Getting Ready for Duluth, in Three Books

So, I’m definitely going to be doing the parachute/suitcase project I mentioned on PDD last week (thanks for all the feedback by the way!). I have slightly more than a couple weeks before plunging into 31 days of Duluth, and I figure I’ll have time to read a few books before arriving. Any suggestions on books that might help me prepare? Non-fiction, fiction, collections of essays, or anything that will help me get my head wrapped around the city. (Also, ideally the book will be available on Amazon.)

31 Comments

drifter

about 3 years ago

Duluth by Gore Vidal.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 years ago

For historical background, Zenith: A Postcard Perspective of Historic Duluth. For literary purposes, Cold Comfort: Life at the Top of the Map. For navigating the city (and beyond) the way you should, Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail.

brian

about 3 years ago

Co-workers gave me Barton Sutter's book before I departed Mpls for Duluth 13 years ago. I'd recommend that one too. Tony Dierckins' X-Communication books (linked above) are great to learn the history. The Will and the Way is about the development of Canal Park and other projects.

carla

about 3 years ago

The Gore Vidal book is about Duluth, Georgia.

Barrett Chase

about 3 years ago

The Gore Vidal book is not about Duluth, Georgia. It's about a fictitious city that is bordered on one side by Minneapolis and the other side by Michigan.

markryan

about 3 years ago

My article "Snively's Road" covers Duluth history particularly that of its parks and boulevards and one its longest serving mayors. It can be downloaded for free from the Minnesota Historical Society site: http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/54/v54i04p146-163.pdf

Baci

about 3 years ago

For an interesting historical context, I might suggest Proctor Knott's speech,Duluth! or The Untold Delights of Duluth. It's the root of our insecurity based quest for world domination. Also as trite as it may sound, some of Sparhawk's and Dylan's early stuff give good context. PDD is good for what's current. As an "archive", try the DNT's Attic.

emmadogs

about 3 years ago

I second Cold Comfort and the Superior Hiking Trail Guide. For a soap operay take on Duluth, a book (there are many) about the Congdon murder at Glensheen is a must.

Baci

about 3 years ago

Oops .. neither Alan nor Bob are trite, just that they're "popular" options for local musical selections. There are many more, less "well known" and equally important Duluth musicians. Both Sparhawk and Dylan are good musical ambassadors and, I can speak for Alan because I know him, representative of the individual and creative character of most Duluth artists.

Barrett Chase

about 3 years ago

I'd argue that in order to understand the real Duluth, you need to go to Superior, Wisconsin. With that in mind, you should read some short stories by Anthony Bukoski.

“The entire city of Superior, my neighborhood included, is a classroom for the study of failure. The curriculum for the Study and Analysis of Heartache comes from our citizenry’s heavy drinking. We’re Scandinavians, Slavs, and Indians of all makes and models. The curriculum is also tied to our living on the shore of the largest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Superior alters our weather for the worst, makes us ugly. Step out the door, see old newspapers blow down the streets in a lake wind, wipe dust from your eyes, go to the Palace Bar, Isle of Capri, Captain Cliff’s Night Club, Lost in the ’50s, Al’s Waterfront Tavern. Find the locals lined up for an eye-opener at eight in the morning, and that, to a sensitive former academic like me, is Hard Knocks. When you can’t find work and need to get yourself more depressed, listen in the hallway of your run-down flat for the neighbor guy to strike his wife or she him. Add gray skies. Add fog, and in winter and into late spring, throw in bitter cold, and that’s how it is in Superior, Wisconsin, at the Head of the Lakes. Every day I take a refresher course in how to be a loser.” – Anthony Bukoski, “A Philosophy of Dust”

davids

about 3 years ago

+1 to Barrett's comment -- he beat me to the recommendation I wanted to make. Bukoski's work is an important/interesting addition to the literary landscape and understanding of the region.

Claire

about 3 years ago

I would urge you to buy books about Duluth at your local Duluth bookseller, the Bookstore at Fitgers. That way, you can support a local business that employs Duluthians and pays taxes to the city of Duluth, while mentally wrapping your head around Duluth. Brian Freeman's mysteries are set in Duluth. And Danielle Sosin's novel, The Long Shining Waters is set in and on Lake Superior...

Claire

about 3 years ago

Laurie Hertzel's memoir, News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist narrates her life growing up in Duluth and working for the DNT. She left Duluth in 1994 for the Big City. I love her book, because the Duluth she writes about has changed so much, it's not the city we live in today in many ways.

michellep

about 3 years ago

Come for a month--any month, even January and I think you'll want to stay here forever. (Though August here is magic. You should come back in the summer.) It happened to me! I'd recommend some poetry by resident poet Louis Jenkins. Happy reading and happy trails!

