Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

The $10 literary mystery is now revealed!

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book news Updated: June 28, 2012 - 7:06 PM

 

 

It's been not quite a year since the mysterious package arrived in the mail, postmarked Atlanta and addressed to me here at the Strib. Inside was a strip of paper with a quote, a clue written in the form of haiku, the wish that I follow my Narrative Urge, and $10 to make sure that I paid attention.

I would have paid attention even without the $10. I love mysteries, and a literary mystery? The best kind.

There were tons of fascinating red herrings, and it took several days of concentration and Web searching for me to solve at least a portion of it--that my envelope was one of about 100 sent out or hidden around Atlanta, and that it was part of a literary scavanger hunt called "10 Stories High." I found their secret Website (now defunct), and I found their Facebook page, and then as far as I could tell everything sort of stalled out.

From time to time Narrative Urge sent out more envelopes, and from time to time she (I think it's a she) posted on Facebook, wondering where the "Lost Boys" might be. (Lost Boys being envelopes that had been hidden around Atlanta for anyone to find.)

Then, earlier this month, a flurry of activity--more envelopes sent, more Lost Boys found, and, then, ta da! All 100 envelopes accounted for.

And now, today, another envelope. I recognized the handwriting immediately when I pulled it out of my mailslot.

 

 

No money this time (I had donated my $10 bill months ago to a street musician on the Nicollet Mall), but an answer to the mystery: A short story, called "Hydra," made up primarily of snippets of writing (including the one sent to me).

The snippets were from all over, though primarily from Atlanta writers--Natasha Trethewey, and Tayari Jones, and Jessica Handler, and Randy Osborne, and on and on and on.

The story, comprised of so many people's writing (and such different kinds of writing--blog items and fiction and news reports and poetry) actually holds together as a story, in a weird sort of postmodern way. What an enormous amount of work this must have been to pull together!

But what fun it must have been to do.

Here's to mysteries, and literature, and literary mysteries, and here's hoping that all of you will follow your Narrative Urge, wherever it may take you. I know that I shall.

Oh--but one mystery does remain. Who was behind this? Will we ever know? Atlanta journalists, follow your investigative urge!

 

UPDATE:  The story and its footnotes are now online. You can read it all here.

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