Steve Galloway and Me.

Steve Galloway and Me.

I couldn’t sleep. Anxiety and self-doubt and apprehension swirled ’round my brain.

Why did I agree to do this?

I’d been approached by Mary Lukkarila of the Cloquet Public Library towards the end of 2013 about participating in the One Book event being sponsored by local libraries. Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of  Sarajevo was the novel Northland communities were going to read, discuss, and celebrate. My connection to the event was twofold. First, I’m one-quarter Slovenian and the book is about the former Yugoslavia. And second, my novel, The Legacy covered some of the same ground as The Cellist in that my first book tried to give folks a bare bones understanding of the age-old conflicts embedded in the Balkans. Mary followed up on our Facebook conversation with a link to Patra Sevasitades, the coordinator of the event through the Duluth Public Library Foundation. In indicating my interest, I didn’t consider the ramifications of what I was being asked to do. As a writer struggling to be read, any publicity of my work, my involvement in the world of books, my craft, is welcomed as a possible link to that one person, that one connection that will bring my fiction to the attention of the “powers that be”, i.e., the New York publishing world. Saying “yes” really wasn’t that difficult.

When Mary and I and Patra sat down for a quick lunch at a Chinese eatery near the Duluth courthouse, they laid out preliminary plans for a week of activity related to Galloway’s novel. My part would be to lead a discussion of the book at the Cloquet Public Library. The format and the date and the time of the event would be dependent upon the author, his schedule, my schedule, and our collective imaginations. I suggested an interview style format, an informal dialogue between myself, the interviewer, and Steven, the interviewee. Both women liked the concept but no commitments were made. Patra said she was thinking of putting together a separate event, a panel of experts on the Balkans who could put the imagined story of The Cellist in historical perspective. I suggested she contact my friend and former State Representative Mike Jaros, a native of Bosnia, where the book is set. Patra liked the idea. We parted with promises to stay in touch.

I called Sally, the store manager of the Bookstore at Fitger’s, and asked her to set aside a copy of The Cellist for me but, due to a old man brain fart, I didn’t pick the book up for two weeks. Once I dove into the novel, I was amazed. 

This reads like a long prose poem. Very lyrical.

I sped through the novel, reveling in the book’s structure (four interrelated stories centered around the siege of the city), the main characters, and the sparse beauty of the author’s style. I posted a review of the book on this site, giving The Cellist of Sarajevo 5 stars out of 5 (you can use the search engine above to find and read the review) and finalized the event in Cloquet with Mary and Patra. And then, I waited.

That’s not really true. I read the book again while on vacation in Hawai’i. After the second reading, I put together a theme and a direction for the upcoming interview, part of which was, I have to say, bold and a bit over-the-top. Given that many folks would not have read the novel by the time of the One Book celebration, I decided to read small samples of Steven’s prose featuring the four main protagonists. I’d use the passages as a springboard for a larger conversation about the research behind the book, his writing style, and the genesis of the tale. The fact that I had the hubris, the nerve, to tackle reading a best-selling author’s work in public, with the author sitting beside me, well, that either declared my genius or my desperation for attention. In any event, that was the plan. I’d then move on to discussing the writing life, a topic that many non-writers find fascinating (“How do you find the time to write? When do you write? Where do you write? Have you always written?” are all questions I get asked at book signings and events). We’d finish with questions from the audience, hopefully coming in just under an hour, allowing time for folks to meet Steven and buy signed copies of the book. I tackled organizing my train of thought on the airplane on purloined recipe cards.

The event, as finally realized, was to be a lunch time discussion. The timing of the interview required me to finish my morning court calendar on time, drive from Duluth to Cloquet, do the gig, and then dash back for an afternoon of probate hearings and adoptions. After my work day was over, I had to teach at UWS. Later that evening, I was to have dinner with the folks from the library, Sally from the bookstore, and the author at Midi restaurant at Fitger’s. A very full day, and one, as suggested by the title of this essay, that began at four in the morning with me staring wide eyed into inky darkness, awakened by the specter of failure.

The morning sped by. My court reporter Deb and my law clerk Rachel accompanied me to Cloquet. I invited them because I figured I’d have at least an audience of three to hear what Steven and I had to say: my two employees and my buddy Bruce, who works nearby and promised he’d show up. I pulled the Pacifica into a parking spot on the street in front of the library. We didn’t park in the library parking lot because the lot was full.

“That’s a good sign,” Deb said in a helpful voice, trying to calm my observable anxiety.


The room was jammed with folks eager to hear about the book. The library staff wrangled every available chair. It was standing room only. Steven and I shook hands, engaged in small talk, walked to the front of the room, were introduced, and began our discussion. I watched his face when I dove into his work and read the first passage depicting the Cellist  in my voice, not his. I discerned no adverse reaction from the Canadian author to my interpretation of his work. My heart lifted. I knew we were going to be OK.

It was, as I posted on Facebook, a splendid hour spent with a gifted author.

Thanks to the Cloquet and Duluth libraries for involving me in this wonderful event.






Mark and Ron, Waikiki Beach.

Mark and Ron, Waikiki Beach.

9: The number of Longboard Lagers that a retired Marine gave me when my pal Ron and I were grilling steaks in the courtyard of the Marriott Ko Olina on Oahu, Hawaii. The guy was leaving the island early due to a family emergency and was unloading stuff from his refrigerator that he couldn’t take with him. Semper fi.

5: I kept five of the beers from the Marine and shared them with Ron.

4: The number of the gifted Longboards I gave to a diminutive Japanese tourist who, though he didn’t speak a lick of English, surely understood my friendly intentions when I plopped four beers down beside his grill.

2: Rene’ spied two moongooses (Wiki says you can also use “mongeese” but that sounds weird) during our stay at the Marriott on Oahu. I only saw one, right next to the reflecting pool, as it stalked prey in the middle of the day. They were introduced on the islands to control rats, an experiment that never worked because the moongooses decided to eat birds rather than rats. They do not exist on Kaua’i or Lana’i but do breed prolifically on all the other islands.

2: On our catamaran trip alongside the west coast of Kaua’i, we spied a mother and calf bottle nose dolphin.

12 or more: During the same boat excursion, and at numerous other times during our stay on Kaua’i, we had the opportunity to watch humpback whales playing in their winter calving grounds.

Napoli Coast, Kaua'i.

Napoli Coast, Kaua’i.

