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I'll begin this review with the admission that I am a friend and former colleague of the author and once co-wrote a book with her. Normally, I wouldn't review a friend's book, but this one's too good to miss, too valuable for all manner of reasons. My friend is Peg Meier, longtime feature writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and author of many best-selling books, including a blockbuster of years back, "Bring Warm Clothes." Peg specializes in Minnesota history, recalled in photographs, diaries, news items of the past.
Anglophiles, Attention! "I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that happened to me in my entire life." Thus spake 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, when she sees a man dying in the cucumber patch of Buckshaw, the decaying deLuce estate in England.
Our region, nay, our nation lost a treasure last month with the death of Bill Holm, writer, conversationalist, pianist extraordinaire. Bill died too young at age 65. The newspapers called him a giant in more ways than one. At 6'6" the big Icelander from Minneota, Minn., had big appetites all around, for reading, for writing, for big roast beef dinners, for good bourbon. I just talked to a mutual friend about how sad it was that Bill should die so young. "Oh, well," said my friend, he lived "two lives for our one." That's so.
Two talented upper Midwestern writers with ethnic interests headline today's book report. The first is by University of Wiscosnin-Superior poet and fiction writer Anthony Bukoski. It's a collection of short stories, Bukoski's fifth book, entitled "North of the Port" (Southern Methodist University Press, $22.50). Bukoski, who grew up in Superior, sets most of his stories on the port city's east end, a Polish ghetto in the throes of change.
One of the first novels ever written in English, in 1740, was a humdinger named "Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded," by a London businessman Samuel Richardson. Richardson was in the stationery business, selling fancy paper to rich women, who needed to send out thank you notes.