Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mesabi Pioneer - Edmund Longyear

For those diehard Rangers, yes, the lake in Chisholm was named after this author. Apparently Edmund came to the range in about 1890 and possessed the first drill in northern Minnesota. This made him a hot commodity as all the prospectors paid him the big bucks to drill exploratory holes in search of iron ore. Longyear was a pivotal player in the early history of the Mesabi Range. He helped found many of the cities and was one of the original school board members in the hamlet of Hibbing. For anyone not from the range, this would be a pretty boring book. Actually, most people from the range wouldn't find his tales of rock geology to fascinating either. However, I am a nerd and was enthralled by it all. I actually found this book at a used book store. I bought a copy of the first (and probably only) edition. With my purchase came a letter from the author's son thanking me for the purchase and giving a nice memorial to his father.

Completed February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Citadel in the Wilderness - Evan Jones

After reading Elmer Andersen, I had an intense desire to go to a used book store and buy some books on Minnesota history. This is the result of that urge, an early history of Fort Snelling written in the 1960s and recently republished by the MN Historical Society. To me, this book was both good and bad. I loved the short stories about the dead white men which all the streets in Minneapolis are named after. Additionally, I got a much great understanding of why we are here (why Minneapolis exists, not why we as a species are here, but I am more than happy to discuss my views on that topic with anyone), which adds value to every life situation. However, to extrapolate these great learnings, I had to trudge through pages and pages of rather redundant stories; yes, history repeats itself, at least in the early days of Fort Snelling. About once a year some fur trader would trade some whiskey to an indian for all of his belongings. The indian would then get so drunk that he would either die or would go crazy, kill some settlers, and then get killed in retaliation. Then the government would use this as an excuse to kill more indians, take their lands, and trade whiskey to them. Repeat.

Completed February 20, 2007

Secrets - Nuruddin Farah

My first Kerri Miller author and my first Abdi book of the year: two milestones in one book. Many argue this to be great literature--some of the best contemporary literature out there--but I admit that I did not pay close enough attention to the details of the novel. This book takes place in Mogadishu and has incessant references to Somali and tribal culture. With little background in these topics, I imagine that I missed a lot of what was going on...but at least I could tell when I was missing something. Additionally, with a title like Secrets, you can tell there is some deep symbolism. However, this is part of a triology of books, and I imagine I'd have a much better grasp on the whole picture if I had read any of his other books. Aside from missing a lot of what was going on, I did enjoy the book. It is an interesting story once I got over the shock of all the prepubescent sex, which there is a lot.

Completed February 15, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Man's Reach - Elmer L. Andersen

I love Minnesota. I love Minnesota History. I love Minnesota Politics. I love the University of Minnesota. I love National Parks. I love books. I love this book. Until a week ago, I knew nothing of Elmer Andersen besides that he was a Republican governor and that he has a library named after him at the U. I did not realize that Andersen pretty much did everything. Yes, he was Governor, but he also chaired about every single cool organization in this state, including the Board of Regents and the Minnesota Historical Society. In his free time, he was a dairy farmer who would hang out in Virginia, MN with Charles Lindberg while saving Lake Superior. Not only was I in awe by all the accomplishments of Andersen, but I was also inspired. I can’t begin to talk about everything I like about this book. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves any of the things I do (as mentioned above).

Complete February 9, 2007

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins

I must thank Jill Johnson for mentioning this book. Before reading page one, I feared I would have to trudge through 400 pages of sappy tales of a cowgirl. I hadn’t realized that instead I would be reading about the world record hitchhiker who loves having sex with older Japanese men and teenage cowgirls while being financed by a designer of feminine hygiene products. As quoted by the great Wikipedia: “The novel is a transgressive romp, covering topics from homosexuality and free love to drug use and political rebellion to animal rights and body odor and religions.” Truly there is something for everyone in this book. In some ways, its randomness reminded me of an episode of Family Guy. So if you are a hippie, anarchist, or lover of Family Guy, you may find this amusing. If you do not fit in one of those categories, you better start working to ban this book from your local school district.

Completed February 2, 2007