Butter: A Novel by Anne Panning, Switchgrass Books, 2012.
Butter is a lovely work that chronicles a difficult time in a child’s life, but does so without undue drama or judgmental social commentary. Ms. Panning allows the story to flow and swirl around one very passive yet perceptive little girl, and she paints an indelible picture of a time that we would be naive to assume is simpler than the one we live in today. While we don’t know how Iris’s story will ultimately end, and although there are a lot of unanswered questions and hanging threads at the end of the book – as would happen whenever a single year is plucked out of someone’s life story – I get the distinct feeling that Iris is going to be okay. I bet she even grows up to become a writer, and finally comes to terms with having nothing explained to her back then, by sharing it all with us now.
*Finalist for Minnesota Book Award for Fiction*
Publishers Weekly review:
Newcomer Panning tracks the dreams and travails of a passel of hard-luck Minnesotans...the title story--about a husband's happy remarriage in the wake of a car accident that renders his beloved first wife brain-damaged--is poignant and skillful. Here a chorus of voices--the husband, both his wives, his daughter by his first marriage--demonstrates life's random preciousness and precariousness.
Dragonfly Notes: A Memoir by Anne Panning, Stillhouse Press, September 2018.
When a seemingly routine medical procedure results in her mother’s premature death, Anne Panning is left reeling. In her first full-length memoir, the celebrated essayist draws on decades of memory and experience as she pieces together the hard truths about her own past and her mother’s.
We follow Panning’s winding path from rural Minnesota to the riverbanks of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and all the way back again—a stark, poignant tale of two women deeply connected, yet somehow forever apart. Dragonfly Notes is a testament to the prevailing nature of love, whether in the form of a rediscovered note, a sudden moment of unexpected recall, or sometimes, simply, the sight a dragonfly flitting past.
Super America: Stories by Anne Panning. University of Georgia, 2007.