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Kansas locations associated with Yoho include Atchison, Topeka, Colony, Comanche County, and ficticious Epic in Southeast Kansas
Max Yoho

Max Yoho


 

The Revival by Max Yoho

 

Tales from Comanche County by Max Yoho

 

Felician, These Fish Are Delicious by Max Yoho

 

The Moon Butter Route by Max Yoho

 

With the Wisdom of Owls Cover

 

Me and Aunt Izzy

 

Max Yoho presents at Paola Free Library
2006 Kansas Notable Book Award, Kansas Center for the Book, The Moon Butter Route
2011 Distringuished Literary Artist, ArtsConnect
Topeka High School library, with bust of Mark Twain

 

 


Biography
 
          

    Born in 1934, Max Yoho grew to the age of ten in small town Colony, Kansas. Observant even at that tender age, Max pedaled his bicycle around Colony carefully observing small town Midwestern life. Yoho’s favorite memories of Colony include summer evenings playing folk guitar to his grandfather’s fiddle, with neighbors dropping up for lemonade, music, and conversation.
     Max’s father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and moved his family to Atchison, Kansas, when Max was 10. Max spent his Huck Finn years exploring along the banks of the Missouri River, searching local fields for arrowheads with his buddies, and collecting an arsenal of Civil War era weapons.
     Moving to Topeka in 1949, Yoho graduated from Topeka High School and attended classes at Washburn University. With the support of his freshman comp teacher, he wrote features for The Washburn Review. Besides reading, his other passion was learning to speak German and, eventually, traveling to Germany.
     Max married, had three sons, and spent thirty-eight years as a machinist in the Topeka area. He retired in 1992 to begin a new career as a writer.
     Max also enjoys cooking. And he has a collection of old musical instruments—particularly old horns of all shapes and sizes.


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Published Work  
      Yoho’s first novel, The Revival, featured an introduction by Kansas author Don Coldsmith and won the 2002 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award of the Kansas Authors Club.
    Tales from Comanche County: The Peculiar Education of Max Freeman
are tall stories told on the front porch of a hard scrabble Comanche County, Kansas, ranch.
     The Revival
and Tales from Comanche County were both published as unabridged audio books by Books in Motion, Spokane, WA, 2006.
    Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious
, Yoho’s collection of poems, essays and short stories, was chosen among the “Ten Best Reads” of 2004 by book reviewer Nancy Mehl of the Wichita Eagle. Much of his short work from Felicia was originally published in in the early 1990s in various issues of Washburn University's literary magazine, Inscape. Other of Yoho's short work is published for the first time in Felicia.
     Kansas State Librarian Christie Brandau chose Yoho’s novel The Moon Butter Route as one of fifteen “2006 Kansas Notable Books.” Authors were honored at the Black, White and Read All Over Ball in Wichita on September 29, 2006. This book also was awarded the 2007 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award of the Kansas Authors Club.
     In 2007 both Yoho's novels The Moon Butter Route and The Revival were named among twelve "Kansas Favorite Books" by the Kansas Center for the Book, a division of the Kansas State Library. Yoho was the only Kansas author with two works listed among the top twelve. Contributions to the KCFB list were solicited from librarians, educators, writers, booksellers, publishers and others in the Kansas book community. A total of 113 titles were submitted.
     In Summer 2006 Yoho’s first two novels, The Revival and Tales from Comanche County, were released as unabridged audio books by Books In Motion of Spokane, WA.
    Yoho's With the Wisdom of Owls is a "what-if" story about a baby, Harry, who has an owl for a godfather. The work is another strong example of this author's delight with the English language. The book is based on the author's credo: "Never let reality limit your life."
    Yoho's Me and Aunt Izzy : Doing Time at the Jesse James Hideout and Coal Mining Company was published in Fall, 2011. Set in fictitious "Buffalo County," Southeast Kansas, in 1938, this is the story of eleven-year-old Jefferson Davis Johnson, sentenced to a summer of "moral rehabilitation" under the watchful eye of his great aunt, Queen Isabella of Spain Johnson. A relic of the "roaring twenties," this stern matriarch may have her own ideas about what a boy should learn. (2011).
    Yoho’s writing is published by Dancing Goat Press of Topeka.
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Map Locations  
 

“Armageddon,” KS: Yoho invented Amegeddon as the "largest town in the southeast corner of Kansas." Readers can ignore the city of Pittsburg, KS, and think “Armegeddon” instead.
     Armegeddon is mentioned in both The Moon Butter Route and in Me and Aunt Izzy.