50-100: Again, on our catamaran trip, we saw Hawai’i's iconic spinner dolphins in great numbers. Much smaller than the familiar bottle nose variety, spinners get their name from leaping high in the air and spinning 360 degrees. We saw calves with the mothers, the babies not much bigger than a bedroom pillow.

10-20: Green sea turtles are another of the threatened species we saw in Hawai’i. As a reminder as to what they look like, here’s one that took a nap on the beach next to us on Poipu Beach.


Billions and billions: OK, so I am exaggerating. But there are a whole hell of a lot of chickens roaming around Kaua’i, seeming very unconcerned since there are no mongooses on the Garden Island to eat them. Here’s one that seemed to like our friend Nancy McVean.


50-60: We found this number of secretive parrots (actually rose billed parakeets) on Kaua’i. The parakeets are another invasive species to the island. We viewed them at the courthouse in Lihue, Kaua’i. I was skeptical when Dicky, a smooth talking local salesman, told us about the nightly roosting flights of these small green birds to the royal palms lining the front yard of the courthouse. They came, just like Dicky said they would, at dusk, when my wife’s $900 camera was out of juice.

35: How many dollars I spent for my bowl of soup (bouillabaisse) for lunch at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Oahu. Most expensive and best seafood soup I’ve ever eaten.

1: The number of P-40 Warhawks at the Aviation Museum of the Pacific on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. I had to have my picture taken with the plane since my pal and fellow writer, Wayne Johnson of Silver Bay, MN was one of General Chennault’s Flying Tigers and flew the plane in China over 70 years ago. You can find Wayne’s book and order a copy from Amazon.

Mark with the P-40

Mark with the P-40


40+: I swam in the Pacific every day, sometimes three or four times a day, during our two-week trip. Here’s just one of the beaches I swam at.

Poipu Beach, Kaua'i.

Poipu Beach, Kaua’i.

16-20″: The number of inches of snow my poor kids and friends from Duluth had to put up with while we were enjoying days of sun and 78-82 degree weather.

1: I only bought one t-shirt on the trip, from Kaua’i Coffee company, after Rene’ and I toured the plantation just outside of Koloa.

2: I couldn’t resist returning to Talk Story Books for a second visit. As I write this, I’ve just exhausted my supply of books to read, ending my reading in Hawai’i with Short Stories of Hawai’i by Jack London.

6: The number of books I actually read on this trip. Here’s the list:

The Cellist of Sarajevo

Stories of Hawai’i

Kaua’i Reader

And the Mountains Echoed

Hotel Honolulu

Queen of Tears.

0: My wife loves the Australian guy (Alex O’Loughlin) who plays Steve McGarrett on the new version of Hawaii Five -O. And while we met many lovely Aussies on our vacation here in Hawaii, and while my wife spent most of each day on “McGarrett watch”, she never found him. She did find the headquarters for Five-O (actually the Supreme Court Building in Honolulu) but not Steve in the flesh. I guess she’ll just have to lust after the celluloid version.

3: Is the number of folks I love more after this fabulous trip to paradise. Thanks to the McVeans and my wife for making this one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations I’ve ever taken.

Aloha. Until we meet again…


Ron, Nancy and Rene', Lihue Harbor, Kaua'i.

Ron, Nancy and Rene’, Lihue Harbor, Kaua’i.


National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

I didn’t set out to find him. In fact, when Nancy McVean suggested that Rene’ and I visit Punchbowl cemetery during our time in Honolulu, I had no idea what she was talking about. The Arizona? Sure, everyone has seen Tora, Tora, Tora, or the more recent Pearl Harbor, or newsreel footage of F.D.R. addressing Congress on December 8, 1941 giving his “day of infamy” speech. And Diamond Head, Waikiki, and the iconic State Supreme Court building used by Hawaii-Five-O as its headquarters in the television series, are familiar to anyone over the age of five. But Punchbowl cemetery? Never heard of it. And I doubt if any of you, unless you are from a military family or background, know that it exists.

The cemetery’s official name is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The cemetery sits on top of an extinct volcano known as Punchbowl crater that looms behind downtown Honolulu. The site has clear vistas of Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and H-1, the freeway leading to the Marriott complex where we are staying. The ride up the twisting roadway to the crater is reminiscent of Duluth’s Skyline Parkway except that palm trees and exotic tropical foliage line the steep roadside instead of birch, maple, and pine. I’m glad we agreed to Nancy’s suggestion: my visit to Punchbowl proved to be the highlight of my visit to Oahu.

The Memorial at Punchbowl

The Memorial at Punchbowl

What appears curious driving into the banyan-tree-shaded main drive of the cemetery is that there are no headstones. Each soldier, sailor, Coastie, airman, or Marine who has been placed here for his or her eternal rest is equal in stature and rank despite whatever position he or she may have held in the military or in life. There are no ornate headstones or sculpted monoliths adorning the graves; only meager footstones with the individual names and other basic information, including the names of spouses if the spouse is similarly interned.

Workers carefully mow grass, trim brush, and manicure the site with reverence. Graves flow out from the white marble memorial that sits at the far end of the field of green, the banyan trees leading visitors to the shrine like so many sentries watching over the dead. I look back, over Honolulu, and admit that Nancy was right to insist that we visit Punchbowl.



This is no ordinary monument but one of several located around the world paying homage to MIAs; American servicemen and women from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam who died in the service of their nation but whose remains were never recovered. Here the carved names of over 28,000 men and women, who, as the plaque suggests, rest in far flung corners of this earth, are identified so that the living can pay their respects to those who served. The marble wall  holding the names of the fallen is the only place where distinctions are made: Individuals awarded the Medal of Honor have a gold star affixed next to their name on the wall.

As Rene’, Ron and Nancy McVean, and I make our way up the stairs of the memorial and take in the colorful panels that display information about the war in the Pacific, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War, the germ of a thought, a memory, intrudes.

I wonder if Mr. Carlock’s name is here?

I’m just old enough to have held a draft card. I turned 18 in 1973 and despite my concerns about Vietnam, I did my duty and registered with Selective Service. Though the last call-up of lottery numbers was in 1972, priority was still assigned to potential draftees until 1975. In 1974, my lottery number was 53. Had the draft actually been held and I wasn’t in a deferred status (or, as my mother suggested, hiding in Canada), I would’ve been slogging through the rice paddies of Southeast Asia with leeches stuck to my face, an M-16 cradled in my arms, and fear in my eyes.

