Midwest Books

MidwestBooksREVmWMidwestGroupCUTOUTsmWOur four Midwest books provide a portrait of rural Midwest society in prose and verse. Three of them, Heartland PortraitRiver Days and Eating in  Place were developed in writing workshops while Driftless Dreams is a play for voices.






Paperback -- $20

Paperback — $20


Heartland Portrait: Stories and Essays from the Rural Midwest is a self-portrait of the Driftless region drawn from eighteen years of Free River Press writing workshops with farm families, small town and village residents, commercial fishermen, towboat captains and others living in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. It is a record of the transformation of rural America, an ensemble of personal stories that document not only loss in rapidly changing times but success in adapting and preserving a way of life.


Sections include:

Simple Times * Icons & Emblems * Farm Crisis * Land Stewardship

Local Foods * Villages & Towns * The River

 To read Dave Rasdal’s column in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, click here:
To read Melody Parker’s article in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, click here:
To read selected stories click here:

This book is available in the Free River Press online store here



Driftless Dreams, like Under Milkwood, is a play for voices. Its subject is rural America, evoked in a tapestry woven of choruses, conversations and monologue. This mixture of forms allowed me the flexibility I needed to voice to shared feelings and divergent perspectives within. Wisconsin writer Joseph O’Brien wrote that “Robert Wolf has undertaken a work of choral polyphony . . . . Indeed, from the moment thought speaks in this work, the polyphony, the many voices of the Driftless region come alive with a resonance which echoes from valley to ridge top.”

$10 Purchase: http://www.freeriverpress.org/store.html
Scenes in Driftless Dreams:
Section I. Farming (The Agrarian Dream, Dream of Threshing, Aprons, Quilts).
Section II. Small Towns (Small Towns, Saturday Night, County Seat Wars, I Want to be Somebody).
Section III. The River (River Towns & Night Seining).
Section IV. Character (The American Way &Character).

Driftless Dreams was performed in 2009 by Upstart Crow Theatreworks in Decorah, Iowa and by the Kickapoo Players of Viroqua, Wisconsin. In 2013 it was performed by a theater group in Platteville  Wisconsin.

To read a sample choral poem, click here:

This book is available in the Free River Press online store here



Iowa Harvest:  Visions, Memories and Hopes was developed in a three-day writing workshop at the Blanden Memorial Museum of Art in Fort Dodge, Iowa.  This collection of stories gives a panorama of rural and small town life from Saturday night doings in small towns when the men went to the bar while the women shopped, to Fourth of July celebrations and ice cream socials. Some stories will make you laugh out loud (e.g. “Brotherly Love on a Prison Farm”). When people fifty years from now will want to know just what life in the rural Midwest was like in the 20th century, Iowa Harvest would be the book they should turn to.

Stories include:

Saturday Night * Growing up in Small Town Iowa * School Days in the Country *

Brotherly Love on a Prison Farm * The Fourth of July in Gowrie

The Ice Cream Social * Milking Time * Sorting Pigs * and more
This book is available in the Free River Press online store here.


RD1revSMw River Days.  Stories from the Mississippi, edited by Robert Wolf.

The Mississippi River is one of America’s icons. Its history is inhabited by larger-than-life characters that became national myths and legends. The mighty river exerts a deep pull on our collective imagination. River Days, Stories from the Mississippi is a collection of contemporary stories written by Mississippi River pilots and towboat captains, commercial fishermen, and people living along its banks.

Stories Include:

  • Towboat Days * The Midnight Watch Change * Night Seining
  • River Traditions * River Towns * Night of Fright on the Mississippi

This book is available in the Free River Press online store here.