Unheralded

CLAY JENKINSON: Water and the West – Lochsa Lodge

As I prepare for the great “Water and the West” humanities retreat at Lochsa Lodge west of Missoula, Mon.t, in mid-January, I’m rereading Marc Reisner’s water classic, “Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water.” Here’s the first paragraph of Chapter Three: First Causes: “When archaeologists from some other planet sift through the bleached bones of our civilization, they …


Unheralded

CLAY JENKINSON: Clay’s Notebook — The Joy Of Reading In A Distracted Time

I’ve been writing a long essay called the “Joy of Reading in a Distracted World.” I don’t know why I started down this path, exactly. I have long lists of books I want to write. All I need is more time, more energy, some clarity in my thinking and a Muse. Jefferson was a great reader, especially when he was …


DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Marcel Proust On Reading

A while ago the 0resident of the United States unleashed a middle-of-the-night Tweet storm attacking the company Amazon, claiming it was getting favorable treatment from the U.S. Postal Service. As is so often the case, he was mistaken (or fibbing for effect). Most of my online shopping is with Amazon. Here’s a recent example. Back in June in Paris, I …

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — My First Novel, Chapter One

I could hear her 2-inch stilettoes on the tile outside my admittedly shabby office, even before she walked through the door. I was working late on a Friday night again. What the hell! My old lady had left me a few months before. She said I was married to my work. Shacked up, maybe. I could see this broad was …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Simplicity

A few weeks ago, I came across a book from the 1990s called, “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.” The author, Jon Kabat-Zinn, has for decades been a leader of the mindfulness movement and has introduced mindfulness into the practice of medicine. I’ve found the book a treasure as I attempt to cultivate, in very …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Journey To De Smet, S.D.

Like me, my sisters are fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura’s stories shaped our understanding of the prairie landscape on which we make our homes. This past weekend, my sister, Beckie, and I made the journey to De Smet, S.D., a place, to her friends’ amusement, on Beckie’s bucket list. I’ve been there, but it has been more than 20 …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — My Favorite Cemetery

Accompanied by Dorette’s son-in-law, Paul Kuhns, I’m heading to Paris next week to attend the International Hemingway Conference. I also expect to visit again the most famous graveyard in the world, the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, established by Napoleon in 1804. The cemetery is huge ― 110 acres ― with more than 1 million individuals buried there. Most were ordinary folks. …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Who Killed Meriwether Lewis?

When I heard a few weeks ago that a new biography of Meriwether Lewis has been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, I immediately ordered it. It’s called “Bitterroot: The Life and Death of Meriwether Lewis,” and the author is a woman named Patricia Stroud, whom I had never heard of until now. In a sense, the title gives …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Book Sale

Difficult as it may be to believe, Red Oak House is holding a book sale June 2, starting at 9 a.m. A couple of winters back, I cataloged our collection and culled about 200 books, mostly duplicates as well as books we’ve read that don’t fit in the scope of our permanent collection. For a while, I toyed with the …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Freud And Murder

There has been another mass murder school shooting, this time Friday in Santa Fe, Texas. Not long ago,m I wrote down some thoughts and an extract from the 92-page book “Civilization and Its Discontents” by the Austrian neurologist and writer Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). It was completed during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and among other insights the book anticipated the …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Little Crow

One of my favorite places is the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Dorette and I are frequent visitors. She’s out of town, so I drove to the MIA on Saturday and wandered around for a couple of hours. It’s truly a world class institution. Photography is allowed, not the case in many museums. Among the works of art I’m most drawn …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — On Reading

Reading has been important to me since I was a first-grader at Fram Township School No. 3 in Wellsburg, N.D. My teacher, Sylpha Hovland, inspired me. I still have my “report card” from that year long ago — the marks were great for reading, not so hot for “deportment.” Here are the first lines of 10 of my favorite novels. …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Sinking Of The Indianapolis

I can’t resist a used bookstore. On Saturday, I picked up a volume that tells the story of the cruiser U.S.S. Indiana, sunk by the Japanese in World War II after delivering the atomic bomb that would end the conflict. The book, “In Harm’s Way,” reminded me of the description of the disaster that the character “Quint” (Robert Shaw) provided …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — A War Story

Friends know I enjoy used bookstores. There are many within easy driving distance of our place in Bloomington, Minn. I recently purchased the above book for $1.50 at a Salvation Army resale outlet near the place that sells me Starbucks Italian Bold coffee. “What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?” was self-published by Gordon C. Krantz, who like Dorette …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Operation Snowbound’

