Fall books: There’s a lot of good reading coming our way

There’s a lot of good reading coming our way, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg, with new books from Buzz Bissinger, John Sandford, Brian Freeman, Pete Hautman, Lorna Landvik, Nick Hornby, Marcie Rendon and Linda LeGarde Grover.

Most novels published in September are already out in the world and either reviewed or soon will be. Three that need mentioning are “Painting Beyond the Walls” by David Rhodes, “News of the Air” by Jill Stukenberg, and “A Deadly Covenant” by Michael Stanley.

“A Deadly Covenant” (White Sun Books) is the seventh in Michael Stanley’s police procedurals featuring David “Kubu” Bengu, the second prequel in which the large man whose nickname means “hippo” is a newbie detective in the Botswana police force. He is sent to an excavation site near a small town where bones of Bushmen are uncovered, leading to a tangle of events that includes murder, corruption over water rights, a Bushman who wants to go home to the ancestors, racism and a pompous local station chief who isn’t happy to see Kubu and his tough boss, Asst. Supt. Mabaku. Michael Stanley is the pen name of Stan Trollip and Michael Sears.

Check out more things to do in our fall arts guide.

David Rhodes, a former Wisconsin resident who lives in Iowa City, takes characters from his widely-praised novel “Driftless” and “Jewelweed” and imagines them into the future in “Painting Beyond the Walls” from Milkweed Editions. In doing so, he reinvents the “Midwestern pastoral” genre, confronting questions of science, technology, power, evolution and the effects of a rapidly changing society on a rural area.

Jill Stukenberg grew up in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In “News of the Air” (Black Lawrence Press), a couple flees urban life after a rash of eco-terrorism and live a relatively peaceful life as proprietors of a Northwoods fishing resort. Then, two strange children arrive by canoe. Have the problems of the world finally found the couple and their troubled teenage daughter?



“The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death” by Buzz Bissinger (Harper Books) — Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the bestseller “Friday Night Lights” reveals an untold story from World War II. On Christmas Eve, 1944, the 4th and 29th Marine regiments found themselves in the middle of the Pacific Ocean training for what would be the bloodiest battle of the war — the invasion of Okinawa.

Their ranks included one of the greats pools of football talent ever assembled: former All-Americans, captains from Wisconsin and Brown and Notre Dame, and nearly 20 men who either were drafted or would ultimately play in the National Football League. Trash talk led to the regiments playing each other in a football game that became known as the Mosquito Bowl.

It’s the story of young men, those who survived and those who did not, and the families and landscapes that shaped them.

Bissinger, a former Pioneer Press reporter, will be a guest author at Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s Opus & Olives fundraiser Oct. 9 at St. Paul River Centre. See today’s Literary Events calendar.

“Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide” by Juliet Patterson (Milkweed Editions) — Minneapolis-based author researched a disturbing pattern in her family — her father and both grandfathers died by suicide. Why? She and her mother attend her father’s burial in Kansas and she imagines the final days of her grandfathers. Richly layers personal, familial, political and environmental histories.

The author will introduce her book, in conversation with award-winner Michael Kleber-Diggs (“Worldly Things”) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis.

“This Contested Land: The Storied Past and Uncertain Future of America’s National Monuments” by McKenzie Long (University of Minnesota Press) — The author, who lives in the Sierra Nevada, visited 13 national monuments from Nevada to Maine, touching on hazardous climate change, tensions between economic development and environmental conservation as well as the complicated and often overlooked — or suppressed — stories of these incomparable places.

“Making Love With the Land” by Joshua Whitehead (University of Minnesota Press) — Whitehead is an Oji-nehiyaw, Two-Spirit member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1) in Canada. After his award-winning novel “Johnny Appleseed” and a poetry collection, he turns in his first non-fiction to a new form of storytelling he calls “biostory.” His prose, described by his publisher as “evocative, sensual, unabashedly queer and visceral, raw and autobiographical,” is about an Indigenous body in pain, coping with trauma.

“Tales From the Minnesota Sports Beat: A Lifetime on Deadline” by Patrick Reusse with Chip Scoggins, foreword by Dan Barreiro (Minnesota Historical Society Press) — Memories and stories from more than half a century of writing, reporting and ranting by the Minneapolis Star Tribune senior columnist (and former Pioneer Press reporter), who began sports writing in 1965 and is still going strong.

“Healthcare Upside Down” by Henry Buchwald (Springer Medical Publisher) — Subtitled “A Critical Examination of Policy and Practice,” Dr. Buchwald’s book is based on half a century of experience in the field of medicine. A professor of surgery and biomedical engineering and the Owen H. and Sarah Davidson Wangensteen chair in experimental surgery emeritus at the University of Minnesota, Buchwald writes of how the American healthcare system has become big business, deliberately altering the doctor-patient relationship that once placed the patient’s well-being as its primary goal, to one of provider-client, a business model. In his book he offers a look at this expensive, impersonal healthcare system and offers potential solutions.



“Righteous Prey: A Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers Novel” by John Sandford (Penguin Random House) — Sandford melds his Davenport and Flowers series in the 32nd Davenport book, in which the partners are up against a powerful group with an eye on vengeance. The Five are believed to be made up of vigilante killers who are bored and very rich. They take out the worst of society — rapists, murderers, and thieves — then use their unlimited resources to offset the damage done by those who they’ve killed. After a woman is murdered in the Twin Cities, Flowers and Davenport have their hands full — the killings are smart and carefully choreographed, and the Five are untraceable.

