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Fireside Reading Series at Hamline Midway Library

Posted byAlison Aten on 10 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: Asian American, Event, Fiction, Literary, MHS press, Native American, Scandinavian Studies

Fireside Reading SeriesTomorrow night begins the eighteenth annual Fireside Reading Series hosted by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library at the Hamline Midway Library. The series features six weeks of readings by acclaimed Minnesota authors.

The events kick off with historian Larry Millet and the latest in his renowned mystery series, The Magic Bullet: A Locked Room Mystery Featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes, and conclude on February 18 with Diane Wilson, author of Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life.

Shop Local, and With a Cause!

Posted byAlison Aten on 30 Nov 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Children, Event, Literary, MHS press, Nonprofit

Santa (from Magers & Quinn website)What could be better than visiting with Santa at a bookstore? Magers & Quinn has teamed up with Way to Grow, one of the preeminent early childhood learning programs in the Twin Cities, for an evening of refreshments and Sharing with Santa this Saturday, December 3, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. David LaRochelle, author of Minnesota’s Hidden Alphabet, will be at the store with Santa to share his books. Do your shopping and 10 percent of your sale will benefit Way to Grow.

On Sunday, December 4, at 2:00 p.m., Red Balloon Bookshop is hosting an event to celebrate Libraries in Minnesota with photographer Doug Ohman and contributors to the book, including some of Minnesota’s best-known writers of books for children and young adults: Will Weaver, Pete Hautman, John Coy, Nancy Carlson, Marsha Wilson Chall, and David LaRochelle. The authors will sign copies of their books, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Libraries of Minnesota during the event will be donated to the Minnesota Library Foundation.

And here at the Minnesota History Center Stores during Minnesota Historical Society Member Double Discount Days,  Kim Heikkila, author of Sisterhood of War, will be signing Friday, December 2, at 11:00 a.m, and Brett Laidlaw, author of Trout Caviar, will sign on Sunday, December 4, at 2:00 p.m.

Congrats to the store for making the USA Today list of best museum shops!

Minnesota\'s Hidden Alphabet Libraries of Minnesota Sisterhood of War Laidlaw

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!

Wrapping Up National Poetry Month

Posted byAlison Aten on 26 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Literary

National Poetry Month logoTo mark the end of National Poetry Month, the Library Foundation of Hennepin County’s An Evening of Rhyme, Swine, and Wine and Normandale Community College’s Reading Series Event The Second Annual Great Twin Cities Poetry Read take place this week.

At 7:00 p.m. tonight at the Minneapolis Central Library, local poetry legend Jim Lenfestey will celebrate his new, edited collection of poems on the subject of pigs. This porcine anthology, Low Down and Coming On: A Feast of Delicious and Dangerous Poems about Pigs, features the work of 105 poets from around the world and throughout time, including Margaret Atwood, William Blake, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, and dozens of local authors.

The idea behind the collection came from Minnesota author Bill Holm before he died in 2009. In the introduction dedicated to Holm, Jim roots through the history of pig poetry since Homer, uncovering many tasty surprises. Join Jim and contributing poets Jim Heynen, Jill Breckenridge, and Katherine Grant for an evening of rhyme, swine, and wine. A wine toast will kick off the program, and a book signing reception (with chocolate-bacon cupcakes) will follow.

The Great Twin Cities Poetry Read is this Friday, April 29, from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. at Normandale Community College, 9700 France Avenue South in Minneapolis (map).

The event, hosted by Matt Mauch and Dobby Gibson, welcomes the following readers: Steve HealeySharon ChmielarzMeryl DePasquale • Matthew Geunette • Heid Erdrich David MuraG. E. PattersonSarah FoxPatrick Hicks Lightsey Darst Juliet PattersonJohn Medeiros Sean Hill • Sin Yung Shin • Kris BigalkPaul DickinsonAnna George Meek • Matt Ryan • William Waltz • Jim Redmond • Ed Micus • Mark ConwayJim CoppocStacia FleegalCullen Bailey BurnsFrancine Sterle • Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen, and Kyle Adamson.

