In the spring of 1927, Andrew Kehoe, the treasurer for the school board in Bath, Michigan, spent weeks surreptitiously wiring the public school, as well as his farm, with hundreds of pounds of dynamite. The explosions on May 18, the day before graduation, killed and maimed dozens of children, as well as teachers, administrators, and village residents, including Kehoe’s wife, Nellie. A respected member of the community, Kehoe himself died when he ignited his truck, which he had loaded with crates of explosives and scrap metal. Decades later, one survivor, Beatrice Marie Turcott, recalls the spring of 1927 and how this haunting experience leads her to the conviction that one does not survive the present without reconciling hard truths about the past. In its portrayal of several Bath school children, Day of Days examines how such traumatic events scar one’s life long after the dead are laid to rest and physical wounds heal, and how an anguished but resilient American village copes with the bombing, which at the time seemed incomprehensible, and yet now may be considered a harbinger of the future.
I. Michigan Soil
II. Day of Days
III. Michigan Dirt
“Smolens’s prose . . . is an understated marvel.”
“Smolens is that rare and gifted writer who can capture both our exterior and interior worlds with equal dexterity, grace, and power.”
—Andre Dubus III