It’s often said that great art arrives at the intersection of experience, imagination, and discovery. Or maybe I’m the only one who says that. It’s still true. In The Sunshine Special Donovan Hufnagle combines these elements and others to create an art document that defies conventional description. I’m reminded of the powerful work of James Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, or Phillip Levine’s gritty elegies to the working class of America. Part personal narrative, epic poem, and historical artifact, this book re-creates a timeless American story with sincerity, courage, and grit. It is a love letter to the past, real and imagined, with surprises on every page.--Matt Bondurant, author of The Third Translation, The Wettest County in the World (Lawless) & The Night Swimmer.
Culled and conjured from an ancestral archive, these epistolary and daybook poems trace one man’s travel from Texas to California in 1920 as well as his decision to leave the family home and business. ‘I read somewhere that American men/ have no history of themselves as men—as we haven’t known what questions to ask,’ the narrator muses. And yet Donovan Hufnagle’s The Sunshine Special poses many important questions about the myth of the American west and its relation to American masculinity in a sustained poetic inquiry that unspools against a strangely gendered landscape of both aridness and promise.--Susan Briante, author of Pioneers in the Study of Motion, Utopia Minus & The Market Wonders.
The Sunshine Special is a brilliant and well-constructed rendering of the poet's search for his familial past. In a series of tender correspondences, and collective memories, Hufnagle sutures together a compelling narrative that elevates archive to high art. A fantastic and rare kind of book I cannot recommend enough.--Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Breathing, In Dust, Skin Tax, Culture of Flow, Natural Takeover of Small Things, Mañana Means Heaven & All They Will Call You.
Rifle through this Shoebox to discover the grain realities layered between a family's grand hopes. Told in documents that connect two lines and two countries, Hufnagle drops epistolary clues that guide readers to reconstruct the story of Juliana, a Russian adoptee. Vivid voices, braided motifs, and emotional depths await those who eavesdrop upon these intersecting lives. An absorbing read that juxtaposes past and present, love and lack, in language that startles. -- Rebecca Balcarcel, author of The Other Half of Happy