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.

Posts about Talk of the Stacks

Novelist Lorna Landvik, mystery writer J.A. Jance, booked for Talk of the Stacks

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 1, 2014 - 3:15 PM
Lorna Landvik. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler

Lorna Landvik. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler

The Friends of the Hennepin County Library has announced the fall season of Talk of the Stacks, the free literary series held at the Central Library on the Nicollet Mall. This season sees a mystery writer, a beloved local novelist, a psychologist, a foodie and a poet. Something for just about everything. Here's the lineup:

Aug 11:  J.A. Jance, the New York times best-selling mystery writer of more than 50 books. She'll discuss "Remains of Innocence," her latest Joanna Brady mystery.

Sept. 10: Lorna Landvik, a comic, playwright and the author of "Patty Jane's House of Curl," and other best-sellers, will discuss her newest novel, "Best to Laugh," the story of a Minnesota comedian in Hollywood.

Oct. 11: Dr. Steven Pinker (co-sponsored by Rain Taxi's Twin Cities Book Festival). Pinker is hte author of eight best-selling books and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Time, and the New Republic. He'll discuss his newest book, "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century."

Oct. 30: Dana Cowin, in conversation with Andrew Zimmern: Cowin is a food writer, the editor of Food & Wine, and a guest on the television show Top Chef. She and Zimmern will discuss her new cookbook, "Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen."

Nov. 18: Michael Bazzett in conversation with Kevin Prufer. Bazzett is the winner of Milkweed Edition's 2014 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for poetry and the author of "The Unspoken Jokebook" and "The Imaginary City." He and Prufer -- the Lindquist & Vennum prize judge -- will discuss "You Must Remember This," Bazzett's prizewinning manuscript.

For all events, doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the event beings at 7, followed by book sales and signings.

Lorrie Moore and Francine Prose coming for Talk of the Stacks

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: January 15, 2014 - 12:04 PM

Lorrie Moore. New York Times photo by Mokoto Rich

The spring lineup for Talk of the Stacks has been announced: Just four writers, but big names, all. Here's the schedule:

Feb. 18: Jennifer Senior, New York Magzine contributing editor, will talk about her new book, "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting."

March 7: Novelist and short-story writer Lorrie Moore will discuss "Bark," her first story collection in 15 years.

April 3: Poet Ron Padgett will read from his collected poems, published by Minneapolis' Coffee House Press.

May 12: Francine Prose--poet, novelist, essayist, critic--will discuss "Lovers at the Chameleon Club Paris 1932," her new novel.

All readings are free and open to the public and will take place at the Central Library on the Nicollet Mall. Doors open at 6:15, readings begin at 7 p.m., and each program is followed by a book sale and signing.

Amy Tan packs the house

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: November 14, 2013 - 4:51 PM

Amy Tan When Amy Tan was a girl, her mother warned her to stay away from boys. “She said, Don’t let a boy kiss you because maybe you can’t stop. And then you’re gonna have a baby.”  Her mother went on to enumerate all of the terrible things that happen to a girl when she has a baby, ending with, “You want to kiss a boy? You might as well just kill yourself right now!”

“And I thought, What was so good about it that you couldn’t stop?” Tan said.

It was a funny story, but one tinged with darkness, as were so many of the stories that Tan told on Wednesday night at Talk of the Stacks at the Central Library in Minneapolis.  “When she told me this, I didn’t know that had had a first husband,” Tan said. “I didn’t know that she had three daughters living in China.”

Self-deprecating, elegant and fascinating, Tan mesmerized the crowd with her stories of family drama. And it was a true crowd, for sure--Pohlad Auditorium was filled, and guests packed into two overflow rooms, where they watched her on movie screens, and a handful more stood out in the atrium, listening to her on the speakers. Nearly 450 people showed up, one of the biggest crowds yet for the library’s popular program.

Tan read only briefly from her new book, “The Valley of Amazement,” and instead told stories about her mother and her grandmother--familiar figures to anyone who has read her novels. Her new book travels from China to the United States, following the lives of a courtesan and her daughter in the first half of the 20th century

While writing “Valley,” Tan kept two photographs on her desk: One of her mother, and one of her grandmother. Her mother left Shanghai in 1942 on a student visa, leaving behind an abusive husband and their three daughters. Tan never knew if her mother meant to abandon her children, but she was not allowed to return to China for 30 years. “My mother was impetuous, and passionate, and suicidal,” Tan said. “She taught me that I must always be independent.”

Tan’s grandmother was, she said, “a tragic figure. Spoiled. She married late, at 24, and her husband died in the 1919 Pandemic.” According to Chinese culture, she was supposed to remain a widow the rest of her life, but one night, when visiting a friend, she awoke to find a man in her bed. “There are two versions to the story,” Tan said. In one version, the man holds a knife to her grandmother’s throat and says, “If you don’t marry me, I will kill you.” In the other version, he holds a knife to his own throat and says, “If you don’t marry me, I will kill myself.”

Tan’s grandmother married him and worked out a deal: If she bore him a son, he would buy her a house in Shanghai. She bore him a son, he reneged on his part of the bargain, and she killed herself, leaving behind Tan’s mother, who was then 9 years old.

When writing “Valley,” Tan said, she entered the world of her grandmother, but the book is not about her grandmother. “It does have a lot to do with the themes in my family--betrayal, abandonment, passionate women, suicidal women, impetuous women, and love, love, love.”

“Valley” is her first novel in eight years, and Tan joked that “the best thing about finishing it is people no longer ask when’s your book going to come out. The worst thing is they ask why it took so long.”