I was, as most of you know, politically savvy in my youth. A Humphrey supporter, I’d been behind the war effort in Vietnam until Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King turned my heart. After my conversion, I marched with the long hairs and the peaceniks in front of Duluth’s federal courthouse in opposition to the war. All this is background so that you can understand that the Vietnam War touched me in ways that left vivid, if somewhat dim, memories and emotions. This history bubbles and boils within me as I stand on the steps at Pacific Memorial Cemetery thinking about one man, one pilot, who lost his life in Vietnam.

My parents built a new house in the Piedmont Heights neighborhood of Duluth, MN in 1968. We moved into the place during the summer between my eighth and ninth grade years. I learned that a war widow, Mrs. Lois Carlock, a slender, kind, mother of two kids, a boy and a girl, lived in a white house just up the block from us. Somehow, maybe through my parents, maybe through other neighborhood kids, I learned that Lois’s husband had been a combat pilot in the war, had been shot down, and died.

Standing in the clean, warm air of Oahu, I remember the fallen pilot because I’d coached his son in football. Jeff Carlock was born in 1962, making him about ten or eleven when I coached him. But beyond recalling that tidbit and the name “Carlock”, I find myself clueless. I’m unsure that Mr. Carlock was actually MIA. I also have no idea what branch of the service he was attached to. Being he was a fighter pilot, and being I know something about the military (I’m honorably discharged from the USAR), I know he had to be Air Force, Marines, or Navy. With this slender information in mind, I visit the cemetery chapel and try to remember more.

Chapel window

Chapel window

God doesn’t intervene. No heavenly revelations spur my mind to detail. I leave the sacred space and descend stairs seeking marble walls where the names of the Vietnam missing are immortalized in stone. I start with the Navy and the Marines. I look through all the “c’s”. I don’t see the name “Carlock”.

Maybe it’s spelled “Karlock”.

Nope. I read the names on the walls depicting lost airmen and soldiers. I search amongst the fallen, the lost. I find his name.


But I’m skeptical. The inscription lists Major Ralph Carlock’s state of residence as Illinois.

I thought he was from Duluth.

Using my iPhone, contemplating a father being taken from his children, a husband from his wife, a neighbor from his neighbors, I research the name on the Internet. I confirm that Major Ralph L. Carlock, the name inscribed into the white marble of the Pacific Memorial Cemetery, is the man I’m looking for. On March 4, 1967 while flying over Laos, Major Carlock’s F105 was hit by enemy fire. The plane crashed and the pilot died. The major was lost to jungle until his grave was discovered after the cessation of hostilities. Lois Carlock was still alive when her husband’s remains were shipped state-side in 2003. Sadly, Lois (born Lois Johnson on 02/11/1938 in Duluth), died on 07/02/2004, not long after Major Carlock was re-interred on American soil. Today, Lois rests next to Ralph in Sunrise Memorial Cemetery in Hermantown, MN, the couple finally reunited after nearly forty years of separation.

I don’t know what happened to the little boy and girl who played in front of the white house on Leonard Street in Piedmont Heights just up the hill from where I grew up. I hope they’ve lived full and complete lives despite losing their father when they were very young. I also hope they know that Major Ralph Carlock’s sacrifice hasn’t been forgotten.











Classical trio, Hanapepe, Kaua'i.

Classical trio, Hanapepe, Kaua’i.

Friday night in Hanapepe, Kaua’i, Hawai’i. The little town was once the home to the bloodiest labor dispute in Kaua’i history (the September 9, 1924 “Hanapepe Massacre” wherein striking Filipino sugar cane workers clashed with police, resulting in twenty deaths on both sides of the dispute). The old town portion of Hanapepe is ablaze in light, its shops and galleries and eateries open for business until 9:00pm, its sidewalks packed with additional food and craft and trinket vendors, discordant sounds of classical, Hawaiian, folk, blues, rock, and country music echoing from Bert’s Auto Repair on the south end of the drag to the Talk Story Bookstore on the north. Rene’ and I and the McVeans, Ron and Nancy, our tour guides for our first trip to the Garden Island (actually, our first trip to any Hawaiian island) stroll into Art Night in Hanapepe, an event that occurs every Friday night in this small hamlet amidst the crumbling buildings and ruined dreams of immigrants. Maybe that’s too harsh a portrait of old Hanapepe town. There’s charm here, whether you are a car junky, like my buddy Ron, who finds Bert’s endlessly beguiling, or my wife, the artist, who could spend the rest of her life pondering the genius of other painters, sculptors, and artisans in the myriad galleries and shops. The place is, despite the ugly decay of the Aloha theater looming above it all like a pillar of diminished prosperity, alive with visitors and locals alike, young, old, and all ages in between.

Main street, Hanapepe, Art Night.

Main street, Hanapepe, Art Night.

We haoles (white people; visitors to the islands) separate and wander the singular street the festival is confined to, stopping to listen to good or bad music (there are plenty of both), to gawk at good and bad art (the same), and to eventually find a bite to eat from one of the sidewalk vendors. Rene’ opts for a freshly baked chicken pot pie. I leave her in line and totter off, my scarlet red skin, once a badge of honor in my spring-break-in-Daytona-days now a mark of an aging, clueless tourist, in search of more authentic island fare. I find a wagon selling teriyaki beef with Hawaiian side staples: cold macaroni salad and white rice. I order my food, buy Rene’ a bottle of water, and wait. And wait. And wait. Island time. The meals aren’t pre-cooked and stored on a hot plate. Each meal is started as it is ordered, making for fresh, succulent beef, but very long, restaurant-like delays. When my name is called, the young lady serving me apologizes. The white rice that comes with the dish is still cooking.

“Another ten to fifteen minutes, OK?”

I shake my head.

“How ’bout we substitute another scoop of macaroni for the rice?”

Rene' at Art Night.

Rene’ at Art Night.


“I put some extra beef in, because you wait so long…”

In between leaving my wife and ordering my food, I’d made a quick detour to cross the famous swinging bridge of Hanapepe ( where I was nearly run over by some island kids skate boarding the fragile span with glee: they were, in their devilment, extremely polite, saying “excuse me sir” as they zipped past me in the dark).

I make it back to where my friends and my wife are eating freshly baked native cherry pie under a cloudy but dry night sky. As I open my meal container, I’m pleasantly surprised. The young lady has piled on the teriyaki soaked prime rib to the limits of the styrofoam lid.

“This is good.”

