The story unfolds over the years as Saul and Patsy start a family, and their quaint lives are infiltrated by children — their own, and others' kids. One in particular jars their complacency — Saul's mentally imbalanced student, Gordy, who stalks the family. Jonathan Franzen gets all the brainy Midwestern-writer applause, but I sure like the quieter Baxter, with his funny and thoughtful prose that doesn't scream but speaks.
Steve Amick's The Lake, The River & The Other Lake sounds like a great read too:
Being an Iowan, I feel weird shouting out The Mitten twice, but this sprawling novel about a fictional tourist town in Michigan lake country is so jam-packed with quirky and awesome characters, I can't help it.
There's the Ojibwe Indian, Roger Drinkwater, who is driven mad by Jet Skis. The lonely widower, the Rev. Eugene Reecher, who grapples with a porn addiction. The bigoted orchard owner Hubert vonBushberger, who is blindsided when his son secretly marries a migrant worker — she shows up for work pregnant at the start of the season — and vonBushberger's daughter, who makes matters worse by bringing home a Japanese dude. Think of this as an edgy, dark Lake Woebegon.
I haven't read either of these books, so I can't fully endorse them. Hopefully one of us will read them soon and we can offer full reviews. I'll keep you posted.