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1. The Staggerford Murders and The
2. The New Woman: A Staggerford Novel
3. Grand Opening
4. The Staggerford Flood
5. Simon's Night
6. Dean's List
7. Conversations with Jon Hassler
8. Staggerford: A Novel
9. North of Hope (Loyola Classics)
10. The Love Hunter
11. Rookery Blues
12. Dear James (Loyola Classics)
13. Green Journey
14. Jemmy
15. Underground Christmas
16. An Interview With Jon Hassler
17. Good People . . . from an Author's
18. Keepsakes & Other Stories
19. Rufus at the Door & Other
20. My Staggerford Journal

1. The Staggerford Murders and The Life and Death Nancy Clancy's Nephew
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 198 Pages (2004-11-30)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452285402
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Filled with his trademark humor and warmth, Jon Hassler’s The Staggerford Murders and The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew offer a welcome return to the town that has captivated readers for years.

In The Staggerford Murders, residents of the Ransford Hotel "solve" the nine-year-old murder of esteemed Staggerford citizen Neddy Nichols and the disappearance of his widow, Blanche.Hassler’s wry humor is in full force as this wonderful tale unfolds.In the more poignant and bittersweet The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew, elderly W.D. Nestor finds his loneliness dispelled by his friendship with a young Staggerford boy, but it is a sudden visit to his one hundred-year-old Aunt Nancy that provides the peace he has always been looking for. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Keep reading - the second novella makes the first more meaningful
This was myfirst exposure to the author who has written a series of related mystery novels with a rural Minnesota setting. This bookcontains two novellas and atfirst I didn't realize they were related..The first is a brisk, seemingly silly little mystery featuring quirky characters but the second is a really profound portrait of regrets, aging and death,alittle like Ethan Frome in tone, and brings in some characters from the first novella which me think that reading more of the series will bring out more depth.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MASTER AT WORK

4-0 out of 5 stars Two Delightful and Diverting Novellas
About as cozy as cozy can get, THE STAGGERFORD MURDERS has the feel of "Murder, She Wrote" crossed with Jan Karon's Mitford series. Written from the viewpoint of Grover, an ancient geezer; Dusty, an even more ancient geezer; and Ollie, Dusty's nephew --- plus a couple of others --- the first of the two novellas has a distinctive down-home flavor. The three main characters live in the Ransford Hotel in Staggerford, Minnesota. Grover manages the old hotel, a somewhat decrepit place on its way out. The other two live there and sit around, jawing with Grover to pass the time.

One day, a letter is published in the Weekly, the local news source, asking for any clues leading to the whereabouts of Blanche Nichols, a woman who disappeared nine years before, and is signed by her daughter. Since the little town of Staggerford doesn't see a lot of mystery, the letter's intriguing request causes quite a stir --- at least among the hotel's residents. Through ruminations and revelations, the old guys stumble upon what happened, who murdered who, and what to do about it now.

Author Jon Hassler writes with an easy style, making THE STAGGERFORD MURDERS a pleasant escape.

In THE LIFE AND DEATH OF NANCY CLANCY'S NEPHEW, the book's second novella, the reader is treated to a glimpse into W.D. Nestor's rather unhappy existence. The saying goes that you reap what you sow, but W.D. doesn't seem to deserve what comes his way. True, he is surrounded by family and friends, but they could be more understanding and less indifferent. His daughter and son both have a huge gap where their hearts should be.

Once upon a time W.D. had a great love, the mother of his children. Their lives together numbered too few, as she was taken from him long before he was ready to wind down. The days pass with W.D. becoming more and more curmudgeonly. Finally, he finds a friend in Kevin, a young lad he meets at the local library. For eight years, W.D. and Kevin fill a need in each other's lives. Unfortunately, Kevin grows up and enters the army. By the time they see each other again, W.D. has grown older --- at an alarmingly accelerated rate --- and his days are definitely numbered. Just as W.D.'s life had few genuine thrills, his death could have gone almost unnoticed were it not for Aunt Nancy Clancy.

As in THE STAGGERFORD MURDERS, the characters make the story come alive. Their personalities and quirks give them human dimension. There are no pretensions here --- just wholesome prose and a welcome diversion.

