Updates on AL SCHNUPP's GOODS & EFFECTS: An Award, an Ad, Five Fantastic Reviews, and an Interview

Playwright Schnupp’s (Zero) character-rich road-trip novel revolves around Hannah Mercer, a free-thinking widow who forges a new life for herself after the death of her husband and two children. A lifelong adherent to the Mennonite church, Hannah upends her life by eschewing her faith and farm life and takes to the road. Traveling across Missouri, she starts selling goods out of the back of her truck, and in the process meets a number of unforgettable characters—from deaf child artist Darla to the passionate Bible scholar Hugo—and forges some truly long-lasting friendships. 

The main thrust of the narrative is derived from the sturdy simplicity of life in Hannah’s small Missouri town of Adele. This simplicity is best represented by the people Hannah meets as she travels the countryside: whether it is Naomi, the wife of Deacon Stahl, who rebels against her husband by dyeing all her curtains red, or Wanda, who runs a retail store but actually wants to become a stunt pilot, the characters in this book are warm, vulnerable, and spirited, just like Hannah herself. Schnupp presents them with persuasive detail and feeling, drawing readers into their journeys and the ups and downs of rural life in the Show Me state, while always demonstrating a playwright's mastery of memorable, revealing dialogue.

Schnupp offers a direct, straightforward account of day-to-day life attentive to shared humanity and individual idiosyncrasies; it’s a thoughtful, empathetic novel, though readers who prefer plot-driven fiction may find, if they stick with it, action enough to keep them invested in the characters’ fates. There are points when the story bubbles over with unexpected drama or pierces readers with heart-wrenching tragedy, and Schnupp does a great job of illuminating these scenes without being melodramatic, while successfully preserving the novel’s quotidian simplicity. Lovers of unpretentious country life and piquant characters will enjoy this pure and insightful story.

Takeaway: A newly widowed woman leaves her small town life to start a new journey–and meet fascinating characters–in this insightful story.

Great for fans of: James Welch’s Winter in the Blood, Alan Bennett.


Golden Antelope is happy to learn that Al Schnupp's Goods & Effects has earned a Crimson Quill from Book Viral, is a finalist for its 2021 Millennium Book Award, and is a winner in its Fiction category.    




Here's a link to the Wordpress Book Nook interview with Al Schnupp, author of Goods & Effects.  https://readingnook84.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/author-interview-goods-and-effects-by-al-schnupp/ .

There's a lot here for artistic people who have honed their skills in stagecraft, scriptwriting, and screenplays, and turned to prose.  It's lively and honest.  (What writer admits to going for stretches of time without reading?)   I'd love to see the full-length puppet play Al wrote and produced.

book-reviews genre family life fiction
Al Schnupp
Golden Antelope Press (176 pp.)
$14.59 paperback, $7.49 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-952232-55-8
May 29, 2021

U S Review of Books   review by Batya Weinbaum, Oct. 28, 2021

"Just before her eleventh birthday, Hannah had confessed her sins, accepted Jesus as her savior and was welcomed into the fold."

The story begins as Hannah, a Mennonite, is told by her deacon that her husband can't be given a proper church funeral. She pulls a knife, but only to cut glazed buns. The author deftly depicts the feel of a Mennonite farm from the strictly gendered division of labor to smells "that capture and celebrate life," such as freshly mown hay. Soon readers become involved with the people whose lives Hannah impacts, as she seeks gravediggers for her sons and husband and neighbors to perform other tasks.

The author skillfully portrays Hannah in grief as she "stared numbly out the window, at an incomprehensible truth." Her home no longer seems familiar; she feels estranged. Her spunk, which is evident throughout the novel, begins to emerge. As one example, she goes out to buy a gun. This clever and nimble exchange with the storeowner reveals a tenacity of character: "You know how to shoot this?" he asks her. "I know how to work a sewing machine," counters Hannah. "It can't be all that hard." Hannah leaps off the page in this and other instances as a strong, powerful, and self-directed woman who acts upon (as opposed to being acted upon) her environment. She even survives falling into a ditch in a snowstorm. Each incident unfolds with intriguing and gripping prose.

Schnupp is to be applauded and appreciated for his uncanny ability to guide Hannah's transformation. In what begins as a stereotypical but nonetheless sympathetic character, she is fully developed, believable, and admirable. The author does so by continuously relating actions as if they were unremarkable when actually they build from an inauspicious start to construct a remarkable person not easily forgotten in the field of literature. In the larger sense, it's a tale about a women ascending from restricting pasts.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review




Hannah Mercer has recently lost her family and is left alone and broke. She decides to sell her family farm and adopt a nomadic lifestyle by establishing a mobile store and living quarters in the back of her truck. As she travels through the countryside with her store, she begins to find and cherish the meaning of life in the numerous relationships that she makes along the way. Her nature and demeanor allow her to become the soul of these bonds that she forms, creating an intricate network that instills meaning back into her life.