Amelia Earhart bronze statue, Forest of FriendshipAtchison, KS: Yoho lived in Atchison from ages 10 to 15. Atchison is known as the childhood home of Amelia Earhart, aviatrix; Max on Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe steam engineknown for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway; and known for its liquor distillery. Atchison is also the most haunted town in Kansas.

Max stands on hillside. Behind him is the Missouri River and the Amelia Earhart bridge

Downtown ColonyColony, KS: Colony is Yoho's birthplace, 7 miles north of Iola in Anderson County. Current population is approximately 390. People who know the area, and people who know Yoho, might swear that Colony is very like “Epic,” Kansas, the small town setting for Max's humorous novels The Revival and The Moon Butter Route.
Ex-gas station, Colony, Kansas
Max Yoho in downtown Colony, Kansas

Comanche County, KS: Situated in South Central Kansas, Comanche County has large ranches, red earth, and very few paved roads —but plenty of cockleburs and rattlesnakes. The county seat is Coldwater. The Freeman ranch, sitting just adjacent to the Oklahoma border and home to Great Uncle Jack and Great Aunt Tildy, is the setting for Yoho's novel, Tales from Comanche County. Max has visited Comanche County but has never lived there.

milk or alcohol?“Epic,” KS: A typical small town in Kansas, “Epic” is the setting for Yoho's novels The Revival, The Moon Butter Route and Me and Aunt Izzy. Many readers suspect that “Epic” might be the small town they grew up in, but Yoho reveals in The Moon Butter Route that “Epic” is in the Southeast corner of the state—an area known as The Little Balkans because of the hordes of emigrant labor that came to the area to work coal mining operations. Those settling in Southeast Kansas, coming from Central and Southern Europe, brought with them the art of distilling spirits. The area has a reputation for the making fine moonshine liquor during and after the long Prohibition era in Kansas: 1888 to 1949. Bootlegging operations play a prominent role in Yoho's The Moon Butter Route.
     Border-Kansas folktales of the many potential sites associated with the exploits of the Jesse James Gang, post Civil War outlaws, is woven into Me and Aunt Izzy's fiction.

Capitol dome reflectionTopeka, KS: The capital of Kansas, Topeka has been Yoho's home since 1949. The Yoho family came to Topeka when Max's father was transferred from Atchison to Topeka by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Yoho attended ninth grade, high school and trade school in Topeka (studying to become a machinist), then took coursework at Washburn University as he and his first wife, Rosemary, raised their three sons. Max working tire mold, Goodyear plant, Topeka
Kansas Authors Club
, a statewide organization, was founded in Topeka in 1904. Yoho joins a number of well-known Topeka writers Kansas Authors Club, old logoincluding Eugene Fitch Ware, Arthur Capper, Rev. Charles M. Sheldon, and Margaret Hill McCarter as having been involved in this club.

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Writing Samples
  Birthday Greetings

Mother does not like her room.
I promised her it would be private,
Yet nasty children pass through her walls.
The family that lives behind her mirror laughs as she undresses.
Snakes surround her bed, nest in her shoes.
…river snakes!
…should never have built this place so near the river!
If you only knew how it scares me
to ride that ferryboat to work each day!

I hand her roses… “so proud of you!
You are ninety-one, and still beautiful!”
Distracted by the roses, she forgets to remind me
of the awful thing I let happen.


Jim Owens

The boys called him crazy. Well, he wasn’t like me or you.
He could quote from his head The March Of The Dead, or The Shooting of Dan McGrew,

Or anything else that Service wrote—like that poem To Sunnydale,
For his mind was in the Klondike, and his heart on the Dawson Trail.

Did I know Jim? I worked with him! And counted it my good luck.
See, I worked in Receiving, and Jim drove a forklift truck.

And the boys called him crazy when he’d drop a load of skids,
But I knew that he was snow-blind, frozen crystals beneath his lids.

