Staff Directory 6370432

Laurie Hertzel

Senior Editor | Books
Phone: 612-673-7302

Laurie Hertzel has worked at the Star Tribune for more than two decades as an editor and writer. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Minnesota Monthly magazine and at the Duluth News-Tribune.


Hertzel grew up in Duluth, earned an MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., has written two books, and currently serves as the autobiography chairman of the National Book Critics Circle board of directors.
Recent content from Laurie Hertzel
Richard Thompson

Review: 'Beeswing,' by Richard Thompson

Musician Richard Thompson mentions a lot of names in his new memoir, but you never get the feeling that he's name dropping. It's just that…
Kawai Strong Washburn

Minneapolis writers win PEN America literary awards

Jonathan Slaght won for "Owls of the Eastern Ice," Kawai Strong Washburn for "Sharks in the Time of Saviors."
Historical photo of author Sinclair  Lewis writing in the study of his Duluth home in 1944.   Original photo shot by Minneapolis Star-Journal photogra

A new exhibit argues for the timeliness of famed Minnesota author Sinclair Lewis

New exhibit focuses on life and timeliness of Sinclair Lewis.
Credit: Courtesy of Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston / PBS. EH5647P. undated. Ernest He

Essential Hemingway reading

The essential HemingwayErnest Hemingway's terse prose style might seem clichéd today, but his short, declarative sentences and beneath-the-surface meaning were groundbreaking in his time. Here…
Mary Bly

Bookmark: Mary Bly's new novel – her first under her own name – is laced with Minnesota poetry

A poignant scene at the heart of Mary Bly's new novel, "Lizzie & Dante" (the Dial Press, available June 1), takes place on a…
Raynor Winn

Review: 'The Wild Silence,' by Raynor Winn

NONFICTION: Both sequel and prequel to "The Salt Path," Raynor Winn's new memoir is about the power of nature.
Alexs Pate

Alexs Pate is this year's Kay Sexton Award recipient

The writer, educator and mentor has devoted his life to teaching, writing and correcting racial imbalances in literature and classrooms.
Have you ever found anything as weird as a fried egg in a book? It's happened! iStock photo

Bookmark: Eating crackers in bed with a good book

I don't mean to get too personal here, but here I go: What's the strangest thing you've ever found in a book? Maybe in a…
Naima Coster

Race and identity fuel Naima Coster's extraordinary stories of everyday lives

"Writing is the thing that gives my life the greatest joy," says Talking Volumes guest.
Helen Oyeyemi, Chelsea Clinton and Kao Kalia Yang are among nearly 50 local, national and international writers who will appear at the 2021 Wordplay f

Helen Oyeyemi, Chelsea Clinton, Kao Kalia Yang among writers at Wordplay festival

This year's Wordplay festival will run from May 2 to May 8. Like last year, it will be all virtual, but unlike last year, the…
Books by Dr. Seuss, including “On Beyond Zebra!” and “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” have been removed from publication by th

Dr. Seuss cut loose: Is letting a book go out of print censorship?

There are so many things in this world to be outraged at. Insurrection, brutality, systemic racism, gerrymandering, child abuse, anti-maskers, domestic violence.So to be outraged…
Some readers turned to books of contemplation, such as May Sarton’s “Journal of a Solitude,” over the past year.

Bookmark: When readers can't read

Ah. It's not just me — it's you! Or many of you.Nearly 100 of you took the time to respond to my recent column…
Alexander McCall Smith, the Rhodesian-born British writer, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015. Edinburgh, Scotland. 18th August 2015

Quarantine Read: Alexander McCall Smith

"Pianos and Flowers," by Alexander McCall SmithEvery picture tells a story, right? So when the Times of London asked Alexander McCall Smith to write…
Mike Wohnoutka and David LaRochelle, who illustrated and wrote "See the Cat." Provided

Minnesota children's author/illustrators team up on prize-winning books for early readers

Mike Wohnoutka and David LaRochelle are this year's Geisel Award winners.
Image © 2020 by Anna and Elena Balbusso. Used by permission from Creative Editions.

