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 Books

Celebrate five years of the "new" Central Library

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 19, 2011 - 6:12 AM
The new Minneapolis Central Library, just a month before it opened in 2006. Star Tribune staff photo by David Brewster

The new Minneapolis Central Library, just a month before it opened in 2006. Star Tribune staff photo by David Brewster

 
Five years already, really? The Minneapolis library that I think of as just-hatched is already a toddler. Minneapolis Central Library on the Nicollet Mall will celebrate its fifth birthday on Saturday, and the public is invited to come and play.
 
T.C. Bear will be there (he might find it more fun to be at a library these days than at a Twins game), and there will be films, polka music, a scavenger hunt, refreshments, and poetry (but fun poetry!).
 
Here’s the schedule:
 
10:30 a.m. Childish Films Season Finale, “Flying through the Air.” Mary Mack and Stephanie Ash will perform polka music in tribute to Ruth Adams of Nye’s Polannaise Room.
 
Noon: Storytelling—baseball stories, of course—with T.C. Bear, the mascot of the Minnesota Twins.
 
2 p.m.: celebrity poetry reading. Well, Minnesota doesn’t really have celebrities, so maybe “notable people reading poetry” would be a little more precise. Amber Damm (former Minnesota teacher of the year); Dennis Douda, WCCO-TV anchor; Sintripetal Force of the Minnesota RollerGirls; Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos; and others.
 
And all day, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., library tours, giveaways, book sales, music and painting booths, and a scavenger hunt.
 
All of which should send the message, loud and clear, that libraries are vibrant places where people and kids can hang out, learn, read, compute, listen, talk, and have fun.
 

Living in a town paved with poetry

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 18, 2011 - 12:44 PM
The University Club last night. All photos, blurry, crooked, and otherwise, by Laurie Hertzel

The University Club last night. All photos, blurry, crooked, and otherwise, by Laurie Hertzel

 
Last night, four memoirsts  (myself included) read at the invitation of St. Paul poet laureate Carol Connolly as part of her remarkable, long-running reading series. This is the series’ thirteenth year, and the monthly event now takes place in the University Club on Summit Avenue in a lovely big room with a coffered ceiling, an enormous white-brick fireplace, and tall arched windows that look out on the Mississippi River. Anybody’s prose would sound good in a place like that.
 
All the chairs filled, and the audience spilled over to ledges along the wall.

All the chairs filled, and the audience spilled over to ledges along the wall.

 
But Connolly chose well, and the three other women who read—well, their prose would sound good anywhere.
 
Patricia Weaver Francisco (author of “Telling”), Margot Fortunato Galt (“Turning the Feather Around”), and Elaine Wagner (“Feeling the Distance”) amused and delighted the substantial audience, who filled the chairs, crowded together on a side ledge, sipped goblets of red wine, laughed generously, took pictures, looked out the big windows at the sparkling river, and, when the time came, bought books, God love 'em.
 
There was a brief delay while Jim Lenfestey and Carol Connolly tried to get the microphone to work.

There was a brief delay while Jim Lenfestey and Carol Connolly tried to get the microphone to work.

 
There were common themes among the essays, however inadvertent: travel, loss, beauty and grief. Francisco’s essay, “Cezanne’s Pipe,” was about traveling to France with her husband to heal after the death of her mother. Galt--resplendent in a fuschia skirt and blue stockings--wrote with humor about traveling abroad with her daughter. And when she was done, Connolly said, “We all know that daughter. Some of us have been that daughter.”
 
Patricia Weaver Francisco.

Patricia Weaver Francisco.

 
Margot Fortunato Galt

Margot Fortunato Galt

 
And Wagner, a retired librarian from Highland Park, delighted the crowd with her funny, poignant essay about fleeting beauty, aging, and loneliness, all framed in a walk through her neighborhood. “I want to explain the Sean Connery reference,” she said, before beginning. “It sounds like we are intimate. I want to explain that he’s a narrative device.” And the crowd laughed appreciatively—and laughed again when Connery made his appearance in the essay, dressed in a kilt, with the wind blowing through.
 