“Sinister Graves” by Marcie R. Rendon (Soho Crime) — One of the most anticipated thrillers of the season is third in Rendon’s Cash Blackbear Mystery series. Rendon, a member of the White Earth Nation, sets her story in 1970s Minnesota, where 19-year-old Ojibwe Cash must uncover the truth behind the disappearances of Indigenous women.

Floodwaters in the Red River Valley send the body of an unidentified Native woman into the town of Ada. The only evidence recovered is a torn piece of paper inside her bra: a hymn written in English and Ojibwe. Blackbear knows the hymn will lead her somewhere she hasn’t been in more than a decade: the White Earth Reservation. When Cash happens upon two small graves in the yard of a rural “speak-in-tongues-kinda church” she is pulled into the lives of the pastor and his wife while yet another Native woman turns up dead and her newborn is nowhere to be found.

“The Zero Night” by Brian Freeman (Blackstone Publishing) — The prolific Freeman delivers what fans have been waiting for — a new Jonathan Stride psychological thriller. In his 11th adventure, Stride has been on leave from the Duluth police after nearly dying of a gunshot wound. He’s called back by his partner, Maggie Bei, about a suspicious abduction involving a local lawyer, Gavin Webster, who says he paid $100,000 in ransom money to the men who kidnapped his wife. Gavin claims to be desperate to find her, but Stride discovers that the lawyer had plenty of motive to be the mastermind behind the crime. Stride’s wife, Serena, draws her gun on a fellow cop and is kicked off the Webster case.

This novel’s publication date is Nov. 1, but Freeman is doing a pre-pub appearance at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Totally Criminal Cocktail Hour, Zephyr Theatre, 601 N. Main St., Stillwater, presented by Valley Bookseller. $10. Go to: valleybookseller.com/event/totally-criminal-cocktail-hour-brian-freeman

“The Rat Queen” by Pete Hautman (Candlewick Press) — National Book Award-winner for “Godless” writes for young adults and adults. In this middle-grade novel, Annie’s Papa gives her a pad of paper, some colored pencils, and the Limas family secret for her 10th birthday. It’s called eater of sins, and every time Annie misbehaves, she has to write down her transgression and stick the paper in a hidden hole in the floor. Weird things begin She stops growing and rats seem to be everywhere, even in her dreams. Hautman says this book began as a horror story but turned into a modern-day fairytale that explores the emotional and moral responsibility that’s part of growing up.


“The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives” by Linda LeGarde Grover (University of Minnesota Press) — Award-winning professor emerita of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, LeGarde Grover uses poetry to write a memoir of Ojibwe family and tribal community, updated with new poems.

“Departure Stories: Betty Crocker made matsoh balls and other liesby Elisa Bernick (Indiana University Press) — Journalist Bernick surveys her experiences growing up “different” (Jewish) in the Christian suburb of New Hope, Minn., during the 1960s and ’70s. At the center of her world was her mother, Arlene, a foul-mouthed redhead.



“Last Circle of Love” by Lorna Landvik (Lake Union Publishing) — The author of popular novels such as “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” gives readers a Christmas present in the form of a funny novel about a feisty group of women at All Souls Lutheran church who heat things up with a “recipe” book for romance. These post-menopausal ladies have a lot to say on the topic, but there’s a faction in the congregation that loudly opposes the book.

“Break Point” by Sheri Brenden (University of Minnesota Press) — Two teenage girls from Minnesota led the fight that would end with passage of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any education program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

It was 1972 when Peggy Brenden, St. Cloud Tech tennis champ, and Toni St. Pierre, Hopkins Eisenhower High School cross country runner and skier, wanted to play on their schools’ all-male teams but were told they couldn’t because Minnesota public schools were bound by a rule banning girls from competing with boys. With the help of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, the girls brought their plea to the U.S. federal courts. The law for which they fought is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“Dickens and Prince” by Nick Hornby (Rriverhead Books) — London-based Hornby is the author of eight novels, including “About a Boy,” and an icon of American pop culture. It sounds weird for him to compare 19th-century writer Charles Dickens and Minnesota’s singer/songwriter Prince in a book subtitled “A Particular Kind of Genius.” His publisher calls it “a slim, funny, and addictive look at the art, creativity, and unlikely similarities” between the Victorian novelist and the modern American rock legend from Minnesota.

“Home is the Road: Wandering the Land, Shaping the Spirit” by Diane Glancy (Broadleaf Books) — Glancy, professor emerita at Macalester College, has won national awards for her work. In “Home Is the Road” she tells of how “My sense of place is in the moving” and for her the road is home. But the road demands that we be willing to explore the incomprehensible parts of the landscapes we inherit and pass through.

“Not the Camilla We Knew: One woman’s path from small-town America to the Symbionese Liberation Army” by Rachael Hanel (University of Minnesota Press — How did Camilla Hall, daughter of academics at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, end up dying in a shootout with Los Angeles police in 1974?

Hanel, associate professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at Minnesota Sate University-Mankato, tells how Hall, a “good” girl who was “gentle, zaftig, arty, otherworldly,” joined the ranks of the Symbionese Liberation Army and was involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. For a while she was one of the most-wanted domestic terrorists in the U.S.

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