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With its 100 Euro dinners and 300 Euro hotel rooms, travel to Rome this summer is out of the question for this reviewer on a fixed income. So I'll have to settle for "Dante's Numbers" (Delacorte Press, $24), by David Hewson, a Londoner who knows The Eternal City like the back of his hand. He's the accomplished author of several mysteries featuring a Roman detective, Nic Costa. Hewson has a great gift for plunking the reader down in a Roman site and making you wish you were there, despite the howling of the traffic, the buzz of Vespas and the general disorder of the city.
Normally, the way it works is that first you read the book, then you see the movie and then you complain the movie is nothing like the book. (See Ernest Hemingway and "The Sun Also Rises.") Well, today, I'm going to do it differently. A while back, I watched Twin Cities Public Television's "On the Road" with Channel 2 Almanac host Cathy Wurzer.
Award-winning Minnesota poet Larry Schug just sent me his new book, a gem called "Arrogant Bones,"(North Star Press, $12.95). Schug works at the College of St. Benedict, by St. John's University, where Sen. and poet Eugene McCarthy went to schools. Schug's down-to-earth, sardonic rural poems remind me of the senator's.
HAYWARD - An avid fly fisherman and fishing guide is the latest Wisconsin world record holder for the monster musky he landed on the Chippewa River with a fly rod. The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum notified Brad Bohen of Hayward last week that the 51.25-inch musky he caught Oct. 16, 2008, was indeed a world fly rod record for a released fish on a 36-pound tippet, according to Emmett Brown, the Hall's executive director. "I've never been a record chaser by nature, but I must admit that I am tickled to be in this position," Bohen says.
Great works for readers of all ages make the list I'd have given my right arm for the new volume before me when I was book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Back then my job at Christmas was to comb through famous works of literature about Christmas. These were difficult to find.
Two years ago, I watched the long PBS special on Mormonism. I was shocked to learn of the Mormons' massacre of 120 non-Mormon settlers who had moved into Utah in 1857. The reportage was just a small part of the PBS special and I longed to hear more. My wishes were recently fulfilled with a new book, "Massacre at Mountain Meadows," by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley and Glen M. Leonard (Oxford University Press, $29.95).
St. Paul poet Margaret Hasse is out with her third book, "Milk and Tides," (Nodin Press, $16). Hasse writes about motherhood, aging, her childhood memories of South Dakota. She writes about real stuff that often hits me close to home. Here's a prose poem that reminded me of my late mother: "Soir de Paris or Evening in Paris started to be sold in the 1920s as an inexpensive perfume.
Spain's relationship with Germany in the 1930s and 1940s has captured the imagination of countless writers and artists, from George Orwell to Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso. There's something about the Spanish Civil War that pitted German Stukas and tanks against outfits like America's Abraham Lincoln Brigade and literary critics like Christopher Caudwell manning a machine gun that's irresistible.
The RiverTown Newspaper Group is holding a contest where you can win four free V.I.P tickets to the Jo Dee Messina concert Saturday, June 28, at the Pierce County Fairgrounds during the Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival. To sign up for the drawing, go to www.rivertowns.net , click on any one of the newspaper Web sites, scroll down to the bottom of the home page and the Messina link will be found on the lower right of the page.