In her debut short story collection, Sidle Creek (Melville House, 2023), Jolene McIlwain skillfully interrogates the myths and stereotypes of the mining, mill, and farming towns where she grew up. With stories that take place in diners and dive bars, town halls and bait shops, McIlwain’s writing explores themes of class, work, health, and trauma, and the unexpected human connections of small, close-knit communities. All the while, the wild beauty of the natural world weaves its way in, a source of the town’s livelihood – and vulnerable to natural resource exploitation. With an alchemic blend of taut prose, gorgeous imagery, and deep sensitivity for all of the living beings within its pages, Sidle Creek will sit snugly on bookshelves between Annie Proulx, Joy Williams, and Louise Erdrich.
Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.