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 Libraries

Talk of the Stacks lineup for fall/winter announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 30, 2012 - 11:23 AM

Calvin Trillin. Staff photo by Joel Koyama.

Calvin Trillin. Staff photo by Joel Koyama.

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.



First annual Andrew Carnegie Medals announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 26, 2012 - 10:32 AM

Anne Enright

Anne Enright

Robert K. Massie's splended biography of Catherine the Great and Irish writer Anne Enright's novel "The Forgotten Waltz" were honored this week by the American Library Association. The first annual Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were funded through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The ALA also sponsors the annual Youth Media Awards, which includes the Newbery and Caldecott Medals.

"Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman," by Massie, was also a 2011 Booklist editors' choice and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Our reviewer called the book both "vivd and sly." Read the review here.

Enright won the Booker Prize for an earlier book, "The Gathering." About "The Forgotten Waltz," our reviewer said it is subtle and suggestive. Read the review here.

Enright and Massie will each receive $5,000. The finalists -- Jame Gleick's "A History, a Theory, a Flood"; Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention"; Russell Banks' "Lost Memory of Skin"; and Karen Russell's "Swamplandia!"--will each receive $1,500.

Anne Fadiman in St. Paul next week

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 3, 2012 - 11:32 AM

Anne Fadiman.

Anne Fadiman.

Daughter of the notable American writer and scholar Clifton Fadiman,writer Anne Fadiman made a name for herself in 1997 with the publication of her remarkable book about the clash of Hmong and American culture, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down."  It's the nonfiction account of a family of Hmong immigrants who are trying to navigate the American medical system when their three-month-old baby, Lia, is diagnosed with epilepsy. (The book's title comes from the Hmong description of the disease.)

I heard Fadiman speak 10 years ago at a conference at Harvard University; she was eloquent, charming and winsome, those big eyes peering out from under her thick fringe of bangs as she told about how she came to write the book, originally as a piece for the New Yorker. But the research took years and years, and during that time New Yorker editors left, or died, and new ones came, and when she finally had the piece completed, Tina Brown said no thanks, and so, instead, it became a book.

That book is now 15 years old, and out in a new paperback "classic" edition from Farrar Straus & Giroux with a new afterword by Fadiman, bringing us up to date on where all the notable characters are today. (And Lia, the epileptic toddler in the center of the story, is quite remarkably still alive.)

It's a fascinating, well-told book about Hmong culture and immigration and the push-push-push of American doctors. (Now older, and, presumably, wiser, the pediatricians who treated Lia told Fadiman for the afterword, "As pediatricians at the end of our careers instead of at the beginning, we might push a little less on the family. In the end, we think the results would have been the same.")

Fadiman will be in St. Paul next week as part of Club Book. She'll speak at the Highland Park Public Library, 1974 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, at 7 p.m. Monday.

(Note: There's been some mention that she'll be doing a second talk the next day, but that's not correct. See her Monday in St. Paul, or don't see her at all.) (My recommendation: See her.)

Summer-fall lineup of Club Book sees lots of locals

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 18, 2012 - 3:23 PM

Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson

The summer-fall season of Club Book features lots of local writers, as well as a couple of big names from elsewhere. Pultizer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson will talk about her best-selling nonfiction book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” and the beloved Alexander McCall Smith, whose last planned visit here was canceled due to volcanic ash (remember that? when planes in Europe were grounded?) will talk about the latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series.

(And here's the interview we did with him at the time--it was April 2010.)

Also in the lineup are local writers Brenda Child, Mark Rosen, Larry Millett, Jonathan Odell, David Walsh, and the lead singer of the Decembrists, Colin Meloy and his wife, Carson Ellis.

Here’s the schedule:

Millett, "The Magic Bullet": 7 p.m. June 11, Shakopee Library

Smith, "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection": 7 p.m. June 19, Central Park Amphitheater, Woodbury

Wilkerson "The Warmth of Other Suns": 7 p.m. June 26, Galaxie Library, Apple Valley, and 7 p.m. June 27, Brookdale Library, Brooklyn Center.

Rosen, "Best Seat in the House": 1 p.m. Aug. 4, Chanhassen Public Library

Odell, "The Healing": 2 p.m. Aug. 18, Rum River Library, Anoka

Child "Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community": 7 p.m. Sept. 12, Highland Park Library, St. Pau

Meloy and Ellis, "Under Wildwood": 7 p.m. Oct. 2, Roseville Library

Walsh "Why Do They Act That Way?" and "Your Teen and No": 7 p.m. Oct. 18, Mraz Performing Arts Center, Burnsville, and 7 p.m. Oct. 24, Southdale Library, Edina.

Club Book is a free author series of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency. You can find more information at


Stiff competition: NE Minnesota Book Award nominees announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 3, 2012 - 11:01 AM

Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman

The 24th annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Award nominees have been announced, and look out, there are a lot of them. Competition is going to be stiff, particularly in the category of nonfiction, which has 17 finalists.

(Good luck to all of them. And good luck to the two in the art/photography category, where the odds are a little better.)

