It has become something of a December tradition for writer Joseph Maiolo to read aloud Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he has taught for nearly 40 years.
Maiolo was my teacher at UMD, an encouraging and thoughtful man (and the only one to find worth in my belabored fiction — even in the story that a fellow student pronounced “as boring as a bowl of unsalted oatmeal”).
He has been published in Ploughshares, Sewanee Review and elsewhere, and he’s won a number of prizes, including three PEN Awards. But he hadn’t done many books until last year, when former student Tony Dierckins, publisher of Duluth’s Zenith City Press, created the Overcoat Books imprint and began steadily publishing Maiolo’s work. Dierckins has published five of Maiolo’s books — short stories, mostly, and novellas, and all available at www.overcoatbooks.com.
This year, poor health means that Maiolo will not read, so others will. Writers and colleagues Margi Preus, Julie Ahasay, Jean Sramek and others will read — not from Capote this time, but from Maiolo’s new book, “An Arch of Birches.” The free event will begin at 4 p.m. Dec. 19 at UMD’s Weber Hall.
• Ben Welter’s second book about Minnesota’s notorious past, “Minnesota Mysteries: A History of Unexplained Wonders, Eccentric Characters, Preposterous Claims and Baffling Occurrences in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes,” has been published by the History Press. (You don’t have to memorize that subtitle.) Welter, news copy chief at the Star Tribune, will sign books at 7 p.m. Monday at the Bookcase of Wayzata, and at 7 p.m. Wednesday at SubText Bookstore, 165 Western Av. N., St. Paul.
• The History Press has also published Kristal Leebrick’s “Dayton’s: A Twin Cities Institution.” Leebrik edits the St. Anthony Park Bugle in St. Paul.
• “Boulevard Women,” by Lauren Cobb, has been published by BkMk Press/University of Missouri Kansas City. Cobb lives in Bemidji; the book won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction.