The Minnesota lakes aren’t easy to photograph. Most pictures are heavy on the syrup but light on the soul. In David Bowman’s portfolio (June, 2008), he spares us the loons ’n’ lichen clichés in favor of a more down-to-earth serenity. Bravo.
When I saw Jon Hassler’s name on the cover (“Remembering Jon Hassler,” June), I immediately sat down and read the essay by Rebecca Hill. I took his class, “Minnesota Authors,” at St. Ben’s/St. John’s in 1994. I loved that semester with Jon. I remember a conversation with him regarding a person’s preference for landscape. I said I enjoyed the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior near where I grew up. He enjoyed the plains of central Minnesota. I will treasure my memories of him always. I thank you for remembering him too, and I thank Ms. Hill for sharing her friendship with us.
Although it was good of Minnesota Monthly to recognize the passing of Jon Hassler in its June issue, it was an unfortunate mistake to choose as an author of such a piece someone who has manufactured such a distorted and erroneous perception of the great man.
In “Remembering Hassler,” the writer states that it was typical of Jon to use arcane references, that he thought of his own children as a burden, that he wouldn’t deign to speak to a crowd of less than 33 people, that he held a condescending view of the Minneapolis literati once asking her to, “Tell them I think they’re fabulous.” It is all so utterly incongruous to the actual man that it surpasses simple negligence and inaccuracy going well into realm of insulting. Frankly, it’s difficult to even imagine him saying the word fabulous.
Those who truly knew Jon knew him to be one of the most genuine and sincere men to walk this earth. To read that the writer could equate him with such superficial and shallow characteristics, one could only come to the conclusion that the writer manifested an entirely different image of Jon Hassler in her mind—it certainly is not an image that even closely resembles the man so many people in Minnesota and beyond loved as an author and a human being.
In fact, there is so much inaccuracy in the article from getting the name of his wife wrong to the mixed-up anecdote about Grand Opening that the only thing that comes close to resembling Jon Hassler is the wonderful photograph by David Ellis.
I have read with amazement the remembrance of Jon Hassler by Rebecca Hill. I introduced Jon to Gretchen (Kresl) and watched them fall lastingly in love, so I can only think that the writer of this piece must have created some distorted image of Jon. He did indeed observe all human interactions and foibles, but never in my many years of knowing him was he ever duplicitous or mean as insinuated. He was a most generous, kind, and gentle soul. And he is sorely missed.
North St. Paul
As a Wisconsin resident who has also lived in Minnesota, I get a lot of snide comments from Minnesota coworkers, but I can tell you with certainty, both states are great and have much to offer. So why the comment on the cover of May’s issue targeting your neighbor to the east: “Read it and weep, Wisconsin”? Healthy rivalry? Maybe. I would rather, however, see something showing greatness without thinking one is “better” than another. Can’t we all just get along?
CORRECTION: On the “North Star All-Stars” list in our May 2008 feature, “How Minnesota Saved Civilization,” Neal Broten’s name was inadvertently misspelled. We regret the error.
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