by Michael Farris Smith
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I live in farm country in the Midwest. Last summer, the prairie was dry and haunted. Scorched cornfields stretched as far as the eye could see, the stalks standing tall and brown, bearing no fruit. On the local news every night, reporters talked about the blessing of crop insurance, and reported how nearly 90 percent of the state was suffering from the drought. Conditions were similar across the plains. This year was different: We were inundated by rainfall. Hundreds of acres flooded into small lakes big enough to have currents. "We're the Seattle of the prairie," was the joke, only there hasn't been much laughter, because it is clear that something is not right.
Fiction writers often tangle with how to write about the issues shaping the world we live in—war, poverty, oppression—while still preserving the
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