Winner of an Upper Delaware Heritage Award.

A Book-of-the-Month Club and Quality Paperback Book Club alternate.

Read an excerpt from this novel.

See more about this novel at
W.W. Norton's website.

The Patience of Rivers

The Patience of Rivers
a novel
by Joseph Freda
W.W. Norton & Co.

An irresistible novel about an upstate New York river community and a never-to-be-forgotten summer of change.

It's the summer of 1969, and it feels like the rules have been suspended. The Woodstock festival is revving up at a neighbor's farm, the rock-and-roll culture is in full swing, astronauts are landing on the moon, and young men make plans to go to college... or to war. As eighteen-year-old Nick Lauria works the family campgrounds and leads canoe trips on the Delaware River, he feels the sting of first love and the fear-turned-pain of his friend's letters from Vietnam. His parents, meanwhile, struggle to keep the family business-and themselves-intact against the blandishments and secret dealings of their business partner.

This is a novel of events on the verge. By turns boisterous and tender, sprawling and deeply familiar, its center is a world of young people growing up, a family falling apart, and a sun-dappled town in its final years before development arrives.

"Joseph Freda is a remarkably gifted storyteller, and his new book, The Patience of Rivers, reads like vivid testimony – to a particular time, to a special place in the author's heart. It sent me back to that special place in my own."
– Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize

"The Patience of Rivers is a brilliant novel about an American family, an American community, an American era, that manages to be both keen-eyed and compassionate, as astonishingly accurate in its detail as it is authentic in its emotions, as witty as it is wise. Joseph Freda understands the complex ties of work, blood, ambition and love that bind his characters to one another, to the land, and to the time in which they live. For anyone who came of age in the late Sixties, The Patience of Rivers feels like the novel we've been waiting for, an unforgettable work of fiction that avoids both nostalgia and bitterness, and sounds, at last, like truth. It is a tremendous accomplishment."
– Alice McDermott, National Book Award winning author of Charming Billy

"Joseph Freda's young people are ever so slightly autumnal, and their elders are as vulnerable as their children in this tender, moving novel about the summer when everything changed."
– Frederick Busch, author of The Night Inspector

"This big layered story is a gift. Joseph Freda illuminates 1969, that rich and disturbing year, so generously that we can finally see how innocent we were. The Patience of Rivers brings together the historic events of that summer effortlessly, personally, in a classic rites of passage for Nick Lauria – and his country. This is affecting work about a place we all once knew."
– Ron Carlson, author of At the Jim Bridger


Read an excerpt from this novel.

Read some reviews.

See more about this novel at the University Press of New England's website.

Suburban Guerrillas
Suburban Guerrillas
a novel
by Joseph Freda
W.W. Norton & Co.

We all know this town, the twinkling lights, the village green, the lawn-mower parade, the gazebo, the Good Humor truck... But do we really? In his funny, graceful, and keen first novel, Joseph Freda takes us into the town of Hurley, New Hampshire, and shows us what we didn't know about this town. In episodic chapters ("The Summer of Driving Naked," "Seduction of the Good Humor Man," King of the Straight and Narrow") we are introduced to the people of Hurley, and we come to know them well: their marriages, their children, their secret betrayals and devotions.

At the center of the novel is Ray Vann, struggling to keep his footing in the eddies and crosscurrents of marriage, a little in awe of the sudden unsignaled breaks and alliances taking place around him. Summoning suburban domestic life from its pleasures to its darker side, from infidelity to condominiums, Freda's level gaze yields a rich and effulgent portrait of a town and its inhabitants.

"Freda writes in a place east of Keillor and west of Updike and he claims these sweet suburbs as his own. In Hurley, if you take care of your lawn, it will take care of you—but other certainties are harder won. When you drive naked through the summer night with your naked wife beside you, anything can happen. Suburban Guerrillas is whimsy with a body temperature."
– Ron Carlson

"Joseph Freda captures the significance in the rituals of suburban life with just the right balance of compassion, humor, and irony."
–Ursula Hegi


Short Fiction & Personal Essays
by Joseph Freda

"Among the Decoys" Five Points, Vol. 9 No. 1

"During the Fall" LIT 10, Vol. 5 No. 2

"Dreaming the River" The Kenyon Review
read an excerpt >

"A Glimpse of the Moon" StoryQuarterly 38
read an excerpt >

"Crossing the Millennia" The Literary Gazette
read this personal essay >

"Woodstock Site Notes: A Sense of One's Place" The Literary Gazette
read this personal essay >

"King of the Straight and Narrow" Coffee Journal
read this short fiction >


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