--- Reviewed by Kate Ayers

4-0 out of 5 stars Two novellas featuring Hassler in two of his best modes.
With warmth, gentle humor, irony, and repeating characters, Hassler's novels have always recreated the friendships and loyalties, along with the gossip, resentments, and long memories, which make life in Staggerford, Minnesota, a community activity.In his latest offering, Hassler presents two novellas in very different tones.The first, The Staggerford Murders, is a farce of the first order.A letter appears in the Staggerford newspaper from Penny Jean Nichols, from Fresno, California, asking for information about her mother, Blanche Nichols, who disappeared from Staggerford nine years ago.Her father had been murdered in front of the local movie theater at that time, and her mother disappeared without a trace.

The "detectives" in this case are Grover, the 81-year-old desk clerk at the run-down Ransford Hotel, and his two friends, Dusty Luuya, a resident who is limited in his abilities, and Ollie Luuya, his nephew, a former derelict, now a born again preacher.Unearthing a series of shocking allegations against Neddy Nichols and others, they, Penny Jean, and her husband are soon examining the man her mother married immediately after Neddy Nichols's murder.Bizarre natural and accidental deaths, and a murder trial for the murder of a dead body are among the absurdities Hassler features, as he piles irony upon irony and twist upon twist, revealing the dark underbelly of humanity, even in Staggerford.

"The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy's Nephew" is totally different in tone.This sensitive character study focuses on W. D. Nestor, a seventy-two-year-old turkey farmer.Through vivid word pictures, the life of W.D. unfolds, detailing his marriage to his wife Lucille while she was still in high school, their contented, but uncommunicative, marriage, and W.D.'s late-in-life befriending of a young boy, the poorest player on the local Little League team.When he is eighty-two, he visits his Aunt Nancy, almost one hundred, and through this visit, shows the reader that this is the story of an old man assessing at his life just before his death.

These two novellas, one hilariously funny and one sadly introspective, separately emphasize the two characteristics which make Hassler's novels so vibrant.His characters are often humorous and always believable, their dialogue pitch perfect.At the same time, Hassler details moments of touching sadness as he shows the high and low points in the lives of these ordinary men.Sensitive, full of wry moments, and realistic in the vision of small-town America, Hassler's novels are among literary America's best kept secrets.Mary Whipple

4-0 out of 5 stars two fine thriller novellas
The Staggerford Murders.Almost a decade has passed since someone killed Staggerford, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce employee Neddy Nicholls and his wife Blanche vanished.Neither mystery was resolved.Now their daughter Penny Jean comes from California to uncover what happened to her mother.Her former husband George follows her home.At the Ransford Hotel, several townsfolk discuss her ad in the Staggerford Weekly asking for help into the disappearance of her mom.The upbeat frenetic pace feels like it belongs in A Mad Mad Mad Mad World as not much is taken seriously but at times the tale is difficult to follow.Still, this is a good entry in the Staggerford folklore.

Nancy Clancy's Nephew.Septuagenarian W.D. Nestor grew up on a prairie farm raised by an abusive father.As an adult W.D. hid his feelings with the only persons he cared about being his spouse Lucille and his two children.As he talks to a psychiatrist giving him the third degree, he reflects back over his miserable life to the one shining star the night he and Lucille wed during a snowstorm.He actually makes friend with a young boy, but finds no peace until a decade later when he visits his century old Aunt Nancy Clancy.Though well written this is not an upbeat tale as typically provided by Jon Hassler; instead the protagonist is a grim soul with little that is positive in his life.

Both tales are well written, but seem totally opposites in outlook. Ironically, the murder-disappearance mystery is cheerful while the biographical fiction piece is depressing.Although fans of Mr. Hassler will enjoy the two novellas, readers will realize neither is quite on a par with THE STAGGERFORD FLOOD.

Harriet Klausner
... Read more

2. The New Woman: A Staggerford Novel
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 224 Pages (2006-09-26)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$0.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000VYK8LQ
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Since 1977, Jon Hassler’s Staggerford series has entranced readers with its funny and charming depiction of life in small-town America. The New Woman is his latest visit to this Minnesota hamlet.

