The Ohioana Library Association has just announced that Shepherd: A Memoir is one of five finalists for the 2015 Ohioana Book Award in Nonfiction. I was and remain surprised and grateful. The north doesn’t get behind its books, not the way the south does, but the Ohioana Library Association has always been a shining exception to that feeling.
The association established its awards in 1942 for fiction, nonfiction, books about Ohio or an Ohioan, poetry, and juvenile literature. Even if your book is not eventually nominated for an award, the good folks at Ohioana will note it in their Ohioana Quarterly if you or your book touches on the Buckeye State. When I was marketing manager at Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, I sent Ohioana a boatload of books. Our authors received thoughtful reviews in return.
I treasure Shepherd’s review in Ohioana Quarterly last October, especially its phrase, “The ups and downs of Gilbert’s farm projects coincide with a deeper reflection on the poignant dilemmas common to all humankind.” Above all, a memoirist likes being told he’s not narcissistic after all.
The Ohioana honor caps a season of firsts for me and Shepherd. This struck me in May, driving into northern Ohio to give a reading. After months of looking at gray-brown bark, my eyes lingered on the soft new buds adorning the roadside trees. I was bound for my book’s ultimate venue: Mainstreet Books, in Mansfield, Ohio. Mansfield’s most famous native son, Louis Bromfield, was a hero to me as I grew up in Satellite Beach, Florida.