Zachary Michael Jack has been selected to serve on the national board of the the Midwestern History Association (MHA). Read more about the formation of this exciting new organization in the New York Times story “Plowing Deeper.”
Zachary Michael Jack’s latest sports fantasy novel for junior golfers and adults alike, Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf was featured recently on the Golf Club Radio Show, broadcast worldwide from Hawaii. Golf Club Radio Show’s archives are available here.
Check out Zachary Michael Jack’s sessions on writing life stories and crafting genre fiction at the legendary Clarksville Writers Conference. Read more at http://www.artsandheritage.us/writers/
Zachary Michael Jack’s columns on rural life, geo-demographics, and the power of place debuted in USA Today, the Des Moines Register, and the Daily Yonder in 2013 and continue on a semi-regular basis. Check-out ZMJ’s ongoing contributions, including his most recent Speak Your Piece commentary on The Daily Yonder, entitled “Warming Up.”
Check out the national radio interviews with Zachary Michael Jack on The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter: In Search of An American Icon. Hear them at Illinois Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio. Harvest Media, and the Successful Farming Radio Show, among others. Look for articles about MFD in magazines nationwide, including Successful Farming magazine and Modern Farmer.
From yesterday’s gingham girls to today’s Google-era Farmer Janes, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter explores the resurgent role played by female agriculturalists at a time when fully 30 percent of new farms in the US are woman-owned, but when, paradoxically, America’s farm-reared daughters are conspicuously absent from popular film, television, and literature. In this first-of-its-kind treatment, Zachary Michael Jack follows the fascinating story of the girl who became a regional and national legend: from Donna Reed to Laura Ingalls Wilder, from Elly May Clampett to The Dukes of Hazzard’s Catherine Bach, from Lawrence Welk’s TV sweethearts to the tragic heroines of Jane Smiley’s Thousand Acres. From Amish farm women bloggers, to Missouri homesteaders and seed-savers, to rural Nebraskan graphic novelists and, ultimately, to the seven generations of entrepreneurial Iowan farm women who have animated his own family since before the Civil War, Jack shines new documentary light on the symbol of American virtue, energy, and ingenuity that rural writer Martha Foote Crow once described as the “great rural reserve of initiating force, sane judgment and spiritual drive.”
Packed with dozens of interviews, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter covers the history and the renaissance of agrarian women on both sides of the fence. Giving equal consideration to both agriculture’s time-tested rural and small-town Farm Bureaus, 4-H, and FFA training grounds as well as to the eco-innovations generated by the region’s rising woman-powered “agro-polises” such as Chicago, the author crafts a lively, easy-to-read cultural and social history, exploring the pioneering role today’s female agriculturalists play in the emergence of farmers’ markets, urban farms, community-supported agriculture, and the new “back-to-the-land” and “do-it-yourself” movements. For all those whose lives have been graced by the enduring strength of American farm women, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter offers a groundbreaking examination of a dynamic American icon.
Let There Be Pebble: A Middle-Handicapper’s Year in America’s Garden of Golf has earned a nomination for the William H. Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award as well as year-end accolades including:
Golf Digest Editor’s Pick
Golf Week, Top 5 Travel Books
Golf Magazine, Best Books of 2011
Early Praise for Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf
“A charming and heart-tugging life and golf story. Pond Ball Clintock offers readers many lively characters and mixes warmth, intrigue, and family complexities. A book that can be appreciated by young and old alike.”--Wayne Morden, author of Golf Shorts and Plus Fours: Musings from a Golfing Traditionalist
“The earthiness of Huck Finn, the intrigue of the Hardy Boys, and the ethereal golf qualities of Shivas Irons…Pond Ball Clintock is a fun read for every golfer, regardless of age. My golf library measures into the thousands of books, and over the past 50 years I have read nearly all of them, but “Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf” is one of my favorites. Zachary Michael Jack’s creative mind, down home writing style, and colorful and historic imagery make this book special for golfers of any age.”–Michael J. Hurdzan, 1997 Golf Course Architect of the Year, author of Golf Course Architecture, winner of the Old Tom Morris Award
“Before video games, the imaginations of dreamers young and old operated without the electronic boundaries of batteries. There were tree houses, snow forts, stickball championships, and yes, backyard golf courses. Recapture your youth and your love for the game, with Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf.” –Michael Patrick Shiels, author of Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects and former PGA Tour staff member
“Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf is a sort of Field of Dreams for our sport. Pond Ball plays the game for all the right reasons.”–Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer at WorldGolf.com, a division of GOLF CHANNEL
