book cover of Taking the Wall

Taking the Wall

A collection of stories by

As the engines roar and the green flag waves, these stories tear across their rural landscape with the energy of a Winston Cup race. Like W.P. Kinsella's minor league ballplayers, Jonis Agee's drivers, pit crews, mechanics, and their families live in small towns, eat at truck stops, and have a hard time keeping their dreams from destroying their lives. From the garage to the kitchen table, from demolition derby to nascar, Agee's hapless heroes open our eyes as they take the wall.
The wildly popular sport of auto racing is a backdrop in these stories for exploration of the creative and destructive aspects of obsession. In farmhouses, mobile homes, and roadside trailer courts, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters all try to figure out how to keep their families running as smoothly as their cars. Taking the Wall is rich with details about racing and rural life, and richer yet in insight into that part of the human spirit that just doesn't know how to quit. Agee takes a personal and compassionate look at a grab bag of individuals linked by obsession.
Novelist (South of Resurrection) and short fiction (Bend This Heart) writer Agee's collection of bittersweet stories dissects the rough world of auto racing from the working-class perspectives of drivers, pit crews, fans, family and other hangers-on. While "taking the wall", crashing into it, is the worst possible scenario, Agee's characters secretly wish for the excitement, horror and suspense it offers: will the driver walk away from the fiery wreck? Domestic life unfolds around the racetrack throughout the collection. "The Pop Off Valve" is a monologue in which an unnamed narrator recounts her naovet in marrying a man obsessed with racing, and the wake-up call she received on her honeymoon 15 years ago at the Motor Speedway in Irish Hills, Mich., when not even a terrible accident could thwart her husband's devotion to his hobby. Her description of the crash is chilling: "the rescue workers used the jaws of life to pry what was left of the driver from the shattered burnt shell of the car." Nonchalantly, she adds, "We grilled steaks on the hibachi at dark, unable to see the bloody raw meat until we cut into it." Agee's parsimonious language is sta

Genre: Literary Fiction

Used availability for Jonis Agee's Taking the Wall

Paperback Editions

October 1999 : USA Paperback

Title: Taking the Wall
Author(s): Jonis Agee
ISBN: 1-56689-088-8 / 978-1-56689-088-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU