NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Get cozy at the Fireside Reading series: A Hamline Midway tradition


Wednesdays, January 11—February 15, 7 p.m.
Sign interpretation available with advance notice.
Free and open to the public.  For more information call 651-222-3242.

The Fireside Literary Series returns for its 18th year at the Hamline Midway Branch Library, 1558 West Minnehaha Avenue, Saint Paul.  Warm up the winter nights with a little mystery, some verse and memoir, fiction and history, as some of Minnesota’s best writers share their works during fireside readings sponsored by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.  The programs begin at 7 p.m. and are accompanied by coffee, cider, cookies and book signings.

The series kicks off on January 11 as historian Larry Millett reads from the thrilling latest in his renowned mystery series, The Magic Bullet: A Locked Room Mystery Featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes. High above the city, a renowned local financier named Artemis Dodge lies face down on the floor of his armored penthouse sanctuary, a single bullet hole in his head. From locked rooms and civil unrest to murder and wartime paranoia, Millett’s The Magic Bullet presents detective Shadwell Rafferty’s most challenging case.

Growing up with Swedish and Norwegian grandparents with a dash of Danish thrown in for balance, Dregni thought Scandinavians were perfectly normal. Who doesn’t enjoy a good, healthy salad (Jell-O packed with canned fruit, colored marshmallows, and pretzels) or perhaps some cod soaked in drain cleaner as the highlights of Christmas? On January 18, go along for the ride as Dregni tracks down and explores the significant—and quite often bizarre—historic sites, tales, and traditions of Scandinavia’s peculiar colony in the Midwest in a reading from Vikings in the Attic.

Don’t miss Mary Rockcastle’s new novel on January 25.  Told from the alternating perspectives of a husband and wife, Mary Rockcastle’s In Caddis Wood explores the competing rhythms of romantic love, family life, and professional ambition, refracted through the changing seasons of a long marriage. Beneath the surface, affecting their collective future, beats the resilient and endangered heart of nature. Library Journal states the book is “a strong and insightful novel this reader was reluctant to see end.”

On February 1 Ed Bok Lee looks toward a global future, one where the dividing lines between state, religion, race, history, and culture have been blurred to the extent that the very idea of difference requires a new understanding. His new poetry collection Whorled strives to give a voice to those left out with words of loss and longing, confrontation and celebration. From gambling Buddhists at a Midwest Native American casino, to a Russian rave, Lee’s ever-wandering cultural and spiritual nomads struggle to make sense of what it means to be a citizen of an increasingly homeless world.

For Peter Smith, the unavoidable mistakes and embarrassments in life—our lesser horrors— are not without their humor, and a healthy dose at that. In A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors, a series of funny, honest, and moving pieces, Smith explores a few messy episodes from his own life and uncovers a simple reassurance we should take to heart: we’re all on this wild ride together. Take a seat and enjoy the trip on February 8.

Diane Wilson closes the Fireside Series on February 15 with a reading from the moving book, Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life, in which she explores the work of several modern Dakota people who are continuing to raise beloved children: Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan, an artist and poet; Clifford Canku, a spiritual leader and language teacher; Alameda Rocha, a boarding school survivor; Harley and Sue Eagle, Canadian activists; and Delores Brunelle, an Ojibwe counselor. Each of these humble but powerful people teaches children to believe in the “genius and brilliance” of Dakota culture as a way of surviving historical trauma.

The Fireside Series is sponsored by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, a non-profit organization that supports the work and programs of the Saint Paul Public Library, and co-sponsored by Micawber’s Books.  For more information, contact The Friends at 651-222-3242 or visit

January 11: Larry Millett
January 18: Eric Dregni
January 25: Mary Rockcastle
February 1: Ed Bok Lee
February 8: Peter Smith
February 15: Diane Wilson

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