Parnassus

My first afternoon in Nashville, my friend and I went to Ann Patchett’s bookstore – Parnassus Books.  It’s everything a bookstore should be.  Tall ceilings, lots of wood, big windows, amazing children’s section, attentive staff and some wonderfully curated displays.  There are two local authors tables, one of fiction on the fiction side of the store and one of non-fiction on the non-fiction side.  Both displays had a wide variety of authors (not just a huge pile of one or two) and many of the books were signed.

I couldn’t resist.  Although I didn’t recognize any of the titles, I managed to narrow it down to three; I asked the two staff at the desk for recommendations.  Between them, they had only read one of the titles but they were familiar with the plots for all three.  Based on their input I chose a historical fiction/fantasy (should that be called historical fantasy?)  It’s set in Florence in 1473 and it intrigues me since I have actually been to Florence.  I don’t know much at all about the history of Florence, so I’m looking forward to it. 

 I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Do you have any favorite local authors?  (Yes, you should absolutely count our Chris!)

57 thoughts on “Parnassus”

  1. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    William Kent Krueger of the Cork O’Connor series set in Northern Minnesota is a favorite of mine. I also liked Ordinary Grace which we read for Blevins Book Club. I enjoy John Sanford (pseudonym for John Camp) who was once local, but no longer lives here since moving to Santa Fe, NM. There are so many writers in this community. My very favorite would be Louise Erdrich.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Fred Manfred of Lord Grizzly fame lived in my home town. I never read any of his books. The local concensus was that Fred wrote dirty books, and they weren’t in the school library and the old bat who was the public librarian wouldn’t let anyone under 18 check them out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We always drove by his house on the way from LeMars to Pipestone. I never heard that his books were dirty. Just Westerns. Those old librarians were really control freaks, weren’t they?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A school librarian is why I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was in the fifth grade. I’m not sure why I picked it off the shelf, maybe just a cool cover. But the librarian tried to discourage me and said it was too mature for me, and I would never get through it. Talk about waving a red flag in front of a bull.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I love that, Renée. I never thought I’d hear you call someone an old bat. It’s as much fun as being the first one to make my Spanish teacher swear.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for the shoutout, VS. I’ll define local authors to include some writing colleagues in Wisconsin since I’ve read some outstanding books from several of them who “rose through the ranks with me” to published status. Two that stand out are Gregory Lee Renz’s “Beneath the Flames” and Nick Chiarkas’s “Weepers” and his new release “Nunzio’s Way.” Kristin A. Oakley and Valerie Biel also have some books worth reading. IF you like cozy mysteries, Christine de Smet has a good series.

    Some of my fave MN authors (In addition to the obvious choices of WK Krueger, Vince Flynn, and John Sandford) include Brian Freeman, Sigurd Olson, Paul Gruchow, Marcie Rendon, Tom Combs, Brian Lutterman, and Allen Eskens. I’ll probably remember a few more later on, but . . .

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We briefly had a “local” author who frequented the Golden Lion pub in High Bickington, with her hard drinking partner. Maureen, I was trying the other day to remember her last name, I can’t. She stayed around long enough to write a historical novel vaguely based on High Bickington (changed to High Bickton or something), and every local person she came across (I didn’t know her in time to get my fifteen minutes). Names were changed slightly in most cases, characters were unrecognisable as anyone I knew. Easy for me to say she borrowed bits from Lorna Doone (such as the use of astonishing coincidence), after all, Lorna Doone’s the only book I’ve ever read, that doesn’t have “BSA” in it. I can’t remember her last name, and I can’t remember the name of the book. Pretty good going.

