Scenes from the Heartland

Release Date: March 2019
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“Scenes from the Heartland is an unforgettable collection, as lovely as it is honest, refusing to sentimentalize, transcending nostalgia, and looking directly at the riven, triumphant, glorious hearts of its characters. Donna Baier-Stein provides a necessary reminder of everything we share, no matter how distant we may be in time or place.”

--Lee Martin, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Author of The Bright Forever

"In this gorgeous collection, Donna Baier Stein teases out the depth and humanity hinted at in Hart’s two dimensional art, using each lithograph as a portal into a vivid, fully fleshed out world. Scenes from the Heartland is brimming with marvelous, generous scenes that truly do come from the heart."
--Gayle Brandeis, The Art of Misdiagnosis

Inspired by nine iconic lithographs, Donna Baier Stein indelibly imagines the forgotten lives of rural men and women in the early, backbreaking decades of the Twentieth Century. These stories of hardship and survival, of passions simmering under a roughshod surface, of alcohol-fueled cruelties and simple acts of kindness, both capture an era and transcend it. Scenes from the heartland, indeed.

--Dawn Raffel, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney

If Thomas Hart Benton’s artwork could talk, I believe it would sound like Donna Baier Stein’s prose—plainspoken, vivid, generous, and honest. The nine stories in this collection—which use Benton’s lithographs as imaginative springboards—form a vibrant patchwork quilt of small towns, county fairs, and rural dance halls peopled by fiddlers and farmers, gas jockeys and traveling preachers. To read this book is to be transported, by Stein’s masterful storytelling, to the American heartland of a bygone era. I, for one, did not want to leave.

--Will Allison, What You Have Left and Long Drive Home