Even So: Stories From An Overpopulated Farmhouse | David D. Coster | ISBN 9781948509510 | 260p | Gatefold Trade Paper | $21.95 | Release: May, 2024 | Pre-order for a signed copy
Learn about the genesis of the book here
Even So is about overcoming the odds and finding your way; it’s about breaking barriers and transcending one’s original station in life; it’s about courage in the face of adversity; and it’s about accepting one’s uniqueness rather than trying to change it. The main character is a farm kid growing up in Iowa in the ’60s and ’70s amongst a family of ten. Through a series of hilarious and tragic stories, David Coster paints a dramatic picture of that world and tells the tale of what it took to pull himself into another.
“Even So is a rich, loving, and irreverent description of a chaotic and resilient family: both a snapshot of a quickly receding past and a celebration of a family that both splinters and regenerates over time. This is a dazzling, spellbinding book, as heart-wrenching as it is uplifting and whimsical. A must-read.”—Douglas Trevor, author, Girls I Know
“Punctuated by the surreal and often devastating turns of fate that come with growing up in a large family on a working farm, Even So is funny, dark, and deeply moving. Written with startling frankness and heaps of compassion, this memoir is a nourishing read for anyone with a difficult family history. This book represents a reckoning—it does heavy emotional work and yet somehow shares this with us as if it were a great adventure. Even So is a celebration of the resilience of a gay kid and a loving portrait of a family in all its flaws.”—Jennifer Doyle, author, Hold it Against Me
“About halfway through Even So, David Coster tells us that ‘a surgeon can’t be a surgeon if they feel too much at the wrong time.’ Well, this book feels too much at exactly the right time. It’s as if Coster has found a way to operate on life itself—in that theatre we call memory. Eudora Welty would have loved this richly fashioned Iowa farmhouse memoir.”—Ralph James Savarese, author, See It Feelingly and When This Is Over
“For everyone who has felt out of place—or in a place that might seem out of place for others—this is a book to read: lovely, cherished and thoughtful connections.”—Tama Janowitz, author, Slaves of New York
“Reading Even So is like leafing through a family photo album. Each chapter of David Coster’s memoir is a snapshot of the pleasures, difficulties, and occasional tragedies of life on an Iowa farm in the second half of the twentieth century. Collectively, they tell the story of Coster’s struggle to move beyond the limited expectations of his strict father and fundamentalist mother to claim his own identity as father, surgeon, and gay man. I found this to be a moving and unexpectedly compelling book, written with insight, clarity, and precision.”–Stephen McCauley, author, My Ex-Life
“By turns heart-stopping, soul-warming, and hilarious, Even So is an achievement up there with our most treasured tributes to heartland life. It has the hard-won wisdom gained only through great hardship and true happiness. Such vivid, loving insight is truly rare, and David Coster delivers it with a true sense of good story. His family farmstead teems with unforgettable characters, striking adventures, and poignant struggles—a world rich with life’s most necessary realities.”–Jesse Matz (John Crowe Ransom Professor of English, Kenyon College), author, The Modern Novel: A Short Introduction
“Raw, vulnerable, and sincere, David Coster’s Even So is a memoir that stays with you days after you finish the last page. Swept up in the lush language and the ever-evolving lives of Coster and his family, I found myself itching to read “just one more page” over and over. This book is an absolute gem.”—Michael Leali, author, The Civil War of Amos Abernathy and Matteo
“David Coster’s big-hearted and keenly observed memoir of his rural queer childhood in 1960s Iowa is a moving reminder of life in the last century, and a window into those parts of American culture that have risen to prominence in recent years. Even So is raw, funny, tragic, and, ultimately, hopeful–just what we all need!”—Andrea Lawlor, author, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
“David Coster paints a vivid, engaging, and ultimately deep and moving picture of a childhood that almost seems like fiction — growing up in a rural Iowa farm family whose days seem plucked from The Waltons or even another century. When tragedy strikes amid the adventures, the stresses and longings beneath the bucolic setting come to the surface and give Coster his primary themes of overcoming loss and obstacles, what we can escape and what we can’t. Even So tells a life story that maps, with extraordinary recall of details and honest and humane insights, a doctor’s and dad’s particular journey, pointing the way to forgiveness, kindness, and the universal hope that, despite disappointments, the next chapter, the next generation, will be better.”—Evan Wolfson, author, Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry
“Autobiography is too turgid a word for this extraordinary memoir. Its intimate matter-of-factness drew me in so thoroughly that it was as though any world I might have lived in apart from it dropped away. Every lambent detail, each finely drawn commentary as seen through a child’s wise, wry wit opened up a world that was brilliantly tender and so exquisitely brutal that I began reinhabiting my own scenes of childhood, wondering how David Coster might have dwelled in them, how he might have shown me the path to speak them, and revise them through compassion. Weaving the ordinariness of rural family life in Iowa in the 1960s and 1970s into domestic, local, and transnational histories through vignettes composed in dense mises-en-scène which lay bare the quirks of cruelty and mischance, Even So gifts readers the nuances of possibility tucked into curiosity, play, humor, desire, and kindness, leavened constantly with longing, hope, and extraordinary courage. It is no accident that David Coster is a surgeon who has given his being over to healing—this is what he grants us through his memoir. Even So is not just a primer for any of us who have had childhoods pummeled into submission. Rather, it stands as a living allegory of our times, almost homeopathic, something we can turn to as we read the news to recoup a life out of the pieces of virulence that have become our collective histories.”–Geeta Patel, author, Unforeseen Poet: How I Found Myself in Lyric and Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy: Reflections on Sexuality, Media, Science, Finance
David Coster is a surgeon who just retired from a thirty-one-year career in Surgery and Surgical Critical Care in the town of Grinnell, Iowa. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biology/Chemistry with a concentration in Theology from Evangel College in 1981, his doctorate in Medicine from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in 1986, and his certification in General Surgery from Iowa Methodist Medical Center in 1991. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and an alum of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Summer Program. He has three sons and is married to Kevin Kopelson.