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Local Author Celebration Series: Jon Volkmer

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
5:30 pm7:00 pm

Castle & Cathedral District presents:

Local Author Celebration Series
Where: Carriage House on the Joslyn Castle & Garden Grounds (3902 Davenport Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68131).
When: Wed May 22 from 5:30 to 7:00 (Doors open at 5pm).
What: This event is free and open to the public – an all-ages event.

Set in 1950 in the rural Midwest, and inspired by real events, this gripping novel explores what happens when an African American railroad repair crew is dropped into a tiny, tight-knit farm community. Will frictions build to an all-too familiar American tragedy, or can tensions be overcome in that uniquely American way, with balls and bats and a field of green?
Seventeen-year-old Carlin Littman has big dreams, much bigger than will fit into sleepy Julian, Nebraska, population 172. She has set her sights on college, Chicago, and beyond. The arrival of the rail workers, known as gandy dancers, is an interesting distraction in the bored summer days where her only job is looking after her little brother, Timmy. When she befriends Sam Washington, the awkward, bookish gandy a year younger than she, neither of them have any idea what they have set in motion.
Many decades later, Tim returns to Nebraska, attempting to recover the lost history through interviews with the few surviving seniors who might remember. These encounters provide the basis for a story that lies somewhere between myth and memory. A story where the mutual respect between the oldest gandy, Jerome, and the store owner, Dave, offers townsfolk an alternative to stereotype and prejudice. A story where the new rail line is being built over the route of the underground railroad, challenging a new generation of farm families to live up to that heritage. A story where an unlikely pick-up game propels players on both sides to epic performances.
Race, railroads, and baseball are iconic themes that come together in this moving story of the American heartland.

Jon’s Bio:
Jon Volkmer is a Nebraska City native with a master’s in creative writing from Denver University, and a PhD in English from UNL. His books include a travel memoir, Eating Europe, a poetry collection, The Art of Country Grain Elevators, and a YA biography of Roberto Clemente. His stories, poems and essays have appeared widely in such venues as Commonweal, Cimarron Review, Southern Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, and Platte Valley Review. He is professor of English and director of creative writing at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.