An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui's story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent--the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls "a book to break your heart and heal it," The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui's journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.
Hosted by comics über-geek David Wolff, this group is fun and accessible for adventurous readers who are curious about the medium, and interesting for even the most die-hard fans. Since aphic novels are quick and engrossing, this could be a great book club for you if your reading time is limited, or are looking to expand your horizons. We read a diversity of titles that show the range of the art form while giving us plenty to talk about. Selections are generally for mature readers, and are available at our usual 10% book club discount. No need to sign up, just show up!
Dessa presents My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road
Thursday September 27 | 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Content is delighted to welcome Dessa, rapper, a singer, an essayist, and a proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop crew. She'll read from and discuss her new book of memoir and essays, My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, in conversation with St. Olaf's own Gordon Marino.
THIS IS A TICKETED EVENT.
- Tickets are $26.00 + tax and include one copy of Dessa's new book, My Own Devices.
- Ticket admits one.
- All ticket holders will be given a book ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.
- Tickets may be purchased below, in person at Content or by calling 507-222-9238.
Dessa defies category–she is an intellectual with an international rap career and an inhaler in her backpack; a creative writer fascinated by philosophy and behavioral science; and a funny, charismatic performer dogged by blue moods and heartache. She’s ferocious on stage and endearingly neurotic in the tour van. Her stunning literary debut memoir stitches together poignant insights on love, science, and language–a demonstration of just how far the mind can travel while the body is on a six-hour ride to the next gig.
In “The Fool That Bets Against Me,” Dessa writes to Geico to request a commercial insurance policy for the broken heart that’s helped her write so many sad songs. “A Ringing in the Ears” tells the story of her father building a wooden airplane in their backyard garage. In “Congratulations,” she describes the challenge of recording a song for The Hamilton Mixtape in a Minneapolis basement, straining for a high note and hoping for a break. “Call off Your Ghost” chronicles the fascinating project she undertook with a team of neuroscientists to try and clinically excise romantic feelings for an old flame. Her writing is infused with scientific research, dry wit, a philosophical perspective, and an abiding tenderness for the people she tours with and the people she leaves behind to be on the road.
My Own Devices is an uncompromising and candid account of a life in motion, in music, and in love. Dessa is as compelling on the page as she is onstage, making My Own Devices the debut of a unique and deft literary voice.
Dessa has performed around the world at opera houses and rock clubs and while standing on barroom tables. She’s landed on the Billboard Top 200 list as a solo artist (Parts of Speech, Chime), as a Doomtree member (All Hands), and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. As a writer, she’s contributed to the New York Times Magazine, Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Minnesota Monthly, literary journals across the country, and has published two short collections of poetry and essays. She now splits her time between Manhattan, Minneapolis, and a tour van cruising at six miles per hour above the posted limit.
Gordon Marino is a professor of philosophy and the director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College. He is the author of several books, most recently The Existentialist's Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age. A veteran boxing trainer, Marino is also an award-winning boxing writer for The Wall Street Journal and other outlets. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications here and abroad.
2018 Northfield Poetry Festival: Group Reading
Saturday September 29 | 10:00AM - 11:30AM
Join us at Content to listen to Minnesota Poet Laureate JOYCE SUTPHEN as she's joined by Northfield poets Leslie Schultz, Steve McCown, Susan Jaret McKinstry, Diane LeBlanc, D.E. Green, and Becky Boling!
The Northfield Poetry Festival (September 29-October 1) is presented by the Northfield Poet Laureate and Northfield Public Library. ALL EVENTS ARE FREE OF CHARGE.
Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She earned a PhD in Renaissance drama from the University of Minnesota, and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard Women’s Poets Prize. Subsequent collections include Coming Back to the Body (2000), a Minnesota Book Award finalist, Naming the Stars (2004), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, and First Words (2010).She has received a McKnight Artist Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and was named Minnesota's Poet Laureate in 2011.
Sutphen has read her poems on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, where host Garrison Keillor described the subjects of Coming Back to the Body as “scenes of the family farm, Paris, London, a dying marriage, stories of plain exaltation and ordinary weariness.” Comfortable with traditional forms, Sutphen is the author of Fourteen Sonnets, a fine-letterpress collection of poems from Red Dragonfly Press. Her poems often reference classic literary works.
Sutphen is a co-editor with Connie Wanek and Thom Tammaro of To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (2006).
