Sunday, April 18, 2010


As usual, the Minnesota Book Awards night is one of the most impeccable, well organized and well-run events you’ll ever attend. Alayne Hopkins, who with her interepid helpers runs the thing has just done another outstanding job, with the able assistance of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Here are the 2010 winners of the Minnesota Book Awards for 2009 books and related publishing accomplishments. This was the 22nd annual awards event.

The Kay Sexton honoree for longstanding and outstanding dedication to the work of fostering writers, reading and other literary activity went to Carolyn Holbrook

The award for an outstanding Minnesota book artist was awarded to Wilber H. Chip Schilling, owner of Indulgence Press.

David Housewright won the Genre fiction award for Jelly’s Gold,” from St. Martin’s Press.

Joy K. Lintelman won the award for General Nonfiction, for her work titled, “I Go to America: Swedish American Women and the life of Mina Anderson,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

The award for Young People’s Literature went to Kate DiCamillo, for “The Magician’s Elephant,” from Candlewick Press.

Joyce Sidman won the award for Children’s Literature for “Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors,” from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Jude Nutter won for poetry with “I wish I had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman.,” University of Notre Dame Press.

A special award for a Minnesota Book went to Cary J. Griffith for a production from Borealis Books, Minnesota Historical Society Press.

In the Memoir and Creative Nonfiction category, Kent Nerburn won for “The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder’s Journey through a land of Ghosts and Shadows,” published by New World Library.

The book voted an award called Peoples Choice went to Dave Kenny for “Honor Bright: A Century of Scouting in Northern Star Council.”

Marlon James offering, The Book of Night Women,” from Riverhead Books/Penguin Group, was the award winner in the Novel and Short Story category.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Author: Reginald Hill
Publisher: Delecourt Press
Copyright: 1999, HC, 408 pages
ISBN: 0-385-33279-3

Cover copy calls this a work of intricacy, precision and psychological complexity. I cannot agree more emphatically. Yes, it's another in what one hopes is an endless line of Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries. And yes, it contains powerful, evocative writing.

"Here four men labored with shovels, their faces wrapped with scarves, not for disguise but as barrier against the stench of the decaying bat droppings they disturbed, while high above them a sea of leathery bodies rippled and whispered uneasily as the sound of digging and the glow of bull-lamps drifted up to the natural vault."

Peter Pascoe's wife, Ellie, is hard at work on her book. Yes, she's hoping to be a published author one day. And then, abruptly, inexplicably, there is an abduction attempt on her. Though the attempt is thwarted by Ellie's nimble-mindedness, the act sets in motion a vast, complex investigation and a plot that ranges over wide spaces of the English coastal area and pits D&P against some very nasty characters. Adding to the complications are difficulties over jurisdictional questions affecting the National Interest.

This is a complex story with a large cast of interesting characters and a strong sub-plot. It is an excellent novel by an excellent writer. Hill handles his characters, his plot and his setting with consummate skill. .More than ten years old now, it’s well worth seeking out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Barrier Island
Author: John D. MacDonald
Publisher: Fawcett Books
Copyright: 1986
ISBN: 0-449-13179-3
259 pages

Unfortunately, readers won't find this book in most on-line or regular bookstores. The novel is out of print. And, unlike the recent reissue of the Travis McGee series, much of MacDonald's canon will remain in the hands of used book retailers. But this novel by a master of the crime novel, is one of many that brought MacDonald considerable notice and accolades for his unremitting efforts to protect the fragile coastal regions of Florida and the Gulf Coast, in addition to the recognition of his gifts as a writer. Readers of the excellent Emma Lathen series of chicanery in high financial circles, will find Barrier Island to their liking. This is clearly a work whose themes are of considerable interest and even passion to the author.

This novel could have been written yesterday, testament to the genius and skill of the author. I found nothing which was not germane and up to date. MacDonald's characters are interesting, well-developed and consistent. The book probes conflicting situations between partners in a real estate firm, and follows the conflicting desires of the partners in the ways they define a successful business.

Greed, avarice, ecological concerns and healthy community growth are all considered in this action-filled novel. There are surprises and misdirections, all couched in MacDonald's excellent prose. An excellent, thoughtful, novel.