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“Civil War Homecoming”, March 28 at the Fitzgerald Theater

Posted byAlison Aten on 23 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: Arts, Authors, History

civil_war

CIVIL WAR HOMECOMING
Saturday, March 28 at 7:00 P.M.
Fitzgerald Theater

The year 1865 saw inauguration, abolition, armistice, assassination, grief, celebration and reunion. The brand-new frontier state of Minnesota mourned and commemorated along with the rest of the nation. Minnesotans celebrated the return of the troops and got down to the business of building railroads and cities, sprinkling the countryside with farms and lumber camps and welcoming immigrants by the tens of thousands.

Dan Chouinard and an all-star group of friends gather to paint a Minnesota portrait of the times through songs, letters and newspaper accounts, in Civil War Homecoming. This live show at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday, March 28 is a co-production of the Minnesota Historical Society, MPR and the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force.

Featuring Kevin Kling, Maria Jette, T Mychael Rambo, Prudence Johnson, members of the Roe Family Singers, and the Brass Messengers as well as Eric Jacobson, Annette Atkins, Gwen Westerman, Mark Ritchie, Dean Urdahl, Pat Bauer and David Geister.

Additional information available here.

Interested in learning more about Minnesota and the Civil War? Visit www.mnhs.org/civilwar

Book Launch Celebration & HowlRound LiveStream Tonight for “All the Lights On: Reimagining Theater with Ten Thousand Things”

Posted byAlison Aten on 09 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: Arts, Authors, Event, Videos

“This book tells the story of one of the most vital and important theater companies of our time.”
Oskar Eustis, The Public Theater

Join us tonight for the Book Launch Celebration at Open Book in Minneapolis for:

All the Lights On: Reimagining Theater with Ten Thousand Things by Michelle Hensley

Monday, March 9, 2015
Open Book: 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
Doors open at 6:30 pm, short program begins at 7:00 pm, followed by book signing

Also available via HowlRoundTV today at 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern via http://livestream.com/newplay

All the Lights On Michelle Hensley

“Ten Thousand Things brings the best possible theater, plays of Shakespeare and Aeschylus and Beckett, to audiences who have seen little of it before, those in prisons and shelters and adult education centers and rural towns and housing projects and Indian reservations and chemical dependency treatment centers, as well as to enthusiastic veteran theatergoers in consistently sold-out performances for the general public, all performed in large bare rooms, with no stage, just right on the floor inside a small circle of folding chairs, with all the fluorescent lights in the room turned on. Our budget is modest, we don’t need our own building, our set supply budget is little more than that of our very first show, but we pay our highly skilled artists on a par with the largest theater companies in town. We have even become Johnny Appleseeds of a sort, taking this unique model to other theaters around the country who are also eager to find ways to reach outside their buildings with excellent work. And all along this journey, the honest, openhearted encounters of our first-time audiences with our first-rate artists have led us to make wonderful discoveries about theater—pinpointing just what makes it thrive and flourish.” Michelle Hensley, from All the Lights On

Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil

Posted byAlison Aten on 07 Oct 2014 | Tagged as: Authors, Book Excerpt, Event, Scandinavian Studies

Photo by Lisa Peters

Photo by Lisa Peters

Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil by Lisa Westberg Peters begins with the passing of the author’s father and the questions his estate will raise:

“When my father dies, my mother will inherit his mineral rights. Eventually my siblings and I will inherit hers. At that point, I will benefit from drilling techniques that require millions of gallons of water, dozens of chemicals, some of them unknown even to regulators, and the safe disposal of toxic wastes.

It would make quite a headline:

Environmentalist Rakes in ND Oil Profits

And so I sit on an uncomfortable fence. On one side is a sea of oil that fouls beaches and birds and contributes to climate mayhem. On the other side is a sea of oil—my family’s oil!—that provides jobs for thousands of people, financial breathing room for my parents, and wealth for the long-suffering state of North Dakota.

Nope. You can see, I’m sure, how a hospice room is not exactly the place for that kind of discussion.

My dad sees the picture of an old North Dakota oil well—or it’s going to be an oil well as soon as they hit pay dirt—and does a thumbs-up.” –from Fractured Land

Join us this Thursday, October 9, at 7 pm at Common Good Books to hear Lisa Westberg Peters talk about the dilemma we all face–how our personal lives intersect with the energy industry and the environment–and her new book, Fractured Land.

Slouching Toward Fargo–Back in Print!

Posted byAlison Aten on 08 Sep 2014 | Tagged as: Authors, Event, Sports

SlouchingTowardFargo.KarlenSMALL

Slouching Toward Fargo

A Two-Year Saga of Sinners and St. Paul Saints at the Bottom of the Bush Leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie, and Me

By Neal Karlen
With a Foreword by Mike Veeck

The Casey Award–winning account of life in the minor leagues, celebrating the game, the characters who love it, and the magic that can happen when a town, a team, and a ball player get a second chance.

Meet the author!

Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 7 pm
Subtext Bookstore, St. Paul

In his classic account of two years with the most audacious bush league ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel, Neal Karlen presents a dizzying collection of characters: co-owners comedian Bill Murray and sports impresario Mike Veeck; baseball’s former winningest pitcher Jack Morris; outfielder Darryl Strawberry, on his way back to the majors; the back-rubbing Sister Rosalind; baseball’s first woman player Ila Borders; frantic fans, a ball-carrying pig, a blind sportscaster, and a host of others. They all prove the credo of the Saints: Fun is Good.

“Hilarious, insightful, touching, informative, Neal Karlen’s baseball account delivers a world of vivid characters and ironic redemptions. Karlen is simply one of the best, most sophisticated, and literate practitioners of journalism we have. He goes out and gets the full story, while turning himself into a wonderfully self-mocking, truthful, and likable narrator. I loved every page of this book.”
Phillip Lopate, author, essayist, and film critic

“Two things make it great: characters and story line. The tale is rendered in hilarious fashion, mixing plenty of baseball with plenty of laughs.”
Rocky Mountain News

“A fun-is-good book  . . . [with] enough oddballs to make Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seem like a straightforward account of a schoolgirl’s visit to a theme park.”
Sports Illustrated

“The funkiest team in baseball.”
The New York Times

Neal Karlen, who has written for the New York TimesNewsweek, and Rolling Stone, is the author or co-author of seven books, including Augie’s Secrets from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

$17.95 paper, available September 2014
384 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4, 51 b&w photos, index, 978-0-87351-951-9

Available September 2014 from Minnesota Historical Society Press

Mni Sota Makoce Wins 2014 Hognander Award

Posted byAlison Aten on 07 Mar 2014 | Tagged as: Authors, Awards, MHS Author in the News, MHS press, Native American

Gwen Westerman and Bruce White (courtsey of The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library)

Photo credit: Laura Truett, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

We are delighted to announce that Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White is the winner of the 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award.

The Hognander Minnesota History Award recognizes the most outstanding scholarly work related to Minnesota history published during the preceding two years. The award, funded by the Hognander Family Foundation, is presented every two years.

This award stems from the Hognander family’s belief in the importance of studying and preserving history. As Joe Hognander notes, “We established this award because of our relationship with the Minnesota Historical Society. Its commitment to excellence is noteworthy in promoting scholarly research and writing. We hope this award will inspire more activity by recognizing and rewarding the finest work in the field.”

Much of the focus on the Dakota people in Minnesota rests on the tragic events of the 1862 U.S.–Dakota War and the resulting exile that sent the majority of the Dakota to prisons and reservations beyond the state’s boundaries. But the true depth of the devastation of removal cannot be understood without a closer examination of the history of the Dakota people and their deep cultural connection to the land that is Minnesota. Drawing on oral history interviews, archival work, and painstaking comparisons of Dakota, French, and English sources, Mni Sota Makoce tells the detailed history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands for at least hundreds of years prior to exile.

Published by Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2012, the book went on to win the 2013 Minnesota Book Award in the Minnesota category last year.

Westerman and White will be honored for their latest achievement at the upcoming Book Awards Gala on April 5 at the Saint Paul Union Depot. Gwen Westerman is professor of English and Humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Bruce White is author of We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People.

Love at the Soda Shop

Posted byAlison Aten on 05 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: Authors, Awards, Cooking, History

The Soda Fountain, February 1921Soda Shop SalvationWhen Prohibition shuttered saloons, thirsty law-abiding citizens turned to soda fountains for sustenance and entertainment. Parlor owners developed concoctions to suit every taste—and to keep their counters and tables full.

Soda Shop Salvation: Recipes and Stories from the Sweeter Side of Prohibition (a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award) gives readers a taste of this turbulent time, and a few recipes for romance.

