We Have a Huge MN Reading List! And a Winner!
First of all, for anyone who tried to reach our site over the last 8 hours and couldn’t, we apologize. Our webhost decided to update our servers early this morning, and instead of the advertised “five minute” downtime, we suffered through 6 hours of no Hazel & Wren. Needless to say, we are not pleased.
We continued the contest over at the Hazel & Wren Facebook page, however, and at noon, put all of the names in a hat, and drew out our winner. We hope that everyone who wanted to participate was able to navigate their way to the Facebook page and do so, but if anyone missed their chance thanks to the site being down, we are very sorry. Please still feel free to suggest MN books (we’ll make sure Patrick sees them), and fear not, this won’t be the last contest we’ll do.
Our sincere thanks to everyone who suggested their favorite Minnesota books! We have a fairly splendid list to send to Patrick, for consideration in his “150 Best Minnesota Books” list. We’re over the moon.
Now on to the good stuff! Ladies & Gents: The List
(If the title was suggested by more than one person, we’ve indicated that. Also, if the suggester included their two cents on a book, we included those comments as well.)
Peter Bognanni, The House of Tomorrow.
Louis Erdrich, The Plague of Doves and The Master Butchers Singing Club.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. “The Great Gatsby is one of those books that I think people can’t help but continue to be fascinated and haunted by, even so many years after it was published. Also it has one of the best last lines of a book ever.”
Frances Cranmer Greenman, Higher Than the Sky, (1954). “Portraitist and columnist Frances Cranmer Greenman’s autobiography is a witty look at both high and low society in Minneapolis in the middle of the 20th century.”
Jon Hassler, Staggerford.
Scott Helmes, Poems 1972-1997.
Dylan Hicks, Boarded Windows (2 votes). “[It's] a future classic.”
Bill Holm, The Dead Get By With Everything, Coming Home Crazy, The Music of Failure (two votes), Boxelder Bug Variations. “[The Music of Failure] is my most treasured possession, and I visit it often. Bill–Minnesota’s modern Walt Whitman, a treasure, recipient of awards from all kinds of state and local organizations–call him what you will–he is no short of the best. If only we all had the eye to see as he sees.”
Coco Irvine & Peg Meier, Through No Fault of My Own, University of Minnesota Press (two votes). “It’s way charming.” “In her diggings through archives, Peg unearths some of the most wonderful stories, and this is without a doubt one of the best. A great look at the high life on 1920s Summit Ave through the eyes of a 13 yr old girl.”
Robert Kilbride, The Potboiler Quiz: How to Draw Stuff of How I Made $1786.00 in the Fine Arts in Only 16 Years, (1970). “It’s a shame painter, gallerist and columnist [Kilbride] never wrote a full-length book of essays, but his long out-of-print The Potboiler Quiz is a bizarre, hilarious glimpse into the mind of a true Minneapolis original.”
Meridel Le Seueur, North Star Country. “Le Seuer’s mosaic-like, almost dreamlike recounting of the state’s early history through the experiences of its common people is one of the most poetic books about Minnesota ever written.” Also, The Girl.
Brad Liening, Ghosts & Doppelgangers.
Eireann Lorsung, Music for Landing Planes By. “Meaty poetry touching on family, nature, migration, working with hands.”
Mary McCarthy, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. “[It's] a wrenching look at an unhappy childhood in the Catholic slums of Whittier before World War I.”
Larry Millet, Once There Were Castles. “This is a fantastic historical look behind the closed doors of some of the Twin Cities’ most prominent families. Closed doors that are no longer there. A really engrossing read, impeccably researched.”
Mike Nelson, Death Rat. “A hilarious novel that spoofs several MN legends like G. Keillor and Prince. (Mike is a MN legend himself.)”
Tim O’Brien, Northern Lights and In the Lake of the Woods. “Not sure how Minnesota-centric the books themselves need to be for the list, but as for a few awesome Minnesota-born writers, [...] I think his The Things We Carried definitely deserves a place. It was a pretty life-changing read for my AP English class at the end of senior year.”
David Oppegaard, Suicide Collectors, and Wormwood Nevada. “David is a brilliant writer who graduated from St. Olaf and lives in Minneapolis.”
John Reimringer, Vestments (two votes). “A novel with such a crashing crescendo ending, it will leave you breathless, plus gives a completely true look at the inside family dynamics of old-school St. Paul.”
O.E. Rolvaag, Giants in the Earth. “I consider [it] to be #1. It’s got everything. Meticulous insight into the human condition, history from the viewpoint of the participants, and clear, polished writing.”
Danielle Sosin, The Long Shining Waters.
Alec Soth, From Here to There. “[Photo book:] [It's] a summation of an incredible body of work.”
Joyce Sutphen, Coming Back to the Body, Naming the Stars, First Words. “Our current poet laureate [...] To paraphrase what others have praised: Coming Back to the Body was a finalist for the MN Book Award for poetry, and Naming the Stars won the MN Book Award for poetry. Or there’s her most recent collection, First Words, which Connie Wanek describes so much better than I could: ‘Sutphen’s latest book, First Words (Red Dragonfly Press, 2010) describes her family’s farm and her early years; it reads like a memoir in poems. And like all good memoir, it describes more than personal experience, evoking a more universal experience, too, of rural and small town life in the 1950s. The collection is a warm, generous meditation, perhaps her most intimate book: we see her ‘at the top of the stairs’ waving goodnight in ‘pajamas that had feet.’ We see her hanging wash, and sitting on the top bale ‘bringing in the hay.’ She writes poems praising the harrow and the oat binder and her favorite tractor, the “H.”‘ (from: http://mnartists.org/article.do?rid=296981) The collection is stunning, and fills me with the strongest nostalgia for back home, the place just outside of the Twin Cities, where the city falls away to the woods and to the prairie.”
Barton Sutter, Cold Comfort.
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write. “Quoted in the MOST unexpected places. I have re-read this several times. Another classic!”
Charles Rumford Walker, American City. “An excellent account of the 1934 truckers’ strike from only a few years later.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Little House on the Prairie series.
Mary Lethert Wingerd, Claiming the City. “Begins with the  trucker’s strike and explains why nothing of the sort ever happened in St. Paul. It’s the definitive account of that city’s civic character.”
James Wright, Above the River: The Complete Poems and Selected Prose.
Brad Zellar, Suburban World. “[Photo book:] [It's] an amazing look at the fast-growing suburbs of the south metro in the postwar era, as see through the eyes (and the camera lens) of an amateur photographer in Bloomington in the ’50s and ’60s.”
What do you think?
Also, if you’re in the Twin Cities this weekend, be sure to stop by the Twin Cities Antiquarian & Rare Book Fair! We’ll be there, so come find our table, pick up a free bookmark, and say hello! We’d love to see you.