“If you love to play golf or to watch it, this book is a must. It’s a book for everyone since everything is in it: family ancestry, courtship and friendship, farming, great meals, theology, the world of spirit, and especially “mother earth” without whom we would have neither farming nor golf, work nor play.” –Robert J. Higgs, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of God in the Stadium
Samuel “Pond Ball” Clintock drew the short stick in life, some folks say. He wasn’t born with a Cadillac in his driveway, a Titleist in his fairway, or a caddy on his bag. He isn’t one of the “in” kids at Harry S. Truman middle school. His best friend in life and partner in crime is his golf-gifted father, Chip, who’s mysteriously sworn off the game, and who hasn’t held a driver’s license, a 9-iron, or a real job in years. Still, Sammy has reason to be happy, what with a mostly friendly goat in his back pasture, a legendary golf course in his back yard, and pond balls aplenty in his back pocket. There’s one problem, though. The course he’s bringing back to life, Mimosa G.C., has been shuttered and mothballed since the dark days of the Great Depression, when its infamous, cigar-smoking Scottish architect Alistair McCrackup last stalked its sand traps alongside Sammy’s great-granddaddy. So when Pond Ball, his diamond-in-the-rough dad, and his best friends Daisy and A.J. begin resurrecting the abandoned lay-out during summer vacation, they can’t help but stir up 18 holes worth of ghosts. Before they can holler fore! Pond Ball and company find themselves struggling to save the divine old course from the memories, heavenly and dastardly, some would prefer to see buried along with it. From pine woods so deep they’re spiritual to cornfields so endless they might be eternal—from 30,000 feet in the air squarely back down to the blessed turf of the magical Mimosa G.C.—Pond Ball and friends prove it’s not what brand of golf ball you play or what golf cart you drive that gives you soul, but whom and what you believe in.
Zachary Michael Jack is the author of many critically acclaimed books on sports and sporting places, including the golf parable The Links of Evalon and the travelogue Let There Be Pebble: A Middle Handicapper’s Year in America’s Garden of Golf. Jack’s golf writing has earned nominations for the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, among others.
“As much a sonnet to…near-forgotten traditions as it is the tale of one man’s pursuit.” –Mary Stegmeir, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
November’s Small Press Bookwatch named Native Soulmate: A Season in Search of a Love Homegrown a Reviewer’s Choice, calling it a “charming and original read, very much recommended.” The Des Moines Register agrees, praising Zachary Michael Jack’s latest book of creative nonfiction as “a deeply personal and heartfelt journey.”
From the cover:
“At the height of a Heartland summer a seventh generation Midwesterner unlucky in love sets forth from a faraway farm on a quest to road-test what he calls his Beach Boys hypothesis: What if we really do live in a world where native boy meets native girl…What if the cutest boys and girls in the world really do live right under our noses? So begins a Cinderella season in search of a love homegrown. Pursuing the dream wherever it may lead, the author delivers speeches in far-flung farm burgs and readings in well-to-do college towns while setting up listening posts in public libraries and chautauquas in cattle barns. Part 1500-mile travelogue and part real-life love story, Native Soulmate offers not just an account of a magical trek and its uncanny, sweetcorn settings, but a moving argument for how voting with your feet and leading with your heart really can matter.”
Sample reviews and endorsements of Homer Croy Corn Country:
“Homer Croy was a blue-ribbon humorist, and Corn Country is a funny and engaging collection of his best work.” –Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winner
“The corn reads great, now that Homer Croy is back in print!” –Timothy Walch, Director, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & trustee of the State Historical Society of Iowa
“This inviting collection brings back into the spotlight one of the best humorists of the American Midwest with an appeal, like that of regional humorist Garrison Keillor, that stretches far beyond the Corn Belt.” –Foreword Magazine
“These pieces reveal Croy s core sensibility, his wild wit tempered by warmth of feeling… They confirm Croy as an important American and Midwestern literary figure.” –C. D. Albin, Southwest Missouri State University
One part Mark Twain, and two parts Garrison Keillor, prize-winning humorist and essayist Homer Croy was a man of many distinctions: The first student of the first school of journalism in the United States, the first person to tour the world shooting motion pictures, and the first author of his day to write a best-selling novel that happened to be anonymous. Dale Carnegie dedicated his opus “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to him; Will Rogers, for whom Croy wrote more films than any other, made him honored guest at his Thanksgiving table. In between his pioneering studies in journalism at the University of Missouri and his mid-life, Missouri farm memoirs that sold in the hundreds of thousands, Croy flunked out of college, moved to the Big Apple, filmed his way around the world, tied the knot in the first marriage ever captured on a Universal newsreel, worked for Theodore Dreiser, earned a fortune, moved to Paris, tragically lost two children, wrote for Hollywood, earned an honorary doctorate, and, in the end, lost his fortune all while maintaining the down-home humor and heart that earned him a reputation among peers as the towering cornstalk of midcentury, midwestern memoir.