The poetry read is a fundraiser for a heart transplant for Dean Young. See the Facebook event page for more information.

MPR’s Writing Minnesota

Posted byMary Poggione on 22 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Literary, MHS press

Where One Voice EndsBe sure to check out MPR’s series on Minnesota writers:

“What does it mean to be a Minnesota writer? It means obsessing over the sound of the Mississippi River. It means writing about small towns. It means you’re a refugee who refused to speak as a child.

“It means writing about butter. It means New York might find you provincial. It means you’re not as stressed out as New York writers about your status. It means you write about Chicago. It means you grew up on a farm and saw your dad kill a cow with a pitchfork. It means your characters have secrets.

“It means watching a girl flirt with your husband in a St. Paul wine bar–and wishing she’d flirt yet more.”

Annie Baxter interviews eight Minnesota writers: Charles Baxter, Kao Kalia Yang, Nicole Helget (author of the Borealis book The Summer of Ordinary Ways), Philip Bryant, Steve Healy, Robert Hedin (editor of the MHS poetry anthology Where One Voice Ends Another Begins), Katrina Vandenberg, and Matt Rasmussen. Check out the web page for audio and excerpts.

Libraries of Minnesota

Posted byAlison Aten on 19 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Event, Literary, MHS Author in the News, MHS press

Libraries of MinnesotaLegacy logoA veritable who’s who of Minnesota’s best-known writers of books for children and young adults will testify to the special significance of libraries in their lives this Thursday, April 21, at 7:00 p.m at the Minneapolis Central Library’s Pohlad Hall to celebrate the publication of Libraries of Minnesota.

With images by Doug Ohman, photographer of the Minnesota Byways books, which include the well-loved Barns of Minnesota and Cabins of Minnesota, and essays by Will Weaver, Pete Hautman, John Coy, Nancy Carlson, Marsha Wilson Chall, David LaRochelle, and Kao Kalia Yang, Libraries of Minnesota is a rich exhibition of Minnesota’s beloved libraries. The book is a cooperative project of the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators and the Minnesota Historical Society Press, funded by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Thursday’s event is sponsored by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, and the MHS Press. Doug will give a visual presentation of photos from the book, followed by anecdotes from the contributors. Books, including select titles by the authors, will be available for purchase at the event courtesy of Magers & Quinn Booksellers, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.

Last week’s Star Tribune Variety section featured a slide show and excerpt from the book. You can also see a preview of the book on the KARE11 website: Doug and Pete talked about the project on the air this past Saturday.

The image below is not from the book but is featured today on the popular website boingboing and originally comes from the L. A. Library via the Boing Boing Flickr pool from Bart King. Since it features a kid in a library with a copy of a book by another beloved Minnesota author and illustrator, Wanda Gag, we thought it worth sharing!

Author, Mentor, Friend

Posted byregana on 31 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Authors, Literary

Louise Erdrich

Image from

Louise Erdrich, author of wonderful books and owner of the wondrous Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, spent yesterday with Michelle Obama and nineteen other accomplished women, visiting schools in Washington, D.C., to highlight the importance of mentoring girls. Actresses Geena Davis, Hilary Swank, and Alfre Woodard, skater Michelle Kwan, astronaut Ellen Ochoa, and a raft of similarly renowned women later dined at the White House with 120 girls from D.C. schools in celebration of Women’s History Month. This event was also the kickoff for Lifetime Network’s national campaign to encourage mentorship of girls.

All together, now: You GO, Louise, and you GO, girls!

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.


The Wonderful World of Book Editing with Our Very Own Shannon Pennefeather

Posted byMary Poggione on 20 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: Cooking, Literary

Stewart Woodman, author of Shefzilla, conducted this fascinating interview with MHS Press editor extraordinaire Shannon Pennefeather, who, by the way, has edited out the errors I made in this very post.

Part 1

Part 2

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