The Road to Wonewoc

A series of photographs taken alongside the rural thoroughfares leading to Wonewoc, the small town in Wisconsin where novelist David Rhodes lives with his wife, Edna.

On Tuesday, June 10, a day after severe storms flooded the southern half of Wisconsin, prompting evacuations of at least six small towns—and completely washing out Lake Delton, a popular tourist destination—the fields outside of Wonewoc were lush under a sunny sky.

Wisconsin is home to the fourth-largest Amish community in the country; many live in Juneau County, where Rhodes has lived for thirty-five years.

David Rhodes lives in the "driftless" region of Wisconsin, so named because its rugged terrain lacks the glacial deposits of rock, clay, sand, and silt—known as drift—that is typical of the state's landscape.

About seven miles west of Wonewoc is Hillsboro, a small town of fifteen hundred residents that is touted as the "Czech Capital of Wisconsin" because of the many Czech and German homesteaders that settled in the region. A block from Highway 33 in Hillsboro is The Cheese Store and More, Inc., exactly the kind of business one would expect to find nestled between cattle farms in the Dairy State.

In 1972, David Rhodes moved to Wonewoc from Iowa City, where he had been a student at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Within five years, Rhodes was paralyzed from the sternum down in a motorcyle accident. During the next three decades, he published nothing but continued to write. "If I don't write I don't feel right," Rhodes says. In September, Milkweed Editions is releasing his long-awaited fourth novel, Driftless, marking the triumphant return of a major American novelist.