Goods & Effects by Al Shnupp is an appealing story that follows a resilient woman who has just lost everything through a journey spanning almost 20 years of her life. It portrays the country life in detailed fashion, giving proper attention to each character. Nathan – the owner of the motel where Hannah usually parks her truck, LeRoy – a black farmer who is often the subject of racial violence, Darla – an aspiring and talented but deaf artist, Velma –the owner of a woodworking shop, Wanda – a receptionist at a hardware
distribution store, and Frank – a farmer whose wife has a chronic disease, and numerous others are beautifully and flawlessly integrated into the journey of our protagonist, ensuring the seamless flow of the plot.

Al Shnupp has done a fantastic job in delivering the perspective of a single, recently-widowed, working woman navigating the cultural as well as social obstacles in the mid-to-late 20th century. The developments of the characters and the settings are so elaborate and intricately woven that they have the ability to transport you as you read. The words touch the reader deeply, creating a strong connection with the people in the story. Hannahʼs story can be anyoneʼs and there are people out there in her situation. This book should help provide them the inspiration and clear path on which to build their lives back again.


One of the best books I have read on finding meaning and purpose while nourishing the humanity of those we come into contact with. It is a work of sheer beauty and ingenuity, written into the human condition.





A widow’s new business makes waves in a sleepy 1960s Missouri town in this novella.
Grieving the deaths of her two young sons and husband in a silo accident, 36-year-old Hannah Mercer sells the family farm and packs some furniture and her faithful dog, Five Paws, into an old delivery van to begin again. Despite her horrific losses, the goal isn’t Nomadland-style solitude but a store on wheels she names “Hannah’s Goods & Effects.” The shop becomes a fixture around her town of Adele, setting into motion Hannah’s unexpected odyssey of self-discovery, through which Schnupp deftly explores the complexities of religious life.
While she still wears a Mennonite head covering and forgoes makeup, Hannah quietly realizes that her faith is changing, even deconstructing. The lives of her intriguing customers and helpers are also transforming. For Darla Leichty, a young deaf girl with incredible artistic talent, her rides with Hannah provide endless people-watching for sketches. Even Naomi, wife of the town’s cold Mennonite church deacon, Eli Stahl, can’t resist doing a bit of shopping—unearthing a buried rebellious streak.
Hannah also forges a friendship with LeRoy Williams, the Black man who purchased her farm but dreams of a music career. When racist townspeople target LeRoy and his family, Hannah is determined to act and enlists some friends in a plan that’s part bitter comedy, part justice. Meanwhile, the townsfolk love to speculate about whether she’ll remarry. Although helpful bachelor Nathan Proctor seems the obvious choice, Darla quickly sees that Frank Paulson, Hannah’s married former neighbor, carries a torch for the widow.
Schnupp, a playwright and retired professor of theater at California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo, originally conceived this tale as a screenplay, and it shows in his natural-sounding dialogue and his strong ability to set a scene. The page-turning quality only wanes in the book’s second half, as the author shifts the focus to Darla, now a young woman, and tries to tie up too many loose ends at once. Hannah’s sympathetic attitudes toward topics still controversial in certain pockets of Christianity, like abortion and sexuality, are uplifting but may strike some readers as unrealistic. That said, this enjoyable story featuring the appealing Hannah deserves a wide audience and a film or stage adaptation.

An engaging tale about a spirited woman’s compelling journey.

Family Life Fiction At Its Best From Al Schnupp


Winner of a coveted BookViral Crimson Quill  

SUMMARY: Devastated by the death of her husband and sons, Hannah Mercer sells the family farm in this family life fiction and creates a store and living quarters in a delivery truck. As she travels several circuits selling her wares, Hannah becomes the heart of a network of interlinking lives

The BookViral Review:

A thoughtful exploration of hope and expectations in the 60’s Goods and Effects certainly isn’t an archetypal tale of love, loss and family life as Schnupp presents his readers with notably nuanced characters, authentic backgrounds and intriguing stories to tell.

There’s real soul to this family life story as he beautifully renders the sights and sounds of a bygone era. All meticulously observed as he explores the veracities of love, family, calamity and infidelity during a period of turbulent change and beyond in Hannah’s life.

Schnupp’s writing is light and easy to read, his plot clear and a pleasure to follow, but what sets his novel apart is a clear understanding of how family dynamics, in their differing guises, shape our years, with character development at the heart of his narrative.

To this end, Schnupp gives us wholly endearing characters that exude strength of personality and purpose. Each memorable for the lives they have led and the unspoken truths they have harboured with any tendency towards the maudlin tempered by Schnupp’s ability to maintain a fine balance between empathy and levity.

It’s a masterful telling that exudes insight, challenging those fears we all invariably come to dwell upon. Leading to the realisation that our relationships are ultimately defined by the choices we make. Hannah could be any one of us and in her, we find a life-affirming quality and a celebration of fearlessness that has become far too rare.

There are parts of Goods and Effects that are heart-achingly sad, but Schnupp is ever mindful to keep a kernel of hope alive. Reminding us of the different spheres we inhabit as our lives evolve and not to take any given day for granted. Which for many readers is sure to provoke much in the way of reflection.

A timeless telling with all the hallmarks of a classic, Goods and Effects is nothing short of superb and is recommended without reservation.