The NEMBA is a joint venture of the UMD Library, Friends of the Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers. The ceremony will be May 17 in Duluth. Thriller writer Brian Freeman will be the keynote, and, as always, poet Barton Sutter will be the charming emcee. Winners will receive $200 and a truly lovely glass plaque.

Here are the nominees:


• BlizzardBall, Dennis Kelly, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Dead Ahead: A Jo Spence Mystery, Jen Wright, Clover Valley Press

• A Long-Forgotten Truth, Rachel Ballard, Rozlyn Press

• Telegram: A Wartime Novel about Peace, L. Douglas Hoffmann, A-Argus Better Book Publishers

• Where Echoes Die, Pam Leonard, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Where Memories Dream: Campfire Stories for the Boundary Waters, Steven Coz, Savage Press

• The Winds of Change: A Family's Journey to a Future of Promise, Duane Schwartz, A-Argus Better Book Publishers


• Birdland, Kathy McTavish, Wildwood River Press

• Cloud Birds, Sheila Packa, Wildwood River Press

• East of Nowhere, Larry Christianson, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Fog & Woodsmoke: Behind the Image, Stephani Schaefer, Lost Hills Books

• Marrow, Muscle, Flight, Gary Boelhower, Wildwood River Press

• Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life's Transitions, Sheila Packa, ed., Wildwood River Press

• Tumbled Dry, Charmaine Donovan, Lost Hills Books


• Agates of Lake Superior: Stunning Varieties and How They Are Formed, Dan R. Lynch and Bob Lynch, Adventure Publications

• Ancient Earth and the First Ancestors: A Cultural and Geological Journey, Ron Morton and Carl Gawboy, illustrations by Carl Gawboy, Rockflower Press

• And the Snow Came Up to Here: Schools of Carlton County, Minnesota, Nancy C. Hanson, published by author with the assistance of Dovetailed Press

• Anishinaabe Syndicated: A View from the Rez, Jim Northrup, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• A Boundary Waters History: Canoeing Across Time, Stephen Wilbers, The History Press

• Campfires and Loon Calls: Travels in the Boundary Waters, Jerry Apps, photography by Steve Apps, Fulcrum Publishing

 • Cooking in Canoe Country, Robert Black with Susan Peterson, Carmen Black, and Maja Black, Nodin Press

• Dorothy Molter: The Root Beer Lady, Sarah Guy-Levar and Terri Schocke, Adventure Publications

• Ezhichigeyang: Ojibwe Word List, Nancy Jones, Gordon Jourdain, and Rose Tainter, edited by Anton Treuer and Keller Paap, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Immersion Charter School 

 • Faces and Places II...A Second Look: A Cook County Historical Album 1930-1960, Pat Zankman, 2nd edition editor; co-edited by M.J. Humphrey, Adolph A. Toftey, and Willis H. Raff, Cook County Historical Society

• Hiking the North Shore: 50 Fabulous Day Hikes in Minnesota's Spectacular Lake Superior Region, Andrew Slade, There and Back Books

• Minnesota Rocks & Minerals: A Field Guide to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Dan R. Lynch and Bob Lynch, Adventure Publications 

•  The Oranges Are Sweet: Major Don M. Beerbower and the 353rd Fighter Squadron, November 1942 to August 1944, Paul M. Sailer, Loden Books

• Staycation in Minnesota: Up North, Patricia Overson, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager, Brett Laidlaw, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• Twelve Owls, Laura Erickson, with illustrations by Betsy Bowen, University of Minnesota Press

• 20 Great BWCA Trips: Exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Van Jordahl and Gerald Strom, Adventure Publications


• Hauling Water: Reflections on Making a Home in the North Woods, Becca Brin Manlove, illustrated by Sharon Brin Hathaway, Raven Productions

• Shelter, Sarah Stonich, Borealis Books, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• Spirit of the Lights, Chuck Frederick, Lake Superior Port Cities

• A View of the Lake: Living the Dream on Lake Superior, Beryl Singleton Bissell, Lake Superior Port Cities

• Whitey: From Farm Kid to Flying Tiger to Attorney, Wayne G. Johnson, Langdon Street Press


• Around a Woodsy Corner, Marcy Bolinger, illustrated by Rhonda Weitzel, Gunflint Trail Productions

 • Birds in Our Backyard: Say Hello to Minnesota's Feathered Friends, text by Adele Porter, photography by Bill Marchel, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• Buddy's Adventures: Lost Bone, Michael J. Perkins, 10,000 Lakes Art

• Frog in the House, David Mather, illustrated by Stephanie Mirocha, Raven Productions

• Little Minnesota, Kathy-jo Wargin, Sleeping Bear Press

• Oh Mighty Mississippi, Melissa Vocelka, illustrated by Amy Larson, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Tales of Lake Superior: A Grandmother's Stories of the North, Juliet Beatrice Lind, illustrated by Joan Henrik, Joan Henrik Design

• Unforgettable, Loretta Ellsworth, Walker & Co.

• Utterly Otterly Night, Mary Casanova, pictures by Ard Hoyt, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


• Old Minnesota, Nace Hagemann, Gunflint Trail Productions

• Voyageur Skies: Weather and the Wilderness in Minnesota's National Park, photography by Don Breneman and weather commentary by Mark Seeley, Afton Press


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters