Norwegian Wood-Read the Book

February 25, 2011

Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood has been made into a film. It will be released in the UK March 11. No US release is scheduled yet, but I’m certain it will make it across the pond.

Murakami is a brilliant storyteller. Norwegian Wood is one of his bestselling books ever and probably his most accessible. Read it.

Merit Badges-Midwest Connections

February 11, 2011

merit badges cover

Irony. Heartbreak. Bowling.
– and a Midwest Connections Pick, too!

Kevin Fenton

New Issues
Western Michigan University

MERIT BADGES lays out for the reader an entire, if circumscribed, world, in all of its limitations and surprising possibilities, rendered with a heartening intelligence and tenderness and wit— ‘The weather was like me, only more so. The weather needed some counseling’ —and in so doing reminds us of Simone Weil’s understanding that attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
—Jim Shepard, from the judge’s citation

MERIT BADGES is hilarious, painful, lovely, nostalgic, generous and true. Kevin Fenton creates an unforgettable group of characters, in whose lives and thoughts and actions readers will often recognize themselves. This is a very funny, very moving, and wonderful book.”
—Julie Schumacher, author of The Body is Water

10 Reasons To Read MERIT BADGES

1. Junior high is funny when it happens to someone else.

2. You were a boy scout.

3.  Owning the book might make people think you were a boy scout.

4.  Lost is no longer on television.

5.  Minnisapa, Minnesota might be a lot like your home town.

6. You like lists.

7. Your adolescence lasted twenty years, too.

8. There aren’t any vampires.

9. It has that ‘new-book’ smell.

10.  Because if you don’t, you’re a dube.

“Kevin Fenton’s Minnisapa is a place to rival any in fiction, so skillfully sculpted that you put down the book (reluctantly, when you must) sure you’ve lived there your entire life.”  –Amy Shearn, author of How Far Is The Ocean from Here

“In MERIT BADGES, Kevin Fenton welcomes his lucky readers to Minnisapa, Minnesota on the Mississippi banks where, amidst the confusions of the last quarter of the 20th Century, the hills knelt like buffaloes, public niceness was an art form, and the winter air was a psychopath.  Here is literary art working, without flaw, at the highest level of affirmation and intelligence.”   –Tom McBride, co-author of the Beloit College Mindset List

Kevin Fenton’s novel follows four friends as they move from The Brady Bunch to Seinfeld, from junior high to middle management. There is Quint, whose rebellion frays into self-destruction; Slow, who struggles to become the world’s first teenage father figure; Chimes, who fears losing his friends while picking up a 7-10 split; and Barb who escapes the conformity of Minnisapa only to find herself returning by dark of night.

You will feel as if you’ve always lived in Minnisapa, Minnesota. And you will never underestimate nice kids from the Midwest again.DSCF0097 - Fenton photo


Raised in the Winona, Minnesota area, Kevin Fenton lives in Saint Paul with his wife Ellen and greyhound Albert. His fiction has appeared in the Northwest Review, the Laurel Review,and the Emprise Review. His writing on graphic design has been anthologized in Looking Closer 2 and Emigre No. 70: The Look Back Issue. He holds a B.A. from Beloit College, an MFA from the University of Minnesota, and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. For more than two decades, he has worked as an advertising writer and creative director. He has served on the boards of the Innocence Project of Minnesota and Rain Taxi.

The Pioneer Woman-Midwest Connections

February 4, 2011

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

Can a  city girl trade in her love of shopping and sushi to live on a cattle ranch in the isolated plains of Oklahoma? If it’s Ree Drummond, the answer is a whole-hearted yes. When she unexpectedly fell for a hard-working cattle rancher she calls Marlboro Man, Drummond launched the wildly popular blog Pioneer Woman and gained a legion of fans. Her first book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl was a #1 bestseller on the New York Times.

In her charming new memoir, Ree tells the story of her whirlwind romance and reminds readers of what’s really important: family, hard work, simplicity, and the love of a chaps-wearing cowboy.

Ree DrummondRee Drummond began blogging in 2006 and has built into an award-winning website, where she shares recipes, showcases her photography, and documents her hilarious transition from city life to ranch wife. The number one New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today show, and The View, and has been featured in Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day, People, More, andSouthern Living. Ree lives on a working cattle ranch near Pawhuska, Oklahoma, with her husband, Ladd, and their four children.


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