Michael Chabon wants Big Star’s “Thank You, Friends” played at his funeral. I’m thinking, why wait? I owe thanks to many people, only a few of whom are listed. 

To Neal Nixon, Anita Katter, Gary Mahaffey, and Pat Marcotte  who provided my first glimpses of tradition, discernment, perseverance, and literary joy. 

To everyone who has left helpful marks on parts of this manuscript: Terry Faust, Kai Lahti, Steve Beto, Ric James, Greg Schaffner, Joel Jensen, Daryl Lanz, Jill Crosby, Bill Reichard, Ellen Hawley, David Jauss, David Haynes, Margot Livesey, Bob Lacy, Joanna Johnson, Joe Hart, Carolyn Crooke, Matt Helling, Joel Turnipseed, Pepe Demarest, Christi Cardenas, Pamela Johnson, Steve Seefeldt,  Amanda Fields, Cheri Johnson, Michael Walsh, Amy Shearn, Marge Barrett, Andria Williams, Rob McGinley Myers, Suzanne Rivecca, and Nan Fulle. 

To the Beloit College English Department, especially Tom McBride and John Rosenwald, and the University of Minnesota MFA Program, especially Julie Schumacher and Charles Baxter. 

To Pia Z. Erhardt who saw the value in this manuscript, Jim Shepard who selected it, Kim Kolbe and Marianne Swierenga of New Issues who guided it into print, and everyone at AWP especially Supriya Bhatnager.  

To the people who’ve supported me after Merit Badges’ acceptance, especially: Bill Schuth, Dan O’Shea, Alison Aten, Bryan Bradford, Sari Fordham, Mike Finley, Joe Isaak, Leona Lewis and the Sisters of Anarchy, Emily Powell, Mike Schwartz, Dawn Bentley, Janet Jones, Ann Handley, Sara Schneider, Jerod Santek, Nicole Johns, Dan Munson, and Janna Radamacher.



In the book, I spelled Carolyn Crooke's name without the final "e." The omission reflects on my character, not hers.