The Voyage of the Heath Ledger

On June 17, 2006, we quietly paddled the Heath Ledger across the Canadian border. We hadn’t exactly planned to sneak into Canada. Joe and I were on a mission—to reach Hudson Bay by canoe, still hundreds of miles to the northeast—and as we approached the border we realized that interactions with government officials might endanger […]

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Magical Thinker

Any good businessperson knows that if you want to cultivate a certain type of clientele, you meet with them on their own turf. Jodi Livon, a psychic medium who has counseled movers and shakers in the corporate world for the past twenty-five years, offices not in some shabby storefront, but at The Atria, a plush […]

The World’s Toughest Indian

When Sherman Alexie came to town last month to promote Flight, a novel in which a teenager nicknamed Zits is driven to the verge of committing mass murder, one of his intentions was to continue his fight with author and University of Minnesota English professor David Treuer. Alexie’s smile was ever-present throughout our interview in […]

The Mystery of the Girl Who Didn’t Care

I raised three daughters who spent their childhoods reading Harry Potter. So I had never encountered the Nancy Drew mysteries until Malcolm, my seven-year-old son, received a copy of one in a bookstore earlier this year. Apparently, Nancy Drew wasn’t selling, so to spark interest the store was giving away The Secret of the Old […]

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Dakota Diaspora

Twenty-eight-year-old identical twins Kate and Carly Beane share similarly striking features—demure brown eyes and hair, high cheek bones, and quick smiles that precede regular bouts of easy, endearing laughter. Both say they are now content with their lives, a state of being that had eluded them until a few years ago, when they decided to […]

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie was born hydrocephalic, and doctors predicted he would suffer severe retardation. However, the very opposite occurred; he showed signs of prodigy, devouring novels by age five. Still, he endured effects of his condition—seizures and bed-wetting—and was subject to bullying on the Spokane Reservation where he grew up. In his new novel Flight (Alexie’s […]

Ben Gibbard

Critics have called him a nauseatingly romantic wuss, a badge-of-honor Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard has worn through three Grammy nominations, six critically acclaimed albums, and a performance on Saturday Night Live. Everything this soft-spoken, melodic alt-rocker has touched in the ten years since he founded Death Cab, including his side project The […]

A Room of His Own

“Men are recognizing that they have been forced to conform to a very narrow and rather two-dimensional picture of maleness and manhood that they have never had the freedom to question,” author and relationship guru Andrew Cohen said in a 1996 interview. Another American writer, Sam Martin, would update Cohen’s quote by tacking on an […]

The Secret Garden

The St. Paul Cultural Garden, an installation of seven poetry-inscribed sculptures, isn’t easy to find. There is no signage or parking, and it’s on the way to virtually nowhere. The tiny plot of anonymous green space, perched one hundred feet above the Mississippi River atop a municipal parking ramp, is hemmed off from the rest […]

The Temple is Melting

If Minnesota hockey were a religion (and many, of course, would contend it is), Steve Mars would be a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher whose sermons carry an apocalyptic message: Something must be done to save the faith, because the temple is melting. Warm winters of late have cut the outdoor-skating season nearly in half, and as outdoor […]