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.
Super America: Stories by Anne Panning. University of Georgia, 2007.