The 2014 All Iowa Reads title is “Little Wolves” by Thomas Maltman and I read it already! Every year the luncheon speaker on the Friday of the Iowa Library Association is the author of the All Iowa Reads book for the year. I am usually scrambling to read the book because I am not known for planning ahead. When the book as announced at this year’s annual conference Friday luncheon the description caught my attention - the intertwining story of a murder, a small town set on the Minnesota prairie and a Lutheran minister and his wife who studied early Anglo-Saxon literature. Because the Iowa City Public Library now lets users put a hold on an item not checked out and I had my cellphone handy, I placed a hold and the book was waiting by the time I returned to work the next day. It also helped that I was going on vacation in two days and could read Little Wolves in a couple of delightfully free days.
Thomas Maltman is a poet as well as a fiction writer and you can tell from his lyrical prose. He places the reader in the late 1980s in Lone Mountain, a town in the Minnesota prairie “about 200 miles west of the Twin Cities” where the “wind has claws”. A drought has gripped the land and a monstrous murder has occurred. The trajectory of the two families who settled the land and the different paths the families have taken is compelling and underpins the murder. The novel is layered with words and stories from Norse myths and allusions to Anglo-Saxon narratives, in particular the epic poem Beowulf and the myth of Ragnorak.
“Little Wolves” is a wonderful selection for All Iowa Reads, an excellent book club title. The library will have two book club kits with 10 books, perfect for a book club looking for book sure to generate a lot of conversation. The library also includes discussion questions with the kits. ICPL will also hold a book discussion in October of 2014. It is the perfect book, at least I think so, to curl up with near the fire on a dark winter’s night and read, if the wind is blowing hard, all the better.