What do you call a group of writers? A bunch? A murder? A crop? A gaggle? Whatever they are, the next group of Club Book speakers is an interesting blend of national writers and regional writers, and some who straddle both categories.
Florida's Carl Hiaasen, author of "Strip Tease," "Sick Puppy," and a host of other satirical mysteries, headlines the series, along with Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation." Also in the lineup: mystery writer Erin Hart and her memoirist/musician husband, Paddy O'Brien; poet Ed Bok Lee; Minnesota Book Award-winning memoirist (and farmer) Atina Diffley; and National Book Award-winning young adult writer Will Alexander.
Chinese-American poet Li-Young Lee will kick off the season with an appearance at Highland Park Auditorium at 7 p.m. on June 5. Here's the whole lineup. As always, Club Book is free and open to the public:
Li-Young Lee, 7 p.m. June 5, Highland Park Auditorium, 1974 Ford Parkway, St. Paul. Li-Young Lee is the author of four books of poetry and a memoir, "The Winged Seed," winner of an American Book Award.
Carl Hiaasen, 7 p.m. June 27, Burnsville Performing Arts Center, 12600 Nicollet Av., Burnsville. Hiaasen, a columnist for the Miami Herald, is the author of a dozen novels. His latest is "Bad Monkey."
Will Alexander, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 17, Central Park Amphitheater, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury. Alexander, who lives in Minneapolis, won a 2012 National Book Award for "Goblin Secrets." Its companion book, "Ghoulish Song," is his latest book. You can read the Star Tribune profile of Alexander here.
Emily Rapp, 7 p.m. Sept. 17, Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Av., Roseville. Rapp, a former Fulbright scholar and recipient of the James A. Michener Fellowship, is the author of "Poster Child" and "Still Point of the Turning World."
Eric Schlosser, 7 p.m. Sept. 26, St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Av., St. Paul. Schlosser is an investigative journalist and the author of "Fast Food Nation," "Chew on This," and "Reefer Madness." His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Nation, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere.
Atina Diffley, 7 p.m. Oct. 9, Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater. Organic farmer Atina Diffley ran Gardens of Eagan with her husband, Martin, for more than 20 years. She is the author of a memoir, "Turn Here Sweet Corn," winner of a Minnesota Book Award. You can read the Star Tribune profile of Diffley here.
Sarah Stonich, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15, Chanhassen Public Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen. Stonich is the author of "The Ice Chorus," "These Granite Islands," "Shelter," and "Vacationland." She lives in Minneapolis. You can read the Star Tribune profile of her here.
Erin Hart & Paddy O'Brien, 7 p.m. Oct. 24, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av. SE., Prior Lake. Erin Hart's mysteries, set in Ireland and St. Paul, have been international best-sellers, and O'Brien is legendary in his home country of Ireland for his music. You can read the Star Tribune profile of Hart here.
Andy Sturdevant, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4, Rum River Library, 4201 6th Av., Anoka. Sturdevant writes a weekly column on art and culture for MinnPost and also writes for Rain Taxi, MSP Magazine, and other publications. His first book, "Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow," will be published this fall by Coffee House Press.
Ed Bok Lee, 7 p.m. Dec. 2, Hennepin County Library Southdale, 7001 York Av., Edina. Lee is the author of two collections of poetry, "Real Karaoke People," and "Whorled." He has won an American Book Award, a Minnesota Book Award, an Asian American Literary Award, and the PEN Open Book Award.
Hans Weyandt, co-owner of Micawber's Bookstore, got things rolling Tuesday night when he introduced Ethan Rutherford, author of the new short-story collection, "The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories" (Ecco Press).
" 'Peripatetic' is a word that is not used by anyone anywhere in the United States today," Weyandt said. He said he enjoyed calling up distributors and ordering the book, because it required them not only to pronounce the word but also to spell it.
Weyandt's little bookstore in St. Paul's St. Anthony Park neighborhood was packed to the stacks with friends and fans of Rutherford, there for the first stop of his rather extensive book tour, which will take him to the West Coast next week, and then to the East Coast. Rutherford, who lives in Minneapolis with his wife and toddler son, is a graduate of the University of Minnesota's MFA program in creative writing. Rutherford also reviews books for the Star Tribune.
A friend he met in the program, Matt Burgess--author of "Dogfight: A Love Story"--was up next. (And in the crowd, their writing teachers--Charles Baxter and Julie Schumacher.) (Also in the crowd, novelist Peter Bognanni, winner of the American Academy's Rome Prize, removing his hip white-framed sunglasses as he dashed through the door a little late.)
After a few more jokes about the word "peripatetic" (which Burgess said he had to look up the meaning of), Burgess read a brief, very funny scene from his work-in-progress, "Uncle Janis," a novel about undercover narcotics cops in Brooklyn.
