Coworker Nikki Buchholz came to a halt in my office doorway. “Are you crying over a book? You have got to be kidding me,” she said with shock. “Didn’t I just hear you laughing?”
“Yes,” I sputtered. “It is going to be a good book review.”
“Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)” is the newest novel by Minnesota author Lorna Landvik. The book is published by the University of Minnesota Press, has a retail price of $25.95 for hardcover and ISBN 978-1-5179-0599-6. “Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)” can be purchased everywhere, or at least should be.
What would happen to the Mesabi Daily News or the Iron Range community if our beloved journalist/columnist Linda Tyssen slipped into a coma? I hope we never find out! But that is the rabbit hole Landvik helps us jump into with “Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)”, her 12th book.
Landvik is a Minnesota author and a local favorite. Known for her other titles such as “Patty Jane’s House of Curl,” “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,” “Best to Laugh” and “Once in a Blue Moon Lodge,” this comedian makes you feel all the feels.
“Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)” is already on the short list of many area book clubs, those who haven’t read it since its release this past spring.
In “Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes),” the local columnist Haze Evans, who has written for the Granite Creek Gazette for 50 years, falls into a coma. While coworkers and the community pray for Haze’s swift recovery, publisher Susan McGrath decides to re-run some of Haze’s past columns.
McGrath’s family has owned and run The Granite City Gazette for generations. With fondness she recalls her grandfather, whom she took over from, and how he is now in the “...Great Beyond or the Press Room in the Sky or wherever he may have landed.”
McGrath’s life is in transition as her marriage ends, she approaches an empty nest and one son that travels the world. Her younger son, Sam, needs a summer job and he finds himself behind Haze’s desk. Thinking her writing will have nothing to do with him, the reader watches as comatose Haze has a lasting impact on Sam and his classmates as he selects which columns to run and what reader feedback to print.
In classic Landvik style, a close look is taken at each of the characters that weave in and out of the novel. No story is left untold.
“Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)” offers a unique literary trail as the voice of the main character, Haze, is only heard through past columns.
This book swings the reader like a comfortable lawn chair on a warm summer’s eve. It took me back to my childhood, playing with my little brother and sister. Then, forward to a long retirement with my best friend, Ann Marie. Back I drifted to my wedding day and forward to the sad day when my dog dies.
Through the reading of Haze’s personal and opinion columns it is surprising how close you can get to a columnist. It was also surprising how topics and issues can remain relevant for generations.
“I think that’s the gift of any good writer,” says Liz. “By bringing us into their own world, they bring us into the whole world,” stated a character on page 226.
The gift of Haze as a columnist, and Landvik as her author, is their ability to reflect on world events. When she wrote about the funeral of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, I felt like I was there.
Haze is a tough old gal who I’d like to be friends with and have as a writing mentor. While I may wish that, “Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)” is unknowingly a course in column writing, obituary writing and public relations.
As the cover endorsement by author Julie Schumacher states, “Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)” is “A comic love letter to journalism and literature.” More than that, I see this book as touching my soul- who I am- A down-to-earth writer. I am your neighbor who happens to be read in the local newspaper.
This is the best book I’ve read all year. It will make the perfect gift for readers of all ages and genders. There are a variety of characters with whom you will love! I promise, you will laugh, cry and maybe re-read your favorite columns by Linda Tyssen.