Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul

Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul

by Nora Murphy, Joanna Rawson, Julia Klatt Singer, Diego Vazquez
     
 

A "once-in-a-lifetime book."—St. Paul Pioneer Press

For six months, residents of St. Paul gathered at a dozen public libraries and shared their memories, anecdotes, and histories with four outstanding Minnesota writers. The result of this nationally unique collaborative project is a beautifully realized book that weaves the (mostly) true stories into

Overview

A "once-in-a-lifetime book."—St. Paul Pioneer Press

For six months, residents of St. Paul gathered at a dozen public libraries and shared their memories, anecdotes, and histories with four outstanding Minnesota writers. The result of this nationally unique collaborative project is a beautifully realized book that weaves the (mostly) true stories into (mostly) fictional ones, spans the century, and captures the spirit of a city and its people. The 12 chapters, grown from the stories told at the 12 branch libraries, are as diverse in style and content as the community from which they sprang—from war to friendship and fire to fertility, these stories are tied together by the urban landscape itself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This short story collection about life in St. Paul, Minn., offers an unconventional approach to regional fiction. Though four authors share official credit for the tales, the stories are actually based on the real-life experiences of city residents, which the authors gathered at St. Paul libraries. The entry that comes closest to embodying the collaborative ideal is Eleven Ways to Live in the City, which presents a series of snippets and vignettes on 11 different city characters, from a voyeur who delights in dressing up as a cop to a damaged woman who goes off her medication and begins sewing a brilliant quilt. A Working History of the Alley takes a similar but more elegiac approach, tracing a few hours in the lives of three residents who live along the same alleyway: an elderly Polish immigrant who writes a letter to a boyhood friend pondering his impending death; an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who is about to give birth; and a boy speeding by on his bicycle, about to meet his father, who s been in prison for all of the boy s short life. Translations describes a Cambodian family trying to construct a new life after fleeing Pol Pot s regime. The Fat-Brush Artist follows a painter working on the renovation of the downtown St. Paul library, who takes on a troubled young assistant and is shocked to learn that the youth has been an accomplice in a murder. Told in clean, assured and surprisingly consistent prose, this innovative collection should appeal to readers in the Twin Cities and beyond. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
What an original idea-hire several writers, collect reminiscences at the local library branches (the de facto village green now that most towns don't have one anymore), and meld them into a series of stories reflecting the locale while celebrating the library. That's exactly what happened in St. Paul (see "A City Writes a Book," p. 129), and it was clearly a source of uplift for all involved. But did it work? In fact, this collection proves to be charming, forthright, and at times moving, as when an elderly woman fails to recognize her own daughter ("the scream sat in my throat until I could force it back down") or a narrator observes, "My father says the difference between Cambodia and America is like the difference between the sky and the ground." In between, you'll find church choirs, murder, coming of age, and a chicken named St. Clair-in short, all the bits and pieces of life in Middle America, served with gentleness and warmth. The very idea will appeal to libraries-take a look and see if you think this will work for you-and could do well for patrons who enjoy their slice of American pie.-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566891400
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Publication date:
04/01/2003
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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