Su Smallen and Larry Gavin will read from their latest poetry collections Thursday, May 15, 7:30 pm.
Buddha, Proof is a funny, smart book, a Minnesota Book Award Finalist republished by Red Dragonfly Press in a new, expanded edition with twice as many poems. Buddha befriends Barbie, shops at Target, rides roller coasters, contemplates the complete perfection of toast. “The poems are a fresh encounter with the Buddha, with his perceptive eye, brought right up into our contemporary American cultural landscape, with his customary humor and gravity” (Joyce Kennedy). These imaginative poems meet him on the Western road and “invite the Buddha into our lives as someone with whom we might at last have something in common” (Lawrence Sutin). Premised on questions of purpose, suffering, and compassion, these are whimsical and thoughtful poems you’re likely to remember a long time.
“Buddha, Proof offers readers compelling collisions between Smallen’s re-imagined Buddha for our time (for all time) and a vast array of characters, landscapes, and philosophical bewilderments. These poems enliven the spirits of all who read them.” -Deborah Keenan
Larry Gavin’s fourth collection of poetry, contains poems about Carp and post holes and rivers, poems about weather, fishing, and friends. Like a river persists past all obstacles, these poems simply insist on gratitude. They suggest that everything begins with The Initiation of Praise.
Larry Gavin is a writer, editor, and poet. His first collection of poems Necessities was published in 2005 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His second book of poems titled Least Resistance was published in 2007 and nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. In addition, he edits a postcard magazine called Tumbling Crane dedicated to the haiku in English. Mr. Gavin has been a field editor for Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine since 1994 and has written over 75 articles on entomology, conservation, and travel for the magazine. His work has also appeared most recently in the August issue of Lake Country Journal, and it has been anthologized in Minnesota Seasons: Classic Tales of Life Outdoors and in Farming Words (2008) edited by Bill Holm. His poems also appear in the sesquicentennial anthology County Lines which will contain poems that represent all 87 counties in Minnesota. His poems were featured in September 2008 as a road sign poetry project on Tower Road in Fergus Falls. Each line of a four line poem will appear in sequence along the roadside.
Review by Steve Swanson
When Jerry of the Literate Monkey handed me this pre-publication mystery, I remembered having read several other Anna Pigeon mysteries, two of them set in Minnesota’s Isle Royale Park on Lake Superior.
Reading Nevada Barr’s biography, I wondered if we might have had the same writing tutor, James B. Hall, she at University of California, Irvine, and I at University of Oregon.
There are a dozen and a half Anna Pigeon mysteries, all of them set in national parks. This one, also set in Minnesota’s north woods, opens with four campers—one of them a paraplegic, and one extremely wealthy–kidnapped and held captive by urban thugs.
A third of the way into the book I had plausibility traumas on behalf of Anna Pigeon who, arriving late at the campsite without even her Swiss Army knife, finds four armed and vicious criminals holding her four friends hostage out in the woods. Is she The Lone Super-Ranger?
Anna must figure out how to free the hostages. The action starts early, 20 pages in, and it’s a real potboiler. Anna, weaponless, sneaking around outside the kidnappers’ campsite, manages to rescue all four hostages and save a wounded dog, though she and one of the hostages is wounded and the others are brutally injured by the thugs.
If you like wild, violent, gory stories, if you like relentless suspense, if you like Nevada Barr, and if you like narrative twists and turns, settle into your easy chair with this one.
Dallas Crow and Rob Hardy will give a poetry reading Thursday, April 17, 7:30 pm.
In Small, Imperfect Paradise, Dallas Crow unflinchingly explores themes of love, sex, growing up, and growing older. The spine of the narrative is the speaker’s progression through a relationship, from the early possibility and romance, through marriage and parenthood, and on to the painful dissolution. The titular poem identifies a moment of stillness in this progression, where two realities exist, one aching, and one idyllic: that of the husband and wife, whose relationship is over, and that of the sleeping children, who do not yet know.
The small, imperfect paradise that Crow writes toward is shattered in “Separation”: “Like a home movie played backwards,” Crow intones, “the gifts / are rewrapped and taken away, the guests / sidle awkwardly out, and then your children leave, / smiling and waving.” In this collection, Crow creates a Möbius loop that mirrors the human experience; the poems wind through startling pain and realization and then loop back to hope and love again and again, each experience simultaneously fractured and precious.
Dallas Crow grew up in small towns in Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and attended Oberlin College. He now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and teaches high school English at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota. His poems have appeared in many periodicals (including English Journal, Poet Lore, and Tar River Poetry), two anthologies, and—as part of a public art project—in the sidewalks of St. Paul. He has also published a number of essays on contemporary poetry.
Fraternal twins, separated at birth, are raised in the same small town, where they struggle for freedom from their families, their destinies, and, sometimes, each other– all with the underground railroad as a haunting presence in their lives.
