Blue Road to Fine Writing

Want some great reading while we still have these summer-length evenings to flip open a good book? Grab a copy of The Blueroad Reader: Stardust and Fate.

This lovely book was created — comma by woodcut by pica of margin space — by my dear friend John Gaterud, a journalism prof and a wizard of words. John put this book together with his daughter Abbey, who learned publishing in college and in her dad and mom’s house in Southern Minnesota, which is always strewn with books and magazines and broadsheets and folios and scraps of beautiful words. John cares more about the redemptive power of great writing than anyone I’ve ever know, and he is himself a writer you simply cannot stop reading.

Full disclosure — John included in The Blueroad Reader a piece of mine about Hurricane Katrina and the two wonderful people from New Orleans, Don and Ciara Francis, the storm blew into our lives. In fact John, as a great editor does, drew the piece out of me, based on some emails I’d written to friends. With a master’s touch, he weighed and sighted down every word I wrote to help me hit the target I was aiming at.

Blueroad includes essays, stories, poetry, beautiful woodcuts and an almost hallucinatory photograph from Jim Brandenburg on the cover. Freya Manfred, Bill Holm, Robert Bly, Richard Coffey and James Lenfestey are among the familiar names in the gathering of writers John and Abbey have drawn together. And then there are wonderful writers with less-familiar names.

“Maybe because he can trace the family back on two sides to both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, my father yearned after the expedition trail,” goes the first sentence of Carol Barrett’s “The Hollow of the Mountain” in the reader. That will make you put down your laptop and keep turning these pages.

The book is available online at the website linked above, and at: Micawber’s in St. Paul; Amazon in South Minneapolis; Magers and Quinn in Uptown; Minnesota Center for Book Arts on Washington Av. near the crippled bridge; Common Good Books, G. Keillor Prop. across from W.A. Frost on Cathedral Hill; and Birchbark Books at 2115 W. 21st. St. in Minneapolis. Buy lots, give to friends, support local publishing.

There will be a reading, with alcohol, at Kieran’s Irish Pub, 330 Second Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 11.

– Bruce Benidt