We probably don't call attention often enough to the outstanding lineup of writers the public libraries bring in. Sometimes you have to look at the whole list at once to be impressed.
So let's get impressed:
Club Book will bring fiction writer and memoirist Pam Houston ("Cowboys Are My Weakness" "Waltzing the Cat") to Maplewood tomorrow. She'll read from her new book, "Contents May Have Shifted," at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Drive.
Later in February, local favorite Lorna Landvik ("Patty Jane's House of Curls") will be in Prior Lake. She'll make a return performance in April at the Chanhassen Library. (Dates are: 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av., and 2 p.m. April 21, Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd.)
Landvik, the author of nine novels, many of them best-sellers, is trying something new with her latest book: She self-published "The Mayor of the Universe."
The Club Book lineup continues through the spring with Arthur Phillips (whose parents still live in the Cities), Cheryl Strayed, John Sandford, Brenda Langton, Benjamin Percy (now teaching in Minnesota), and poet Li-Young Lee.
Meanwhile, the Pen Pals lecture series--the only library series that carries a ticket charge--is bringing in cartoonist Roz Chast, writer Dennis Lehane, and Armistead Maupin. And Talk of the Stacks--held at the downtown Minneapolis library--is bringing in the Smitten Kitchen writer, Deb Perelman; best-selling memoirist ("Look Me In the Eye") John Robison (and watch for a Q&A with him in an upcoming Variety section of your Strib); and New Orleans-by-way-of-Romania poet Andrei Codrescu.
Shall we go on? Because we can.
Chris Niskanen (today, at the Osseo Library); Connie Brockway (Feb. 11, Edina Library); Larry Millet, Feb. 16, Nokomis Library; cookbook authors Phyllis Louise Harris and Raghavan Iyer, Feb. 16, Maple Grove Library); Mary DesJarlais, March 9, Rogers Library; Atina Diffley, March 16, Nokomis Library; Peter Geye, March 18, Ridgedale Library; Erin Hart, March 26, St. Anthony Library; and Brian Leehan, March 26, Brookdale Library.
Impressed yet? I am. Our tax dollars at work.
Over the next five months, Club Book will bring eight writers to metro libraries, including New York Times best-selling authors Cheryl Strayed, John Sandford, Arthur Phillips and Pam Houston.
Club Book is a program of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, funded in part through Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. All events are free and open to the public.
Here’s the lineup:
Pam Houston: 7 p.m. Feb. 5, Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Dr., Maplewood. Houston, author of “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat,” is a novelist, essayist, editor and teacher. Her new novel is “Contents May Have Shifted.”
Lorna Landvik: 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av., Prior Lake, and 2 p.m. April 21, Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen. Landvik, who lives in the Twin Cities, is the best-selling author of “Patty Jane’s House of Curl,” “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” and other novels.
Li-Young Lee: 7 p.m. March 18, St. Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Av., St. Paul. Li-Young Lee is a poet and memoirist, the author of “Behind My Eyes” and “The City in Which I Love You,” winner of the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection. His memoir, “The Winged Seed,” won an American Book Award.
Cheryl Strayed: 7 p.m. March 19, Central Park Amphitheater, 8595 Central Park Pl., Woodbury, and 7 p.m. March 20, Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley. Strayed, who grew up near McGregor, Minn., and attended the University of Minnesota, is the author of “Wild,” a memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The book was an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection and has been optioned for film. She is also the author of “Tiny Beautiful Things” and “Torch.”
Arthur Phillips: 7 p.m. April 18, Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater. Phillips was born in Minneapolis and is the author of five novels, including “Egyptologist,” “Prague” and “The Song Is You.” His most recent novel is “The Tragedy of Arthur,” about the supposed discovery of a lost Shakespeare play.
Brenda Langton: 7 p.m. April 24, Hennepin County Library-Southdale, 7001 York Av. S., Edina. Restaurateur Langton established and ran Cafe Kardamena and Cafe Brenda and now operates Spoonriver, all specializing in local and organic cuisine. Langton is the author of “The Spoonriver Cookbook,” and has been a judge for the James Beard Foundation’s annual cookbook awards.
John Sandford: 7 p.m. May 8, Rum River Library, 4201 6th Av., Anoka. As a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Camp (pen name: John Sandford) won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories about a farm in crisis. Now a fiction writer, he is the author of the “Prey” series and the series featuring Virgil Flowers. His newest book is “Silken Prey.”
Benjamin Percy: 7 p.m. May 29, Hennepin County Library-Southdale, 7001 York Av. S., Edina. Percy is a novelist and essayist, author of “The Wilding” and, forthcoming in May, “Red Moon,” as well as two collections of short stories, “Refresh, Refresh” and “The Language of Elk.” He is a regular contributor to Esquire and is writer-in-residence at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
His Norwegian crime novels have astounded and entertained millions of readers across the world, translated into 40 languages and hitting best-seller lists. Jo Nesbo will be in St. Paul later this month, at an event co-sponsored by Micawber's Books and Friends of the St. Paul Library.
He'll read from "Phantom," his latst Henry Hole thriller, at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Ave.
Nesbo is the author of more than a dozen novels, including "The Snowman" and "The Leopard." Detective Henry Hole, one of his most popular characters, is an Oslo detective with a drinking problem who fights not just criminals, but his own personal demons.
Nesbo is also an economist and a musician, so who knows what he'll do in St. Paul, exactly? Sing? Read? Help you with your taxes?
Here's Nesbo at Book Expo America earlier this year:
One of the great things about Club Book is the fact that they bring in such a wide variety of writers. Well, there are other great things--the fact that it's free, for instance, and the fact that its whole reason for being is to bring authors to far-flung places where people actually live (Apple Valley! Stillwater! Brooklyn Center!) instead of making everybody drive to downtown Minneapolis of St. Paul.
But the variety of authors is also admirable. In the past there years they've brought in novelist Gish Jen and storyteller Kevin Kling; memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert and novelist Stuart O'Nan; uber-librarian Nancy Pearl and author (and uber-Twitterer) Colson Whitehead.
Meloy is the lead singer of the indie folk band The Decemberists, a Portland, Ore., band that has been around since 2001. His new book, "Under Wildwood," pubs later this month from Harper Collins and is the second in the Wildwood Chronicles, a fantasy series for young adults which takes place in the mythical and dangerous Impassible Wilderness outside of Portland.
It's excellent to see Calvin Trillin's name among the list of this fall's Talk of the Stacks guests. He had been set to come last season, but health problems forced him to postpone. Now, he is scheduled to be in Minneapolis on Dec. 6 to talk about his new book, "Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem About the Presidential Campaign," and to launch the paperback edition of "Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of His Funny Stuff."
Here's a link to the interview we did with him last September.
The other Talk of the Stacks authors coming this fall are just as venerable:
On Sept. 21, Michael Chabon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will discuss his latest novel, "Telegraph Avenue." Chabon is the author of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and Wonder Boys," among other books.
On Oct. 4, Naomi Wolf will talk about her new book, "Vagina: A New Biography." Wolf is a social critic, political activist and author, perhaps best known for her best-selling book, "The Beauty Myth."
And on Nov. 17, Geoff Dyer will be in conversation with Graywolf Press publisher Fiona McCrae, discussing "Otherwise Known as the Human Condition." Here is a link to our review of the book, which came out last year and which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
And just for fun, here's a link to a review of Dyer's more recent book, "Zona," a meditation (with digressions) on the 1979 film "Stalker."
All Talk of the Stack events are free and open to the public and held at the Minneapolis Central Public Library on the Nicollet Mall. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.; events begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by book-signings.
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