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Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996.

Celebrating Woody Guthrie

Charlie Maguire, Tony Glover and Pop Wagner. Photo by Becky Prentis.

Charlie Maguire, Tony Glover and Pop Wagner. Photo by Becky Prentis.

It's been years and years since I read "Bound for Glory," Woody Guthrie's written-in-vernacular, gritty, funny, dusty Dust Bowl, train-hopping, fruit-picking, guitar-picking life story. Published in 1943, the book is 75 years old this year. (It was not quite that long ago that I read it.)

To honor that anniversary, folk musician and Guthrie aficianado Charlie Maguire will lead a discussion of the book at Hennepin County Library Central Minneapolis on July 7 and the following weekend will perform some of Guthrie's music with fellow musicians Pop Wagner and Tony Glover. He will also present copies of the book  (donated by Woody Guthrie Publications) to both the Minneapolis Central Library and St. Paul's George Latimer Library.

"Turns out St. Paul’s copy of 'Bound For Glory' was stolen in 2007 ... and never replaced," Maguire told me in an email. Minneapolis Central Library has one copy that circulates but is likely to purchase more.

Maguire said Guthrie's book is particularly important to him because reading it helped him form his outlook on life. "Social issues like labor; immigration; even how to deal with the stress of a major audition!" he said. "The book is part autobiography, part social documentary, and a handbook for becoming a artist, whether you pick a guitar, write a story, or draw a picture. Woody Guthrie was adept at all three, and his book chronicles his clear-eyed experiences of dealing with the ups and downs of having those gifts and the strength and hope, and dignity, the results can bring to others.

"The book is in part why we became traveling musicians. As such, we wanted to sing Woody’s songs on his birthday, but I also wanted to try my best to keep 'Bound For Glory' in front of library patrons. Woody educated himself in the public library, so it all fits, I think."

Maguire's book conversation will take place at 10:30 a.m. July 7 in the Catherine Ann Forester Huber Conference Room N-304 at Central Library in downtown Minneapolis. It is free, but RSVPs are appreciated to mellojamin@gmail.com

The 75th anniversary concert with Wagner, Glover and Maguire will take place at 6 p.m July 14 (Guthrie's birthday) at Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, 6161 Highway 65 NE, Mpls. Tickets are $25 and are on sale online here: https://bit.ly/2ymSv0o

Minnesota novelist Marlon James offers peek at new series he calls 'African Game of Thrones'

The cover of Marlon James' new novel

The cover of Marlon James' new novel

Marlon James describes his new series as "an African 'Game of Thrones,'" and even though the first in the series won't be published until February 2019, the buzz is already starting.

Entertainment Weekly had the honors of doing the cover reveal (just moments ago), and here it is, in all its teal and pink and purple and snake and tongue glory. It's spectacular! And it was done by Venezuelan artist Pablo Gerardo Comacho.

The book will be published by Riverhead Press, and here is their description of the series: 

"In the stunning first novel in Marlon James's Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.

"Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

"As Tracker follows the boy's scent--from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers--he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

"Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that's come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that's also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both."

Marlon James.

Marlon James.

Marlon James is the Man Booker Prize-winning author of "A Brief History of Seven Killings." He teaches at Macalester College, where he is their first writer-in-residence, and lives in St. Paul.


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