I discovered a lovingly-preserved copy of Whistle Stop in the basement sale of the Boonton Public Library in Boonton, NJ, and frankly, my life has never been the same since. Maritta Wolff wrote this, her masterwork, in college, and it emerged from her pen almost utterly flawless, written with an artless candor perhaps only possible at her unaffected age. It's the story of a down-at-the heels family in a sleepy farm town in Michigan, and how they endure fate, and how they tempt it. Some are in pain, some are violent, some are ambitious, or selfish, and some have given up. Descriptively, you smell the sun-baked overgrown grass, you hear the creak of dilapidated floorboards, you hear and feel each taunt and jeer, and you feel their love and hate as if it is your own. Everyone is flawed and desperate, but everyone is alive in a way people don't seem to be anymore. After you invite these characters into your home, they won't ever move out, which is for the best, because each one is a touchstone to a facet of your soul.