Now back in print — Maritta Wolff's 1941 masterpiece about small-town Midwestern life in post-Depression America.
Whistle Stop, published to rave reviews and astonishing commercial success, is the story of the Veech family, an oversize, poverty-stricken tribe trying to make good in a cruel world.
Through the course of a punishingly hot summer, we experience life with the six children and three adult Veeches as they bicker, brawl, make up, and provide titillating morsels of scandal for the neighborhood.
A work of darkly comic grotesque, replete with shades of Flannery O'Connor, Whistle Stop is also a wrenching and earnest rumination on the tragedy of thwarted love.
Maritta Wolff was born in 1918 in Michigan. Whistle Stop, her first novel, won the Avery Hopwood Award in 1940. A runaway bestseller, the book was also printed as a special Armed Forces edition for American troops during World War II. Whistle Stop was made into a feature film in 1946, starring Ava Gardner. In the next two decades, Ms. Wolff authored more than five novels, but she hid her final, unpublished manuscript in her refrigerator until her death in 2002. Rediscovered, that novel, Sudden Rain, is available from Scribner.
"If you missed Whistle Stop, you missed the launching of one of the most promising literary careers of our time." -- The New York Times
"Whistle Stop had a kind of raw, flaming vitality which was impossible to resist, plus an uncanny, ironic knowledge of human motives. From her story of the Veeches -- a raffish and disorderly family who lived in a small Michigan town -- it was obvious that Miss Wolff possessed that unquenchable interest in people which is part of the born novelist's equipment." -- Edith Walton, The New York Times Book Review (1942)
"In Maritta Wolff we may salute a young author whom everyone must know." -- Sinclair Lewis
"[Wolff] writes the seamy side of life with glittering skill and a brutal, brawling, turbulent sense of character and human drama." -- Orville Prescott, The New York Times (1947)
"A stunning performance." -- Clifton Fadiman, The New Yorker (1941)