After downing my meal, I walk across the street to the western most bookstore in America, Talk Story Books, just to say hello. The four of us had been in the store two days earlier, on our way back from Waimea Canyon. I’d asked one of the owners, Cynthia, if they had The Tattoo by Hawaiian author Chris McKinney. I’d read The Queen of Tears, one of McKinney’s later novels I’d picked up in our hotel’s gift shop and liked the story and writing.

“I’m not familiar with his stuff.”

I’d smiled and handed Cynthia one of my Cloquet River Press business cards.

“I know the feeling. I’m a writer who suffers from the same disease,” I’d said through a smile. “Any suggestions as to a good novel on Hawaii? And not Michner. I’ve read Michner.”

The store owner had padded off and returned with Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux. I had nodded, accepted the book, and looked some more.

Cynthia greeting customers inside Talk Story.

Cynthia greeting customers inside Talk Story.

Tonight, as I step onto the front steps of the bookstore, Cynthia sees me and extends her hand.

“I’m liking the Theroux.”

“I remember. I thought you would.”

She returns to her other customers. I resist the urge to venture inside the bookstore and buy another book in an attempt to help one of the surviving independent bookstores in its battle with Amazon. I don’t go in. I still have the Theroux and Jack London’s Stories in Hawaii to get through. I find Rene’ and the McVeans. We find empty seats in front of a trio of classical musicians and listen to Vivaldi and other familiar composers for a bit as the streets empty, vendors pack up their EZ-UPs, and the festival winds down.

The sky is dark as our rental car speeds south to Lihue. I’m soon asleep in the back seat.

Talk Story

Talk Story




The author waiting for parrots.

The author waiting for parrots.

Kauai. The Garden Island. A virtual paradise for endangered species including monk seals, green sea turtles, and humpback whales, the island is also home to many species that, well, weren’t here when Captain Cook “discovered” this island, the first of the Hawaiian islands he landed on, back in 1778. I use the word “discovered” gingerly here, with ethno-sensitivity, since the British weren’t the first human beings to find these beautiful atolls. No, that discovery was made by brown skinned men and women and children in out-rigger canoes equipped with sails some more than a thousand years before a white dude walked ashore. The original Hawaiians came from the Marquesas Islands and were of Polynesian derivation, bringing their own language, culture, and religion to the islands long before Cook deigned to “discover” them. Anyway, when they arrived, the Polynesian explorers found all sorts of unique and interesting critters on the island, including one mammal: the Hawaiian bat. Oh, you’ll find plenty of other mammals now roaming Kaua’i, including feral pigs, which were brought over by the original Polynesian settlers and then allowed to roam free across the Garden Island such that they are now hunted as pests. And of course there are ever present, constant, annoyingly obnoxious feral roosters seeking feral hens.

There exists an urban legend that these noisy fowl were released due to Hurricane Iniki in 1992. That, according to many other sources, is just not the case. Chickens were brought here, as were hogs, by original islanders in their canoes and have been running around loose on Kaua’i ever since. Other islands in the atoll have feral chickens too but they are controlled by another invasive species, the mongoose, which was imported from India to deal with another imported pest, the rat. Unfortunately, rats like to sleep during the day and are active at night, whereas the mongoose likes to hunt during the day and sleep at night, which means the rat and the mongoose rarely cross paths but the mongoose do hunt and eat both feral chickens and their eggs, reducing the populations of free roaming chickens on the other Hawaiian islands. The mongoose has not been introduced on Kaua’i, sparing not only the obnoxious chickens but also the indigenous and non-indigenous songbird population of the Garden Island.

So what does all this biospheric history have to do with the title of this blog? Well, our pals, Ron and Nancy McVean, in the process of owning the timeshare that we are staying at, are occasionally required to sit through meetings and sales pitches from the nice folks at Marriott. One of the characters they’ve met up with during these meetings is a guy by the name of Dicky Chen. I think I’ve got the name right. He’ll likely correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, Dicky is one of those fast talking, gregarious salesmen who, when white folks wander onto Kaua’i and fall in love with the place, can spot their lustful desire for a piece of paradise a mile away. He’s good at what he does, putting tourists and locals together to make deals. He’s also a pretty good source for local legends, history, and stories. One tidbit of Kaua’i lore he shared with the McVeans got us all hooked on the mini-adventure that’s the source of this story.

“If you show up at the old county buildings around six o’clock in the evening,” Dicky confided to a group of tourists he was driving to dinner, “you’ll see the parrots of Kaua’i coming in to roost on the big royal palm trees in front of the courthouse. It’s quite a sight.”

I was, I’ll admit, dubious that Dicky was being straight with us. I had the feeling we were being set up for the Kauaian equivalent of a snipe hunt. Sure, just like snipe are a real bird, there are, in some corners of the world, wild parrots. But here? Come on. But my wife and the McVeans were convinced of Dicky’s veracity. And so, last night, we got into our rental Nissan and drove the five minutes to the county courthouse to wait for the splendid return of the roosting parrots.

Ron waiting for parrots.

Ron waiting for parrots.

Rene' waiting for parrots.

Rene’ waiting for parrots.










Rene’ brought with her the very expensive (I told the story elsewhere) Samsung digital camera I bought her for Christmas. She was armed with a telephoto lens that couldn’t help but capture the bright, brilliant green hue of the promised tropical birds as they thundered into the treetops surrounding the public square. We were there well before dusk. There were no other bird watchers around. Cars and trucks sped by on Lihue’s main street without so much as a sideways glance. The locals were likely immune to the legend of the parrots and the only birds in the square were a couple of noisy roosters, some sparrows of unknown lineage, and a few cooing mourning doves (also introduced and not native to the island).

“We’ve been had,” I kept saying to Ron as we sat on the front steps of the courthouse, scanning the empty sky. “Dicky is laughing his ass off.”

Nancy and Rene’ sat in the car, waiting the birds. Ron shook his head.

“Dicky’s pretty straight. I think they’ll be here.”

“Chickens don’t count. Doves don’t count. I’ll give Dicky his due if parrots, or parakeets, or pheasants show up.”

“What about peacocks?” Ron asked. “They start with a “p” too.”

“If a flock of peacocks shows up, I’ll give Dicky his due.”

But despite the banter, I continued to disagree. I was convinced we were on a Kauaian snipe hunt of epic proportions. I could imagine Dicky Chen, at the next owners’ meeting spotting my friends, looking up from his notes, smiling, and asking the McVeans how they liked the parrots.

