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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

Finding some local books

November 17, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

As winter sets in and we grow bored with the sub-cretin material on the boob tube, to fill the indoor time and become enriched while doing so, there's a universe to be claimed.

It's found in the wonderful world of books.

Kindles, et. al., have removed the desire to savor the thrill of a bookstore or library nor hold a book in hand - a pity.

There are also some books that are not among the thousands available electronically - most of them published by local writers.

OK, you say, just about everyone has published a home book and, like baby pictures, they're interesting mainly to the people personally involved.

But what about that section in our bookstores that features the best in local material? Drop in, say, at that Finlandia's North Wind Book shop - rich with campus mementos as well as books.

How about a good page-turner: "Misery Bay," from Steve Hamilton, whose books have introduced us to the crime solver Alex McKnight. "On a frozen January night, a young man loops one end of a long rope over the branch of a tree. The other end he ties around his neck. A snowmobiler finds him 36 hours later, his lifeless eyes staring out at the endless cold water of Lake Superior. It happens in a place they call Misery Bay" So begins the latest of the McKnight series.

Or what about a first novel from Ellen Airgood, "South of Superior." The jacket reads, "On the southern edge of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula lies McAllaster, a beautiful, hardscrabble town that, despite its isolation and wildness, has a magic that captures the reader and doesn't let go." The town is actually a blend of many familiar local communities.

Non-fiction comes closer to home with an autobiography, Carl Pellonpaa's "Suomi Kutsuu, Finland Calling." The famed reporter was encouraged, with a publisher's help, to set down his colorful life. At age 80, he thought, I'd better begin right now, so he did, and the insights are fascinating.

Picture books of this area are legion - wonderful collections by photographers who leave their stamp on our lives by recording what we normally take for granted. Just one sample out of many is Joe Brandmeier's "Up North," with his "Reflections Moments & Memories," stretching from breath-taking sunsets to close-ups of water splashing on Lake Superior rocks. Added to the pictorial beauty are fitting quotes from the likes of Martin Luther and Charles Lindbergh.

To grace the coffee table with large-sized, colorful books would be those on art or architecture focusing on the works by Nordic artists. A sumptuous feast is found in Carol K. Russell's collection, "Fiber Art Today." Among the 50 artists is featured Tracy Krumm, who's wire sculptors were seen recently in Finlandia's Heritage gallery. Included are commentaries and beautifully printed color photographs of all their works.

Children are not ignored. A huge selection of tales with Christmas in mind are displayed in a special section of the bookstore. Two stand out as captivating examples:

Carl Sams and Jean Stoick's "Tea with Lady Sapphire" is a lovely book about birds, all photographed to suit the story's plot. According to the authors, "A magical snowfall brings many surprises and joys shared between a grandma and her grandchildren as the love of birds is passed on to a new generation of nature lovers." And so it does, while another book, Jan Brett's "Home for Christmas," lavishly illustrates the fantasy story about a boy, Rollo, who travels with his moose and rollicks across the tundra around his Scandinavian home.

These only scratches the surface, but they should be incentive for a great browsing experience in any of the local bookstores where books can be held warmly in hand, bought or rented, for lasting pleasure. With the holidays coming and with gifts to be purchased, take advantage of it.

Rotten Tomatoes averages: "Immortals," C-; "Jack & Jill," F



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