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  5. Louise Erdrich, William Kent Krueger, John Sandford, Kate DiCamillo, Anne Tyler (who was born here). In the past, I have read some Jon Hassler and Leif Enger. More recently, I liked “Northernmost” by Peter Geye. My sister is ready to loan me “Vacationland” by Sarah Stonich. The Ramsey County Library only has Chris’ first book, which I enjoyed – would like to read more of his. I rarely buy books anymore – not enough space in my small carriage home so I depend on the library.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks VS – right now I am kind of swamped by a bunch of books that are becoming available after a long time on the “hold” list. But I certainly appreciate the offer and will keep it in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret Frazer, author of the Dame Frevisse mysteries, my favorite series. John Calvin Rezmerski, poet. Bill Holm, mostly for his essays although his poetry is good too. I had better name my friends Eleanor Arnason and Ruth Berman as well–Eleanor writes mostly science fiction, both novels and short stories, and Ruth is a poet, an essayist, and most recently a translator of French fairy tales. I really have to read Chris’ books!

    Liked by 2 people

        1. And Bill Holm’s book Coming Home Crazy: Essays from China, one of the essays extolled how useful a Swiss Army knife was during his time in China, including using it to fix an electric light. I took the knife to China and I used it on several occasions, but what I remember most is using it to chop up pills that were given to me for Baby in China because they didn’t have liquid. I minced them up nicely with a knife and put them in her formula.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Rez has not gotten the attention he deserved, IMHO. But then, I’m biased–I was in a writing group with him for many years. Even when we didn’t entirely understand what he was saying in his poems, we enjoyed how playful he was with words and sounds!

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  7. Henry Williamson, author of “Tarka the Otter”, lived st Croyde in North Devon. Tarka is an immensely non- Devonian word by the way. I’ve never read the book, and shouldn’t be unfair. But I will. I bet the book is based on some conception Williamson has of the “poetry” all around him in North Devon. It really aggravates me that the long tourist oriented footpath that meanders probably right across the North of the county, is called the “Tarka Trail.” No actual Devonian gives a xxxk about stuff like that. I believe Williamson to be pretentious and out of touch with real life in Devon. Prejudiced and probably unfair of me, I realise. I saw him on TV once, and he got on my nerves.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Louise Erdrich is my favorite, I think, but perhaps because I was immersed in her writing when I worked at Birchbark Books, her store.

    Faith Sullivan is a close second, and because it took me a while to think of her, I know there must be others. Other comments remind me I also love Kate DiCamillo, Jon Hassler, Sigurd Olson…

    Our Chris is a favorite for mysteries, and found him at this link, 2nd page:
    https://mnwritersdirectory.org/myserty-thriller/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Several of the writers mentioned by others are included on my list of “favorite local writers,” as well. Patricia Hampl and Will Weaver would be near the top.

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Garrison Keillor. I suppose the reason could be that we think of him more as a radio personality and not as much as a writer? I attended a couple of readings he hosted with Bill Holm at the Swedenborgian Church in St. Paul. It was quite fun to see them in action together. Bill Holm was quite the character. I would have loved to participate in the trips to Iceland he conducted at least a couple of times during summers toward the end of his life, but the idea of spending extended time with a bunch of heavy smokers and drinkers was more than I wanted to sign up for.

    Louise Erdrich and Kate DiCamillo are two writers that I admire a lot, DiCamillo especially. The Minnesota Opera just premiered a new opera based on one of her books. Our Anna could give us a report if she cared to. I know she enjoyed seeing it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was at one of those readings with Bill Holm and GK at the Swedenborgian Church. I would have also mentioned Will Weaver if I had thought of him. I read one of Garrison’s books a long time ago and it seemed facile and vapid to me. I’ve never been tempted to read another.
      I’ve owned several Louise Erdrich books over the years and started them but for some reason they just didn’t click with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree on Garrison’s writing. It doesn’t hold up as well as his meandering vocal telling of the stories. I, too, have a hard time sustaining an interest in Louise Erdrich’s books till the end. I have started three, and finished only one. Her writing is fine, it’s some of her ideas that I have trouble with, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When I was reading Garrison’s books, I was able to imagine his voice as I was reading along, and that really improved them.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I read one of Garrison’s early books—Lake Wobegon Days probably. It struck me as if he was trying to prove he could write passably about any random topic. It was, as I said, facile. There just wasn’t enough there there.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I was going to mention Steve as he definitely qualifies as one of my favorite local authors. I read everything that he wrote, everything. Even a couple of things that I had to borrow from him in order to get my hands on them. But tell me about Molly as an author!!

