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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD WINNERS!

 The Minnesota Book Awards were held on Saturday evening, April 16, at the St. Paul Depot.
As a judge, I received tickets, and I was able to attend.  The awards ceremony is like the Oscars, but for writers and books, which to me seems like more fun!  The 2016 winners are listed below.




Children's Literature
Red; A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall.


General Nonfiction
No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg.


Genre Fiction
The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart


Memoir and Creative Nonfiction
Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life by Karen Sabine


Minnesota
Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury by Larry Millett


Novel and Short Story
There's Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter


Poetry
Beautiful Wall by Ray Gonzalez


Young People's Literature
See No Color by Shannon Gibney


Ellen Hart won her fourth Minnesota Book Award this year.  Ray Gonzalez won his third, and Charles Baxter and Michael Hall both won their second awards.
All of the above titles can be obtained through the Northfield Public Library.






Tuesday, April 12, 2016

NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK, APRIL 10 - 16, 2016





     National Library Week celebrates the contributions of our nation's libraries and library workers, and promotes library use and support.  Libraries provide free access to books, newspapers, magazines, dvd's and online resources to all patrons.  National Library Week was first sponsored by the American  Library Association in 1958 and every April, continues to celebrate all types of libraries - school, public, academic and special libraries.
     At the Northfield Public Library, we usually have special displays and events.  However, this year, we are getting ready for the reopening of our library!  We have been in City Hall since last July.
We have a small collection and have been interlibrary loaning materials for out patrons.  We are looking forward to being back in our library.  Our grand opening is set for Saturday, May 7!
We will be open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  This week boxes of books were delivered to the library and the library workers are busy putting books on shelves. 
 Come see our newly renovated library soon!



Thursday, March 17, 2016

IN MEMORY OF PAT CONROY, OCTOBER 26, 1945 - MARCH 4, 2016

                    
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                         
 
Two great Southern writers have died in the past month.  Harper Lee died on February 23, 2016 and Pat Conroy died on March 4, 2016.  Read my blog entry below, written on February 23, for more information on Harper Lee.
Pat Conroy, born Donald Patrick Conroy on October 26, died at the age of 70 of pancreatic cancer.  His father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, and his family moved often in Pat’s childhood.  His writing is heavily influenced by his identity as a military brat and by the influence his father had on his life.  His father was physically and emotionally abusive to his children.  Conroy revealed the pain of growing up with His father in his first novel, The Great Santini, published in 1976.  The main character, Colonel Bull Meecham, is based on his father.  This revelation of his family’s dynamics caused great upheavals in his family.  The movie the Great Santini , starring Robert Duvall, was released in 1979 and won two Oscars. 
In 1986 he wrote another novel dealing with his violent past.  The Prince of Tides focuses on Tom Wingo and his twin sister, Savannah.  Savanna, a poet, has attempted suicide, and Tom goes to New York to meet with her psychiatrist and help her deal with their past.  The book was made into a movie in 1991.
Conroy wrote a memoir in October 2013, The Death of Santini, which reveals the difficult relationship he had with his father, until his father’s death in 1998.  His father did attempt to change his behavior after his faults were so publicly revealed in the Great Santini!
Conroy spent most of his adult life in South Carolina.  He graduated from Citadel, the military college in South Carolina.  In 1980, he published The Lords of Discipline, based on his experience at the Citadel.  The main character, Will McLean, like Conroy, did not want a military career, but attended the college because of a promise to his father.  Conroy describes the brutal atmosphere of the college, especially the hazing of junior cadets.   Conroy was criticized by many alumni for portraying the military college in a negative light.  The novel was made into a movie in 1983.
Conroy’s writing legacy includes novels and memoirs about being a military brat, life in the South, and growing up in an abusive family.  He summed up the connection of his family life to his writing in an interview:
“One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family,” Mr. Conroy told the writer John Berendt for a Vanity Fair profile in 1995. “I could not have been born into a better one.” He added: “I don’t have to look very far for melodrama. It’s all right there.”
Thank you, Pat Conroy, to your contribution to American, Southern literature.
                                                                  


