From collected letters to collected stories, from memoir to adventure, these 10 books reflect Minnesota and the region.
By Kevin Fenton (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $22.95)
Kevin Fenton’s memoir of growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota and then moving to the city (first Winona, then St. Paul) captures the 1960s, small-town life and the growing restlessness of its author. In prose that veers gracefully between the past and the present, Fenton depicts both the happy innocence of childhood and the clear-eyed understanding of adulthood.
“The Thoughtbook of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Secret Boyhood Diary”
Edited by Dave Page (University of Minnesota Press, $12.95)
This little diary is just two dozen pages long, but it’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the teenage F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s no surprise that he was drawn to the young lovelies of St. Paul. (His first entry, from August 1910, is called “My Girls,” in which he recalls escapades with girls, including one named Kitty, whom he kissed so many times one afternoon “it was impossible to count.”) Augmented with essays and context by Dave Page, who has written extensively on Fitzgerald.
By William Kent Krueger (Atria, $24.99)
Though billed as a mystery, “Ordinary Grace” is something of a departure for St. Paul writer William Kent Krueger, who has shot to the New York Times bestseller list with his Cork O’Connor mysteries set Up North. “Ordinary Grace” is a poignant coming-of-age tale set in the Minnesota River Valley in the early 1960s. Like any good mystery it begins with a corpse, but it blossoms to encompass a boy’s loss of innocence and his growing understanding of life and death.
“Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District”
By Karen Melvin, et. al. (Big Picture Press, $54.95)
There’s text in this book, of course, but the main draw is the gorgeous color photography of the stately exteriors and gorgeous interiors of 24 mansions along St. Paul’s Summit Avenue. You’ll spend some time leafing through this book, admiring the curved staircases, the carved woodwork, the tiled fireplaces, the beamed ceilings and the mullioned windows. But make sure you go back and read the words, which were written by historians and architectural writers and which provide the history and context for all this opulence.
Events: Saturday: noon, Common Good Books, St. Paul; 1 p.m. Bibelot, Grand Av., St. Paul; 3 p.m. Traditions Home Furnishings, St. Paul. Next Sunday: noon, Barnes & Noble Highland Village, St. Paul; 2 p.m. Barnes & Noble Ridgehaven Mall, Minnetonka.
“Paddling to Winter”