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  10. Molly has written several books for children. We Are Bears and We Are Wolves are two of the first books. They are very nice picture books for early readers.

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      1. Like Cousin Steve, I was born in Iowa and our family moved to the Twin Cities when I was in elementary school. I graduated from St. Louis Park High School and Macalester College. I have lived in suburban Dayton, Ohio for many years.

        Liked by 3 people

  11. We had another local “character”, a TV personality from the fifties called Daniel Farson, son of the writer Negley Farson. I believe they lived near Williamson at one time. I read a very, very short and over dramatic excerpt from one of Negley’s books, and was not impressed. I believe he was a very unpleasant person, who was estranged from his son. Mum said,”but he certainly could write!” OK. I don’t think he was friends with Williamson either, there was an unpleasant public scene once, apparently.
    Daniel wrote an autobiography which I read, with only one coy hint at his homesexuality, maybe because it was written well before he was actively flaunting it around the Barnstaple pubs in the seventies. He would try to pick up any attractive male he met. So that obviously included me, right? (I bet that scared Dad, when I laughingly told him about that. “Oh no, don’t let him near my sons! I don’t want them to catch it!”) Daniel’s reaction when I said no, was pretty funny too. I don’t actually remember if he’s a bona fide author.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were from the States! I was trying to remember. Daniel was brought up in some swamp area, and used to go off up the river. I suppose you all know about them.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The unpleasant scene, I now remember, was in the Market Inn in Barnstaple, a rough and ready favourite of mine at one time. I think I’ve told a little story about it before.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Another writer who might not come to mind immediately is Kevin Kling. Although he’s best known for performances, he has published a number of titles.

    Another humorist I like is James Lileks, who used to write for the St. Paul paper. His Gallery of Regrettable Food, an examination of cookbooks and recipe pamphlets of the 50’s and 60’s, is priceless. His web site has some great stuff too…
    https://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/minuterice/index.html

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oh yes.. I remember that-hysterical.

      And let’s not forget Peg Meier who also wrote for the Star Trib— her favorite book of mine is Bring Warm Clothes . Also, a friend of mine!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. OT:I think I’ve put Jane on the spot a little bit. She’s mad and doesn’t know what to do about it. That’s just my take.
    Don’t misunderstand. Jane has one big fault, which I’ve finally pointed out after thirty years, and she didn’t want to hear it. I don’t know if she believes it. But she’s a great one for shooting the messenger. But I have a bigger fault, and I’m the one who has irretrievably wrecked our marriage. At least I know it, and suffer guilt just about every waking moment. A very destructive emotion, I gather. I’m trying not to be destroyed, or to destroy.
    I don’t think I realised, until I was about fifty, that I’d carried two opposing ideals for my entire life. One was to meet Miss Right, and be in love and happy, for ever. That was Jane, and I’m still in love. The happy part’s not really working out. The other ideal was to be a total, rampant, womaniser. That doesn’t go so well, either. Ironically, Jane is well aware of my leanings in that direction now, and is somehow forgiving. Having had her romantic dream totally shattered. Doesn’t make me feel good.
    Anyway, she was once again in a rage because I was arguing against her suggestion. (Her fault: she’s a control freak. She’s been worse since her stint as a matron).
    I finally thought, just say it. It can’t make it worse than this. So I said, “You win arguments by shouting and screaming. And stomping around the house for a month. Slamming doors.”
    She evidently took that in, because she’s not doing that. But there’s definitely a cold war, only it varies in intensity, and makes life hard to predict. Basically, she says whatever’s needed, in a definitely friendly fashion, in order to take care of business, and keep the wheels turning. Then she immediately switches off, and if possible, goes to another room. It tends to add anxiety to the depression and guilt, but meanwhile life has to go on. And if she’s sick, I have to look out for her, much as it may gall her. She works hard, and I have to do what I can help her keep going. She possibly thinks I’m creeping, but no.

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