The Plain Sense of Things


The Plain Sense of Things

Pamela Carter Joern

Flyover Fiction Series

248 pages


September 2008


$18.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In prose as clean and beautiful as the stark prairie setting, The Plain Sense of Things tells the stories of three generations of a western Nebraska family. These tales of sorrow and hope are connected by the sinews of need and flawed love that keep families together. A farm wife struggles to support her children after the death of her second husband; a young woman grapples with the shift from girlhood to motherhood; World War II wreaks havoc on those left behind; and a failing farmstead breaks a family’s heart. Amid hardship and change, these interwoven stories illuminate the resilience and dignity—and the subtle sweetness—of a life lived in clear view of the plain sense of things.

Author Bio

Pamela Carter Joern’s debut novel, The Floor of the Sky (available in a Bison Books edition), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and winner of the Alex Award and the Nebraska Book Award. Joern is a playwright, the winner of a Tamarack Award, and the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board writing fellowship. Visit her Web site at


“Set against the backdrop of the Nebraska prairie, Joern’s powerful second offering follows three generations as they navigate the greater part of the 20th century. . . . Evocative prose elevates Joern’s excellent portrayal of the family’s evolution and brings a warmth and richness to a stark landscape.”—Publishers Weekly

"The clarity and honesty of Joern's prose impart a quiet intensity to this novel about three generations of a family enduring a hardscrabble existence in western Nebraska. Shaped by place and by each other, strong, flawed characters struggle through love and pain to create rich and dignified lives well worthy of our attention."—Tripp Ryder, Carleton College Bookstore, Shelf Awareness

"Joern has a gift for illuminating a character's inner life without speaking over much of it. She adeptly mixes past and present tense, effectively linking past and present, story and memory. . . . Kudos to the University of Nebraska Press' Flyover Fiction series for bringing Joern's work to light. May there be more forthcoming."—Pamela Miller, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Immerse yourself in her novels and discover the truths she writes about."—Glenda Martin, Minnesota Women’s Press

"As with Joern’s previous novel, The Floor of the Sky, Joern’s writing is evocative and riveting, revealing her deep respect for those who live, and even thrive, on the plains."—Helene Williams, Historical Novels Review

"With clean, polished and illuminating prose, Joern takes us through the highs and lows, marriage, divorce, children, disappointments, triumphs and sibling rivalries of several generations of one Nebraska clan. . . . It's a saga to be read again and again by an author who's already made a name for herself."—Barbara Rixstine, Lincoln Journal Star

Table of Contents

Ghost Town 

Hard Times Ahead 

Sliding Down the Milky Way   

Be Careful What You Wish For 

Elitch Gardens   

Never Mind 

Good-bye, Old Kid

Pipe Dreams

Wonderful Words of Life

Lost Boy   

How Is It Where You Are?     

Fibber Magee's Closet  



I Wonder Why-why-why-why     

Little Deaths and Minor Resurrections    

Love Songs 


Also of Interest