The well-known local playwright, author and storyteller, Kevin Kling, has two new books out this season. On Stage with Kevin Kling, contains three complete plays plus excerpts, poems, and essays. and the children’s book Big Little Mother, continues his warm and funny exploration of sibling rivalry. Kevin, who describes his zodiac sign as “Minnesota with Iowa rising…”, was recently named Minneapolis’ first Story Laureate” by the departing mayor, R.T. Rybak. Kevin recently recommended some of his favorite books of Minnesota interest. A perfect closing to a great year of recommendations from some of the great book lovers of our region.
Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, by Louise Erdrich. I can’t believe I live in the same time as Louise let alone the same town. This one is my favorite of hers, but that could change. I’ve given this book as a gift to any and every type of human that I love.
Playing the Black Piano, by Bill Holm. Literary force, Bill was, and continues to be, a mentor and friend. His prose reads like poetry so his poetry is really something else. Another author who gives Minnesotans braggin’ rights.
Cookie, the Walker, by Chris Monroe. In her brilliant, subversive, hilarious, big-hearted style, Chris explores the trappings of celebrity and remembering what is important whether we’re on two legs or four.
The Nature of Dogs, by Mary Ludington. Unlike any animal photography book. Mary’s incredible photographs celebrate a dog’s nature, whether its chasing, hunting, standing guard. Wonderful breed tidbits highlighting traits, myths and histories of the represented breeds. Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Mary’s work and wrote one of the essays.
Arabian Nights:The Marvels and Wonder of the Thousand and One Nights, by Jack Zipes. The story of Schaharazade never seemed to fit in within a series of kid’s stories , so this version was an “Oh now I get it!” moment for me. Jack Zipes boldly takes these fantastic tales out of the “Childrens Lit” genre and brings the danger and dark into the thousand and one nights.
Heather McElhatton, Pretty Little Mistakes. Still a go to book for when I get stuck. I know it’s supposed to be fiction, but it’s too absurd, bold, impossible to be fiction. Like life, we think we are in control by our choices but Heather shows us we are the dream as well as the dreamer.
A Gravestone Made of Wheat, by Will Weaver. This may well be my favorite short story ever…incredible. That’s all, Oh — and was made into the wonderful film, “Sweet Land” by local filmmaker Ali Selim.
Bring Warm Clothes, Peg Meier. A fantastic collection of stories and letters , photographs and memories from Minnesotans dating from the 1700’s to WWll. Peg nails it. The “Good old days” weren’t always so good but at other times cozy as wonder bread bags in the boots.
Simon’s Night, by Jon Hassler . I love all his Staggerford books, but this is the one that spoke to me most. One of those books that I needed to set aside on occasion and recover and reflect on before happily diving back in. A tear in every laugh.
A Hard Water World: Ice Fishing and Why We Do It, by Layne Kennedy and Greg Breining. I‘ve spent many hours perched on hard water. Wonderful in this day and age to rekindle the beauty of solace and the vitality one feels in a near pristine world. These guys get it, this book gets me through the summer.
Blue Arabesque, by Patricia Hampl. Patricia reveals through her own journey that a great work of art opens forgotton chambers, lost memories, colors, fosters curiosity, whether it’s a painting by Matisse or a book by Patricia Hampl. I love her reflections on the sublime and the nature of beauty.
Christmas in Minnesota: A Celebration in Memories, Stories and Recipes of Seasons Past, edited by Marilyn Ziebarth & Brain Horrigan. A great collection of some of the wonderful writers this state has produced. Louie Andersen’s Christmas tree story had me laughing so hard, I’m laughing right now just thinking about it.