Thursday, March 10, 2016

NORTHFIELD READS 2016 - $2.00 A DAY





                                                                 




Northfield Reads is a community initiative to encourage people from across the Northfield area to come together to talk, to share ideas, to connect, and to open themselves to diverse perspectives.  The hope is that through shared readings and conversations, we will create more and broader connections and understandings within the community.This year, Northfield Reads will be discussing the book $2.00 a Day; Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer.  The book describes how a number of families live on virtually no income, and the reasons for their poverty.After two decades of research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed households surviving on virtually no income.  She worked with Luke Shaefer to discover the number of families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children.  One woman, heading a family of four, would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week.  Another woman and her teenage daughter often have no food on weekends except spoiled milk. 
Where do the families live?  How did they become so desperately poor?  Through her interviews, moving and startling answers begin to emerge.


 
Thursday, March 10, 2016, 6:00 pm  $2.00 Soup Dinner  at the UCC Church, 300 Union Street.  Community members are invited to attend a simple soup dinner and simulate trying to budget their life on $2.00 a day.  Two talks will be presented during the meal.  Gregory Ennis will talk about working in a homeless shelter and  Jim Blaha will talk about resources available to people living in poverty.


 
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 6:45 - 8:00 pm, Book Discussion at Content Bookstore, 314 Division Street.  Discussion of $2.00 a Day; Living on Almost Nothing in America.  Open to all community members.


 
Thursday, April 7, 2016, 7:00 pm Northfield Reads 2016 Community Event, at St. John's Lutheran Church, 500 West Third Street .  This final event will include music by The Broke Folk; a play, Table Where the Rich People Sit, adapted and directed by Kajsa Johnson; discussion of the book $2.00 a Day, testimonials by residents who have lived in poverty; and a discussion of what we can do next.   All community members are invited.                                   


How to Get a Copy of $2.00 a Day


Copies of $2.00 a Day; living on almost nothing in America are available through the Northfield Public Library, temporarily located on the second floor of City Hall,  (507) 645-1802.     Books can also be purchased at Content Bookstore, 314 Division Street, (507) 9238                                                                              


 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

IN MEMORY OF HARPER LEE, APRIL 28, 1926 – FEBRUARY 19, 2016





                                                                      




          Harper Lee, the writer from Monroeville, Alabama, best known for writing To Kill a Mockingbird, died on Thursday, February 19, in her hometown, at the age of 89.  Her novel became a classic when it was published in 1960, and received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1961.  Many Americans  have read her novel during their years in high school.  Actor Gregory Peck made the novel  unforgettable, when he played Atticus Finch in the film version, released in 1962. 
       Harper Lee lived most of her life in Monroeville, Alabama.  One of her childhood friends was Truman Capote, on whom she based the character of Dill.  She later helped him with his research for In Cold Blood.  Harper Lee’s father was an attorney, and she grew up watching him defend his clients in the Monroeville courtroom, just as her character, Scout, does, in the fictional town of Maycomb.  Scout’s father, Atticus Finch,  defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell.  Even though the evidence strongly suggests he is innocent, Tom is convicted.  Scout admires her father for defending a black man, and fighting for the truth.
        A year ago, Harper Collins announced that Harper Lee’s first book, Go Set a Watchman, would be published in July 2015.  Anticipation mounted as various literary experts tried to anticipate what the newly published novel would reveal.  The author originally wrote this novel in the mid-1950’s, and was told to rewrite the novel  from the point of view of Jean Louise (Scout) as a child.  She then wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.  Go Set a Watchman is set in the mid-1950’s, when Jean Louise is in her 20’s, and returns to Maycomb to visit her father.  Atticus Finch is shown as a man struggling with a changing society, and civil rights in her original book.
         For more information on both books, and my review of Go Set A Watchman, please see  earlier posts on this blog.  August 6, 2015 – “Harper Lee – from To Kill a Mockingbird to Go Set a Watchman,” and August 17, 2015 – “Go Set A Watchman – a Review.
        Harper Lee became famous immediately after To Kill a Mockingbird  was published.  Initially, she gave interviews and traveled to promote her book.  She spent time on the set of the movie, and became life-long friends with Gregory Peck and his family.  However, she was uncomfortable with her fame and chose to lead a private life in Monroeville, Alabama.  If you would like to learn more about Harper Lee, two biographies have been published in the last ten years
  1.  Mockingbird; a portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles Shields, 2006
  2. The Mockingbird Next Door; life with Harper Lee, by Marja Mills, 2014.
The Northfield Public Library has copies of both books.
        The literary world mourns the loss of a great American writer, who provided a thought provoking classic novel read in most high schools for many decades.  She will live on through her two novels.  Thank you and goodbye, Harper Lee.  You will be missed.    


