Showing posts from January, 2011

Charles Baxter: What There Is To Love

A man after my own heart, this Charlie Baxter.
The Minnesota native was only twenty seconds into his Friday night reading at Micawbers Bookstore when he addressed his Midwesternness, a label that is regularly affixed to his award-winning work.
"Just the other day I received an email from a reader in Los Angeles," Baxter said, "and the man's main question was--if you've published nine books, why are you still living in Minnesota?"
Why, indeed? What is there possibly to love or find interesting or important or certainly literary in our flyover state? And yet there we were, sixty or so Minneapolis-St. Paul people, shoulder-to-shoulder in a small colorful bookstore, colorful hats and scarves thrown over the backs of chairs, snow melting on our boots, gathered together to hear a writer read. It felt about as important as anything else could be.
Baxter's newest book is Gryphon, a highly praised collection of published, anthologized, and new stories that is now on…

The Latehomecomer

Kao Kalia Yang's The Latehomecomer is the author's account of her Hmong family leaving the hardships of Laos, a country that did not want them, and immigrating to Minnesota in search of a home. It's a transition story. And in that way, it's a story intimately connected to place--a perfect choice for my next "Thirty Before Thirty" read. 

I could go on about so many things in the book: the descriptions of the Laotian jungle, the facts of The Secret War, the centrality of family in Yang's life and how natural this seems to me. But I'll leave those details to your discovery. (The memoir won the 2009 Minnesota Book Award in both the Memoir/Creative Nonfiction and Reader's Choice categories, so it's worth your time.) 

What I will address is the author's depiction of her grandmother, specifically her death. This woman--this matriarch with the strong, straight hands and broad face and deep dimples--is so lovingly depicted by the author that I couldn…


Midwinter in Sweden from Henning Sandström on Vimeo.

This is why all the Scandinavians settled in Minnesota, friends. Familiarity. Thanks to Henning Sandstrom for this eerily beautiful vid.

Sunrise, Gloria



If you haven't already discovered the magazine Orion, check out their website here or find one of their beautiful publications in your nearest book store. Their material focuses on nature, culture, and place, and every issue is a feast for the eyes and mind. There is also an inspiring section called "The Place Where You Live." For those of you who find particular meaning in your homeplaces--and I know so many of you do--why not draft something up and contribute? This is what I did with an essay I crafted for this blog back in August, and happily, editor Kristen Hewitt saw fit to include it in the print version of Orion's January/February issue. If I do say so myself, it looks pretty good there.

Happy writing, all! What place has a hold on you?

Crossing Over