Elaine M. Wagner

Elaine M. Wagner

 
As Connolly passed a red cookie tin through the crowd—not for us to take cookies from, sadly, but for us to put money into, to help support Public Arts St. Paul---Marcus Young took the podium. Young is St. Paul’s artist in residence (and how I love living in a city with an artist in residence), and the genius (so says Connolly, and who would disagree?) behind Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.
 
Marcus Young, with a map of where all the sidewalk poems are in St. Paul.

Marcus Young, with a map of where all the sidewalk poems are in St. Paul.

 
He was there to announce the winners of this year’s sidewalk poetry competition, those five lucky people whose short poems will be pressed into wet cement all over St. Paul this coming summer. “Ten days ago, we selected five winners,” Young said. There were 584 poems entered, by 362 people. His goal, he said, is to get everyone in St. Paul to enter the competition. “I think it is our civic duty to submit poems,” he said. “Because there is a poet in all of us.”
 
The submissions “made us think and made us laugh.” They touched on all kinds of topics—sports, chores, the weather, “and, always, the love of St. Paul.”
 
The winners: Michael Murphy, Michael Russelle, Louis diSanto, Sara Clark, and Lillian Rupp, age 9, who wrote the shortest poem, just six words: 
 
He’s fat.
My fault.
No walks.
 
Genius! “The goal is to slowly turn St. Paul into a book,” Young said. “Thank you for helping pave St. Paul’s streets with poetry.”
 
The next Carol Connolly reading will be June 15, to celebrate Bloomsday. She promises great words, and live music.
 
 

Two books that crossed my desk today that I thought you might enjoy.

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 17, 2011 - 4:01 PM

Some of you already know that I get far more books in the mail than I could ever review in the paper--far more. A thousand a month, more or less. (More as we approach the winter holidays, less in the quiet and still middle of summer.) I open them all myself, look at all of them, and am entranced and impressed every day by the variety and imagination and creativity.

And I am in despair, sometimes, that I cannot mention more of them. Sometimes afte sorting the day's haul I bring a couple of books up to my desk in the newsroom from the Book Dungeon, knowing I have no room for a review, knowing that I'm already overbooked, but still hoping that somehow I can squirm them into the paper. Sometimes, I can. Usually, I can't.

But there's always the Internet! So here goes.Here are two that captivated me today.

 

 "The Bedtime Book for Dogs," by Bruce Littlefield (Grand Central, $15.99, pubs June 8) is adorable, cleverly incorporating into the story words that dogs actually know. (Not that I think any of you actually read to your dogs.) (Or do you?)

It begins: "Come. Sit. Stay. I want to tell you a story. I think you'll like it. It's about a TREAT."

My dog, I can assure you, would be all ears by now. The story is simple--about a dog who goes out to the park to play by himself when nobody else is around.

 

 

The second book is quite different. "Portraits of the Prairie: The Land That Inspired Willa Cather" (University of Nebraska Press, $45), with a foreword by Ted Kooser, is a stunning homage to Willa Cather and the corner of Nebraska where she grew up and which helped inspire her stories.

The watercolors of Richard Schilling -- himself a Nebraska native -- capture the sweeping prairie, the big sky, the winding country roads, the wildflowers, the snowy landscapes of a place known forever as "Catherland."

 

A blitz of Moyers

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 13, 2011 - 10:53 AM

 

Bill Moyers.

Bill Moyers.

 

On June 13, at 7:30 p.m., you can go hear Bill Moyers at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, where he will be in conversation with Garrison Keillor. Your $20 fee entitles you to $10 off the price of the book, which you can buy at Keillor's store, Common Good Books.

 

 

On June 9, at 7 p.m., you can go hear Bill Moyers at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, where he will be introduced by Louise Erdrich. It's free, but the book is full-price, available from Erdrich's store, Birchbark Books.

 

 

The events should be entirely different--one a conversation, one more of a traditional lecture--and I think it would be fun to get to both. The Keillor conversation will highlight Moyers' new book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," a collection of interviews with nearly 50 notable people Moyers has talked with in the last five years.

Some of the names: biologist E. O. Wilson, historian Howard Zinn, economist Victor Greidel, writer Michael Pollan, Jane Goodall, Barbara Ehrenreich, Louise Erdrich ...

