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I try not to read other reviewers' takes on books I plan to review myself. Sometimes it's unavoidable. But whenever it is, it's usually surprising. Recently I read a review of a regionally produced book that I hadn't yet received. The reviewer, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, didn't like it much. The book was about the relatively new conductor of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra. In essence the reviewer said it was much too detailed and added that the author should have waited until the conductor was dead or dying before he lionized him in print.
EAU CLAIRE - Biologists with the state Department of Natural Resources have tracked what could be the same cougar through parts of St. Croix, Pierce and Dunn counties in western Wisconsin. It is possible this is the cougar that was photographed and tracked Dec. 11 in Stillwater, Minnesota. That cougar was moving east, and it would have been easy for the big cat to cross the frozen St. Croix River. Tracks found in Stillwater and in St. Croix County are similar in size.
My former colleague Jim Klobuchar covered NFL football for the Minneapolis newspapers for almost 50 years. Who better than to give fans an overview of the game that has come to dominate the sporting scene in America? In "Always on Sunday," (Nodin Press, $19.05) Klobuchar takes aim at developments in the sport over the years.
The St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra will feature Tony Capparelli, a River Falls High School senior, when they perform Mendelssohn's Piano Concert No. 1 in G minor, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Abbott Concert Hall of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building. UW-RF Music Professor Kristin Tjornehoj directors the 65-member orchestra, which is comprised of students and adult community members. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors; and $2 for UW-RF students.
Back in the 1960s, "Gonzo" journalism came on the scene with writers like Tom Wolfe with his hilarious "Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers," in which he attends a party thrown by Leonard Bernstein for a bunch of unruly Black Panthers. Then there was George Plimpton's "Paper Lion," his account of trying out at the Detroit Lions' Training Camp. Finally, there was the "Gonzo' of them all, Hunter S. Thompson, who reported that presidential candidate Edmund Muskie looked as if he were on drugs because he WAS doing drugs.
Holy cow! I didn't know there was such a thing as a Halsey Hall Chapter of the Society for Baseball Research until I received a review copy of "Minnesotans in Baseball," by Stew Thornley, prominent Minnesota author of sports stories and biographies based in the Gopher State, like "On to Nicollet" his fascinating history of the Minneapolis Millers and its stars, like Ted Williams. In this new outing, Thornley acted as editor and major contributor of biographies of Minnesotans who made their mark on baseball in Minnesota and other venues.
Ofttimes excellent novelists make poor critics, poor assessors of books written by their peers. Ernest Hemingway and his treatment of F. Scott Fitzgerald comes immediately to mind. Such is not the case with E.L.
Last month the U.S. lost one of the great writers in the pantheon of 20th century literature, John Updike, the kid from Skillington, Pa., who wanted to grow up and be a satirist for the New Yorker. Updike succeeded at that and then some. Eatablishing himself at the New Yorker in 1954 at age 22, he went on to write a series of novels about Rabbit Angstrom, the lower middle-class kid Updike followed through his entire life.
Still looking for last minute holiday gifts for hard-to-buy friends and relatives? I've got a few that just came across my desk in time for you to run out and buy a copy. Books, you know, are easy to wrap. If you get stuck with a batch of apples, you make applesauce. That's what a longtime acquaintance of mine did when the newspaper where he served as book review editor closed down its book review section. Nick Basbanes was middle-aged and the prospects were glum. But Basbanes put his shoulder to the wheel and pushed hard.
There's something comforting about reading novels set in places where you're fairly well acquainted. I loved Thomas Gifford's "The Windchill Factor" years ago. That was the espionage novel that begins in Taylors Falls, Minn., when the little white frame library blows up. When I read the book I had recently visited that little library, which had the weirdest classification system I had ever seen. Gifford followed with "The Cavanaugh Quest," a novel set in Prospect Park, which is within eyeshot of the college where I used to teach.