by Pete Hautman
Simon Pulse, $9
The year is 2076, and Bo Marsten is your typical American teenager in the dystopian United Safer States of America: He’s pampered, medicated, and sheltered from every potential harm. That is until Bo’s crimes (which include hurting someone’s feelings and getting into a fist fight) land him in prison, where he is forced to play football (bam! oof!) and race against polar bears. The lesson: What doesn’t kill you can indeed make you stronger. Hautman, whose Godless won a National Book Award, delivers a concise novel that entertains with its portrait of a culture that would rather be safe than free. New in paperback.
by Wayne Johnson
Atria Books, $26
Like an avalanche barreling down a mountainside, Wayne Johnson’s latest book sucks you into the world of extreme skiing and leaves you gasping. A Minnesota native and former competitive skier, Johnson regales readers with stories from his days in the Utah backcountry—a winter wonderland where Jackie the Dynamite Girl handles avalanches and snow-patrol dudes make fresh tracks through “cold smoke” two miles up. The average snow bunny may occasionally find Johnson’s stories overly technical, but those brave enough to take the plunge will be deeply rewarded.
Dan Israel’s music is the perfect sound track for roasting a chicken or baking bread—and that’s a good thing, as his searching lyrics and folky melodies mingle effortlessly with the thickening aromas of a slow, lazy day in the kitchen. Plus, everybody loves him. Named Songwriter of the Year at the 2006 Minnesota Music Awards, Israel has drawn comparisons to Bob Dylan and brings a cross-section of high-level local talent to play on this new album. His songs pose insightful questions if few answers, a realistic blend of hopes and doubts. Get yourself a generous helping.
Photo by Jim Dryden
Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton knows most music fans just want to shake their butt, and he’s happy to help on this rootsy solo CD, showcasing the good-natured humor and world-music mastery that has made him the Twin Cities’ go-to accordionist. Newton has dropped the French-influenced sound of his CafÃ© Accordion Orchestra in favor of Western swing and gospel stomps. “Rattle Them Bones” and “Put Your Snout to the Spout” sound straight from A Prairie Home Companion (Newton is a frequent guest), while “The Yohnnie B Goode Polka” takes the accordionists’ tradition of ethnic puns to its illogical conclusion.
After reading dozens of potboilers written by others, Minnesotan Monica Ferris decided to create a mystery of her own—with a twist. She combined her love of good yarns with her love of the needle arts, thereby joining the ranks of authors writing about crafty gumshoes who bake, sew, knit, and garden. Her recently published Knitting Bones is the 11th book in the Needlecraft Mystery Series. Naturally, it comes with a knitting pattern. /// HOT STUFF Minnesota Monthly senior writer Tim Gihring’s essay on aphrodisiacs, “Mood Food,” was selected for inclusion in the anthology Best Food Writing 2007. It can also be found in the February 2007 archives at minnesotamonthly.com.