Feature

Author of the week: David Rhodes

With his novel,<em> Driftless,</em> David Rhodes once again emerges on the literary scene, thirty-one years after the publication of his acclaimed third novel, <em>Rock Island Line.</em>

Novelist David Rhodes has just completed a remarkable comeback, said Kevin Larimer in Poets & Writers. Thirty-one years after he was partially paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, the Iowa native and onetime literary prodigy has re-emerged with his first book since 1975 and a self-effacing explanation for that long silence. Shortly before the 1977 crash, his fourth novel had been rejected by his New York publisher. In Rhodes’ telling, that rejection became an excuse to withdraw from the world. He muddled through a post-surgery morphine addiction, the breakup of his first marriage, and “a long period of writing novels that were very long and very dark.”

Rhodes’ agent didn’t even know that her client was still writing when a small publishing house inquired about him two years ago, said Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in The Wall Street Journal. A young editor at Milkweed Editions was merely hoping to reissue Rhodes’ acclaimed third novel, Rock Island Line, when Rhodes revealed that he had been working on a follow-up for the previous 10 years. Driftless, which Milkweed published last month, turns out to be another sure-handed tale about small-town life. That only 6,000 copies of the novel were printed doesn’t trouble Rhodes. “The fact that I have a new book to give to my dental assistant,” he says, “that’s more than I ever expected.”

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