And then a damn lime green parrot showed up. Never having seen a parrot in the wild, I didn’t know what to make of the first bird until more parrots glided through the darkening sky and landed in the the palms.

“They’re here!”

Rene’ climbed out of the car armed with her $900 camera, ready to snap photos of exotic birds. Nancy carried her iPad, hoping to snap a picture or two with the only camera the McVeans with them. Someone, I won’t say who, forgot their real camera back in the room. I had my iPhone on me, not much use given that the zoom on an iPhone 4 isn’t very accurate. We were all relying on Rene’ and her Samsung to come through for us.

The birds started to whirl and dash into the square in flocks of a dozen or more. There was still enough daylight left to capture the iridescent greens of the little birds against the blue black sky if my wife hurried, unlimbered her camera, and shot fast.

“My camera’s dead.”

Rene’ stood there with a hunk of plastic, glass, and inert battery, and watched helplessly as waves of little green birds swirled and dove and landed. I withheld comment and took some photos with my phone. Crappy photos, like the one below, in which the elusive parrots of Kaua’i appear as small black smudges against the night sky.

The nearly invisible parrots of Lihue.

The nearly invisible parrots of Lihue.


I also managed to turn my camera’s video function on. Unintentionally. I ended up with an 18 second video of: birds crying and swooping (about five seconds worth) and thirteen seconds of me discovering my iPhone was in video mode, had eaten up the last of my storage, and that my phone, like my wife’s camera, was very much useless for taking any more pictures.

“We’re coming back tomorrow night,” Rene’ vowed as we watched the little green birds settle in the palms. “I’m gonna charge my camera and we’re coming back.”

No one disagreed.

My faith in Kauaians was fully restored, though, in the end, Dicky’s information was, as I suspected, not entirely accurate. The birds that captivated our attention last night were not parrots. They are not indigenous birds. They are feral rose-ringed parakeets (see Here’s what they look like if you have a camera with a functioning battery and zoom.


Rene’ will have to wait until tonight to see if she can take a picture as detailed as the one above!

Thanks, Dicky for an interesting evening, one that very few haole get to experience.




Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

Hawaii. The crash of waves. The pound of surf against the beach and the black volcanic rock that lifts this hotel, this land, and the people of Kaua’i out of the Pacific Ocean. Why am I thinking of my idol, my long-departed mentor, my comrade-in-words who died of a self-inflicted shotgun blast in 1961, when I was only six years old and just beginning to understand the power of the written word? I have no earthly idea. But I am.

The sky here at far western the edge of America is hazy blue, dotted with veinous, thin clouds of greyish white. A child screams somewhere below the space my wife and our friends the McVeans call our temporary home. Eight stories above the sand, the water, the barges entering the harbor at the end of thick steel cables attached to tugs, I sit and tap out words. I am compelled to this. I am destined to do this. And always, looking over my shoulder as I sit behind my MacBook Air, is Papa. For better or for worse, he is the writer I have, on my writerly journey, sought to emulate relative to style. Not lifestyle, you understand: literary style.

Ernest was, to be sure, a misogynist. I do not seek, in my attempts to craft the great American novel (or one solid, memorable short story that will live on after I am gone) to re-create Ernest’s loathing for women. That’s right. Ernest, in my humble view, loathed women. Oh, he loved sex. That seems patently obvious by the fact he was married four times and that, in between the rocky reefs that each of those marriages floundered, he bedded other women. Faceless, nameless, egoless women. Tokens played in the slot machine of life, at least as the gentler sex is portrayed in the master’s prose. If I have one thing over Ernest in the writing department it’s that (at least this is my hope; for self-criticism is always an iffy game) I view women as superior, not inferior, to men in many respects. Honesty. Loyalty. Level-headedness are all generic attributes I’d attach to the feminine gender. Characteristics that most men, including me, lack when push comes to shove. Anyway, here I sit, listening to feral roosters crow (a hurricane busted chickens out of their pens in the early ’90s and now the entire island of Kaua’i is overrun with their offspring), waves slapping silica, and the occasional cry of a beach volleyball player who has bested his or her foe at the net, all the while thinking of Hemingway.

I’m not sure why. I mean, this isn’t Papa’s ocean. The author’s water was the blue green warmth of the Caribbean, an entire continent to the east. His islands were not these islands but instead the Keys of Florida and pre-Castro Cuba, where American machismo, money, power, and prestige reigned supreme until a little man in a fatigue cap upset paradise. And yet. The blue water outside the harbor breakwater is part of the same vast plain of salt water that tickles all of the islands of the world save for those puny excuses, those little slashes of landfall, that disturb inland lakes and landlocked seas. Perhaps the surf and the gulls and the wind, especially the night breeze, which massages Rene’ and I while we sleep in our comfortable resort bed with the sliding doors open to the ocean, is enough to evoke the ghost of my mentor. But why? Why waste my time, my precious vacation moments, considering a writer who, in the end, cut his life and his muse short? I have no wish to emulate the tragedy of his familial life or his end game. No, unlike Ernest and another great writer, Dylan Thomas, I will likely, at some point, “go gently into that good night”. I have grandchildren (oodles of them I expect: we have four sons) to look forward to. There will be, I am certain, many more nights like last night, sitting with good friends in an outdoor bar, sipping Kona beer and eating flatbread, gazing at my wife. Ernest was a genius when it came to the succinct, the terse, and the economic ordering of words on a page. But he was a fool when it came to living. Yes, I know that’s a harsh indictment of a man who suffered from a mental illness. But in moments of lucidity, Ernest made choices. He made decisions that led a great and talented writer to leave behind those he loved and those who loved him. Ernest Hemingway walked in the world, reveled in the world, but never loved the world. I won’t make that same mistake, regardless of how well or how poorly my writing is received.

Hear the surf? It’s whispering to us, telling us that tomorrow will be a very good day.



Biskey Ponds Entrance

Biskey Ponds Entrance

Anita Anderson, an energetic and youthful daughter-in-law of friends, had posited the question to me more than once as our paths crossed in Fredenberg Township, the little slice of heaven we both call home:

“Have you skied Biskey Ponds yet?”

My answer has always been the same: a very sheepish “no”. Sheepish because, as a cross country skier, it seems only natural that, given that I knew Ellen Biskey (a Fredenberger who welcomed our family to the township but passed away too young) and given that I have lived “in the neighborhood” for over thirty years, I would’ve checked out the trails before now. But I hadn’t made it over to the Biskey trailhead on Fish Lake before this past Sunday. Too bad. I’ve shorted myself on some pretty awesome skiing and sightseeing.