               

Friday, February 5, 2016

MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD FINALISTS

                                              
 The Minnesota Book Awards preliminary judging took place on Saturday, February 6.  Four titles were chosen for each of the eight categories.  Three judges are assigned to each category.
Preliminary judges read all entries for their category, sometimes reading as many as 30 or 40 books!
I will be a final judge for the Minnesota category.  I will read the four books in the Minnesota category, over the next month.  The final judging will take place on Saturday, March 5.
The Minnesota Book Awards event will be held on Saturday, April 16, at St. Paul's Union Depot.
The following finalist titles will be available through the Northfield Public Library.


Children’s Literature


  • Behold! A Baby by Stephanie Watson, illustrated by Joy Ang (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure by Derek Anderson(Orchard Books/Scholastic)

General Nonfiction


  • Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding (Da Capo Press/Perseus Books Group)
  • John H. Howe, Architect: From Taliesin Apprentice to Master of Organic Design by Jane King Hession and Tim Quigley (University of Minnesota Press)*
  • No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg (Nation Books/Perseus Books Group)
  • Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann (HarperWave/HarperCollins Publishers)

Genre Fiction:


  • The Devereaux Decision by Steve McEllistrem (Calumet Editions)*
  • The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart (Minotaur Books)
  • He’s Either Dead or in St. Paul by D.B. Moon (Three Waters Publishing, LLC)*
  • Season of Fear by Brian Freeman (Quercus)

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction


  • In Winter’s Kitchen by Beth Dooley (Milkweed Editions)*
  • The War Came Home with Him: A Daughter’s Memoir by Catherine Madison (University of Minnesota Press)*
  • Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life by Karen Babine (University of Minnesota Press)*
  • We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying by Bruce Kramer, with Cathy Wurzer (University of Minnesota Press)*

Minnesota


  • Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury by Larry Millett, photographs by Denes Saari and Maria Forrai Saari (University of Minnesota Press)*
  • Minnesota State of Wonders by Brian Peterson, stories by Kerri Westenberg (Mark Hirsch Publishing)
  • North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast by Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer (University of Minnesota Press)*
  • Warrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe by Anton Treuer (Minnesota Historical Society Press)*

Novel & Short Story


  • The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group)
  • The Patron Saint of Lost Comfort Lake by Rachel Coyne (New Rivers Press)*
  • Prudence by David Treuer (Riverhead Books/Penguin)
  • There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter (Pantheon Books/Random House)

Poetry


  • Beautiful Wall by Ray Gonzalez (BOA Editions, Ltd.)
  • Borrowed Wave by Rachel Moritz (Kore Press)
  • Home Studies by Julie Gard (New Rivers Press)*
  • Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen (Red Dragonfly Press)*

Young People’s Literature


  • The Bamboo Sword by Margi Preus (Amulet Books/Abrams)
  • The Firebug of Balrog County by David Oppegaard (Flux/Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.)*
  • Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony (University of Minnesota Press)*
  • See No Color by Shannon Gibney (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner
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