At the age of eighty-eight, Agatha McGee has grudgingly moved out of her house on River Street and into the Sunset Senior Apartments. She’s not happy about giving up her independence, and Sunset Senior’s arts and crafts activities and weekly excursions to the Blue Sky Casino are hardly a consolation. Meanwhile two of her close friends pass away, her nephew Frederick is drifting into depression, and a kidnapped little girl has suddenly appeared on her doorstep. With characteristic poise and dignity, Agatha takes on her problems and finds that the bonds of friendship and family are still the key to happiness at any age. Affectionate and life-affirming, The New Woman is another delightful trip to a town with a soul as real as rural America itself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars "'Range of motion' applies to our psyches as well as our bodies...If we shut down parts,we'll never get them back."
With warmth, gentle humor, irony, and repeating characters, Jon Hassler has kept readers fascinated with life in Staggerford, Minnesota, for nearly thirty years.Friendships, loyalties, gossip, and jealousies--all the raw material of smalltown community activity--come to life in the relationships among the characters, many of whom have been featured throughout the twelve Staggerford novels.The 87-year-old grande dame of Staggerford, Agatha McGee, formerly a teacher at St. Isidore's school, has finally moved out of her house along the river and into the Sunset Senior Apartments, where she finds the closeness of her neighbors to be stifling, at times.

When her diamond brooch turns up missing, Agatha looks carefully at her neighbors, trying to figure out who might have taken it.As always, Agatha's opinions reflect her strict world view--she is appalled at John Beezer's eating habits, at Big Edna's crassness, at the decline in grammatical speech, and at the general loss of civility she remembers from the old days in Staggerford, but she cannot imagine who might have taken her brooch.

A twenty-year-old magazine article about an MX missile, ready to fire, which the US government once mounted on a train and moved around the country each night, inspires Agatha and her friend Lillian to createan "MX Box," into which each resident puts his/her valuables, to be moved around the complex in the care of a different resident each night.Hassler's gentle, wry humor devolves into dark humor here when the box is "misplaced" by a forgetful resident--everyone knows where it is, but no one knows how to retrieve it, and the resulting farce is black humor at its hilarious best.

Plot is not Hassler's primary concern as he recreates the lives of Staggerford's elderly residents.His characters are believable, their dialogue is pitch-perfect, and his elderly readers (especially) will undoubtedly see themselves in the characters.Events are realistic and often poignant. Two long-time residents die.Agatha finds herself in charge of a young kidnapped child.Her visits to the local school leave her appalled at the lack of order, but her decision to set up a support group at the apartment complex meets with enormous success.

No world-shaking events occur here, but Staggerford is not a world-shaking community--just a typical Midwestern, middleclass town observing the commonplaces of everyday life.It is these commonplace observances--and celebrations of the lifestyle they represent--that make Hassler's novels so winsome, nostalgic, and beloved.n Mary Whipple

5-0 out of 5 stars A charming and realistic portrayal of small-town USA
Jon Hassler published his first Staggerford novel in 1977. That event set the scene for the subsequent books that tell the stories of the events that touched the lives of its inhabitants. When asked in an interview about his choice of locale he said, "I've been rooted in northern Minnesota all my life; I've never moved." Clearly this is his "place" and that is where he set his latest novel, THE NEW WOMAN.

THE NEW WOMAN is the story of Agatha McGee, an octogenarian who taught sixth grade for almost 50 years in Staggerford. At 87 her health is good and her mental faculties are as sharp as they were when she was a much younger woman. She still lives in the house she grew up in, and until recently she managed very well. "She has carried around the image of Staggerford as a bucolic, serene little hamlet, and she was under the false impression that she was still acquainted with all its citizens, as she had been in her teaching days." For years she had based that view on what she was able to see from her windows in "her house on River Street."

We meet her three days after she's moved into the Sunset Senior Apartments. And as she gazes from the window of her new home she stares at the Kmart parking lot across the street. She is amazed at the number of cars coming and going. "...she realized that there were hundreds of people living in this town whom she didn't know." When her lifelong friend Lillian, also a resident of the building, pays a call, Agatha thinks, "Oh, dear, this move was certainly a mistake." She "had feared that living here would compromise her independence."

