In Chris Fink’s debut work of fiction, America’s rural core is cracked open to reveal moments of stark beauty and cruelty. Farmer’s Almanac—a new Midwestern Gothic—is an imaginary handbook for rural living, as timeless and essential as its namesake. But this is no American pastoral. Fink’s vision is more Orwell than Rockwell. Not since Winesburg, Ohio has a book so thoroughly plumbed the Midwestern character. A despairing farmer milks a dead cow, a baseball phenom chooses between the diamond and the dairy barn, and in the back of the school bus, a young girl fights back against her tormentors. Farmer’s Almanac reports the news from mythical Odette County, Wisconsin, where the milk prices keep falling, and the forecast is not good.