From the Wayback Machine: My Brief History of Magic

Elmer Gylleck was a Chicago architect who did a bumbling comedy-magic act built around a character he called Dr. Clutterhouse. Dr. Clutterhouse would come on stage clutching a briefcase and carrying an umbrella. The briefcase was possessed, full of odd spirits; ghosts would fly from it, and gunshots would ring out whenever Clutterhouse opened the […]

There Is No Bottom. There Is Simply —Or Not So Simply— the End

There is another kind of sleep, We are talking in it now. As children we walked in it, a mile to school, And dreamed we dreamed we dreamed. —James Galvin, from "Hematite Lake" Maris Gomes was very young when he went to sea for the first time, and not much older –still much too young– […]

Foolish Fire

The small river town where I lived and worked for a time was in a pretty and neglected part of the state. When I first moved down there I used to tell friends that it was as if I’d relocated to a remote little corner of some obscure European country. There were rolling, wooded hills, […]

I, Too, Have a Bone to Pick with Andrew Zimmern

At any rate, what’s my big problem with Zimmern? Where to begin, where to begin? First, I should admit that I really don’t know who this Zimmern fellow is. I mean, I really don’t know who the hell he is, just as, I’m sure, he doesn’t know who the hell I am. I got wind […]

Stop the Clock

Perhaps no place on Minnesota’s Iron Range personifies its mythical, often misunderstood boom-calamity-boom nature better than tiny Kinney (its population flutters around two hundred), located in the middle of the Mesabi Range on Highway 169. In 1977, faced with an outdated water system and difficulty securing state or federal assistance, Kinney attempted to secede from […]

Laura Flynn

Flynn’s debut about growing up in 1970s San Francisco with a paranoid schizophrenic mother sounds like the sort of overwrought therapy masquerading as literature we’ve been inundated with for years—but it’s actually as convincing as it is harrowing, and is ultimately a beautiful testament to the remarkable resilience of children and the power of imagination […]

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter, whom we’re happy to once again claim as a local (he recently returned from a long exile in Ann Arbor) has been at it for twenty-five years now, and his body of work—which includes novels, short stories, poetry, and essays—has gained both a national reputation and a cult following. His novel The Feast […]

Chip Kidd

This is apparently what we’ve come to: In an age when we’re reminded on an almost daily basis that nobody reads books anymore, one of the biggest celebrities in publishing is a guy who designs book jackets. That, of course, would be Chip Kidd, the graphic designer with a classic quarterback’s name. You’d think maybe […]

Night Train and Other Ojibwe Stories: A Celebration of Writing and Sisterhood with the Erdrichs

Not since the Brontës bulled their way to prominence in nineteenth-century Duluth has the flyover cultural set seen a distaff literary dynasty—or, quite honestly, any sort of literary dynasty—the likes of the Erdrich sisters. By now everybody knows Louise (independent bookstore owner and author of the award-winning Love Medicine and all sorts of other critically […]

Yo Ivanhoe Goes to the Movies!

Believe me, I fully recognize that a guy pretty much has to be a moron and a glutton for punishment to criticize Diablo Cody at this point. Either that or he has to be a very, very brave man, a man with the stones of Anton Chigurh. I’ll plead absolutely guilty on the first counts. […]