White Pine Alley

White Pine Alley

I couldn’t have picked a better day to check out Biskey. It was sunny and clear. The temperature hovered in the teens. There was only one other vehicle in the muddy parking lot as I pulled in, my spirit engaged after a good morning sermon from Pastor Phil at Grace Lutheran; my belly full of pancakes, hot coffee, and sausages cooked up and served by the youth of the church to raise money. Turns out, the van that was already at Biskey had been full of young women and their mothers, all of whom were enjoying the bright sunshine and brisk air on skinny skis. I encountered two of the young ladies as I crashed on my ass at the bottom of a big hill, my skis caught in the icy track, the speed too much for my old legs to handle. The condition of the track was the only downside to a perfect day: due to forty degree weather this past week, the track was rutted ice, making some of the long, steep downhill runs a bit more than even an experienced skier could handle. But at fifty-nine, crashing on cross country skis in front of two young women doesn’t carry with it the indignity that would have been present in my teens. Without so much as a blush, I picked myself up, said my hellos, dusted off my wool ski pants, and kept on moving.

Biskey’s terrain makes for a very engaging and bountiful ski. There are plenty of steeps, both up and down, as one winds his or her way west, from the parking lot, to the Eagle Ridge Loop and back. There are small alluvial ponds dotting the landscape, resting in hollows below the narrow spines of hogsback ridges, the ridges being where the designers of Biskey Ponds ski trails placed the narrow tracks of the trail system. There are towering red and white pine plantations. There are clear cut tracts where new birch, seemingly unaffected by the disease that has decimated mature birch trees over much of the surrounding terrain, have sprouted reminiscent of  the plantings by the French forester in the great novella, The Man Who Planted Trees. And of course, there are clumps of ever-present aspen that have emerged in the cut overs, their slender trunks crowding the landscape like so many green hairs awaiting a barber.

Groomed Trail

Groomed Trail

Red Pines, Eagle Ridge Loop

Red Pines, Eagle Ridge Loop


After stopping mid-point in my hour long ski to re-wax (the crusty snow tore off wax as fast as I could apply it), I encountered another couple, the wife or girlfriend in the lead, the male partner of the equation huffing and puffing behind his beloved, moving towards me as I merged onto Wolf Run, the most modest grade in the trail system. I’d over dressed for the day and was sweating like a hog when I vacated the track to let the couple pass. A few more strides and I arrived at the base of a steep hill. I herringboned up the incline, claimed the flats, skied a few more meters, and then, much too soon, my first visit to Biskey Ponds was over.

Noted outdoor writer and educator, Andrew Slade recently discovered Biskey and experienced an epiphany similar to mine:

“I can’t believe I waited so long to check it out. I want to go back and see what I missed.”


Of course, Slade has a better excuse than I do for procrastinating. He isn’t a Fredenberger who has been invited countless times by Keith and Anita Anderson, two youthful neighbors (and founders of the trail system) to check out Biskey Ponds. I really have no excuses to offer as to why it took so long for me to drive the five minutes from my house on the Cloquet River to Biskey. The fact that I can get up, strap on my skinny skis, and ski through the thick aspen, balsam, and maple forest out my back door on a trail I cut twenty years ago doesn’t really address why I ignored my neighbors’ invitations. But, after battling a sore neck and shoulder for the past two weeks, conditions that kept me from my morning exercise routine and allowed malaise to set in, I needed to do something active and energetic. My time on Biskey Ponds’ trails was just the medicine I needed. My ardor wasn’t dampened by the the three spills I endured or the poor snow conditions on the trail. Breathing clean air and gliding through the last of winter’s quiet in such a bucolic setting was tonic for this old man despite the aches and pains I’m feeling today.

Trail Map

Trail Map

You can find Biskey Ponds by logging onto: and using the map feature on the site to locate the trails. No state ski pass is required to visit Biskey but you should leave a donation (suggested amount between $5 and $10) in the donation box provided at the trailhead. Given they are predicting another snowstorm for the Cloquet River Valley, there’s still plenty of time to give this local gem a try.













Smile Pinki (2012. Smile Train)

I received a DVD copy of the 2008 Academy Award winning documentary, Smile Pinki, unsolicited in the mail a few months back. The movie sat on my writing desk for a bit because the subject matter of the film was too personal, too emotional, for me to confront. Last night, I finally watched the DVD and I am glad I did.

Many of you know that our fourth son, Jack, was born with a cleft lip. The cleft was completely unexpected. My wife had undergone extensive genetic testing while Jack was in utero because my wife was 40 when our son was conceived. The testing showed nothing abnormal,. We were both surprised when Jack was born with a significant cleft. However, he was thankfully spared the other, more serious complications that accompany such an impairment: a cleft palate or a heart defect. Cleft issues arise during a fetus’s 4th-12th week of gestation, usually around the 7th week, which is approximately the time the fetal heart is forming. Our hypothesis, unsupported by any scientific studies, is that Jack’s cleft occurred when Rene’ was exposed to insecticide being sprayed at a condominium we were renting in Cancun. My wife was exactly seven weeks pregnant when she stepped through a cloud of what we believe was DDT lingering in the condo. Like I said, this scenario is only a hypothesis, though according to at least one website, environmental factors are believed to play a part in the formation of clefts. (See In any event, Jack’s situation was unforeseen but given the sophisticated level of health care most Americans are able to access, Jack had corrective surgery on his lip six weeks after birth. Dr. Willie Portilla did a marvelous job. So instead of a childhood of speech issues, low self-esteem, and teasing from other kids, Jack endured only a brief period of being fed through a syringe (the cleft made the suction necessary for bottle or breast feeding impossible), a little discomfort, and follow-up out-patient cosmetic surgery when he turned six years old. He was, thanks to the luck of his birthplace, spared the sort of life memorialized in Smile Pinki.

The movie depicts the journey of two children, Pinki and another young boy born with severe cleft lips, in rural India. The images of the Indian countryside, the agrarian lifestyle, and the extreme poverty of the parents of these children is heartbreaking. Add to this background the social isolation and lack of education each child experiences due to their clefts and you have the makings of an very, very emotional story. But the point of the film, well played and unfurled with deliberate respect for the children by the director, isn’t tragic but hopeful: Through the auspices of Smile Train, an international organization that accepts donations for the treatment of cleft palates and lips around the world (each surgery costs an average of $250 so the repairs are a bargain for the donors and the kids!), the viewer witnesses the process of finding Indian children in need of surgery, the screening and prioritization of their cases, and the actual operations. Five months after treatment, you are reintroduced to the beaming, wide, confident smiles of children whose hope has been renewed and restored.

