Home: Tom Arndt’s Minnesota
University of Minnesota Press
Tom Arndt has spent more than 40 years honing his eye to capture life in his home state. More than 100 photos, printed from his original gelatin silver prints, eloquently portray both rural and urban life: farmers in Lake Crystal; wrestling spectacles from Wilmar to the Minneapolis Auditorium; wary teens and carnival performers at the State Fair. Arndt’s observations convey more than is seen at first glance, drawing the viewer back again to delve more deeply into the images. Change itself is a subject, and one can observe in images from the ’70s on the evolution in architecture, style, human-body types, and attitudes of subjects going about their business on Franklin and Hennepin Avenues as well as outlying rural districts. “When I put my camera to my eye,” Arndt writes, “I accept people for who they are and respect them for their uniqueness.” Home will resonate with anyone admiring fine photography—doubly so if Minnesota is their home, too.
What’s worse than turning 50? Turning 50 as a fading Brit drag queen in Paradise (Bali), where you’ve eked out the past eight years performing in Kuta’s Klub Aloha with two other Western refugees. Jack (aka Jacqui and Dusty Springfield), teetering not only on the cusp of his sixth decade, but also of the Millennia as well, lives a decreasingly gilded life of sun, sex, and brown-skinned lads. Author Brayne avoids simple stereotypes to introduce the harsh disparities between Western wealth and native poverty, caste, and corruption. Enter George, a mysterious closeted tourist, heartsick over a gone-missing native youth, and Ringo, Aloha’s right-hand boy (enamored of George), who tries to assist him. Then, a rent boy is found murdered. Is it the missing lad? Who did it? Brayne layers a frothy tale with poignancy and dark intrigue, touching on the meaning of love, friendship, and integrity. Bubbles is the second in Brayne’s Indonesian trilogy—the first, Jakarta Shadows, was published in 2002.
Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer
For this scholarly homage to Lincoln the autodidact and writer, Fred Kaplan has scoured reams of Lincoln documents: poems and essays, love letters, legal briefs, and speeches. Kaplan traces the 16th President’s views on life, politics, and ethical behavior, as well as his writing style, to sources as diverse as the Bible, Thomas Dilworth’s New Guide to the English Tongue (Dilworth’s Speller), Byron, Burns, Shakespeare, and Emerson. Kaplan notes in Lincoln’s abbreviated essay on a visit to Niagara Falls his awareness of fossil records and evolutionary change by his observation that the “eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones filled the mounds of America, have gazed upon Niagara, as ours do now.” Not just a literary compendium, Kaplan’s book narrates a fully realized biography, while continually stressing that as Lincoln’s verbal skills grew and matured, so, too, did his awareness of the power of language to persuade, and of the ethical necessity to use words mindfully and responsibly.
Persistence of Vision: The Life Journey of a Gay ManóA Memoir
Ronald G. Perrier
In this engagingly eclectic memoir, Perrier shares vignettes of farm life outside Stillwater; favorite quotes and teaching techniques; thumbnail biographies of teachers, students, and acquaintances now gone. One cherished friend, teacher, and mentor is Charles Nolte, Professor Emeritus of Theater at the University of Minnesota. Perrier recounts inviting his idol and thesis subject, Tennessee Williams, to come to Minneapolis for the opening of Nolte’s 1971 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The author shares his dark times, revealing the difficulties of a homosexual Catholic boy born in 1941; his college bout with depression; and a relatively brief—though harrowing—professional treatment involving primitive electroshock therapy. Perrier recently retired from a distinguished 40-year professorial teaching career. His description of his first teacher, Crescence Bittle, and his falling in love with teaching on his first day in her one-room schoolhouse, is just one of many poignant moments in this memoir.