Pamela Carter Joern
In Reach
In Reach is a collection of short stories set in the town
of Reach, Nebraska, named by a British homesteader
who said the waving prairie grass reminded him of the
reach of the ocean. The stories range from the 1950’s
to present day, within the town limits and as far away
as Spain, but all the characters have ties to the rural
community that shaped them. Yearning for relationship,
the inhabitants of these stories find redemption in
surprising ways: a gay man who hopes to salvage a
relationship with his father finds comfort instead from
an elderly woman who spends her nights in an iron
lung; a mother and daughter find a way to support each
other through grief over a death in the family; a
crotchety hospital cleaning woman finds tenderness in
pilfered greeting cards. Sometimes minor characters
from one story show up featured in another, just as if
you were walking down the street and caught a glimpse
of someone you know. The situations may surprise
you, the dilemmas may haunt you, but the characters
will remind you of people you have known, flawed and
yet resilient, touchingly human.
The little town of Reach, Neb., comes to life in Minnesotan Pamela Carter Joern's story
collection "In Reach". This is Joern's third book set in the state where she grew up. Her 2006
novel ""The Floor of the Sky" won the Nebraska Book Award and an Alex Award (for a book
written for adults with special appeal to ages 12-18.) Her story collection "The Plain Sense of
Things" came out in 2008.

Joern's talent is in creating fully realized, interesting characters and unambiguous stories that
weave together several threads.
--Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press
It is an honor to introduce Pam Joern at this launch of her new book of fiction, In Reach--a very
brief title that, the reader quickly discovers, refers to a little town in Nebraska. A small world, we
might think at first.  But, over the course of reading these wonderful stories we come to know
that, however particular the setting, the reach of this book extends far and deep into human
hearts and souls and bodies in ways that are achingly familiar and poignantly and beautifully
strange—sometimes even quietly terrifying.  And more often than you’d expect, unpredictably
funny.   “What,” I found myself asking about every story, is actually “in reach—and in Reach—
for these characters in this place?”

Part of the mystery in Pam’s fiction, at least as I understand it, devolves around that profoundly
theological, philosophical, psychological and just plain everyday question:  “Given the various
circumstances of our lives, how do we go on?—what to do, what to think, how to feel—and to
go on not just doggedly but with some sense that it is necessary to do so, even worth it to do
so.  That is not, of course, the only deep question that is voiced, if not always resolved,
throughout these stories, but if you were to write down the last sentence of every one of these
fourteen stories, you would, I think, end up with a repertoire of fictional but true responses to
that question, some clues to the way Pam experiences and writes about the world she has
--Mary Bednarowski, opening remarks at the launch, Magers and Quinn Bookstore
The book, In Reach, tells of how the town was named by a British homesteader, who said the
undulating prairie grasses evoked the reach of the ocean. This observation is poetic, nostalgic
and hauntingly familiar, much like the book itself. . .What makes this collection hit home for
readers are the town’s imagery, the underlying tension of tangled relationships and the array of
distinct individuals presented. . .The collection of characters, along with the stories and the
emotions that accompany them, are illustrative and authentic. . . These stories are raw and
wrenching. The events that tear Joern’s characters apart will do the same to the reader. That’s
part of the collection’s beauty. Her deeply empathetic prose masterfully captures nuanced
emotions that linger after her tales conclude.
--Emily Case,
NebraskaLife Magazine  (full review)  
Books of short stories about Nebraskans are few, and that might be one reason why Pamela
Carter Joern's new book could be an award-winner and is the first book on the gift list of the
University of Nebraska Press.

The Nebraska of Joern's stories is complex in its own way, capable of holding one's interest
through repeated readings. How can you not care about a character who endured violent child
abuse; a painter with work in the governor's mansion who had showed in Chicago before
moving to a small town with her husband to get away from it all and is now a widow; teens who
refuse football and hunting before finally joining in? These people are part of the Nebraska Joern
"set out to capture." One result of that work is that stories of "In Reach" seem taut, pared down,
precise, as great short stories often do, even as Joern writes with great insight into the psyche of
--Kirk Zebolsky,
Omaha Books (full review)
As always, your books are great. Here's a bit of what I wrote in my latest column in Dec-Jan
BookWomen. Thanks for your good stories. . .

Pamela Carter Joern’s
In Reach (2014), stories set in a fictional small plains town of Reach,
published by University of Nebraska Press. Carter writes in her acknowledgments, “All the
dragonflies and sunflowers and prairie grasses that worked their enchantments on me.” Classic
--Glenda Martin,
BookWomen, Minnesota Women’s Press
Pamela Charter Joern's book, In Reach, is a Winesburg Ohio for the contemporary Great Plains.
Like Sherwood Anderson's book,
In Reach is a collection of short stories that adds up to a novel
filled with complicated human stories. It is a joy to read and will stay with the reader for a long,
long time.
--Dan O'Brien,
Wild Idea: Buffalo & Family in a Difficult Land
In Reach is an elegant, pitch-perfect book. While we needed no more proof of it, Pam Joern has
once again demonstrated that she’s the real thing, a masterful writer capable of showing us the
world through the passions, disappointments, secrets, losses, and small achievements of
characters whose submerged lives are played out against the harsh beauty of the Nebraska
plains. I loved this book.
--Ladette Randolph,
Haven’s Wake.
Pamela Carter Joern’s fictional village of Reach, Nebraska, is populated by people you have
known, or known of, all your life. In these glimpses of life as it is really lived, you will encounter
your aunt Ella, your grandfather Leland, even the uncle no one mentions. You may agree that
God is not absent if you are there. You will never forget Marlene and Vernon. Each character is
doing “the best he can do” to harvest satisfaction from their lives. Searching for connections,
you will find these folks in reach of your heart.
--Linda M. Hasselstrom,
No Place Like Home, Dirt Songs.
With prose as honest in its portrayal of joy and hope as it is in its portrayal of sorrow and
desperation, the stories in Pamela Carter Joern’s collection,
In Reach, offer a beautiful and
often heartrending glimpse into the longings, fears, accomplishments, and tragedies of ordinary
people . . . Joern’s characters live and love in silence, or in protest, or with a quiet grace,
dealing with the situations life throws at them in both tragic and comic ways. . . . The book’s
stories touch on what seem to be universal hungers, fears, and hopes of the human heart—
drives that will resonate with readers in urban coastal centers as much as they resonate with
readers in Midwestern towns . . . What I found most impressive about this collection was the
range of subjects the author covered with both honesty and insight . . .  Joern’s trip through
the town of Reach is really, in the end, a tour of the human heart—in all of its blessedness,
wickedness, ambiguity, and sorrow. We laugh, weep, and struggle with her characters
because we laugh, weep, and struggle with our own lives. Joern is a seasoned tour guide. As
she tells her stories, she lets us know that she understands our broken, beautiful, humanity.
--Aaron Klink,
Collegeville Institute Website (full review)
Winner of a 2015 Nebraska Book Award
Nebraska Center For The  Book

Finalist for a 2015 Minnesota Book Award