As the engines roar and the green flag waves, these stories tear across their rural landscape with the energy of a Winston Cup race. Like W.P. Kinsella’s minor league ballplayers, Jonis Agee’s drivers, pit crews, mechanics, and their families live in small towns, eat at truck stops, and have a hard time keeping their dreams from destroying their lives. From the garage to the kitchen table, from demolition derby to nascar, Agee’s hapless heroes open our eyes as they take the wall. The wildly popular sport of auto racing is a backdrop in these stories for exploration of the creative and destructive aspects of obsession. In farmhouses, mobile homes, and roadside trailer courts, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters all try to figure out how to keep their families running as smoothly as their cars. Taking the Wall is rich with details about racing and rural life, and richer yet in insight into that part of the human spirit that just doesn’t know how to quit. Agee takes a personal and compassionate look at a grab bag of individuals linked by obsession.
“Agee’s absorbing new collection of short stories, Taking the Wall, is set in the world of auto racing, but it’s really about those times in life when we have to switch gears.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Agee’s parsimonious language is stamped with stark, forceful clarity. This is a stellar collection about blue-collar folk, their plucky and despairing relationships and their dreams of speed and glamour.” —Publishers Weekly
“Jonis Agee’s stories unfold with headlong energy. . . . Demolition derbies, stock cars, swamp buggies, Winston Cup challenges—Agee goes deep into the language of this world, and her paragraphs dive and turn abruptly from one tone to another, inside and out the drivers’ minds.” —Hungry Mind Review
“Taking the Wall is a beautifully written book, filled with grace and wit, a book that will leave you with the comforting feeling that the author not only knows but cares about the characters she has created.” —Jim Heynen
Winner, Editor’s Choice Award from ForeWord Magazine
Finalist, Minnesota Book Award for short fiction