These 10 exquisite picture books for children focus on family, friends and nature

It's the simple but crucial things that matter in these wise and beautiful picture books for young children.
Angus and I walk on a 2-below-zero morning. Below, he embraced the slower pace.Photos by LAURIE HERTZEL • lhertzel@startribune.com

The Puppy Chronicles: A cold snap changed the length of Angus' walks – and intensified their beauty

A stretch of days with highs below zero meant Angus' daily walks were truncated. He embraced the torpor.
Mbue author photo (c) Kiriko Sano

Club Book to bring in a cool dozen writers for spring

The spring lineup for the free, now-virtual writers series includes 12 renowned authors.
Reginald Dwayne Betts

Special spring Talking Volumes series to focus on race

Four writers of color will discuss their work in the context of race in America.
“An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser

Bookmark: 9 books for Valentine's Day about love gone wrong

I like chocolate, and I like roses, but as with most of you (I'm guessing) my hapless Valentine's Days make better stories than my romantic…
At times like these, sometimes some familiar Anne Tyler is what’s needed.

Bookmark: Getting through the pandemic, one book at a time

On one of those weird, melty days in January, I took a walk around the lake with an old friend. We talked about the pandemic,…
Minnesota Book Award finalists include Yang, Erdrich and a host of newbies

Minnesota Book Award finalists include Yang, Erdrich and a host of newbies

Names both familiar and new populate the list of 36 finalists for this year's Minnesota Book Awards, announced Saturday. Minneapolis writer Louise Erdrich, winner…
Morning winter walks with Angus are the best.

The Puppy Chronicles: Long winter walks with Angus are filled with peace and hooting owls

Long walks in the cold with Angus are filled with peace — and hooting.
Kawai Strong Washburn’s “Sharks in the Time of Saviors” was published last March to acclaim and ended up on President Barack Obama’s list of b

Minneapolis writer drew on Hawaiian boyhood for debut novel beloved by Barack Obama

"Sharks in the Time of Saviors" ended up on former President Barack Obama's list of best books of 2020 and is up for multiple awards.
Author Sarah Broom in "The Yellow House" as a child.

10 books that will bring color back into this drab winter

As I write this, I'm sitting at my computer on a small enclosed porch in the upstairs of my house. I am, essentially, in the…
Kao Kalia Yang appears at the Fireside Reading Series on Jan 20.

Bookmark: Fireside Reading Series moves to everyone's fireside

The annual midwinter Fireside Reading Series is back for its 27th year, but this year it will be held at your fireside. And mine.Hosted by…
At top, an illustration from “The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation” by K. Woodman-Maynard.  Middle, from left: “Aftershocks” by Nadi

Bookmark: 15 books to look forward to in the first part of 2021

Put on your sunglasses, folks. It's a shiny new year out there.Say what you will about 2020, it was a great year for books. How's…
As an experiment, I prepared a smorgasbord for Angus, each item containing 1/4 of a pill: liver sausage, peanut butter, cream cheese and Velveeta. The

The Puppy Chronicles: Readers offer scores of suggestions for getting Angus to take his pills. Guess how many worked.

Readers had scores of suggestions for getting Angus' daily pills inside him. Angus scoffed at them all.
The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Reviews: 'The Twelve Dates of Christmas,' by Jenny Bayliss

The Twelve Dates of ChristmasBy Jenny Bayliss. (G.P. Putnam, 368 pages, $16.)Here it is, almost New Year's Eve, and nobody has ever been happier to…
Dr. Carissa Wyant & Cloe¨; Victory; Minneapolis Photo by Scott Streble

Mpls. photographer offered free porch portraits to connect isolated neighbors

The photographer's pandemic project is now collected in a self-published book.
Angus will eat anything he finds no matter how disgusting, but he will not easily eat his daily pills.  LAURIE HERTZEL • lhertzel@startribune.com

The Puppy Chronicles: Every day a new behavior

Just before he turned 3, Angus reverted to old puppy behaviors — some endearing, some downright dangerous.
Angus and Rosie hung out in the basement while the painter worked upstairs.

The Puppy Chronicles: A few hours of peace

Medication is not the answer to every difficulty with an anxious dog, but the right drug can help a lot.
Daily anxiety medication helps Angus relax on walks and not spend all of his energy scanning the horizon for danger.

The Puppy Chronicles: Better living through chemistry

After three years of training and tears, Angus' anxiety is starting to ease, thanks to something I vowed I would never do.
Looking for a good book this winter? Here are more than 50

Looking for a good book this winter? Here are more than 50

Our holiday books section highlights something for everyone on your list, and yourself.
Detail from “The Art of Ramona Quimby” by Anna Katz

5 showy big books just perfect for holiday giving

Next Sunday brings our annual holiday selection of books — more than 50 titles for adults and children. Today, though, I have other recommendations —…
For 22 years, Carol Connolly hosted "Readings by Writers," a monthly writers series that hosted new and established writers, literary greats and humor

Carol Connolly, St. Paul's first poet laureate, dies at 85

With her red bob haircut, trademark round eyeglasses and black turtleneck sweater, Carol Connolly was a welcome and unmistakable fixture at literary events around the…
Books always make good gifts. iStock

Bookmark: As we zoom toward the holidays, think about books

As we head into the season of gift-giving, I’m here to urge you to buy books as gifts, buy local books as gifts, buy local…
Author Charles Baxter in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of many scenes that show up in his latest novel.

