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State Fair

Foreword Author(s): 
Robert A. McCown


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1996
280 pages
Paper: 
$16.00
0-87745-569-4
978-0-87745-569-1

“…two hours of welcome relief from the depression…a gay novel of normal, healthy farm people, a novel with plenty of gusto and relish for life in it.”—New York Times Book Review, May 8, 1932

“…he brings to his first published novel an unusual combination of the city slicker's knowingness and humor with a sound understanding of and affectionate feelings for the life of which he makes his story.”—Saturday Review of Literature, May 7, 1932

“Phil Strong, looking back at Iowa, from whence he sprung, sees with artistic detachment and sympathetic humor, a group of honest and naive, but soundly intelligent, farmers having mirabile dictu a good time.”—New York Herald Tribune Books, May 8, 1932

First published in the spring of 1932, Phil Strong's whimsical and wise State Fair was an immediate success. Hollywood released a film that fall starring Will Rogers as Abel Frake and a champion hog from an Iowa farm as the famous Blue Boy, “the finest Hampshire stud boar in the world.” In 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical motion picture launched such memorable songs as “It Might as Well Be Spring.” In 1962 a movie musical with Pat Boone and Ann-Margret was set at the Texas State Fair. And in 1995 a highly entertaining adaptation of the 1945 musical premiered at the Iowa State Fair before moving on to Broadway. This paperback edition of State Fair, with a new foreword by Robert McCown, reprints the original novel in all it exuberance and freshness.

On the surface State Fairsimply recounts the adventures of the close-knit Frake family at the Iowa State Fair in the late 1920s, but Strong's universal morality tale has much to reveal to anyone willing to read between the lines. The book shocked some readers in 1932, but most were captivated by the Frakes' good-natured integrity and applauded their spirit. Readers today will find the same joy, liveliness, and insight in this new edition of State Fair.