Skip to Main Content

Merit Badges

Merit Badges

AWP Award Series in the Novel

Follow four friends as they move from The Brady Bunch to Seinfeld, from junior high to middle management. There is Quint, whose rebellion frays into self-destruction; Slow, who struggles to become the world's first teenage father figure; Chimes, who fears losing his friends while picking up a 7-10 split; and Barb who escapes the conformity of Minnisapa only to find herself returning by dark of night. You will feel as if you've always lived in Minnisapa, Minnesota. And you will never underestimate nice kids from the Midwest again.

"An impressive vitality, droll wit, and affecting nostalgia lift Fenton's first novel about four high school pals growing up together during the 1970s in the fictional town of Minnisapa, Minn. . . . Eminently readable prose . . ." --Publishers Weekly

"Merit Badges, his debut novel, positively glows." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Most importantly, the characters contained within its covers, doled out to the reader as chapter-specific narrators, are truly individual. . . . Fenton knows his characters, their language, and their souls." --Benjamin Woodard, Rain Taxi

"A beautifully crafted, perceptive and often funny evocation of some extraordinary, ordinary people." --Shelf Awareness, Robert Gray's Top 10 for 2010 (Bookseller Recommendations)

"Merit Badges lays out for the reader an entire, if circumscribed, world, in all of its limitations and surprising possibilities, rendered with a heartening intelligence and tenderness and wit-- 'The weather was like me, only more so. The weather needed some counseling' --and in so doing reminds us of Simone Weil's understanding that attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity." --Jim Shepard, from the judge's citation

"Merit Badges is hilarious, painful, lovely, nostalgic, generous and true. Kevin Fenton creates an unforgettable group of characters, in whose lives and thoughts and actions readers will often recognize themselves. This is a very funny, very moving, and wonderful book." --Julie Schumacher, author of The Body is Water

"Kevin Fenton's Minnisapa is a place to rival any in fiction, so skillfully sculpted that you put down the book (reluctantly, when you must) sure you've lived there your entire life. Fenton's vision of the world is tender and true; his characters and their voices are unforgettable. By turns incantatory and matter-of-fact, philosophical and funny, Merit Badges is a thrilling debut." --Amy Shearn, author of How Far Is The Ocean from Here

"In Merit Badges, Kevin Fenton welcomes his lucky readers to Minnisapa, Minnesota, on the Mississippi banks where, amidst the confusions of the last quarter of the 20th century, the hills knelt like buffaloes, public niceness was an art form and the winter air was a psychopath. Blending narrative at once hilarious and wrenching with phrases that send both our senses and our intellects dancing, Fenton traces the struggle to acquire wisdom and love in a vivid collection of characters--for whom being a 'dube' is the great public anxiety and desperation the great private menace. Here is literary art working, without flaw, at a high level of affirmation and intelligence." --Tom McBride, co-author of "Beloit College Mindset List"

hardcover edition
Stock number:978-1-930974-95-1 Price:$26.00

Cookies Required

You must have session cookies enabled in your web browser before you can add items to your shopping cart. These cookies are not written to your computer's hard drive. They allow your selections to be saved while you shop, and are then deleted when you close your browser or log out of your registered user session.

Web Browsers

This site is designed to work with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later and Mozilla Firefox 1.0 or later. Other types of web browsers may work, but some pages may not display correctly in all cases.

Tips for Registered Users

If you are a registered user, your profile information is stored securely for your use in future visits. Use the "My Account" page to keep your information up to date:

Current Address:

Keep your current address and your contact phone numbers up to date.

E-mail and Password:

If your e-mail address changes, be sure to update it so you will receive your order and shipping confirmations. Also, change your password regularly for increased security.

Payment Methods:

If available, you can securely save new payment methods or update existing ones -- for instance, update your credit card expiration date.

Order Tracking & History:

Check the current status of your orders and view past orders.

My Memberships:

Authenticate yourself as a member of a special group. This may allow you to view and purchase products or services available only to members of that group.

Shipping Addresses:

Edit and manage your saved shipping addresses. For instance, you might save your grandma's address under the nickname "Grandma". Then during checkout, you'll be able to select from your list of shipping addresses. Data fields will automatically be filled in for you.

New Issues Poetry and Prose

Shipping Class: standard

Delivery Method Base Charge Per Additional Item Charge
None $0.00 $0.00
Walk-In $40.00 $0.00
US Mail $1.50 $1.00
International $157.62 $0.00
UPS $5.00 $0.50
Returns accepted for refund (minus shipping) as long as merchandise is in new, salable condition.