This is a short film of great visual power that will leave you in tears. But the tears you will shed will be ones of joy and admiration for the courage of the children, their families, and the medical professionals working to deal with an issue that impacts 1 in 700 children. In fact, according to one of the physicians interviewed in the film, India alone has a backlog of over one million untreated cases of cleft.

Jack is a fortunate young man. He was born in a era and in a country that provided him with a level of sophisticated medical care children in places like rural India and China and Africa can only dream of. To help kids around the world in a small way, a modest way, Cloquet River Press donates 10% of all proceeds from the sales of its books to Smile Train. But you, and I, can do more. Why not think about mailing off a check to Smile Train today? I know I will.




Frozen Hell by William R. Trotter(1991. Algonquin. ISBN 1565122496)

When my old scoutmaster Arnie Erickson passed away, he left a legacy of service to youth, his church, his family, and his community. He also left William Trotter’s scholarly treatment of Finland’s titanic struggle with Communist Russia during the winter of 1939-1940, Frozen Hell, which his daughter Jan passed on to me because of my affinity for all things Finnish and the fact that my current writing project (Sukulaiset: The Kindred) incorporates the Winter War into its storyline. Despite my love for Arnie and the subject matter, I was a bit reluctant to dive into the book, mostly because I’d completed my research, had just finished a couple of non-fiction books for pleasure (I like to switch my reading between non-fiction and fiction to keep things lively), and, to be truthful, I was sort of “finished” with all things Finnish as they relate to the manuscript. But in deference to my friend and her departed father, I cracked the spine on Trotter’s work and I am glad I did.

Similar in tone and pace and authority to Henrik Lunde’s Finland’s War of Choice, a more recent (2011) look at the Continuation War (the war in Finland which followed the Winter War) Frozen Hell is well organized, detailed, and thoroughly researched. Folks who have read Talvisota (The Winter War) Antii Turri’s gripping novel covering the same time period and topic, and who reveled in the exposition of character good fiction allows, will find only small doses of similar revelation in Trotter’s more staid and scholarly work. Trotter does give us a fairly thorough and, despite the author’s obvious fondness for the Finns and their sisu, honest biographical of the leading Finnish military figure of the era, Karl Mannerheim. There are briefer, more cursory histories of minor officers and politicians as well, all of which add flavor and color to the facts of war. One ancillary protagonist who Trotter spends a bit of time discussing near the book’s conclusion is Life Magazine photo journalist, Carl Mydans, a figure I’d come across while searching for a photograph to use as the cover for Sukulaiset. Mydans is a remarkable figure in the history of modern photography. Collections of his work are held by Stanford and other prestigious institutions. Mydans, along with his wife Shelley (also a professional photographer), covered World War II for Life in Finland and China. Intriguingly, Trotter actually ends his rendition of this epic David versus Goliath struggle with a scene where Mydans is identified by Finnish soldiers as an American, who then proceed to confront Mydans. I won’t spoil the ending here but, suffice it to say, Trotter’s treatment of Mydans, as brief as it is in this non-fiction dissection of the Winter War, is so compelling, it begs a full-blown biography of Mydans’s remarkable life and career. Similarly, when the author laments that no one has produced a well-written English language biography of Mannerheim,  (who is, arguably next to composer Jean Sibelius, Finland’s most famous person) I paused and thought:

Hey. You’re an excellent writer. Why don’t you pick up your own challenge and the Field Marshall’s life story?

Trotter is a master of revelation and detail, which, at times, can lead to the reader being inundated with facts, searching for the thread of story. But the author is assertively blunt in debunking the claim that many Finns are prone to invoke: That while Finland didn’t defeat Stalin’s hordes, it certainly did fight the Russian Bear to a standstill, causing The Soviet Union to sue for a less attractive peace. Though he heaps praise on the Finnish fighters, who, with scant air support and virtually no armor, did indeed stand toe-to-toe with a far superior enemy, and, as in the chapter depicting Finland’s greatest victory during the short-lived conflict (the battle of Suomussalmi where small units of Finns on skis encircled and wiped out far larger Russian divisions, leading to the summary execution of the Russian commanders when they fled), Trotter lays down the law with respect to the legends of Finnish victory. The end result of the four months of fighting known as the Winter War was, at best, a dress rehearsal for a larger, more violent conflict that would begin less than two years after the ink was dry on the armistice between the Finns and their neighbor to the east. And the end result of the celebrated Winter War, which saw the Finns reeling back towards Helsinki in near collapse, was nowhere near a military “victory” for the beleaguered Finns. Did the fight prove the measure of Finnish resolve? Surely. Was the Winter War a warning to Stalin that, if he wished to reclaim Finland as part of his empire, more blood would spill? Absolutely. But a victory for the Finns? Trotter debunks that myth with a mountain of evidence in this fine effort.

4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.




PS Unable to obtain permission to use Mydans’s work, I located an excellent repository of war photographs depicting the entire Finnish/Russian conflict from 1939-1944. The Finnish Defense Forces maintain an archive of such work, free and reproducible to the public, at The photo I finally settled on to be the cover art for Sukulaiset can be found below. I hope you agree it is an extremely powerful image.





Cellist The Cellist of Sarajevo, a terrific little novel written by Canadian author Steven Galloway, has been selected as the One Book Read for 2014 by local libraries. During the month of April there will be a smorgasbord of amazing events you can attend and participate in regarding this book. One of them includes me! Here’s the information about that event:

Author Steven Galloway in Cloquet

 Tuesday, April 15, 2014    Noon

 Cloquet Public Library, 320 14th St., Cloquet

Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, will be interviewed by Minnesota District Court Judge Mark Munger. Bring a bag lunch; dessert will be provided. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and autographing.

Here’s a bit about the author:

Steven Galloway is the author of three novels, most recently The Cellist of Sarajevo, an international bestseller. He has won the Borders Original Voice Award, the OLAEvergreen Award, and the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, and been nominated for the Internation IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Richard & Judy Book of the Year Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Canadian Booksellers Association Fiction Award, and the in Canada First Novel Award. His work has been published in over thirty countries and optioned for film. Galloway teaches Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia and lives in Vancouver, Canada. His next novel,The Confabulist, will be published in May 2014 by Riverhead.

