Decorah Public Library staff are hosting seven book discussions in April. The groups are open to the public and newcomers are encouraged to attend. Anyone interested should call the library at 382-3717 to learn more or to reserve a book. Zoom links are available on the Library’s website or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to any of the seven groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were generously provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library.
For more information, contact Tricia Crary (Friday Book Group), Zach Row-Heyveld (Cookbook and Quick Bites Groups) or Kristin Torresdal (Happy Hour, History, and Speculative Fiction Book Groups) at 563-382-3717.
Once There Were Wolves
The Happy Hour Book Group will hold a hybrid meeting Wed. April 13 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Charlotte McConaghy’s “Once There Were Wolves.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska. As the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them.
The Weekday Vegetarians
The Cookbook Group will meet on Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in the lower-level meeting room of the library to discuss “The Weekday Vegetarians,” Jenny Rosenstrach’s award winning cookbook. Featuring more than 100 recipes of comforting, family-friendly foods like Pizza Salad with White Beans, Mushroom-Leek Galette, and Squash and Black Bean Tacos. Jenny also offers key flavor hits that will make any tray of roasted vegetables or bowl of garlicky beans irresistible—great things to make and throw on your next meal, such as spiced Crispy Chickpeas (who needs croutons?), Pizza Dough Croutons (you need croutons!), and a sweet chile sauce that makes everything look good and taste amazing. The Weekday Vegetarians is loaded with practical tips, techniques, and food for thought, and Jenny is your sage guide to getting more meat-free meals into your weekly rotation.
The Great Silence and Parakeets
Our first Quick Bites discussion in April will focus on two short stories that explore language, speaking, and what it means to be human. “Parakeets,” written by Kevin Brockmeier, is about a city where everyone sings except for a mute man who raises parakeets. It was the lead story in his 2008 collection The View From The Seventh Layer and was originally published in Granta magazine in 2007. Brockmeier is the author of 8 books, including novels, short story collections, and two books for young readers. His most recent book is The Ghost Variations Text – https://granta.com/parakeets/
“The Great Silence,” written by Ted Chiang, was originally created as a subtitled script for a short film about the Arecibo Observatory and the Puerto Rican parrots whose habitats were destroyed to build the telescope. The 16-minute film, created by Puerto Rican visual artists Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, was a three-channel HD video installation that premiered at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico in 2014. Chiang’s full text was published in e-flux in 2015. Film – https://vimeo.com/195588827
Wasteland, Wasteland, Wasteland and Drunktown
We’re headed Southwest for the April 26 Quick Bites discussion with a short story by Claire Vaye Watkins and a poem or two by Jake Skeets.
Claire Vaye Watkins has been credited with creating a new genre of fiction – Nevada Gothic. “Wasteland, Wasteland, Wasteland” is set in the shadow of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Depository and wrestles with how a community is supposed to deal with a threat that lasts for thousands of years. Claire Vaye Watkins’s award winning short story collection, Battleborn, was published in 2012 and was named one of the best books of the year by NPR and other publications. Since then she has published two novels, most recently I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. Text – https://kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2013-spring/selections/claire-vaye-watkins-342846/
Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge, a Diné poet from New Mexico whose award winning collection Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers was published in 2019. His beautiful, visceral, searing poetry is deeply rooted in the landscape of the Navajo Nation and explores the history of violence “done to it, done on it, done for it.” Skeeks holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Text – http://www.spilledmilkmagazine.com/issue08
At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories
The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wed. April 20 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories.” Featuring seventeen stories from more than two decades of work, Kij Johnson’s debut collection of short fiction ranges from historical Japan (Sturgeon award winner “Fox Magic”) to metafictional explorations of story structure (“Story Kit”) and includes Nebula award winners “Spar” and “Ponies.” These stories feature cats, bees, wolves, dogs, and even that most capricious of animals: humans.
Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times
The History Book Group will hold a hybrid meeting Thurs. April 21 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss Thomas R. Martin’s “Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. Thomas R. Martin brings to life Greek civilization from its Stone Age roots to the fourth century B.C.E. Focusing on the development of the Greek city-state and the society, culture, and architecture of Athens in its Golden Age, Martin integrates political, military, social, and cultural history.
The Friday Book Group will hold a hybrid meeting Fri. April 22 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss Natalie Baszile’s “Queen Sugar.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles. They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that’s mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the summer unfolds, Charley must balance the challenges of her farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart.