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Transforming Trauma

Posted byAlison Aten on 11 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, History, Interview, MHS press, Native American, Videos

Diane Wilson, author of Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life, shares how and why she came to write about overcoming the unrelenting trauma resulting from the colonization and assimilation of  the Dakota community. Her book profiles several contemporary Dakota people who are sustained by rich traditions, ceremonies, advocacy, and education and are transforming the legacy of colonization into a better way of life for their children.

Videos of Clifford CankuGabrielle Tateyuskanskan, two of the people featured in Beloved Child, are also available online. Video footage is from the book launch hosted by Birchbark Books and held at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Minneapolis.

We’re Back!

Posted byAlison Aten on 26 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Event, Fiction, History, Interview, Literary, MHS Author in the News, Native American

We are delighted to be back in our offices after a nearly three-week Minnesota state government shutdown!

As a segue into our regularly scheduled Tuesday and Thursday posts, here is a mini-roundup of some recent MHS Press/Borealis Books news:

The hot weather did not deter some of us from attending the taping of a future episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern at the VFW in Minneapolis’s Uptown area. Ann Burckhardt, author of Hot Dish Heaven, was the celebrity judge for the show’s hot dish contest. And what was for dessert? Why, entries for the best Jello salad, of course. We won’t reveal the winners. Let’s just say there were some creative entries!

Ann Burckhardt and Andrew Zimmern

Johnny Michaels, bar manager at La Belle Vie, was recently featured on Esquire’s Eat Like a Man blog and consulted by Minnesota Monthly as to whether beer on the rocks is permissible. Look for North Star Cocktails by Johnny Michaels and the North Star Bartenders Guild this November.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 27) Anton Treuer will appear on the nationally syndicated radio program Native America Calling. The Assassination of Hole in the Day, now out in paperback, is the show’s Book of the Month selection.

The City of St. Paul sponsors a bimonthly StoryWalk to “walk, read, learn, and have fun.” Last Sunday our book Minnesota’s Hidden Alphabet, written by David LaRochelle and with photographs by Joe Rossi, was featured at Lake Phalen.

St. Paul StoryWalk

Borealis Books author Sarah Stonich has been hitting the road to share her newest book, Shelter, with readers around the state. She’ll be at Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis on Tuesday, August 9, at 7:30, along with Ellen Baker, author of I Gave My Heart to Know This.

And don’t forget to check out our Summer E-book sale!

Interview with Sarah Stonich, Part 2

Posted byAlison Aten on 10 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Interview, Literary, MHS press

Sarah StonichShelterQ. It’s been ten years between your first book and this one. How has publishing changed for you as an author in that span?

A. Publishing as it was no longer exists: far fewer books are being published, the business is slow to embrace technology, and the old model has worn out. Editors and marketers don’t seem aware that the entire next reading generation of twenty- and thirty-somethings will inevitably do most of their reading on devices and won’t necessarily want long novels by debut authors. They will likely read e-books first; then, if they love it, they might buy the physical book.

Q.  Shelter is available as an e-book. How do you feel about readers experiencing your book on an electronic device?

A.  I have mixed feelings. One of my sisters had been in Mexico over this month as Shelter is released, so she ordered the Kindle edition. I wished she’d waited for the physical volume, since it’s a lovely little book to hold and I think it would have added to the experience. That said, I don’t generally have any problems with e-books—they are the future, and while my first book is no longer in print, at least it’s available as an e-book. The Ice Chorus is also out in e-book. If done right, the author gets a better percentage of sales.

Q. In finding land and building a retreat, did you achieve your goal of bridging some connection between your father and son?

A.  Sam never had the chance to bond with a grandparent the way so many of us have. But I think observing me write this book and building our little place, he began to appreciate the land and learn more about his grandfather. So, yes, mostly, just not in the way I’d imagined.

Q.  At the end of Shelter your son was in Tokyo. Where is he now?

A. After some visa problems in Japan, he’s back in the Twin Cities, a full-time student with a double major in art and design. We have lunch; it’s great.

