Jonathan Fretheim's Reviews > The Last Fair Deal Going Down

The Last Fair Deal Going Down by David Rhodes
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Feb 03, 12

Read from January 09 to 24, 2012 — I own a copy

Very different in style from both Driftless and Rock Island Line. This was Rhodes' first published novel, and I think it helps me to think of this as the writing of a young man, fresh from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Rhodes is very in control of his language and some later sections of the book are disorienting, difficult, but worth the effort. The novel is the story of a family, but it is also a way of explaining a worldview, a theory.

"The City" here--is it the dark side of any agrarian society? Is it the things that happen when few individuals are concerned with the mechanics of food production?

The multi-generational demise of the Sledge family is terrible. Unspeakable things happen to this family. Are those trials simply placeholders for the evils of The City? The fact that an ancestor's wife wouldn't step inside a cabin? The son who tried to burn down the mill and was locked up until he agreed to leave Wisconsin? Is the Sledge family a symbol of resistance against the inequity and greed that are necessary, inevitable parts of a modern society? --the current Sledge crop bearing punishment for that resistance? I'd like to read this again in the future to see what I come up with.
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