Black Box

By Julie Schumacher

Delacorte Press, $16

Struggling to make sense of her older sister Dora’s rapid descent into depression, teenager Elena takes on an adult role as Dora’s confidante. With parents that won’t listen and no one else to turn to, Elena finds an unlikely friend who helps her cope with the depression—and finally understand it—saving the family from self-destruction. Author Julie Schumacher, a University of Minnesota professor, takes a sincere look at how depression affects one’s family and friends; the result is a poignant story for anyone close to someone suffering from this potentially devastating illness.
—Andrea Wagenknecht



Ice: Great Moments in the History of Hard, Cold Water

by Karal Ann Marling


Inspired by more than 30 years of snowy state winters, University of Minnesota professor Karal Marling’s newest work is a different sort of bone-chiller. Ice, a cool collection of history, iconography, and lore, is less about science than pure, romantic appreciation for water in its coldest form—from Arctic expeditions gone horribly wrong to first ladies impressing guests with strawberry ice cream and great moments in St. Paul Winter Carnival history. Anything but frigid, this book is filled with fun facts about one of Minnesota’s greatest—though possibly underappreciated—natural treasures.




Paul Westerberg


The latest album from the former Replacements frontman is at least as much about the process as the music—about 22 idiosyncratic tracks recorded in his basement and mashed together with a logic difficult to pin down. Very difficult, in this case, since the online release disappeared as quickly as it was posted, perhaps because of all the samples of others’ music: 49:00 is loaded with musical snippets and homages to classic rock. Loyal and technologically diligent fans will not be disappointed: The raucous, heartfelt tunes are straight out of Westerberg’s playbook. Others may prefer his more, ahem, accessible albums.



From Here to There

Travis and Jonny

Dead Minnow

FREE DOWNLOAD: “So Many Times”

You could take your parents (or, alternatively, your kids) to see Travis and Jonny. The group has enough alt-country sensibility and salt to appeal to the young ’uns, but they also conjure a nostalgia for 1960s pop. Jonathan Kraft (a.k.a. Jonny) comes across with the happy-go-lucky fervor of Paul McCartney on the White Album, even as the group, which is actually composed of five members, musically channels a mishmash of current country-folk artists. Refreshingly, they avoid folk-music clichés of losing wives and hopping freights in favor of contemporary issues, though they do have a song about a miner.

What I’m reading now…

Al Quie, governor of Minnesota from 1979 to 1983
The homegrown politician turned 85 this year and is the subject of the new biography Riding into the Sunrise: Al Quie, A Life of Faith, Service & Civility by Mitch Pearlstein (Pogo Press, $28). While Quie has read that book three times so far, here’s what else is on his list.

1. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau 2. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman 3. Principled Performance: From the Mailroom to the Boardroom by Christopher J. Chanski 4. Shaping Minnesota’s Identity: 150 Years of State History by Steven J. Keillo