Last Sunday, with Rudy Vallee on the turntable, I slipped on my plus-fours to take a seat on the veranda, sip from my glass of sarsaparilla and dive back into my well-thumbed copy of "Babbitt."
OK, none of those things really happened.
But the folks at stoicquotes.com seemingly think it's 1926 in Minnesota and our favorite author is Sauk Centre native Sinclair Lewis, whose other novels include "Arrowsmith," "Elmer Gantry" and "Main Street."
All were bestsellers in their day, and Lewis' anti-fascist "It Can't Happen Here" enjoyed a revival during the Trump administration, so he hasn't vanished from our consciousness. In fact, this past summer, when a freelancer's book review listed Lewis as a forgotten writer, I asked her to substitute someone else because Minnesotans still read him.
But our favorite? I'm skeptical. In fact, both runners-up — Mankato's Maud Hart Lovelace, who created the Betsy-Tacy children's books, and "Iron John" writer/poet Robert Bly (who was born in Madison, Minn.) — strike me as likelier choices.
Many choices on the state-by-state list are weird, as is the methodology. F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, but somehow got beat by Lewis. Ernest Hemingway, who was born in Illinois and died in Idaho, is the Florida favorite because of his Key West connections. Both Connecticut and Missouri claim Mark Twain, so does that mean we can glom onto Gordon Parks and August Wilson, who weren't born here but did monumental work in Minnesota?
Quibbling aside, who is your favorite Minnesota writer? We are fortunate to have plenty of choices, starting with our huge pool of mystery writers. Maybe your No. 1 is William Kent Krueger? Marcie Rendon? The pseudonymous mother/daughter team of P.J. Tracy? Vince Flynn? Allen Eskens? Ellen Hart? Jess Lourey?
Louise Erdrich is a reader favorite, not just because the Little Falls native is an incredible writer who has won the National Book Award ("The Round House") and Pulitzer Prize ("The Night Watchman"), but because she — along with her bookstore Birchbark Books in Minneapolis — is so supportive of other writers.
Another contender is Kate DiCamillo, a two-time Newbery Award winner whose entire catalog was recommended for pandemic reading by her pal Ann Patchett in a New York Times essay.
How about Duluth poet Louis Jenkins? He hasn't sold books in the numbers racked up by John Sandford and Chuck Logan (neither born here, so apparently ineligible) but he enjoyed a renaissance when actor Mark Rylance started quoting him in Tony Award acceptance speeches and collaborated with him on "Nice Fish," which debuted at the Guthrie Theater in 2013 and has had a long life on stages around the country since.
Judith Guest ("Ordinary People"), Detroit-born but a longtime Edina resident, and Minneapolis native Jon Hassler ("A Green Journey") both wrote bestsellers. Don't forget Leif Enger, although the "Peace Like a River" creator makes remembering him tricky by taking so long between books. (His "I Cheerfully Refuse" is due next spring, only his third novel since "Peace" debuted in 2001). Or Charles Baxter; it's hard to get more "Minnesota" than the Minneapolis-born novelist, who studied at Macalester College in St. Paul and taught at the University of Minnesota. The "Feast of Love" writer's most recent book, "The Sun Collective," was a feast of local references. Or what about versatile Kao Kalia Yang, who excels in every genre (memoir "Where Rivers Part" is due in March)?
I'm missing a bunch, so consider this list a starting point. But please let us know — at email@example.com — who your favorite Minnesota writers are.