“Operation Snowbound: Life Behind the Blizzards of 1949,” by David W. Mills. North Dakota State University Press, c2018 (260 pages, photos) How’s this for timing? I finished this interesting new book, one of the many excellent books being produced by North Dakota State University Press, just as the biggest winter storm of the season is upon us. This is the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — I Wish For A Friend

The mailman brought me a small package this week, book-sized, postmarked and with a return address from the town in which I grew up, Hettinger, N.D. Well, it was obviously a book, and I love it when people send me books, so I opened it immediately. It was indeed a book, a very special book, with a letter tucked neatly …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life’

“Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life,” by Edward O. Wilson (Liveright Pub., 2016, 259 pages, illustrations). In between watching the Winter Olympics these past weeks — wasn’t that fun! — I read this interesting book by the great Edward O. Wilson, one I purchased last summer and tucked aside for winter reading. The endorsement we heard last year from Paul Simon …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The Prairie Post Office’

“The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota.” K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, history by Kevin Carvell. North Dakota State University Press, 2017, 102 pages, color photographs, maps and other illustrations. Box 172, Rhame, N.D. That was my childhood address in Slope County. Our school bus driver was also our rural mail carrier, driving …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Wonder Of Birds

Thank goodness for winter, a time here at Red Oak House for us to catch up on reading. About a year ago, I bought myself the book “The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us About Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future,” by Jim Robbins (Spiegel & Grau, c2017). I tucked it away, waiting for an opportune time to …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Father Sherman’s Magnum Opus: ‘Prairie Mosaic’

With every turn of a page in “Prairie Mosaic,” the reader will delve into the rich ethnic history of North Dakota. The Rev. William C. Sherman labored for many years to reveal an astonishing level of detail, down to the township level, and to tell the story of the state’s inhabitants. “Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota,” …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Jackie Morris And Robert Macfarlane

I have two new British friends, thanks to the magic of books (and Twitter). One is the writer, Robert Macfarlane, and the other is the artist Jackie Morris. My friend, Ken, and I have a mutual appreciation of all of Macfarlane’s books. Macfarlane’s Twitter account is a delight as is his Word of the Day, from which I learn something daily, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Prairie Storyteller Extraordinaire

Come away with me a few moments to the enchanting world of the late Paul Goble, artist and storyteller extraordinaire, my favorite children’s book author of all-time (admittedly there are many I love). Like most college students, I had courses that I preferred above all others. Mine, taught by some exceptional professors, included Myths & Legends, Shakespeare, and, the best, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Owl Moon

Last night, I was still awake at midnight and upon hearing the noise of fireworks, put down my book and looked out the windows. The luminous full moon on the white, almost blue, landscape brought to mind one of my favorite children’s books “Owl Moon,” by Jane Yolen. It is a wondrous story of a father taking his little girl out in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The Hour of Land’

“The Hour of Land: a Personal Topography of America’s National Parks,” Terry Tempest Williams (Sarah Crichton Book, 2016). The National Park Service observed its centennial in 2016. During this year, writer Terry Tempest Williams published “The Hour of Land,” her personal journey and meditation on the national parks, essays written as she traveled the country visiting some of the iconic sites …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Geography of the Great Plains’

Jim and I took ourselves Wednesday on over to the United Tribes Technical College for a lunchtime program by a member of the faculty there, Dakota Goodhouse. The topic was “The Geography of the Great Plains,” and we knew it would be a worthwhile use of our retired time, not to mention the huge, delicious sloppy Joes we were fed. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The New Wild West’ — A Book Review

“The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown,” by Blaire Briody (St. Martin’s Press, 2017). Readers of the Bismarck Tribune will recognize several of the principal characters in this book in which Blaire Briody tells the story of the Bakken Oil boom in western North Dakota. Briody intersperses the stories of many individuals, including …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Beyond the Bedroom Wall’

The year I was a sophomore in college, one of my mentors, my Lutheran pastor, was reading a novel. He told me I should read it, and so I did. I remember exactly where we were and what the car in which we were riding looked like. I paid attention, as I greatly respected this man. The book was “Beyond …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Laura Ingalls Wilder Quest

Friends and family know that I’m a fervent fan of the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve written about this before on my blog, including in this book review. There was a time in my life when I read her books over and over, but I eventually moved on to devouring the books about her, of which I have a …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Some weeks ago, my dear friend, Ken, loaned me a gem of a book, one he had enjoyed and he knew that I would like it too, entitled “As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Books & Birds,” by Alex Preston and Neil Gower, an exploration of birds in literature. I started it very soon after that day, but then the library alerted me …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — France Will Live Again

Facebook friends know I buy, read and mostly keep a lot of used books. Call it an obsession. My most recent acquisition is titled “France Will Live Again: The Portrait of a Peaceful Interlude 1919-1939,” by Samuel Chamberlain. It was priced at $3 new in December 1940, a bit less the other day for the frail used copy. For the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Willa Cather’s Red Cloud

Although it is now more than 30 years ago, I remember very clearly the day when I was a graduate student at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and Dr. Michael Rothacker gave his students the assignment of reading a novel of our choosing and writing a report on said novel. My friend, Pamela Jean, and I went right over to …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Read Bluemle’s New Book

John Bluemle’s new book, “North Dakota’s Geologic Legacy” (actually published in 2016 and now in its second printing), is a culmination of a career of more than 40 years he spent with the North Dakota Geological Survey, researching all facets of North Dakota’s geology, carrying the title of state geologist. It’s his fourth in a series of books designed, as …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘This Secret Luminous Place … Where All Bibliophiles Go’

“That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. … Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.” — George Saunders My next door neighbor’s ash …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Steamboats In Dakota Territory’: A Book Review

“Steamboats in Dakota Territory: Transforming the Northern Plains,” Tracy Potter. The History Press, 2017, 140 pages. I can think of no one more qualified to enlighten readers on the history of steamboats in Dakota land than Tracy Potter, Bismarck, the author of the book “Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat.” Potter is deeply read in history and his work leading the Fort …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Crazy About Books

I said I wasn’t going to do it again. But once again, I purchased another stash of used books, this time at an estate sale in our neighborhood in Bloomington, Minn. I wish I had known the folks who owned this house. It was full of books on every conceivable subject, from great works of literature to volumes about home …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Chuck Klosterman

I met many bright students during my long career at the University of North Dakota. One of them was a kid named Chuck Klosterman, who had grown up near Wyndmere, N.D., and showed up as a freshman in 1990. I recall him as a slightly outrageous and very humorous writer for the Dakota Student newspaper. Klosterman’s first book was “Fargo …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Sun Still Rises

I’ve just reread Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” written when he was in his 20s and living in Paris. The book is presented in the first person by the character Jake Barnes, a newspaper reporter who like Hemingway had been injured in the World War I. I’ve always liked the novel’s first sentence, “Robert Cohen was once …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I spotted that the Bismarck Tribune was looking for someone to review “Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder” (Nancy Tystad Loupal, editor, South Dakota State Historical Press, 2017), I immediately contacted the editor. Our home library has an entire shelf of books by and about Wilder, the famous prairie writer, and I’ve read them all, more than once. I still …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Slope County Memory Lane

We had the most delightful guests this week for supper. My mother, Marian Crook, and her sister, my godmother, Junette Henke, came for the afternoon.  Fresh walleye was on the menu. While Jim pounded away on his keyboard in his office, we three women sat at my dining room table with stacks of papers and maps and books and went …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Hemingway Lives

The latest issue of the New Yorker, dated July 3, includes one of the best essays about Ernest Hemingway I have ever read: “A New Man: Ernest Hemingway — revised and revisited,” written by Adam Gopnik. It is in part of a review of the new biography, Mary V. Dearborn’s 735-page “Ernest Hemingway.” That one is on my book shelf …

RON SCHALOW: Enjoy This Excerpt From Ron’s Book: ‘Perfect Whack Jobs’

Forward: Over 8 million people in the United States have suicidal thoughts —  also known as suicidal ideation — at least once in any given year. For a large subsection of this group, the thoughts never go away, mainly due to chronic depression or bipolar disease. This describes most of the characters in “Perfect Whack Jobs,” a dark comic novel. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Grieving Son Named Scott And An Unlikely Turning Point

By the mid-1980s, my friend and co-author, Patrick O’Malley, had started to suspect that the stages of grief were a harmful fallacy. But as a grieving father himself, and a therapist who worked with the bereaved, what would take their place? An excerpt from our new book, “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss.” The …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Bois du Boulogne

I shot this photo in Monday of a professional dog walker in the Bois du Boulogne, the large park on the edge of Paris, which figures in Marcel Proust’s novel, “A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu.” Over my lifetime, I’ve read this work more than once in English translation (all 3,031 pages in seven volumes), and some of it in …