Q. What’s next?

A.  I’m hoping to find a publisher for my latest book, Vacationland, set in a remote resort in (where else?) northern Minnesota. The bulk of the story is told by visitors over the sixty-year life of the place and by the granddaughter who returns as an adult decades after being raised there.

Q.  Sounds a little like Shelter. Is it at all biographical?

A.  No, just set on similar ground. I’m also halfway through writing a novel based on a screenplay I recently finished, Fishing With RayAnne, about the camera-shy host of the first all-women fishing/talk show on public television. It’s a dark comedy, really fun to write.

Q. What is the status of your land now? Is it safe, or will the road project go through?

A.  I still don’t know—just have to deal with not knowing. The cabin is on shaky ground, but at least for now we still have our place in the woods. Thankfully, my family is rock solid. I’m thinking of getting a dog . . . it’s all good.

Book Trailer for Shelter and Q&A with Author Sarah Stonich

Posted byAlison Aten on 08 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Interview, Literary, MHS press, Videos

We are pleased to announce the publication of  Shelter by internationally acclaimed author Sarah Stonich.

Stonich shares her new book trailer for Shelter and, in part one of a two-part interview, talks about family tradition in Minnesota’s north country.

Q.  What most surprised you while writing this book?

A.  In doing research, I realized how much I’d romanticized the past with a sort of soft-focus vision. In reality, the Minnesota my grandparents settled in was pretty harsh. I was reminded how difficult daily life was--laundry day alone for a family of twelve in 1903? The dozens of conveniences I don’t give a thought to, like flipping on a light, would have been ultimate luxury to them.

Q. You’ve written about your grandmother’s era in northern Minnesota before as the setting for These Granite Islands. And you mentioned your next novel is contemporary and also set there. Now, in Shelter, you’re writing about the very real place in the present. What about it keeps providing material for you?

A. A lot of writers, I suspect, find that places once thought boring or plain actually become inspiration for a lot of work, once you get far enough away from them.

Q. Most who write about the north tend to be very reverent of “God’s Country,” but you seem to have a love-hate relationship with it. Do you?

A. To a degree. If I could go back in time and convince my grandparents to keep traveling west to the Pacific Coast, I would. I pine for the ocean. I love Minnesota in spring and fall, but not during those six months I hardly ever see my feet. I don’t believe surviving the climate builds character and can’t get excited that the town down the road holds the record cold temp. Then again, you can’t beat Lake Superior in July. So, yes, a little love-hate.

Q. In Shelter the theme of land providing solace and retreat plays heavily for you as an adult. Has it always been so for you?

A.  Growing up, the lake often felt the safest, calmest place to be, especially during the years of my parents’ divorce. I went to a Catholic school, where I found the religion frightening and my studies difficult. Our cabin was a haven from all that--not the building, which wasn’t much, but the woods and water. A rowboat is as good a place as any for an awkward, introverted kid.

Q. You wrestle with how you “fit” on the Iron Range and with the political divisions there--are those still issues?

A. Well, not quite wrestle. But politics is really a toxic topic for a lot of folks up here--especially around the real land issues that make my own little dilemma a trifle. There has been a historic, constant tug-of-war over land and its ultimate best uses--it’s all about mining and money versus conservation. If the natural resources were left alone, they would become the most valuable, as a legacy. There are a lot of mines in the world, and plenty of places to jet ski, but there’s only one Boundary Waters.

Q. If there was one principal message in the book, what would you say it is?

A.  I never intended a message and can’t predict what readers will take away from it, but for me, the meaningful bit would be that material things and land only set the stages we live on, that family and the people we choose to live with are the real deal. The land, no matter how well we tend it or how badly we screw it up, will be there long after we aren’t.

Reading and Signings with Sarah Stonich:

Wednesday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Common Good Books


Thursday, April 14, at Micawber’s Books, with author and poet Kate Kysar, editor of Riding Shotgun.


