before the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression. The heroine, Maud Nail, lives at the end of a lane at the end of a section line on Indian allotment land. She shares her home with her father, Mustard, who canít stay out of a fight, and her brother, Lovely, who is sensitive and in love. Maudís prospects, both for love and for living with electricity and in-door plumbing, are limited until a bright blue canvas-covered peddlerís wagon rolls down her section line and stops in her lane. The wagon, driven by Booker Wakefield, a teacher looking for adventure on summer break, is loaded with trinkets, necessities, and books. Maud, who is a reader, is taken both with the peddler and his merchandise. But Maudís world is filled with violence and Bookerís life has been sheltered. The events of the book cause friction between them, and Maud has to take comfort where she can find it and call on her wits and reserves of strength to survive.