For thirty years we ate our lunch together, side by side,
And my mind went so numb that I lost this thumb the day his baby died.

But, Jim didn’t talk about bad luck. He knew his luck would change,
If he could leave that forklift truck and get out to the Northern Range.

He didn’t see the factory aisles he drove down every day.
His eyes were on the snowy miles from Whitehorse to Skagway.

And, yes, I told my dreams to Jim, and he told his to me.
But Jim never went to the Yukon, and I never went to sea.

They’ll tell you Jim died in a nursing home, like other crazy old coots.
But he didn’t. Jim died just east of Nome, while pushing his Malamutes.


The Soup-Strainer

    Through all the years I knew him, my granddad wore a mustache. I’m not talking about a candy-assed, 1930s, three-hair mustache; I’m talking about a Soup-Strainer!
    I don’t remember who told me it was a Soup-Strainer—that almost unbelievable meadow below my granddad’s nose. Goodness knows, his nose itself was monumental! It was a nose glorious enough to invite remark—maybe even worth a few words on a bronze plaque—but it was not his preeminent feature. Oh my no—that would be his Soup-Strainer!
    He never ate a meal without offering thanks, my granddad. And I wish I could have caught all of the words: “Dear heavenly Father…mumph, for that which we are about to receive…mumph, mumph for the strength of our soul and body…Blessed be thy mumph. In the name of the Father, the mumph, and the Holy Goats.”
    See, it was all filtered through that Soup-Strainer!
    Likely, God had a sharper ear than I, or maybe he just accepted the good intent and went back to more pressing problems…in Duluth or St. Louis.
    Through more meals than I could count, I watched him. I watched him gobble down green beans, potatoes, meat and soup. I watched to see if anything really got strained through that mustache. It was hard to tell, but I honestly believe his digestive system had a pretty easy and comfortable life.
    The night the barn burned I watched as the Soup-Strainer became covered with frost. Unembarrassed tears of helplessness slid into it and became the ice of another lost hope.
    Later, too late for anything on God’s green earth to save the barn, I watched him pour grandma’s too-hot coffee into his saucer and sip it, leaving tiny droplets of Folgers on the Strainer. The disbelieving shaking of his head was too gentle to dislodge those drops.
    I crawled into his lap, needing comfort more than offering it.
    He shoved his saucer aside and nuzzled me, using that bristly old Soup-Strainer to give me growling, snorting, tickling, scratchy—barn-gone—love.


Other work online by Max Yoho:
Kansas Poets
Kansas Poems
Poetry of Kansas


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Author Interview

This interview with Max Yoho was first published in the Summer 2005 issue of New Works Review:

 
  NWR: How did you become interested in writing?

MY: I've always been a reader. I love to read. I'm retired and often, when I'm not writing or cooking, I'm reading. I read mostly fiction…in a wide variety. Among my favorite works are Canterbury Tales by Chaucer; Candide by Voltaire; the poetry of Poe, Kipling, and Robert W. Service; slice-of-life short stories by A. E. Coppard; and commentary by cowboy poet and philosopher Baxter Black.

My writing evolved from reading. The first bit of my writing I can remember was in a high school English class. I thought it was a pretty good essay. My teacher read it and seemed to have a new appreciation for having a school psychologist near at hand—in case she needed help in settling me down.


NWR: Who and what has influenced your writing?

MY: My dad should have been the writer. He never went beyond the eighth grade—those endless rows of corn were waiting. But, oh my, he could tell a story—subtly poking and prodding from all directions. He was an inspiration.

Also, Robert Benchley's many books motivated me. He wrote for The New Yorker magazine. See, Benchley could have leapt over the tallest building at a single bound…but why bother when one can take a cab?

Just before my twelfth birthday I was burned in a serious fire. While I don't recommend this as a way to gain insight, during my year of recuperation I believe I gained an understanding of what is important in life and what is not.


NWR: What started you on your journey as a writer?