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Patrick Scully presents Leaves of Grass -- Illuminated at Northfield Arts Guild Theater
Sunday September 30 | 7:00PM - 10:00PM
Content is delighted to sponsor a performance of Patrick Scully’s Leaves of Grass – Illuminated at the Northfield Arts Guild Theater, in collaboration with the Northfield Poet Laureate and Northfield Arts Guild.
This solo performance by Patrick Scully summons the spirit of America’s great poet, Walt Whitman, revealing Whitman’s many sides: from the furtive—changing genders to “straighten things up”, to the fierce—defying the censors and getting banned in Boston. We celebrate, approaching Whitman’s 200th birthday (May 31, 2019) that Whitman is also an important artist for our era; a poet who loved America, and used his writing to strategically transform what he believed needed to be changed.
Leaves of Grass – Illuminated reflects Whitman’s utopian dreams, and his 19th century tribulations. It presents fascinating aspects of Whitman’s life, times and work. It pulls from history, art, literature, even opera. Whitman crafted clear strategies to deal with the social pressures and the consequences he faced for writing about taboo topics. This is a side of Whitman that few of us learned about in our American Literature classes. Some of these taboos have disappeared, others are still very relevant - such as relationships between men, and the forces that seek to deny them. The show reveals how Whitman seemed to be able to look into the future, foreseeing that same-sex relations would move out of the shadows into the light of day.
Leaves of Grass – Illuminated is the product of over 10 years of research and development, and will be featured at the Guthrie Theater in Summer 2019. A large cast version of this show opened in Minneapolis to critical acclaim in 2014. Scully developed that version into a one man show in a residency at MANCC at Florida Sate University in 2015, and premiered Leaves of Grass – Illuminated in New York City and Minneapolis in 2016. In 2017/18, he toured it to 24 communities in Minnesota, with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Legacy Funds. In 2018/19, again with MSAB touring support, he is touring it to another 24 communities.
“Both Whitman and Scully are major figures; they contain multitudes.” (Village Voice)
“Patrick Scully was born to play Walt Whitman.” (Lavender Magazine)
“Scully is the perfect caretaker for Whitman’s legacy.” (Minneapolis StarTribune)
Poetry Night: Bao Phi
Monday October 01 | 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Content is delighted to host Minnesota Book Award winner Bao Phi for our October Poetry Night.
He is a multiple Minnesota Grand Slam poetry champ and National Poetry Slam finalist who has been on HBO's Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and whose work was included in the Best American Poetry anthology of 2006. He won a Minnesota Book Award in 2018 for his children's book, A Different Pond. His poetry publications include Thousand Star Hotel and Sông I Sing and is currently the Program Director of the Loft Literary Center.
"At once tender and taboo-busting, pithy and sprawling, effulgent and expository, Thousand Star Hotel is a compendium of 'warring ideals' spoken through the voices and seen through the eyes of a refugee child turned poet adult, his embattled parents, neighborhood pals and bullies, past flames and would-be lovers, an exotifying culture--not to mention Phi's young daughter, for whom the collection is a record with which she might one day construct her own consciousness." --Kenyon Review
"[Phi] has few peers that can match him in his assessment of contemporary culture and social justice." --Cultural Weekly
Poetry Nights are presented in collaboration with the Northfield Poet Laureate. The Northfield Poet Laureate program is sponsored by the City of Northfield and funded by the Northfield Public Library and the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), in partnership with the Northfield Arts and Culture Commission.
Story Time with Mary Casanova
Saturday October 06 | 10:30AM - 11:30AM
Content is pleased to welcome Mary Casanova, award-winning picture book author, as she reads from her newest book Hush Hush, Forest. Pack up the kids and come on down to hear this beautifully written and illustrated gem!
Lyrical words and elegant woodcuts capture the quiet beauty
of the forest as day fades to night and autumn
gives way to the North Woods winter.
While we are tucked in, snug in warm blankets as we listen to bedtime stories, the woods around us whisper another tale. As the golden leaves waft through the lengthening shadows, the loon sings one last lullaby, the whirring hummingbird takes one last sip, the industrious beaver saws one last branch for her lodge. Here, in enchanting words and woodcuts, is the magic of night falling and winter approaching in the North Woods. Hush Hush, Forest peers through twilight’s window at the raccoon preening, the doe and fawn bedding down, the last bat of the season flitting away. The owl surveys, the rabbit scurries, the bear hunkers, readying her den.
