The Minneapolis Star Tribune and Other Reasons I Love Minnesota

Lake of the Isles

Lake of the Isles

The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a great review of The Night Counter in its Sunday edition:
http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/books/52617702.html (Link also posted under The Night Counter Press & Reviews here)
But that is not the only reason I was excited to do a reading for Mizna (www.mizna.org) in Minneapolis on Saturday.  Minnesota has been a part of my life since I was five-years old and we moved there from Chicago, and I spent several of my growing up years there, as well as attending the University of Minnesota.   Back then, there were no sushi restaurants and luxury spas—in fact, I’m not sure anyone would have even known what those were 20 years ago—and one of the few foreign accents you heard were from my parents’ lips.  It’s a lot more global and trendsetting now, but it’s still mercifully Minnesota. The Twin Cities are notorious for their winters, but with some training and effusive enthusiasm, a very common Minnesota trait, they can be charming.  Still nothing beats a perfect summer day– sun, blue sky, shady trees, lakes, walleye-on-a-stick stands, and soda pop.  Here are some other reasons I like Minnesota:

1.    Everyone talks like me.  No one ever asks, “Are you from New Jersey or something?”  My slight Minnesota accent needs no explanation.
2.     When people say, “You have a good day now,” they actually sound sincere.
3.    To this day, some 40 years later, people still point out to you locations that appear in the opening credits of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” particularly the exact spot where she tosses her hat in the air.
4.    Multi-colored Mohawks and Mullets

Downtown Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis

Reasons I love Minnesota

Reasons I love Minnesota

never seem to go out of style here—they ebb and flow in number, but I always run into at least one or two whenever I visit
5.    People actually follow traffic signals and do yield to others, the Scandinavian stock here forever dominating the culture, and ja, that’s a good thing.
6.    You meet vegetarians who like to go hunting and ice fishing.
7.    There is a great respect for the Native Americans who first settled this area (although the poverty and disease within that community remains appalling)
8.    It’s one of the most-educated and/or most well-read places you’ll ever visit, whether you’re talking to a college professor or a pro-wrestler governor.
9.     You can actually drink the tap water.
10.    I’ve never had to question the loyalty or honesty of the people I’ve called friends here, even family friends that go back to grade school.

AN OCCASSIONAL BOOK REVIEW: THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG

THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

According to 12-year old Paloma, Renee Michel, her building’s middle-aged concierge, is like the hedgehog:  “a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary –and terribly elegant.”  Paloma and Renee are the protagonists of this little hedgehog of a book, with its simple tale of an autodidactic concierge and a hypersensitive adolescent and their observations of their buildings tenants, observations they make while going practically unnoticed themselves.  It’s a bit of a sweet, touching fable, with philosophy that in the hands of a pop psychologist could be converted into a self-help book for those not willing to acknowledge their own worth—or in pop psychology terms, people with low self-esteem issues.  From Paloma telling us that she would find her sister’s appreciation of the mating habits of queen bees disturbing if she were her boyfriend to Renee deploring the overuse of the comma in expressing oneself, the book needs to be read in small doses to absorb Renee and Paloma’s streams of consciousness.  For the action driven, the book lags in plot until the last third, when it takes off in a heartbreaking and nonetheless uplifting conclusion. Oddly reminiscent of another French winner, The Little Prince, only even more complex in its simplicity.