Aha. Louise Erdrich! Which brings us back to Minneapolis.

For tickets to the Fitzgerald event, click on the Ticketmaster site.

No tickets for the Plymouth Congregational Church event. Just try to get there early. (The church is on the corner of Nicollet and Franklin, and his talk is part of their Literary Witness Series, co-sponsored by the Loft Literary Center.)

Beaver's Pond Press, those Sauna Guys, clean up at awards gala

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 12, 2011 - 10:54 AM

 

Aaron Hautala and Michael Nordskog

Aaron Hautala and Michael Nordskog

 

We are in the thick of awards season now, and last night it was MIPA--the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, which handed out awards in 35 categories.

Nominees came from the whole Upper Midwest, 12 states. Winners included a fair number from Minnesota, including Michael Nordskog and Aaron Hautala, authors of "The Opposite of Cold," that book that is pretty much known by its unofficial title, "The Sauna Book."

Their book, published by the University of Minnesota Press, took first place in the category of Midwest Regional Interest.

Other local winners included Beaver's Pond Press, which won no fewer than 15 prizes (both first prize, and runner up), Tristan Publishing of Golden Valley, and Bethany House.

Self-published authors, take heart; even iUniverse won a prize. A complete list of winners follows:

Arts:
First place (a tie): Friendship: The Art of the Practice, Tristan Publishing
and The Saint John's Bible: Historical Books, Liturgical Press
Finalist: The Prints of Warrington Colescott, University of Wisconsin Press
 
Biography/Memoir
First place: John Paul Stevens, Northern Illinois University Press
Finalists: A Lifetime Burning, Borderland Books, and Czechs Forever, Penfield Books
 
Business
First place: Sacred Ground, Beaver's Pond Press
Finalist: Selling It Softly, Grand Oaks Press
 
Children's Picture Book
First place: Looking for Lucy, Beaver's Pond Press
Finalists: Stranger in the Woods: Snowflake Edition, Carl R. Sams II Photography, and Yafi's Family, Amharic Kids Press
 
Children's Fiction
First place: Ben and Lucy Play Pond Hockey, Beaver's Pond Press
Finalists: Henry! You're Late Again!, Beaver's Pond Press, and Military Life, Elva Resa Publishing
 
Children's Non-Fiction
First place: Be Fit, Be Strong, Be You, Free Spirit Publishing
Finalists: Frankie, the Rock 'n Roll Therapy Dog, Joyful Paws Prints Press, LLC, and
Pingpong Perry Experiences How a Book Is Made, Picture Window Books/Capstone
 
Young Adult Fiction
First place: Wilkinshire, iUniverse
Finalists: Siberia John & The Mystery of the Amazing Zoo, Three Towers Press, and
The Ugly Tree, Comfort Publishing
 
Coffee Table Books
First place: Whispers of the Ancients, University of Michigan Press
Finalist: Like an Old Friend, Beaver's Pond Press
 
Cookbooks
First place: Let’s Cook, Appletree Press, Inc.
Finalists: Café Indiana Cookbook, University of Wisconsin Press, and Cooking Ala Heart, Appletree Press Inc.
 
Crafts/Hobbies
First place: Amy Barickman's Vintage Notions, Amy Barickman LLC
Finalists: Quilting: The Basics and Beyond, Landauer Publishing, and Threads: The Basics and Beyond, Landauer Publishing
 
Culture
First place: Living in Two Worlds, World Wisdom
Finalists: Paris from the Heart, Beaver's Pond Press, and Whispers of the Ancients, University of Michigan Press
 
Current Events
First place: Quick Cash, Northern Illinois University Press
Finalist: Men of a Single Book, World Wisdom
 
Family/Parenting
First place: Heading Home with Your Newborn, American Academy of Pediatrics
Finalists: First the Broccoli, then the Ice Cream, Two Fish Books, and Yafi's Family, Amharic Kids Press
 
General Fiction
First place: The Peculiar Boars of Malloy, Switchgrass Books (Northern Illinois University Press)
Finalists: Cranberry Red, University of Wisconsin Press, and Today's Special! Yes It Is, Tristan Publishing
 