Renowned Minnesota teacher Charles Baxter retires from U but not from writing

Charles Baxter finds material for his mysterious novels on walks through Minneapolis and conversations with people he meets.
Chris Fischbach in his office at Coffee House Press.

Minneapolis' Coffee House Press 'parts ways' with its longtime leader

After starting as an intern 26 years ago, Chris Fischbach rose to become publisher in 2011.
Boxes of books to both keep and give away.

Bookmark: Releasing books is a joyous thing to do

It all started with a crack in the wall. Years ago, during a remodel, my husband and I moved a doorway. Now, 20 years, later,…
Author Rachel Joyce

Review: 'Miss Benson's Beetle,' by Rachel Joyce

FICTION: In this swashbuckling adventure, a middle-aged schoolteacher upends her dreary life in 1950 England for a dangerous quest to find a rare beetle.
Louise Erdrich reads from her new novel, "The Night Watchman," in March. Photo by Star Tribune Richard Tsong-Taatarii

The next Minnesota book club pick: Louise Erdrich's 'Plague of Doves'

E-books and audiobooks are available for free downloads from the public library.
Detail from “Escape From Camp 14” by Blaine Harden

Bookmark: Readers love tips on what to read – mostly

It was a joy reading your responses to my column a few weeks ago about the perils and pleasures of recommending books. Some…
Michael Kleber-Diggs photo by Ayanna Muata

St. Paul poet Michael Kleber-Diggs wins national poetry prize

Kleber-Diggs won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, which awards him $10,000 and publication.
Julia Zarankin birding on a Canadian beach.

REVIEW: 'Field Notes From an Unintentional Birder,' by Julia Zarankin

NONFICTION: A novice birder finds beauty in nature along with a new way to live.
Thousands of people browsed through rows of books at the Twin Cities Book Festival in 2012. This year's festival, the 20th, is virtual.

BOOKMARK: Twin Cities Book festival turns 20, turns virtual

Nineteen years ago, Rain Taxi held the first Twin Cities Book Festival at Open Book in Minneapolis. It was just weeks after the Sept. 11…
Tana French photo by Jessica Ryan

Review: 'The Searcher,' by Tana French

FICTION: An American cop runs into a wall of secrets in this new mystery from Tana French.
Author Jonathan C. Slaght and one of the female fish owls he caught and tracked in Russia.

Everything keeps changing, but books remain a constant

Laurie Hertzel Star Tribune Books are still books, in this age of COVID, which is a reassuring thing, and bookstores have not disappeared and…
Jonathan C. Slaght photo by Sergey Avdeyuk

Minneapolis writer's debut book on longlist for National Book Award

“Owls of the Eastern Ice,” a nonfiction narrative account of a scientist’s search to find and conserve a rare owl in far eastern Russia,…
Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer-winning writer Isabel Wilkerson joins Talking Volumes lineup

The author of "Caste" will close out the virtual series of literary conversations Oct. 13.
Virtually speaking: (Clockwise, from top) Yaa Gyasi, Claudia Rankine, Helen Macdonald and Sarah Broom are this year’s featured authors.

With an all-woman lineup, this year's Talking Volumes book series goes virtual

The annual series will deliver authors Yaa Gyasi, Helen Macdonald, Claudia Rankine and Sarah Broom via Zoom.
Coffee House Press of Minneapolis will receive a $50,000 grant from Literary Arts Emergency Fund to help them get through COVID. Here, Coffee House pu

5 Minnesota literary organizations receive critical COVID grants

The grant money will help them ride out the economic downturn brought about by COVID-19.
Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi talks about the tension between science and faith in new novel 'Transcendent Kingdom'

Yaa Gyasi's second novel sprang from a friend's research, and her own interest in love, science and religion.
So many books, so many recommendations!

Bookmark: The tricky art of recommending books

A friend texted. She was at a bookstore, about to go camping. What should she buy to read on the trip? Um … I know…
Bobbie Ann Mason

Review: 'Dear Ann,' by Bobbie Ann Mason

FICTION: In Bobbie Ann Mason's spectacular new novel, a woman looks back on her life, her first love and the choices she made.
Yaa Gyasi photo by Peter Hurley/Vilcek Foundation

Author Yaa Gyasi cancels appearance in Talking Volumes series

A fourth writer will be added to the series soon.
Curtis Sittenfeld

In a new novel, Minneapolis writer imagines Hillary Clinton's life if she hadn't married Bill

Her new novel--her second about a prominent political woman--names names and reimagines a life.
Missing the State Fair? Here are some books to bring back the feeling.

