This week: Italo Calvino.
Italo Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 to Italian parents. He died in Italy in 1985.
This week: Stanislaw Lem.
Lem was born in 1921 in Lwow, Poland which is now Lviv, Ukraine. He died in 2006 in Krakow, Poland.
He was a Jew who survived the Holocaust, which in Poland was bracketed by two Soviet invasions. He went on to become one of the greatest science fiction writers in the world. His best-known work (in America) is the novella “Solaris,” which became a 2002 film directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney. Lem sold more than 40 million books worldwide.
Eight years ago the concept of neighborhood book exchanges made its way to Duluth. The original Little Free Library was built in Hudson, Wis., in 2009. Duluth had its first in 2012, and by 2013 there were about 20 in the city. Today there are roughly 40.
It’s a global movement. The nonprofit Little Free Library organization estimates there are now more than 100,000 registered book exchanges in more than 100 countries worldwide.
If you’re unfamiliar with these little libraries, their appearance consists of a bird-house looking box, around 20 inches by 15 inches by 18 inches, typically with a Plexiglas door. Inside is an array of books assembled for the purpose of sharing. Anyone is welcome to take a book or leave a book.
There are 38 book exchanges in Duluth cataloged on littlefreelibrary.org, and several more are in surrounding communities. If you’re interested in where to find them, visit the Little Free Library website and search “Duluth,” “Superior” or the area of your choice. The locations will pop up and you can find the one closest to you.
My friend Erin Tope and I collaborated on these pictures in the French River a few years ago. From the first they suggested characters and supernatural narratives, which I initially put to a series of four wordless video shorts set to music. That sparked years of subsequent imagining about who these ghosts are. Words have now been joined to pictures to form the final iteration of the project. In the absence of an actual physical publisher, I have posted them at their own site where I consider it a free 16-page e-book. I post them here as well for your enjoyment — although you may want to leave the light on.
(This is a limited essay series; I will publish its installments on Fridays.)
What do I do when I’m not being Aquaman? I read, and re-read, the same few authors. Here are their histories, and why I find them impossible to put down.
#1. Jorge Luis Borges
Borges was born in Argentina in 1899.
From laureates to total hacks, writers and other artists have compiled their works into inexpensive little booklets for hundreds of years. The history of street literature in Duluth has perhaps not yet been explored in depth.
Gathered in this post is by no means a comprehensive collection of chapbooks produced in Duluth, but rather just a smattering of publications that happened to be gathering dust in the Perfect Duluth Day library.
Got one to add? Mention it in the comments and/or email the cover art if you have it to: paul @ perfectduluthday.com.
Spring in Duluth is a perfect time for reading. It’s that awkward period between ice fishing and regular fishing when outdoor options are limited because trails are too muddy. Add into the mix the lack of events during the COVID-19 pandemic and it seems like books should have a real moment right now.
Right in the middle of a shelter-in-place order, when a Duluth coloring and activity book is most needed, Perfect Duluth Day pulls this 1993 relic out of the basement library.
Tony Dierckins is among Duluth’s greatest resources. Few have given so much of their time and energy to telling the story of the city. As a small publisher, perhaps few have taken as many personal risks hoping the stories of Duluth will find their audiences.
So Hanson is teaming up again with Robert Lillegard of Duluth’s Best Bread to publish the OMC Smokehouse Cookbook.
This post could also be called “Bigfoot and Us.”
Starting in 1998, my brother Allen and I wrote a “weird science” column called “Gonzo Science” for the alternative Duluth newsweekly Ripsaw.