Genre Fiction
First place: Girl in the Gatehouse, Bethany House
Finalists: Deadly Reunion, North Star Press, and Death's Imperfect Witness, North Star Press
 
Health
First place: Mental Health Naturally, American Academy of Pediatrics
Finalists: The Reluctant Donor, Beaver's Pond Press, and Yoga for Every Room in Your House, Great Bear Press
 
History
First place: Sierra Summer, 1874, Pineneedle Press
Finalists: Living in Two Worlds, World Wisdom, and Lost on the Lady Elgin, In-Depth Editions
 
How-To/Do-It-Yourself
First place: Amy Barickman's Vintage Notions, Amy Barickman LLC
 
Humor
First place: Hitchhiking After Dark, Gale Force Press
Finalists: Garage Logic, Beaver's Pond Press, and The Athletic Benchley, Glendower Media
 
Inspiration/Gift Book
First place: I'm New at Being Old, Temuna Press
Finalists: Bringing Jon Home, Beaver's Pond Press, and Whispers of the Ancients, University of Michigan Press
 
Midwest Regional Interest
First place: The Opposite of Cold, University of Minnesota Press
Finalists: H. H. Bennett, Photographer, University of Wisconsin Press, and Whispers of the Ancients, University of Michigan Press
 
Nature
First place: Nature’s Garden, Forager's Harvest Press
Finalists: Amazing Hummingbirds, Adventure Publications, and Common Dragonflies of Northern Door County, Stonehill Publishing
 
Poetry
First place: Beso the Donkey, Michigan State University
Finalists: Jackson, Jesse, and the Almost Free Lunch, Beaver's Pond Press, and The Wind Blows. The Ice Breaks, Nodin Press
 
Recreation/Sports
First place: A Grouse Hunter's Almanac, University of Wisconsin Press
Finalists: Live Happily Ever Active, Jabberwocky Books, and Raising Stanley: What It Takes to Claim Hockey's Ultimate Prize, Triumph Books
 
Reference
First place: A Handbook of Scandinavian Names, University of Wisconsin Press
Finalists: 2011 Saint Paul Almanac, Arcata Press, and MFA in a Box, Dream of Things
 
Religion/Philosophy
First place: The Saint John's Bible: Historical Books, Liturgical Press
Finalists: Circle of Catholic Women, Juloya, and Kierkegaard, Lutheran University Press
 
Self-Help
First place: Living with the Enemy, Beaver's Pond Press
Finalists: The Joyful Professor, MavenMark Books, and Yoga for Every Room in Your House, Great Bear Press
 
Social Science
First place: Whispers of the Ancients, University of Michigan Press
Finalists: Spirits of Earth, University of Wisconsin Press, and Stalking Mary, Beaver's Pond Press
 
Travel
First place: Lake Superior: The Ultimate Guide, Lake Superior Port Cities, Inc.
Finalists: 2011 Saint Paul Almanac, Arcata Press, and Paris from the Heart, Beaver's Pond Press
 
Illustration
First place: Whispers of the Ancients, University of Michigan Press
Finalists: An Illustrated Introduction to Taoism, World Wisdom, and Stranger in the Woods: Snowflake Edition, Carl R. Sams II Photography
 
Interior Layout
First place: Living in Two Worlds, World Wisdom
Finalists: Live Happily Ever Active, Jabberwocky Books, and Sacred Ground, Beaver's Pond Press
 
1-2 Color Cover
First place: The Butterfly Key, Butterfly Publishing Press
Finalist: Legacy of Life, MavenMark Books
 
3 or More Color Cover
First place: Living in Two Worlds, World Wisdom
Finalists: An Illustrated Introduction to Taoism, World Wisdom, and Marilyn and Me, Augusta Wind Press
 
Total Book Design
First place: Wisconsin's Own, Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Finalists: An Illustrated Introduction to Taoism, World Wisdom
Living in Two Worlds, World Wisdom
 
Publisher's Website
First place: Beaver's Pond Press
Finalists: Granny Girl Press and World Wisdom
 
 

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