Thursday, July 31
Last Books of July
Minnesota 150 : the people, places, and things that shape our state / Kate Roberts.
This book includes the usual suspects plus some surprises. The Minnesota Historical Society received 2,760 nominations for a sesquecentennial list of 150 topics, and narrowed the list down to this 150. SPAM, Jesse Ventura, the Mayo Clinic, Charles Lindbergh, and Itasca State Park may not surprise, but did you expect Gratia Alta Countryman, Seymour Cray, Fanny Brin, Burma Shave, and the Socialist Opera House?
Le, Nam. The Boat.
A short story collection so strong it embarasses all your dreams of writing. Don't bother, Nam Le has it covered. His settings and characters include a young Vietnamese writer in Iowa, high school students in Australia, a ship of Vietnamese refugees adrift on the sea, Hiroshima just before the bomb, an aging artist in New York preparing to meet his daughter for the first time, an American tourist on an ill-timed visit to Tehran, and a moment of truth for a 14-year-old assassin in Columbia.
Holm, Bill. Prairie Days.
Finding this book was a real serendipity. I'm not sure what moved me to take it from the shelf, but it turns out to be a book I read long ago, and have looked for unsuccessfully for years. I thought the book I was looking for was written by Garrison Keillor; turns out it was by the other tall humorist, writer, and singer from Minnesota: Bill Holm.
Holm's essays are beautifully illustrated with black and white photos of old churches, prairie fields, a hymnbook swollen with water damage. The book was originally released as "The Music of Failure," about which I have written here before. (September 5, 2007)