If you’ve lived in the Midwest, these characters will be instantly familiar to you. Now in a second edition, Jeff Kunkel’s Warming Fires: Stories for All Seasons is back in print with an entertaining cast of Midwestern characters, with the bonus of a new story added to the collection.
In this book of 17 short stories, the Midwest comes alive with brilliant sense of place. The main characters – farmers, newlyweds, hunters, ministers, teens – find themselves in all sorts of predicaments, from minor annoyances to life-threatening episodes. Each story combines humor, grace, and tender insights, as the folks in the stories find ways to, as one says, face God as “the One with whom we have to do.”
Although Kunkel lives in California now, his family has deep roots in the Midwest. Both sides of his family immigrated from Germany to Wisconsin. He grew up in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. In the process, he learned how to tell a great story – with the cadence of Midwestern speech, a mix of humor with more weighty matters, a deep knowledge of the human condition, and an open-ended conclusion that isn’t preachy or ponderous. These are literary stories that are just plain fun to read.
The newest addition to Warming Fires, a piece titled “Holy Ghost,” was written this summer for the 150th Anniversary Celebration of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Kiel, Wisconsin, the church where Kunkel’s great-grandfather pastored many years ago. The story tells the tale of how the door of St. Peter’s begins to open mysteriously night after night on its own. Is it the work of vandals – or the spirit of the Holy Ghost?
Kunkel is a widely-published author of short stories, children’s picture books, non-fiction books, and essays and articles in magazines. He is also an ordained United Methodist pastor, currently serving Burlingame United Methodist Church in California.
Whether Warming Fire’s characters are swimming in musky-infested waters in the nude, facing the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, or chasing an aging rhino down a Wisconsin back road, they create a friction that lights up the night.
For author appearances (he often visits churches as a pulpit guest or workshop leader), Kunkel can be contacted via his website: www.JeffKunkel.org.
Warming Fires: Stories for All Seaons is available in a softcover edition from Crispin Books, an indie-book publisher based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more info, visit the Warming Fires title page.