Friday, October 31, 2008

St. Paul, Minnesota

I love it when we get little coincidences happening in the library, and today is a fun one; what are the chances that we would have two books by St. Paul writers appearing on our shelf on the same day? Both books are set in the state of Minnesota, but you couldn't get two more different stories.
Liberty is by Minnesota's most famous son - Garrison Keillor. Set in his lovely fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Liberty is a story of small town politics, rivalries, scandals and personalities. But in typical Keillor fashion, the rivalries are funny, the scandals are tame and the personalities are larger than life. Keillor's work (his books, his audio recordings and his radio show) are hugely popular amongst our library patrons, and I think it's because his Lake Wobegon is oh-so-similar to Ketchikan. Listening to his 'news from Lake Wobegon' segment on A Prairie Home Companion, there have been many times that I have substituted in Ketchikan residents for the characters in his narrative, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this.
Red Knife, by William Kent Krueger, presents a completely different picture of Minnesota. This dark mystery features private investigator Corcoran O'Connor, and the story revolves around racism and a nasty gang war that erupts after the death of a meth addict, who just happens to be the daughter of a powerful local businessman. Kruger presents the nasty underside of small town life: drug abuse, vigilante justice, corrupt officials and long-held racial tensions. You may not want to run out and book a vacation in the Land of 1,000 Lakes after reading this, but it sure is a gripping story.

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