Photo of Duff Brenna on book tour in Bend, Oregon Cover of Murdering the Mom, a memoir by Duff Brenna Cover of Minnesota Memoirs, short stories by Duff Brenna Cover of The Book of Mamie, a novel by Duff Brenna

“Many of the stories are linked by recurring characters; more importantly, they continually remind us of our essential interconnectedness. Here you’ll find wisdom (‘Stay warm. Bless your reveries,’ in one of many deft comic touches), cunning, love, frailty, murderousness, and compassion so surprising it takes even the compassionate by surprise.”

—Oronte Churm, blogger at Inside Higher Ed
(aka John Griswold, author of A Democracy of Ghosts)


Reviews: Minnesota Memoirs


Review from Amazon.com by Steve Davenport

Duff Brenna’s one of those storytellers who gets it right in every sentence. A master craftsman’s master craftsman. He’s got miles to go before he’s done building his cabinet of books, but I’ve already bronzed him in my 99th percentile. And what unforgettable characters. If he’d closed up shop after just his first three novels, we’d have close to a dozen Hall-of-Fame candidates on the ballot. Mamie Beaver, John Beaver, Christian Foggy, Shepard, Jasper John, Henry Hank, Godot, Didi Godunov, Fat Stanley, Triple E, and my personal favorite, Helga.

The stories that make up Minnesota Memoirs are quintessential Duff. If you know his novels, you’ll recognize scenes and characters. If not, you’re in for a treat of another kind, the best kind, stories that will stay with you because they’re shaped by the best of the best. Remember that when Vernon, twine in hand, sinks his arm to the elbow in Cristobell. Ain’t nobody can birth a calf like Duff Brenna, American treasure.

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Review from Amazon.com by Oronte Churm

[Editor’s Note: John Griswold, author of A Democracy of Ghosts, blogs under the pen name of Oronte Churm.]

It’s out of vogue to suggest we learn things in aid of our survival by reading literature. But with this new story collection you’ll learn many things, starting with 19 more ways of looking at a blackbird; how to hotwire a car (and start an affair); and what “all good Americans who love God and their country” are up to in their passionate, sodden nights and regretful days that follow.

These pages swarm with humanity: Unofficial and unpaid caregivers—the ones who sing to cows, take in unwanted children, and bear witness and give comfort when no one else can be bothered—braggarts, cheats, thieves, failures, mad word-drunk egotists, dope-smoking seniors, and the habitu├ęs of a rollicking gay bar. Many of the stories are linked by recurring characters; more importantly, they continually remind us of our essential interconnectedness. Here you’ll find wisdom (“Stay warm. Bless your reveries,” in one of many deft comic touches), cunning, love, frailty, murderousness, and compassion so surprising it takes even the compassionate by surprise.

Duff Brenna’s prose rolls along at a profound pace, unhurried and seeming to touch everything, like a river through a dark landscape. “What I’d like to know is what’s the point?” a character says wonderingly of life. This collection, as with the best art, bears its own answer.

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