MY: I was an older student, about twenty-five, when I first enrolled in English at Washburn University of Topeka. My Freshman Composition instructor was a rare jewel. She gave validation to my crazy mind, and I became a feature writer for the student newspaper, The Washburn Review. By then I was married, with sons and family obligations. I was trained as a machinist and worked for thirty-eight years in that trade. I wrote several short stories, songs and poems during those years, but tucked them away to focus on raising my family.

At the age of fifty-four—with my three sons grown—I was widowed. It was a difficult time for me. I found myself learning many new skills, including cooking and housekeeping.

Ah, but I was not alone. I had a very large gray cat who licked my nose and let me know I had a friend. I found myself sorting out my thoughts and feelings in a journal at that time—and writing poems and stories about, and for, my cat.

Through a series of fortunate incidents I found myself involved with a local writers' group, A Table for Eight. We used the Peter Elbow Method in critiquing each other's work. That group was a pivotal force in my growth and development as a writer. By the early 1990s my poems, essays and short stories were being accepted regularly for publication in Inscape, the literary journal of Washburn University. I owe a debt of gratitude to my colleagues in A Table for Eight.


NWWR: What has been the path of your writing career?

MY: My favorite form of writing is the short-short story. I try to make each short story a photograph in words, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks—to smell the dirt under the porch, maybe know that the dirt under the porch became a ball diamond and, then, a parking lot for WalMart.

I decided to retire in the spring of 1992 and devote serious attention to my writing. What started as a coming-of-age short story expanded into my first novel, The Revival, a humorous tale of one week in the life of an eleven-year-old boy growing up in a small Kansas town. I bought my first computer and worked steadily on the novel for a couple of years—reading it, one page a week, to A Table for Eight until they urged me to go on without them. It took several more years for The Revival to be published, but reader response has been gratifying. The Revival had its fifth printing in Spring, 2005.

My second novel, Tales from Comanche County also started as a very short story, originally published in the Topeka Capital-Journal at the time of the millennium celebration. I had dreamed up two crusty, loving characters, Great-uncle Jack and Great-aunt Tildy. I realized that I had much more to say about them than any newspaper article could contain.

I often speak at events around the state of Kansas. Sometimes I read one of my poems or short stories and I am asked by listeners whether these pieces exist in print. In 2004 my collected poems, essays, and short stories became book #3: Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious. There is no "Felicia" and no "fish" mentioned within its pages, but the name is fun to say aloud. Try it. I always had in mind to write a book with that title…so now I have.

I was nervous about exposing my serious side in Felicia, but readers seem to accept this serious writing as well as my humorous work. Some have even told me they like it best.

I was pleased to gather good reviews of Felicia, including its listing as one of the "2004 Ten Best Reads" by Nancy Mehl of the Wichita Eagle.

I recently completed my fourth book and third novel, The Moon Butter Route. I seem to have not yet worked out my need to deal with adolescence. My twelve-year-old protagonist, living down in southeast Kansas, has inadvertently become a bootlegger. His mother is in the kitchen preparing her most famous (and only) meal: fried weenies. His father plots to move the courthouse a few feet to the south to make room for a steam whistle—which he believes will alleviate all the suffering of mankind.

Where is the school psychologist when I need her?


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Other  
 

Iola Register, 1-16 -2012: "Colony native, author:Iola like heaven"
Begin Again:150 Kansas Poems, Woodley Press, 11/11/2011: "1942"
ArtsConnect, 5-2011: "Arty" Award: Distinguished Literary Artist
The Moon Butter Route awarded "2007 J. Donald Coffin Award"
Eye on Kansas feature, 10-2006: "The Joy of Writing in Kansas: Colony native spins the grit of Kansas to tales"
The Moon Butter Route awarded "2006 Kansas Notable Books"
Emporia Gazette, 3-1-2005: "The Storyteller"
The Revival awarded "2002 J. Donald Coffin Award"
Max Yoho on Wikipedia
Dancing Goat Press: www.dancinggoatpress.com


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Topeka -- Home, retired as machinist at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to begin career as a writer Atchison -- Inspiration for poems, essays, short stories in Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious Colony -- Birth town, inspiration for short stories and poems in Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious Comanche County -- Oklahoma border area is setting for Tales from Coanche County Armageddon MIGHT be Pittsburg, Kansas Epic -- Fictitious town of The Revival and The Moon Butter Route

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