Marking the rhythm between the falling leaf and the falling snowflake, picturing the rituals of creatures big and small as they prepare for the long winter’s sleep, this charming book captures a time of surpassing wonder for readers of all ages—and bids everyone in the hushed forest a peaceful good night.
Mary Casanova is author of more than thirty books for young readers, ranging from picture books such as One-Dog Canoe and Wake Up, Island (Minnesota, 2016) to the novels Moose Tracks (Minnesota, 2013) and Frozen (Minnesota, 2012). Her books have earned the American Library Association Notable Award, Aesop Accolades from the American Folklore Society, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and Booklist Editors’ Choice, as well as two Minnesota Book Awards. She and her husband live in northern Minnesota near the Canadian border.
Content Book Club: The Heart Goes Last
Monday October 08 | 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Content's in-house book club is open to all, and features a diverse selection of great reads. It meets at 7pm on the second Monday of the month at Content. This month's selection is the captivating and thrilling The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid's Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin. Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes. At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan's life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.
Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and her most recent, MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator's Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.
Meghan O'Gieblyn, author of Interior States
Wednesday October 24 | 7:00PM - 8:00PM
Content is pleased to welcome Meghan O'Gieblyn! She'll be reading from InteriorStates, her debut collection of essays that center around two core (and related) issues of American identity: faith, in general and the specific forms Christianity takes in particular; and the challenges of living in the Midwest when culture is felt to be elsewhere.
"Meghan O'Gieblyn's deep and searching essays are written with a precise sort of skepticism and a slight ache in the heart. A first-rate and riveting collection." --Lorrie Moore
What does it mean to be a believing Christian and a Midwesterner in an increasingly secular America where the cultural capital is retreating to both coasts? The critic and essayist Meghan O'Gieblyn was born into an evangelical family, attended the famed Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a time before she had a crisis of belief, and still lives in the Midwest, aka "Flyover Country." She writes of her "existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still," and that rich sense of ambivalence and internal division inform the fifteen superbly thoughtful and ironic essays in this collection. The subjects of these essays range from the rebranding (as it were) of Hell in contemporary Christian culture ("Hell"), a theme park devoted to the concept of intelligent design ("Species of Origin"), the paradoxes of Christian Rock ("Sniffing Glue"), Henry Ford's reconstructed pioneer town of Greenfield Village and its mixed messages ("Midwest World"), and the strange convergences of Christian eschatology and the digital so-called Singularity ("Ghosts in the Cloud"). Meghan O'Gieblyn stands in relation to her native Midwest as Joan Didion stands in relation to California - which is to say a whole-hearted lover, albeit one riven with ambivalence at the same time.
Meghan O'Gieblyn is a writer who was raised and still lives in the Midwest. Her essays have appeared in Harper's Magazine, n+1, The Point, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Best American Essays 2017, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She received a B.A. in English from Loyola University, Chicago and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband.
Allen Eskens returns to Content
Tuesday November 27 | 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Content is excited to welcome back bestselling author Allen Eskens as he reads from The Shadows We Hide, his highly-anticipated sequel to the national bestseller The Life We Bury.
Joe Talbert returns to investigate the murder of the father he never knew, and to reckon with his own family’s past.
Joe Talbert, Jr. has never once met his namesake. Now out of college, a cub reporter for the Associated Press in Minneapolis, he stumbles across a story describing the murder of a man named Joseph Talbert in a small town in southern Minnesota.
Full of curiosity about whether this man might be his father, Joe is shocked to find that none of the town’s residents have much to say about the dead man-other than that his death was long overdue. Joe discovers that the dead man was a loathsome lowlife who cheated his neighbors, threatened his daughter, and squandered his wife’s inheritance after she, too, passed away–an inheritance that may now be Joe’s.
Mired in uncertainty and plagued by his own devastated relationship with his mother, who is seeking to get back into her son’s life, Joe must put together the missing pieces of his family history– before his quest for discovery threatens to put him in a grave of his own.
Allen Eskens is the USA Today bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, and The Deep Dark Descending. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, the Rosebud Award, Minnesota Book Award, and the Silver Falchion Award, and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award, the Thriller Award, and the Anthony Award. His debut novel, The Life We Bury, has been published in 21 languages and is being developed for a feature film. Eskens lives with his wife, Joely, in out-state Minnesota, where he was a criminal defense attorney for 25 years.
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