Excerpt from Soda Shop Salvation:

Love at the Soda Shop

“The soda fountain often plays an important part in fanning the flame of love . . . Many fountain owners are finding there is a great demand for drinks with names like kiss me again, some day, soul kiss, lover’s delight [. . .] what better could quicken a bashful lover than to have his coy companion say I would like a soul kiss wouldn’t you, John?” —The Soda Fountain, December 1921

Cupid Delight Sundae

1 (1/2-inch) slice vanilla ice cream
3 tablespoons crushed pineapple
3 cubes canned or fresh pineapple
4 maraschino cherries
3 tablespoons crushed strawberries
2 Thin Walnut Wafers (see book for recipe)

Cut the ice cream in half across the long edge and place the two slices side by side on a plate. Pour the crushed pineapple over one slice and top with the pineapple cubes arranged in a circle with 1 cherry in the center. Pour the strawberries over the other ice cream slice and arrange the remaining 3 cherries in a circle on top of it. Put the wafers on the side and serve with two spoons.

Cupid’s Garden

1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) strawberry syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon heart-shaped candies

Put the ice cream in a sundae dish and pour the syrup over the top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon candies.

Have-a-Date Sundae

1 large scoop maple nut ice cream
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Hot Chocolate Fudge Sundae Sauce
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
whipped cream for topping
walnut-stuffed date for garnish

Put the ice cream in a sundae dish. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and sprinkle with coconut. Top with whipped cream and garnish with the stuffed date.

“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, while the young woman’s fancy yearningly turns to ice cream sodas. Better cater to her fancy.” —The Soda Fountain, March 1921

Spring 2014 Titles

Posted byAlison Aten on 10 Jan 2014 | Tagged as: Authors, Children, Cooking, Fiction, Food, History, Literary, MHS press, Native American, Scandinavian Studies, Travel

Augie\'s Secrets by Neal Karlen The Brides of Midsummer When I Was a Child Her Honor Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge Curiosity\'s Cats

Conflicted Mission Hungry Johnny Toys of the \'50s, \'60s, and \'70s Scoop Smitten with Squash

Minnesota Historical Society Press Spring 2014 Titles

Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip (Paperback, February 2014)
Neal Karlen

The Brides of Midsummer (First English Translation, February 2014)
Vilhelm Moberg

When I Was a Child: An Autobiographical Novel (February 2014)
Vilhelm Moberg

Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement (March 2014)
Lori Sturdevant

Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge (April 2014)
Carolyn Ruff

Curiosity’s Cats: Writers on Research (April 2014)
Edited by Bruce Joshua Miller

Conflicted Mission: Faith, Disputes, and Deception on the Dakota Frontier (April 2014)
Linda M. Clemmons

Hungry Johnny (May 2014)
Cheryl Minnema, Illustrations by Wesley Ballinger

Toys of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s (May 2014)
Kate Roberts and Adam Scher

Scoop: Notes from a Small Ice Cream Shop (May 2014)
Jeff Miller

Smitten with Squash (July 2014)
Amanda Paa

Give a Signed Book for the Holidays!

Posted byAlison Aten on 12 Dec 2013 | Tagged as: Authors, Event, Kevin Kling

A signed book makes a great gift! Meet some of our authors at these delightful indie venues, and get a signed book for everyone on your holiday list.

Big Little Mother On Stage with Kevin Kling Minnesota in the \'70s Minnesota Bug Hunt Augie\'s Secrets by Neal Karlen Original Local

Saturday December 14

1:00-2:30 pm Kevin Kling signs  Big Little Mother and On Stage with Kevin Kling at Birchbark Books

Noon-1:00 pm Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor sign Minnesota in the ’70s at Magers & Quinn

Sunday December 15

1:00-3:00 pm Bruce Giebink and Bill Johnson sign Minnesota Bug Hunt at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Shop

6:00 pm Neal Karlen shares his book Augie’s Secrets at Grand Cafe in Minneapolis as part of their Fork in Forum progam ($45 and requires reservation)

Wednesday December 18

7:30-8:30 pm Heid Erdrich shares Original Local at Black Dog Cafe as part of the St. Paul Almanac ’s Lowertown Reading Jam

Saturday December 21

Noon-1:00 pm Kevin Kling signs  On Stage with Kevin Kling and Big Little Mother at Magers & Quinn

1:00-2:00 pm Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor sign Minnesota in the ’70s at Common Good Books

Sunday December 22

Noon-1:00 pm Kevin Kling signs  On Stage with Kevin Kling and Big Little Mother at Subtext

Original Local by Heid E. Erdrich

Posted byAlison Aten on 21 Nov 2013 | Tagged as: Authors, Cooking, Event, Native American

Original LocalHeid E. Erdrich, photo by FRESH Photography & Media Spirit Plate by Aza Erdrich

Local foods have garnered much attention in recent years, but the concept is hardly new: indigenous peoples have always made the most of nature’s gifts. Their menus were truly the “original local,” celebrated here in 135 home-tested recipes paired with stories from tribal activists, food researchers, families, and chefs.