Q & A with Author George Schire

Posted bypennefesm on 30 Apr 2010 | Tagged as: Authors, History, Interview, MHS press, Sports

Layout 1  Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling: From Verne Gagne to the Road Warriors is a fun and fascinating history of the glory days of old-school professional wrestling in the state. Author George Schire has been a longtime fan, and a writer and columnist for national wrestling publications, as well as a ring announcer. Today he shares with the Press some inside stories of the Golden Age. Schire will also discuss the book and sign copies at Barnes and Noble, Har-Mar Mall, Roseville, on Thursday, May 6, at 7 p.m.

Q: So many wrestling fans across the region remember gathering around the TV Saturday nights (or Sunday mornings) to watch All-Star Wrestling. Early broadcasts date back to the 1940s.  But fans could see wrestlers in live matches at arenas around the state. What were some of Minnesota’s favorite venues?
A:  Professional wrestling matches were held at city civic auditoriums (the Minneapolis Auditorium and St. Paul Auditorium, for example) and also the local National Guard armories in cities throughout Minnesota. But “spot shows,” as they were called, were also held in VFW and Legion halls and even in high school gyms.

Q: Seems like spectators could be the most dangerous folks in the arena. Did any wrestlers ever get hurt by a local who took the event a little too seriously?
A: Wrestlers will always tell you that sometimes it was the fans they had to fear most. There were always incidents of a fan charging the ring in an attempt to attack a bad guy, or attempting to attack wrestlers as they went to and from the ring. Dr. Bill Miller, who wrestled as “Mister M” in the Twin Cities, was once hit by a two-by-four piece of wood that opened a heaGeorge with Big K, Hennig, and Vachond wound and required several stitches in the dressing room.

Q: We tend to remember the most famous wrestlers, and each of us have some of our favorites. You talk about so many in the book. Who were your favorites as a boy and teen growing up?
A: Since I was always interested in the inner workings of the business and how matches were worked, I tended to be a fan of the heels (the bad guys)—Doctor “X” and Harley Race, to name two of them. If a heel was successful with his act, he was able to put fans in the seats, and the more fans, the more money there was to be made.

Q: When new talent was “discovered,” how had they typically come to be part of the circuit?
A: Verne Gagne’s Minnesota territory emphasized that wrestlers have a solid amateur wrestling background, and so many times those amateur wrestlers would seek Gagne out for their professional training.  But word of mouth was common, too. Many times a guy would be recommended to Gagne (and other trainers) to get his start in the business.

Q: How did wrestlers develop their body types? That is, what do you know of their conditioning routines?
A: Unlike today’s overdeveloped muscle heads, wrestlers of the Golden Age often relied on some weight lifting, running, and various isometric exercises to keep themselves in condition. But remember, most wrestlers would work matches 300 to 365 nights a year, and so oftentimes those 30- to 90-minute workouts in the ring were sufficient to keep them in what Harley Race called, “Mat Shape.”

Q: Wrestlers were real people, after all. Did any of them have surprising off-ring careers? Any interesting post-wrestling vocations or hobbies?
A: Most wrestlers of the Golden Age who were the high-profile stars did not have outside professions while they wrestled. But once their careers were over, it wasn’t uncommon for some of them to get into businesses unrelated to wrestling altogether. Larry Hennig became a successful real estate broker and auctioneer. Baron Von Raschke had a teaching degree and taught school after his wrestling days. Dr. Bill Miller (Mister M, mentioned earlier) was a veterinarian and practiced for many years. Dick Beyer (Doctor “X”) became a high school wrestling coach after his days in the ring, and Nick Bockwinkel developed a career selling life insurance and annuities.  Many other ex-wrestlers owned bars and restaurants or dry-cleaning businesses, and some went on to serve in law-enforcement professions.

(Photo courtesy the author: Big K, Schire, Hennig, and Vachon, 1991)

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