Bookmark: Missing the State Fair? These books will transport you

Missing the midway? The giant hogs, the smell of grease, the ironic artwork made entirely of seeds? Here are 10 books that take place at…
Angus kept watch from the window for hours as the bunny ate the plants in our side yard garden.

The Puppy Chronicles: A bunny in our garden keeps Angus enthralled

When a bunny takes up residence in the garden on the side of our house, Angus is riveted.
So many books. Where to start?

Bookmark: Where to begin downsizing when you have thousands of books?

  My husband and I might move. (Then again, we might not.) As we spend more and more time in our house, thanks to pandemic…
What’s stacked up on your pandemic to-read shelf?

Bookmark: This fraught summer has changed the way you read

Readers share what they're reading to get through the pandemic.
Jonathan C. Slaght and one of the female fish owls he caught and tracked in Russia. (The owl holds a fish in its beak.)

Review: 'Owls of the Eastern Ice,' by Jonathan C. Slaght

NONFICTION: A Minnesota biologist heads to the forests of Eastern Russia to track the world's largest owl.
Having trouble concentrating? Put down the phone!

Time to read but trouble concentrating? Try these 10 tips

Here are some ways to shut the world out and help you focus.
James Patterson

Mayo Clinic employee became main character in new James Patterson novel

A patient advocate at the Mayo Clinic winds up in James Patterson's latest novel.
Curtis Sittenfeld

Hulu options rights to Minneapolis writer's novel about Hillary Clinton

Curtis Sittenfeld hasn’t heard from Hillary, but she has heard from Hulu, and that might be even better. The Minneapolis writer is the…
Read the book that spawned sultry movie adaptations. Here Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby.

Hot town, summer in the city: 10 sizzling books to read right now

These 10 books set in hot weather or steamy locations just might help you cool down.
From “The Night is for Darkness” by Jonathan Stutzman illustrated by Joseph Kuefler published by Balzer + Bray 2020 used with permission.

10 new kids' picture books that celebrate family, love and the great outdoors

This diverse new crop of books celebrates family, friendship and the great outdoors in stories that range from Minnesota to West Africa
Angus’ strange fears make him occasionally afraid to climb the stairs to the back screen porch.

The Puppy Chronicles: What is Angus afraid of? Easier to ask what he isn't afraid of

Even something as benign as a misplaced broom can strike terror into the heart of our overly sensitive dog.
Books can transport you to faraway places — like Sligo, Ireland.

Bookmark: When you're stuck at home, books can transport you

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a weekend in a small town in Sligo. Obviously I didn’t physically travel there — COVID-19 is keeping…
Frans Hals’s “Portrait of an Elderly Lady,”

Review: 'Becoming Duchess Goldblatt,' by Anonymous

NONFICTION: A book by the creator of a beloved fictitious Twitter character is flawed but offers a hopeful message.
Minneapolis Central Library will reopen some time before the end of this year, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has decided.

When will my library open again?

Hennepin County and Ramsey County public libraries remain closed for the time being. But some services are available.
Uncle Hugo’s bookstore, 2008.

Sci-fi, mystery lovers remember the 'Uncles' (Hugo and Edgar) lost to fires in rioting

In the middle of the night, as the roaring fire consumed his business, all Don Blyly could do was go home. He couldn’t bear to…
Minneapolis poet Sun Yung Shin (left) edited the collection of essays selected for the statewide book club.

Next book in the statewide book club? A collection of essays on race

"A Good Time for the Truth" will be read and discussed across Minnesota.
Is letter writing a lost art?

Is art of letter writing actually lost? Readers write about their love for letters

It’s been four months since I wrote here about the lost art of letter-writing. I didn’t mean to wait so long to revisit…
A Seattle Little Free Library is packed with useful things.

Bookmark: Little Free Libraries carrying more than books these days

There are many Little Free Libraries on my regular walking route. I’ve never stopped to count them, but it’s at least a couple dozen, and…
Mary Logue’s newest book is a mystery set in St. Paul and South Dakota.

In her new mystery, Minneapolis writer Mary Logue writes about the Irish immigrant experience

Mary Logue's new mystery looks to the influence of her immigrant grandmothers.