Heid E. Erdrich shares family and community recipes in her new cookbook, Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest.

Join us tomorrow, Friday, November 22, at 7 pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1917 Logan Avenue South) in Minneapolis at the book launch hosted by Birchbark Books to sample recipes from the book prepared by Chef Jason Champagne.

Click here for more info, recipes, and interviews with Heid!

Memoir for Grown-ups: An essay

Posted byAlison Aten on 15 Nov 2013 | Tagged as: Authors, Literary

Kevin FentonToday’s post is by Kevin Fenton, author of Leaving Rollingstone.

Patricia Hampl calls Leaving Rollingstone “the most important memoir to come out of the Midwest (or anywhere) in years, an indispensable work of American autobiography.”

*****

When people learned that I was publishing a memoir, some of them asked me: Are you old enough to write a memoir?  My first impulse was to tell them that a) I am fifty-four and that b) when cardiologists see me, they often weep with despair. So, yes, I’m old enough. Then I realized that “Are you old enough to write a memoir?” is a polite way of asking their real question, “Are you famous enough to write a memoir?” To them, the word “memoir” triggers a very particular set of associations. Memoirs are written by those of us who’ve waged wars, negotiated peace, cured diseases, transformed societies, or, at the very least, married a Kardashian. Regular people do not write memoirs. I might as well have told them, “I’m thinking of having a statue made of myself. Know any good parks where I can put it?”

But I’d argue that what’s been called the literary memoir — in other words, a memoir by someone who is unexceptional except for their ability to write about their experience — is essential and valuable. The advent of the literary memoir is an extension of some big trends in literature and the humanities. We have moved from writing about God in the bible to writing about kings in Shakespeare to writing about regular people in the novels of George Eliot and Charles Dickens. In fact, we read novels precisely because we believe that a human life which might otherwise be unnoticed by history is worthy of attention. It’s not that big of a jump to care about real people.

The word “memoir” itself doesn’t do me any favors. It does, after all, start off with me, which tends to reinforce the perception of narcissism that surrounds the genre. But good literary memoirs aren’t just about their author. They are about that portion of history which the author has witnessed. They are about the estuary where larger historical trends mingle with the individual human life. No other genre can give us the particular insights that come from that intersection.

If Leaving Rollingstone were just about me, it would be a very different book. In the book, there are four lines about the most traumatic romantic relationship of my life — a relationship which left debris strewn over an entire decade — and there are about twenty lines about Spirographs. There’s a single brief flashback acknowledging four happy years at Beloit College — and an essay-length meditation on a book I read in 1995 and didn’t much care for. (It illuminated the book’s themes.) Leaving Rollingstone is about me but it’s also about family farms, small towns, and Catholic schools and their surprising legacies.

It’s useful to replace “literary memoir” with “personal history.” “Literary memoir” has always bothered me because it over-emphasizes the aesthetic. In its sometimes impressionistic way, my memoir was history. It spoke to the closing of schools, the loss of farms, the distinctiveness of a culture, and the influence of a zeitgeist. It spoke for a particular place and time and, most importantly, for particular people. If a president talks smack in his memoir about his secretary of state, the secretary probably has some recourse. But my record of my parents and friends and neighbors in Rollingstone is probably the only extensive record that will be left of their lives.

So while I wrote with the fallibility of personal witness, and the urge to create a shapely story, I evolved some rules for myself. First, you don’t have to be a neurologist to know that memory is tricky. I tried to write in a way that reflected that understanding without belaboring it. With the exceptions of some particularly vivid memories, I tried to report routines rather than events and ongoing impressions rather than momentary experiences; I tried to make it clear when I was passing on anecdotes which might have been rubbed smooth by retelling. I included very little dialogue and flagged the dialogue I did include as conjecture. When I presumed to record what my mom and dad might have been thinking on a particular morning, I used language that made it clear I was making an educated guess.

And you don’t have to be a French theorist to know that, even if memory is a perfect record of the past, human speech is twisted by our relentless agendas and alibis and limited by what Frank Bidart called our “proximate and partial” relation to truth. Given this, I tried to understand the perspective of others and to perforate my own self-justification. I tried to get the main historical facts right. Another way of saying all this is that I tried to act like a grown-up. And that brings me back to the question I started with. Am I old enough to write a memoir? The answer is yes, but just barely.

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