"An inherently riveting read from cover to cover, The Northeast Quarter clearly demonstrates author S. M. Harris as a truly gifted storyteller, and his many layered, deftly crafted novel certain to be a highly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections."
-Midwest Book Review

About Northeast Quarter

The Northeast Quarter is an epic story of the power of family, the complexity of human greed, and the pursuit of justice during the early 1920's in an America defined by the aftermath of war and the onset of The Great Depression.

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The Empty Fields

I came across Helena Bottemiller Evich’s article in Politico from Spring 2015 about an upcoming GOP political gathering at Iowa State Fairgrounds. I was interested because one of the topics to be addressed was agricultural issues. With all the other issues confronting us today (health care, immigration, terrorism) it seemed worthwhile to discuss farm issues. Everyone at the time agreed that there was a downside – there were fewer farmers and, therefore, not much necessity to address their problems. It’s been this way for some time. I can remember going to Audubon, Iowa for my father’s funeral in 1998 and back again for my mother’s funeral in 2006. Many of the properties we passed were not run by farm families. but by companies who placed a manager in charge of several properties. The actual work was performed by machinery and the manager’s job was to see that everything was done

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A Win For Farmers

Have always been wary of government intrusion into our lives. Usually they tell us it’s being done for our own good – but more often (to me at least) the intrusion seems to exist for the them to justify their jobs. Or even make them feel useful. We protest and sometimes we push back, but like a well-intended mudslide, these intrusions just keep coming.
Was heartened to read in Hoosier Ag and National Hog Farm.com about a Supreme Court decision (8-0) in favor of landowners. Seems the Army Corps and EPA had made a determination that wetlands existed on a certain property. However, it also seems that the nearest navigable water was about 100 miles away from the property in question. The landowners took it to court and, thanks to the decision, farmers can challenge such bureaucratic determinations.

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A Little More On Edna Ferber

I’ve mentioned before – I’ve always liked novels by Edna Ferber. How she takes the story of a family and sets it against the background of an emerging territory, which by the book’s end will have become a state. Against this panorama, there is always the protagonist whose journey mirrors or contrasts with the growth of the land around him. He may a prospector or a drifter in chapter one – but at the close, he is a grandfather and a newly elected state senator. In The Northeast Quarter I decided to tell a Ferber story in reverse. I begin the empire and watch it collapse over the next ten years. Some characters fight to exploit it; others fight to save it. When the smoke clears, we’re left with a small handful. And they will have the strength and courage to survive and start over.

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A Shout Out For Gunnar Bjornstrand

Often times when watching the work of a top actor, one gets used to the high standard without focusing on the elements which make each performance great. Such a performer was Swedish actor Gunnar Bjornstrand. He appeared in many Ingmar Bergman films – most of his performances were in films which were released between 50 and 60 years ago. Bjornstrand left us in 1986. Time passes and tastes in film change. One has to look way back. He generally played reserved, sometimes seemingly repressed characters – usually lawyers, doctors or fathers of a household. I admired his work, but did not really appreciate it until recently I happened to see his work in three Bergman films (Smiles Of A Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, and The Magician). If we line these performances up side by side, we have a prosperous lawyer juggling a lost love, a young wife and a

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A Shout Out For Edna Ferber

For many years I had always liked Edna Ferber’s novels: Multi-generational sagas which traced the rags to riches fortunes of a family in such varied locales as Texas or Alaska. When I closed each novel, I always felt satisfied – as if I had finished a whole meal. Great stuff.  Typical Ferber: The narrative would begin with a prospector wandering in the woods who finds a gold nugget. And it would end with the man being elected state senator. When the idea of The Northeast Quarter came to mind, I wanted to write a Ferber-like book. Only set it in Iowa between WW1 and The Great Depression. She was a definite inspiration.

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A Shout Out For Raintree County

A few weeks ago I saw the film version of Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr. I had always liked the movie and so I read the novel. What a beautiful piece of work. Wow. Long? Yes. But well worth the journey. Raintree County was one of the influences behind my decision to write The Northeast Quarter. Publishing date is November of this year. Whatever happens after that, it will be well worth the journey.

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