Steven Galloway

Steven Galloway

The discussion is free and open to the public. I hope to see a lot of my readerly friends at the event.

In addition, here is a complete schedule of the other venues and assorted goings on surrounding the book:

One Book 2014 Events

Featured Event: Author Steven Galloway in Duluth

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 • 7:00 pm

Spirit of the North Theater, Fitger’s Brewery Complex, 600 E. Superior St.

Hear the internationally acclaimed author read from The Cellist of Sarajevo and tell the story behind the writing of this novel, which was inspired by an actual event. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and autographing following the presentation. Galloway’s new book, The Confabulist, will be published in May. This program is funded in part by money from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. For more information, call The Bookstore at Fitgers at 218-727-9077.

Kids’ Craft: Terrific Tambourines

Tuesday, March 25, 2014    3:00 pm

Virginia Public Library, 215 S. 5th Avenue, Virginia

 Duluth Art Institute staff will help kids create their own tambourines. Space limited to 20 kids.

Concert: The Redemptive Power of Music

Sunday, March 30, 2014    6:30 pm

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1111 8th St. S., Virginia

 Duluth Congregational Church music director and arts critic Sam Black will direct a string ensemble featuring performances of Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio and David Wilde’s The Cellist of Sarajevo: A Lament in Rondo Form for Solo ‘Cello. A reception with coffee and pastries will follow the concert.

Kids’ Craft: Terrific Tambourines

Thursday, April 3, 2014    6:00 pm

Cloquet Public Library, 320 14th St., Cloquet

 Duluth Art Institute staff will help kids create their own tambourines. Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited to

 20 kids. Sign up at the Cloquet Public Library or call 218-879-1531.

 Personal and Political History in the Balkans

Monday, April 7, 2014    6:30 pm

Duluth Public Library Green Room, 520 W. Superior St.

What was it like to grow up in Bosnia, move to the United States as a teenager, and then return to Sarajevo three months after the end of the siege? Former Minnesota state representative Mike Jaros will share his personal stories and experiences. Dr. Alexis Pogorelskin, Assistant Professor of History at UMD, will talk about how the last 800 years of Balkan history set the deadly stage for the siege of Sarajevo.

Kids’ Craft: Terrific Tambourines

Tuesday, April 8, 2014    10:30 am  AND 12:00 pm

 Duluth Public Library Green Room, 520 W. Superior St.

 Duluth Art Institute staff will help kids create their own tambourines. Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited to

 20 kids per session. Sign up at the library’s Youth Services desk or call

 218-730-4200/option 4.

 International Film Series: Welcome to Sarajevo

 Tuesday, April 8, 2014    6:30 pm

 Cloquet Public Library, 320 14th St., Cloquet

 A startling examination of the Bosnian war of the mid-1990s and the role of journalists in covering it, this film was based on British journalist Michael Nicholson’s book Natasha’s Story. Starring Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei. Rated R; 1 hour, 40 minutes.

 Concert: The Redemptive Power of Music

 Sunday, April 13, 2014    1:00 pm

 Presbyterian Church of Cloquet, 47 4th St., Cloquet

 Duluth Congregational Church music director and arts critic Sam Black will direct a string ensemble featuring performances of Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio and David Wilde’s The Cellist of Sarajevo: A Lament in Rondo Form for Solo ‘Cello. Presented in association with the Presbyterian Church of Cloquet’s “Concerts on 4th” series. A reception with coffee and pastries will follow the concert. For more information, call the Cloquet Public Library at 218-879-1531.

Concert: The Redemptive Power of Music

Sunday, April 13, 2014    4:00 pm

 First United Methodist Church, 230 E. Skyline Parkway (“Coppertop Church”)

 Duluth Congregational Church music director and arts critic Sam Black will direct a string ensemble featuring performances of Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio and David Wilde’s The Cellist of Sarajevo: A Lament in Rondo Form for Solo ‘Cello. A reception with coffee and pastries will follow the concert. For more information, call the Duluth Public Library at


 Author Steven Galloway in Cloquet

 Tuesday, April 15, 2014    Noon

 Cloquet Public Library, 320 14th St., Cloquet

 Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, will be interviewed by Minnesota District Court Judge Mark Munger. Bring a bag lunch; dessert will be provided. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and autographing.

 Book Discussion

 Thursday, April 17, 2014    6:30 pm

 Duluth Public Library Gold Room, 520 W. Superior St.

 The DPL Book Club will discuss The Cellist of Sarajevo. Anyone who has read the book is welcome to attend.

 Film: Welcome to Sarajevo

Monday, April 21, 2014    6:30 pm

 Duluth Public Library Green Room, 520 W. Superior St.

 A startling examination of the Bosnian war of the mid-1990s and the role of journalists in covering it, this film was based on British journalist Michael Nicholson’s book Natasha’s Story. Starring Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei. Rated R; 1 hour, 40 minutes.

 Book Discussion

 Monday, April 21, 2014    6:30 pm

 Cloquet Public Library, 320 14th St., Cloquet

 The Cloquet Library Reading Club will discuss The Cellist of Sarajevo. Anyone who has read the book is welcome to attend.

“Women in Black: We are Still on the Streets” Photography Exhibit

Monday, April 21 – Thursday, April 24

Depot Great Hall, 506 W. Michigan St.

Vesna Pavlović took black-and-white photographs of a group known as “Women in Black,” which formed in 1991 to peacefully protest the militarization that began as Yugoslavia fractured into separate nations. Part of that series of photos will be on exhibit this week and will be the subject of the Duluth Art Institute’s discussion series, “Art in Theory,” on Tuesday, April 22, at 5:30 pm in the Depot Great Hall, preceded by a reception at 5:00 pm. Ms. Pavlović is an Assistant Professor of Art at Vanderbilt University.

 The Cellist of Sarajevo: Readers Theater

Saturday, April 26, 2014    7:00 pm

Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St.

Tickets are $5, available at the door the night of the performance.

Experience the story of The Cellist of Sarajevo live and on stage, directed by Cheryl Skafte. The East High School Sterling Strings will perform before the play and at intermission. The novel was adapted for readers theater by Keith L. Shaffer and underwritten by the Maryland Humanities Council for the 2012 One Maryland One Book program.

As you can see, lots to participate in. Come out and promote writing, reading, and a lively community discussion of this great contemporary story of war and survival in the Balkans.

Hope you can join me on April 15th at the Cloquet Library!






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