Will Fellows is the author of Farm Boys, which was honored as a best book of 1996 by Esquire Magazine and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He lives in Milwaukee.
The vision of the "gay lifestyle" conjured up by many Americans is informed chiefly by media and cultural images emanating from the large cities of the East and West Coasts. This vision, however, is limited and limiting. In places like Eau Claire, Lincoln, and Des Moines, there are also queers who possess their own distinct experiences, views, and voices that are often obscured in the bicoastal din. The two works here attempt to right this situation as they explore and celebrate from a Midwestern point of view the diversity within the gay community. Farm Boys presents a series of autobiographical narratives by gay men raised on farms over this century‘the oldest was born in 1909, the youngest in 1967. They describe perceptions of and responses to conditions inherent in farming communities and the influence this experience has had on their lives. The roughhewn quality of the narratives (only one was written by a professional writer) creates an ambience that is often powerful and poignant, conveying the sadness of isolation and the strength of self-reliance. Reclaiming the Heartland takes a more literary approach, presenting a diverse collection of fiction, poetry, drama, essays, and photography by men and women who have lived or are living in the Midwest. The works focus on the Midwest as place, the broader issues of desire, and the Midwestern perspective on and in other locations. The goal is to prove that queer identity and cultural practices do indeed thrive in the heartland. The pieces themselves are something of a mixed bag, but the whole is satisfying. Both these works serve as important reminders that gay people do live, work, and love all across the land. They should be seriously considered by all libraries supporting gay studies as well as public libraries throughout the Midwest.‘David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
""Farm Boys" breaks the silence that has fallen on gay rural life."
David Bergman, editor of "Men on Men 5: Best New Gay Fiction"
"Fellows's project is a true achievement, one to take its rightful place in future studies of gay American history."--"The Advocate"
"The book contains scrapbook snapshots treasured by their families for decades--as tender and as innocent as the memories they evoke."--"Omaha World-Herald"
"These coming-of-age stories from men ranging from 24 to 84 smash the stereotype that gay culture is exclusively an urban culture."--"Chicago Tribune"