“Stillwater is that rare historical novel that shines as much light forward as it does back . . . Rascally and robust, saucy and sincere and serious as a logjam, Stillwater is celebration of this country’s coming of age from a writer staking her claim to greatness.” — Peter Geye, author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road
“Stillwater is a stunning achievement. Helget brings her keen sense for Southern Gothic to, of all places, the Northwoods of Minnesota. . . . A highly touching and believable tale.” — Jonathan Odell, author of The Healing
“The question of whether [this novel's characters] will—or won’t—take the risks to help each other survive gives the story some tension, but Helget’s lyricism is what elevates it.” — Publishers Weekly
Clement and Angel are fraternal twins separated at birth; they grow up in the same small, frontier logging town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Clement was left at the orphanage. Angel was adopted by the town’s richest couple, but is marked and threatened by her mother’s mental illness. They rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come to save him.
Stillwater, near the Mississippi River and Canada, becomes an important stop on the Underground Railroad. As Clement and Angel grow up and the country marches to war, their lives are changed by many battles for freedom and by losses in the struggle for independence, large and small.
Stillwater reveals the hardscrabble lives of pioneers, nuns, squaws, fur trappers, loggers, runaway slaves and freedmen, outlaws and people of conscience, all seeking a better, freer, more prosperous future. It is a novel about mothers, about siblings, about the ways in which we must take care of one another and let go of one another. And it’s brought to us in Nicole Helget’s winning, gorgeous prose.
Born in 1976, Nicole Lea Helget grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota, a childhood and place she drew on in the writing of her memoir, The Summer of Ordinary Ways. She received her BA and an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Based on the novel’s first chapter, NPR’s Scott Simon awarded The Turtle Catcher the Tamarack Prize from Minnesota Monthly.
From a fresh and highly original voice, a debut collection of stories that illuminates the state of America today with an inscrutable, eerily clarifying light.
“What is your ‘inappropriate behavior’ of choice? Debut author Murray Farish, in this hip collection of stories, exposes an America living on the edge-the edge of the law, the edge of grief, the edge of society. Portraying characters who appear as real as a next-door neighbor, each unique story will make you wonder just what is happening behind closed doors. Highly original and focused on the unusual, Inappropriate Behavior is an auspicious beginning for the talented new voice of Murray Farish.” — Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa
“Interesting and accomplished, this collection of stories explores the intersection of abhorrent behavior and the facade of ordinary life. Murray has mastered the short story and this collection is solid—not a weak one in the bunch.” —Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas
“Inappropriate Behavior is a collection of lovely surprises: the tartly fresh, felicitous phrase, followed by the astonishing plot turn, and then by the lightning-streaked illumination of character. I think you will like this book.” —Ken Kalfus, author of Equilateral
In “Lubbock Is Not a Place of the Spirit,” a Texas Tech student recognizable as John Hinckley, Jr. writes hundreds of songs for Jodie Foster as he grows increasingly estranged from reality. The young couple in ‘The Thing About Norfolk,’ socially isolated after a cross-country move, aredismayed to find themselves unable to resist sexually deviant urges. And in the deeply touching title story, a husband’s layoff stretches a couple to their limit as they struggle to care for their emotionally unbalanced young son. Set in cities across America and spanning the last half-century, this collection draws a bead on our national identity, distilling ourobsessions,our hauntings, our universal predicament.
Murray Farish‘s short stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, Epoch, Roanoke Review, and Black Warrior Review, among other publications. His work has been awarded the William Peden Prize, the Phoebe Fiction Prize, and the Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship Prize, among others. Farish lives with his wife and two sons in St. Louis, Missouri, where he teaches writing and literature at Webster University.Inappropriate Behavior is his debut.
Hear Murray Farish read an excerpt from Inappropriate Behavior here.
The latest gripping, supernatural novel from award-winning author Wendy Webb, following The Fate of Mercy Alban, featuring a reclusive horror novelist and a woman who has taken on a bit more than she bargained for when she becomes her caretaker. Another escapist bit of commercial fiction with a mysterious edge that remains popular with readers.
“A deliciously complex blend of psychological suspense and ghost story, THE VANISHING is pitch-perfect on every note, from its mansion setting in the pine-scented northern wilderness, to the secrets and specters lurking around every corner.” -Erin Hart, author of The Book of Killowen“A brisk thriller tinged with gothic elements…. Careening through séances and ghostly encounters leaves the reader breathless.” -Kirkus Reviews
Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired . . . and who the world believes is dead.
When she arrives at the Sinclairs’ enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her “too-good-to-be-true” position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.
Wendy Webb‘s first novel, The Tale of Halcyon Crane, was the 2011 winner of the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction, and an IndieNext Pick from the Independent Booksellers’ Association, a Midwest Connections Pick from the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and a Great Lakes, Great Reads Pick from the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. Her second novel, The Fate of Mercy Alban, was published in February 2013. Wendy is also the editor ofDuluth-Superior Magazine, celebrating the area she features in her gothic thrillers. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and her beloved Alaskan Malamutes.