Francene Starr

about 3 years ago

Cold Comfort inspired me to move here!!

Tony D.

about 3 years ago

First, thanks to those who mentioned Zenith and other X-comm books. I appreciate the plug (and books can be purchased at www.x-communication.org. Last year I proudly published photographer Dennis O'Hara's "Picture Duluth," filled with over 200 modern, full color photos of Duluth: nature, architecture, weather, waterfront, etc. It is a tour from east to west, and includes maps. Good luck with the project!

wildgoose

about 3 years ago

The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Banai (http://bit.ly/ssk1ht) is not about Duluth but it tells the story of how the Ojibwe people came to live here following a prophecy that told them about a special berry growing on the water, Mahnoomin aka wild rice. It is one of the most nutritious wild foods in all of North America and they found it growing here at the mouth of the St. Louis River.

wildgoose

about 3 years ago

I'd love to help with your project if I can. I love this town so very much. Email me if you want.

pH

about 3 years ago

Good suggestions in the thread. I found the now dated "Insider's Guide to the Lake Superior Region" (1996) helpful for basic orientation. Pure maple syrup. Mix with Bukoski and Sutter.

Toftey

about 3 years ago

I have to recommend the archives of Slim Goodbuzz - each bar review is a perfect little jewel.

Adam Carr

about 3 years ago

Thanks everybody so much! Just compiled it and thought folks would be interested in seeing a compiled list of what's been suggested thus far: -Duluth by Gore Vidal -Zenith: A Postcard Perspective of Historic Duluth (plenty of consensus -- bought this one) -Cold Comfort: Life at the Top of the Map by Barton Sutter (most consensus -- bought this one too -- and does anybody know barton? i'd love to meet him.) -Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail by Superior Hiking Trail Association (I love how self-assured the SHTA sounds) -The Will and the Way by Goldfine, Larson & Trowbridge -X-Communications and Tony Dierkins -Snively's Road -Proctor Knott's Speech On Duluth -DNT: Attic Archives -Stories of the Congdon murder at Glensheen -Sparhawk and Dylan's early music -Brian Freeman's mysteries -The Long Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin -News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist by Laurie Hertzel -Poetry of Louis Jenkins -Writings of Anthony Bukoski -Picture Duluth by Dennis O'Hara -The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Banai -Insider's Guide to the Lake Superior Region -archives of Slim Goodbuzz

Ramos

about 3 years ago

The Will and the Way should make for some riveting reading.

The Big E

about 3 years ago

In my estimation, Richard Hudelson and Carl Ross, By the Ore Docks: A Working People's History of Duluth is essential.

laurie

about 3 years ago

Who knew there were so many great books written about my home town? And I am happy to be on this list. I second (third, fourth) Cold Comfort by Barton Sutter. And my own book, too, of course.

Claire

about 3 years ago

Barton Sutter is a friend of mine, you can often see him around town, at poetry readings, literary events, and art openings. Duluth is teeming with great writers , musicians, and visual artists. P.S. Hi Laurie!

magus

about 3 years ago

All great selections. To further put you in the mood, check out these historical photographs of Duluth. Northeast Minnesota Historical Center photographs at the Minnesota Digital Library

Cindy H

about 3 years ago

We also have books that could be of interest. We publish Lake Superior Magazine and Lake Superior Travel Guide plus the book Lake Superior The Ultimate Guide to the Region. Find them at The Bookstore at Fitgers or check them out at www.LakeSuperior.com. Let us know if we may be of any help.

Justin Juntunen

about 3 years ago

Adam, I look forward to hearing more about your work in the coming months. A one thing about Duluth that hasn't been specifically mentioned - and that you may want to look into - is the significant immigrant populations that have settled and formed the cultural landscape of the area. Though likely referenced in many of the works listed above, one of the more significant influence has been the Scandinavian immigrants who made this place home. A recent read that draws heavily on Scandinavians in the Duluth area is: "The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition" by Michael Nordskog and Arron Hautala This read would be especially nice after a warm sauna on a cold January day. See if you can even join one of the locals for a traditional wood-fired sauna.

Joel

about 3 years ago

I second poetry by Louis Jenkins. I have several of his books and treasure them. But if you have the chance, his work is best experienced through his reading it. You'll be laughing heartily and taken soulfully by his style and inflections

Andrew Slade

about 3 years ago

Glad to read a lot of folks endorsing the Superior Hiking Trail book. For even more great Duluth hikes, check out Hiking the North Shore: 50 fabulous day hikes in Minnesota's spectacular Lake Superior region. Depending on where you draw the lines, 10-11 of the hikes are in Duluth.

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