The wonderful wealth that this fall will bring

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: August 1, 2013 - 5:00 PM

 

Nicholson Baker will be in the Cities in October for the Rain Taxi/Twin Cities Book Festival

Nicholson Baker will be in the Cities in October for the Rain Taxi/Twin Cities Book Festival

Over the last few weeks, news has dribbled out about the authors who are coming to town for the state's most significant writers series: Talking Volumes; Talk of the Stacks; Good Thunder: Pen Pals; and Club Book.This doesn't even include the lineup for the Rain Taxi Review Twin Cities Book Festival, which will be announced next week. (They did announce today that Nicholson Baker will be one of the guests.)

 

All of the lineups are so impressive that it seems worth recapping them for you. There's a little overlap--Tracy K. Smith, for instance, will be here twice, once for the Good Thunder Writing Series in Mankato, and once for Pen Pals in Hopkins. And Luis Alberto Urrea will be here twice as well -- again, once for Good Thunder, and once for Pen Pals. But it's an impressive list just the same, with novelists, poets and masters of creative nonfiction. 

A person could go to an event nearly every week between now and spring--and sometimes twice in one evening--and that doesn't include the impressive lineup coming to indie bookstores (including, I hear, Jhumpa Lahiri in October) or the University of Minnesota (Bonnie Jo Campbell and Katherine Boo later on this fall).

Talk of the Stacks, Good Thunder, the Twin Cities Book Festival and Club Book are all free.

Pen Pals and Talking Volumes require tickets. Both offer tickets for the entire series, and individual tickets. (For Talking Volumes, series tickets are available now, and individual tickets will go on sale tomorrow. Call 651-290-1200 or visit the Fitzgerald Theater Website. Individual tickets are $25.) (For Pen Pals, individual tickets will go on sale Aug. 12. Call 612-543-8112 or download a form from www.supporthclib.org/ Individual tickets are $40.)

So here's the list:

Aug. 17, Will Alexander, Club Book.

Sept. 12: Larry Watson and Jon Pineda, in conversation with Milkweed Editions publisher Daniel Slager, Talk of the Stacks

 

Sept. 12: Tracy Kidder. Good Thunder Reading Series, Mankato.
 
Sept. 17, Emily Rapp, Club Book
 
Sept. 25, Edwidge Danticat, Talking Volumes
 
Sept. 26, Eric Schlosser, Club Book.
 
Oct. 1, Margaret Atwood, Talking Volumes
 
Oct 3-4: Swati Avasthi and Rachael Hanel, Good Thunder, Mankato.
 
Oct. 9, Atina Diffley, Club Book.
 
Oct. 10 and 11, George Saunders, Pen Pals
 
Oct. 12, Nicolson Baker, Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival
 
Oct. 15, Rick Riordan, Talking Volumes
 
Oct. 15, Sarah Stonich, Club Book
 
Oct. 24: Alicia Catt and Alan Davis, Good Thunder, Mankato
 
Oct. 24, Erin Hart & Paddy O'Brien, Club Book.
 
Oct. 25: Dessa, in conversation with Rain Taxi Review editor Eric Lorberer. Talk of the Stacks.
 
Nov. 4 and 5, A.S. Byatt, Pen Pals
 
Nov. 4, Andy Sturdevant, Club Book
 
Nov. 12, Pat Conroy, Talking volumes
 
Nov. 13: Amy Tan, Talk of the Stacks
 
Nov. 14-15: Angela Duryee and Luis Alberto Urrea, Good Thunder
 
Dec. 2, Ed Bok Lee Club Book
 
Dec. 12: Nikki Giovanni, Talk of the Stacks
 
Jan. 30: Sarah McKinstry-Brown and Christopher Howell, Good Thunder
 
Feb. 6 and 7, Luis Alberto Urrea, Pen Pals
 
Feb. 18-21: Pete Hautman and Alex Lemon, Good Thunder.
 
March 20: Matt Rasmussen and Tracy K. Smith, Good Thunder.
 
April 10: Jesmyn Ward, Good Thunder.
 
April 24 and 25, Art Spiegelman, Pen Pals
 
April 24: Candace Black, Good Thunder.

May 8-9: Tracy K. Smith, Pen Pals

 

Good Thunder events are held at the Minnesota State University at Mankato.

Club Book events are held at various venues around the metropolitan area; check the Web for specific locations.

Talking Volumes is held at the Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown St. Paul.

Pen Pals is held at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hopkins.

Aren't you glad you live here?

Fall Talk of the Stacks lineup includes Amy Tan and Nikki Giovanni

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 29, 2013 - 1:24 PM

Novelist Amy Tan.

Novelist Amy Tan.

The next season of Talk of the Stacks will see writers in conversation with each other, and with editors, and also writers alone, reading from their work.

Novelist Amy Tan and poet Nikki Giovanni headline a series that also includes Minnesota writer/singer/songwriter/rapper Dessa and two winners of the Milkweed Fiction Prize, Larry Watson and Jon Pineda.

Here's the lineup:

Sept. 12: Larry Watson ("Let Him Go") and Jon Pineda ("Apology"), in conversation with Milkweed Editions publisher Daniel Slager.

Oct. 25: Dessa, in conversation with Rain Taxi Review editor Eric Lorberer. They'll be discussing her new, as yet untitled chapbook of poetry.

Nov. 13: Amy Tan, discussing "The Valley of Amazement," her first new novel in nearly 10 years.

Dec. 12: Nikki Giovanni, reading from "Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid," her upcoming collection of poetry.

Talk of the Stacks is a free reading series of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library. All events will be held in Pohlad Hall of the Central Library on the Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and talks begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by book signings.

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