MN Reads

Back in 1935, Cheri Register's great-grandfather wrote a scathing article headlined Connivings of Dishonest Men Cheat Nature as Well As Fellow Beings, Writer Avers

Over 80 years after Elbert Ostrander wrote that essay in protest of the commercial interests that had drained 18,000 acres of wetland in southeastern Minnesota's Freeborn County,  Minnesotans are still coming to grips with preservation v. development, locals v. "outsiders," and jobs and economic development v. environmental concerns.

For much of history, its accounts have been written by men - white men - for men.

So only one voice was heard and only part of the story was told.

In this history of the Red Lake Nation, commissioned by Red Lake band itself, author/historian/Ojibwe linguist Anton Treuer draws on material from the Red Lake archives, made available for the first time.

It's not only history from another voice, telling another part of the story - "We are much more than  the sum of our tragedies" says Treuer -  it's an entirely new way to think about the research and writing of history.

Taiyon Coleman contributed one of the essays in this engrossing, eye-opening view of the state by sixteen  non-white writers.

Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous voices share their Minnesota; what it's like to be a person of color in "one of the whitest states in the nation."

"The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.  They make one story become the only story."  ~ Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The 8th grade writing club at Duluth Edison Charter School has more than a writing teacher to guide it; it has an author.

 And Elissa Janine Hoole, whose third Young Adult novel, The Memory Jar has just been published, has more than students; she has  inspiration, critics and readers.

"Maybe some day you will prove us wrong."

Those words from the managing editor of a local paper,  a dreadlocked best friend's deep-seated desire to road trip with no money, and stories  of  "the  culture of cruelty" in the southern US became a pilgrimage, of sorts, and a documentary called Roots of Rescue four years ago.

We don't think a lot about the people who founded the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; if we think about it at all, it's in a context of - perhaps literally - life and death.

Lucie Amundsen's account of the little-egg-farm-that-could is just like her:  funny, vivacious and witty.  You can picture her at a dinner table,  laughingly recounting these stories while her audience laughs along in the presence of a master storyteller.

University of Minnesota Press

  MN Reads talks with Sue Leaf, author of Portage: A Family, a Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life, published in 2015 by the University of Minnesota Press.  Reflecting on many years of travel by canoe with friends and family in this collection of essays organized by trip, Sue writes of a larger journey of resiliency and awareness of the natural beauty that has surrounded her.

  Booklist says, "For sheer wintry relentlessness and icebound desolation, the various Scandinavian settings now fashionable in thrillers cannot compete with the decaying shipping and mining city of Duluth, Minnesota."

Author Brian Freeman talks about the challenges of trying to set noir mystery novels in a city that's rapidly becoming known for it's forward thinking and natural beauty ... and why Duluth is just the right size: "you always seem to be bumping into your past."

David Backes was a college student on the verge of dropping out until he found the books of Sigurd Olson.

34 years after his death, Backes talks about meeting Olson and their enduring friendship, compiling a book of his writings, and how Olson warned our  distractedness, decades before the advent of cell phones, is cutting us off from our essential humanness.

Mary Casanova on collaboration, breaking the rules, and the power of blueberry pancakes.

Social media is all abuzz with the story of  J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, taking actor Alan Rickman aside and confiding to him a secret.  No one else knew what was going to happen in the series, of course, but Rowling knew Rickman needed this piece of information to play his character in the movie adaptation.

So how do the writers of books in a series do it?  Plot it all out in advance like Rowling did? Or, as many authors maintain, do the characters take over and surprise their authors?


Michael McConnell and his husband of 44 years, Jack Baker, were gay-married when gay-married wasn't cool - or even legal.  But was it?  How it's possible that gay marriage was legal all along ... and an inspiring story where, not surprisingly, love wins.

Writing, like many other creative pursuits, isn't likely to make you rich.  In fact, you'd be lucky if you could buy the odd sack of groceries now and then.

So what happened when Lake Superior Writers, a loosely-knit group of 200 or so ranging from professional to wanna-be writers, offered as the prize for the 2016 Fiction Writing Contest something they thought writers wanted more than money - or even groceries?  Turned out they were right.