Fall Reading List: A Hillsider and a Buried Man

Hillsider by Don Ness The Emancipation of a Buried May by Eddy Gilmore

Two books lead the list of recommended local reads this fall: One is a new book by Duluth’s outgoing mayor, which will no doubt generate tons of attention before anyone fully reads it. The other is an impressive memoir published back in March by a humble Lakesider, which deserves to be held up next to Duluth’s highest ranking literary office.

Some disclosure: Both of these writers have published posts on Perfect Duluth Day in past — Ness mostly about politics and music; Gilmore mostly about trains and artists. Ness is also a longtime friend of mine; Gilmore I’ve met once for coffee. The most important disclosure is that I did some editorial work on a few sections of Ness’ book, and he dedicated a two-page spread of the book to Perfect Duluth Day, so the biases are spilling out everywhere. Take my slanted opinion for what it’s worth.

Hillsider: Snapshots of a Curious Political Journey will be officially released on Sunday night, Sept. 27, with a reading at the Mitchell Auditorium, though Ness has been distributing it here and there for the past week. The book is about the size of a social studies textbook — hardcover, 300 pages, $24.95. It’s loaded with color photos and artwork, and the text is broken down into short snippets that are often poetic. The book is partially about Ness’ life, but more about the transformation of the culture of Duluth. It’s a book that sells itself easily to those who pick it up and flip through it. When the moment comes to finally sit down and really read it, few will be disappointed.

Gilmore’s The Emancipation of a Buried Man, on the other hand, is a paperback with zero photos. There’s no glitz, just a great story. It’s broken into two parts, and the parts are starkly different. Gilmore begins with tales of his life growing up as the son of a hoarder, and all of the awful anxiety that goes with being a kid who doesn’t fit in. It’s heavy stuff, but Gilmore gives it a wonderful comic treatment that let’s the reader laugh at his expense rather than mourn his misfortunes. The second half of the book is Gilmore’s emancipation — his shift into adulthood and discovery of the outdoors. The transition from part one to part two of the book is a bit like going from watching Napoleon Dynamite to reading Walden, but it works. It’s a sensational read.

That’s what’s been flopped open on my deck chair of late. Feel free to share your book suggestions in the comments.

1 Comment

Dave P

about 9 years ago

Bought Gilmore's book from him at the Chester Bowl Fall Fest (what a nice guy!). No comment yet because my wife snatched it up before I could crack the covers! She's loving it though. Looking forward to the pleasure!

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