The bookstore was crowded on this warm spring night, and Rutherford swung the door a few times, trying to kick up a breeze. (There was also free beer, which might have served to both cool and warm the guests.)
"This is a sort of wonderful day," Rutherford said. "It's like a wedding, except I don't have to dance."
He chose Micawber's for his book launch, he said, both because it's his favorite bookstore, and because he loves independent bookstores in general. "I've tricked you all here, I've given you free beers, so please buy a book," he urged the crowd. (Any book, he said, though he would especially like it if they bought his book.) (And they did, selling out Weyandt's supply of "Coffin.")
Rutherford's collection contains three sea stories, including the title story (the well-traveled coffin is a submarine), and Rutherford told the audience that it had long been his wish "to write 'Moby Dick II.' It turns out that's not a story that anybody was waiting for."
And then he read from the last story in his collection, "Dirwhals!," a futuristic tale about whale-hunters--though these whales live not in the sea, but in the sand.
And after that, booksigning and beer and the reading turned into a happy party. Like a wedding, but with no dancing.
Oh, gosh, it is brown out there. (But at least it's no longer white.) (Sorry, Owatonna.) But this weekend marks Gustavus Adolphus Library Associate's annual Books in Bloom exhibit at the college in St. Peter, Minn., which features 30 floral arrangements designed to compliment 30 books.
The exhibit will be open all weekend (hours: Friday, 3-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) with a book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. (Not all writers will be at the book signing. For example, Victor Hugo almost certainly will not make it.)
Some of the titles, such as Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus," or Faith Sullivan's "Gardenias," seem as though they would lend themselves to fabulous and exotic displays. Not easy, but maybe a bit less of a challenge than, say, "Philosophical Investigations" by Ludwig Wittgenstein, or ""The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West," by Patricia Nelson Limerick. Go, florists!
Here are this year's featured titles:
"Minnesota's Outdoor Wonders," by Jim Gilbert
"Little Wolves," by Thomas Maltman
"The Night Birds," by Thomas Maltman
"Because of Winn Dixie," by Kate DiCamillo
"On Three Continents" and "Mimbo Ma Ki Kriso," by Ruth Nelson Johnson
"Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo
"The Disappearing Spoon," by Sam Kean
"The Hunger Games Trilogy," by Suzanne Collins
"Sophie's Choice," by William Styron
"The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien
"The Lighthouse Road," by Peter Geye
"Planting a Rainbow," by Lois Ehlert
"Black and Bold," by Bruce Gray
"Elizabeth the Queen," by Sally Bedell Smith
"On His Watch," by Dennis Johnson
"The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," by Aimee Bender
"Downton Abbey," by Julian Fellowes
"The Round House," by Louise Erdrich
"Wicked," by Gregory Maguire
"Yes, Chef," by Marcus Samuelsson
"Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin
"The Night Circus," by Erin Morgenstern
"Olivia," by Ian Falconer
"The Legacy of Conquest," by Patricia Nelson Limerick
"Gardenias," by Faith Sullivan
"Philosophical Investigations," by Ludwig Wittgenstein
"Travels with Charley," by John Steinbeck
"The Boy in the Suitcase," by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
"Supper with the Savior," by Barbara Sartorius-Bjelland
"The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters," by Elizabeth Robinson.
This year's Books in Bloom, which is at the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, is dedicated to the memory of Marlys Johnson, one of the event's founders, who died last month after a short illness.
The Loft Literary Center today announced the winners of the 2013 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers.
The winners are Matthew Batt of St. Paul; Minneapolis writer Eric Braun; writer Susan Koefod; and memoirist Kao Kalia Yang of Minneapolis. The young-adult winner is Anne Ursu.
Honorable mentions went to Jonathan Odell, Pallavi Dixit, Katie Hae Leo, Yuko Taniguchi, Will Alexander, Brian Farrey-Latz, and Lynne Jonnell.
It is a testament to the depth of the field that among the honorable mentions are a National Book Award winner and two winners of a Minnesota Book Award.
The awards carry a prize of $25,000 each.
Matthew Batt is the author of the memoir, "Sugarhouse," and his work has appeared in Tin House, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of St. Thomas and is at work on a collection of essays.
Eric Braun, winner of a Minnesota Monthly Tamarack Award, has published short stories in a number of literary journals.
Susan Koefod has widely published prose, poetry and mysteries.
Kao Kalia Yang is the author of the memoir "The Latehomecomer." She co-hosts a weekly radio program focusing on the Hmong community.
Anne Ursu's latest book is "Breadcrumbs." She teaches at Hamline University.
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