As the summer of 1993 begins, Sam and Swami Brecht roll into town with a twenty-six-foot Winnebago camper van, their three young kids, and the deed to Woodchuck Rafting Company.
Sam and Swami met as young, adventurous river guides but, a decade later, find themselves weighed down by money worries and the demands of adulthood. The town of Thunderwater, in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, could be the fresh start their marriage needs. But Woodchuck, once the property of Sam’s eccentric uncle, has seen better days and will need a serious overhaul if it is going to stand a chance at survival.
Soon Sam and Swami learn they are not the only ones looking for change and profit on the river. A competing rafting outfit, clashing raft guides, stubborn townsfolk, and an exploratory mining company begin to threaten their tenuous livelihood. Then nature intervenes, in the form of historic floods throughout the Midwest. Amid tumultuous currents both on and off the river, Sam and Swami find themselves struggling to maintain the new life they’ve built. Before the summer draws to a close, the Brechts must learn to face the floodwaters together in order to create a sustainable future for their family, the town, and the pristine river upon which it all flows.
In conversation with Nickolas Butler.
Andrew J. Graff is the author of novel Raft of Stars. His fiction and essays have appeared in Image and Dappled Things. Andrew grew up fishing, hiking, and hunting in Wisconsin's Northwoods. After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Graff earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Ohio and teaches at Wittenberg University.
Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison as well as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the author of the novel The Hearts of Men, the internationally bestselling and prizewinning novel Shotgun Lovesongs, and the acclaimed short story collection Beneath the Bonfire. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and their two children.