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

A good stamp is hard to find: Flannery O'Connor featured on new 'forever stamp'

One of the new U.S. Postal Service stamps to be issued this summer

One of the new U.S. Postal Service stamps to be issued this summer

It kind of makes you want to take special care with your letter, doesn't it? Knowing that the serene and knowing face of  Flannery O'Connor will be stuck to your envelope?

The U.S. Postal Service will issue the O'Connor "forever stamp" next month. It's the 30th in the Literary Arts series of stamps, which also honors Nathaniel Hawthorne, Zora Neale Hurston, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and, inexplicably, Ayn Rand.

O'Connor wrote two novels ("Wise Blood" and "The Violent Bear it Away") and 32 short stories, all steeped in Southern Gothic darkness, Catholicism, and the grotesque. ("Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic," she once said.)

She won the National Book Award in 1971 for her Complete Stories, which included both collections "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and "Everything That Rises Must Converge."

The stamp will cost 93 cents (forever!) and can be used for mailings weighing three ounces. (A typical letter is one ounce) It will be issued June 5 a the NAPEX Stamp Show in McLean, Virginia.

Other stamps to be issued this summer include coastal birds (for postcards), wedding cake (two-ounce, 71 cents) and vintage tulips (also two-ounce).

But Flannery is by far the coolest.

Authors get pie and prizes (and pie!)

The Northeastern Minnesota Book Award Winners ceremony, held each year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is a casual, laid-back affair, with an attentive, bookish audience, lovely glass plaques, and PIE. Always lots of pie!

This year 39 titles competed for honors in six categories. The winners were nicely divided among several regional presses -- University of Minnesota Press, North Star Press of St. Cloud, Holy Cow! Press, and others. The keynote speaker was Duluth poet laureate Jim Johnson.

Here are the winners:

Memoir and creative nonfiction:

Winner: "Rooted in Iron and Ice: Innocent Years on the Mesabi," by Gary W Barfknecht.

Honorable mention: "Zenith City: Stories from Duluth," by Michael Fedo.

Poetry:

Winner: "Approaching the Gate," by Lynette Reini-Grandell

Honorable mention: "Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range," by Sheila Packa

Art and photography:

Winner: "Saved by Beauty: Sister Mary Charles McCough, OSB," by John Schifsky and others.

Honorable mention: "The Other Side of Wilderness," by Richard C Johnson

General nonfiction:

Winner: "Twin Ports by Trolley," by Aaron Isaacs

Honorable mention: "Sawdust in their Blood," by Jim Boyd

Children's literature:

Winner: "Rhoda's Rock Hunt," by Molly Beth Griffin

Honorable mention: "Wilder's Foe," by Diane Bradley

Fiction:

Winner: "Sins of Our Fathers," by Shawn Lawrence Otto

Honorable mention: "A River Through Two Harbors," by Dennis Herschbach

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. Now I want some pie!

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