But in Hassler's imaginary Staggerford, things don't always turn out as expected, and as the story unfolds Agatha moves back and forth from the present to her past. And these journeys give the richness and texture of what otherwise could have been a novella without much punch. When one considers Hassler's words in another interview, a real connection is made between the writer and his theme and the reader and his message: "I spent seven years visiting my mother in a similar place in a small town in Minnesota," Hassler recalls. "I'd go up there once a week and we'd have our peach delight and our coffee. I got to know these people pretty well. I just felt so at home with them that I wanted to write about them. People get outspoken at that age, and I like that. I just love people talking at odds, going off in their own directions." Add to these flights of verbal disconnects the eccentricities of each member, and sparks fly.

Over the course of a few weeks Agatha slowly works her magic and gains the respect of her fellow residents, realizing that since she retired what she missed most was being taken seriously. She really is the "grand old lady" of the town, and when she starts reaching out to her former students who are now the movers and shakers of Staggerford, she realizes that she was never forgotten.

Hassler stages several scenes in which one or more of the characters experience an epiphany. Agatha touches people who felt neglected and ignored, which gains their everlasting loyalty. They come to honor her for who she is and was, and how she affected their lives.

At some points the plot seems to be on the verge of unraveling, but Hassler manages to pull the loose ends together. Without being sentimental, melodramatic or gloomy, he writes in a conversational style that is charming and real. He doesn't romanticize getting old and being alone or having to leave the comfort and security of one's home. He doesn't sugarcoat the difficulties inherent in meeting new people under conditions that one didn't necessarily choose. Yet he manages to give the reader an honest portrayal of his characters and his message.

Agatha is a strong-willed, pious woman who is as devoted to her church as she is to doing good and living a charitable life --- despite the dark days. The supporting cast knows that bad things happen. All of them have experienced different kinds of hard times. Of this Hassler has said in the past: "I'm not sure that the optimism and the success of my characters in overcoming darkness is really connected to my religion. I think it's connected to a belief I have in the ongoing quality of life. People survive and are stronger for their suffering. It's just the feeling I have about life."

Those notions are the major thread in THE NEW WOMAN. Agatha is surprised and delighted when she finds her niche as the leader of a support group that over 10 months grows so large that the meetings are held in the high school gym. At the end of a long meeting, when Agatha is exhausted, she says: "I believe 'range of motion' applies to our psyches as well as our bodies. If we shut down parts of our thinking, we'll never get them back, and so you might say these [meetings] are my psychological therapy."

Jon Hassler infuses today's literary scene with a book that reflects small-town style, USA. He clearly sees teachers as heroes, friendship as a special gift, optimism as the anecdote to the blues, and aging as an opportunity to continue to grow as an individual. We are never too old to learn --- and if someone is willing to teach, all of us benefit.

--- Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum

3-0 out of 5 stars Minnesota's Miss Marple
Agatha McGee, the protagonist of THE NEW WOMAN, will remind you of Agatha Christie's Miss Marpel. Miss Marpel had a certain arrogance as does Miss McGee. Miss Marpel reveled in gossip; Miss McGee wouldn't miss the Friday afternoon "coffee" sessions at Sunset Senior Apartments.

Unlike Hassler's fabulous textured, thematic novels STAGGERFORD, GRAND OPENING, and NORTH OF HOPE, this is an episodic work. It begins when Miss McGee, Staggerford's most revered former teacher, is forced to move from her house on River Street to a senior citizen's home. Almost immediately someone steals the diamond brooch she was given upon high school graduation. She accuses retired farmer John Beezer. He's so taken with her he doesn't seem to mind. After a week, Agatha moves back into her house on River Street, but when her volunteer housekeeper and lifelong friend, Lillian Kite, dies, she realizes she must move to Sunset Senior Apartments permanently.

Agatha finds her brooch; she'd misplaced it while unpacking. She apologizes to Beezer, then sets about reforming him. He has terrible table manners, can't speak proper English etc. Surprisingly, he's grateful. Beezer is the most interesting character in the book. When one of Agatha's friends at Sunset misplaces what she thinks is a winning lottery ticket, in Lillian's coffin, Beezer helps her dig it up, in below-zero weather. In the process we learn how to dig through frozen earth. In the next episode, Beezer's son kidnaps his daughter from his slatternly wife, getting Agatha in trouble in the process. In the final episode, Agatha forms a mental-health group with unforseen consequences. Beezer's sister, coincidentally the same woman who murdered teacher Miles Pruit of STAGGERFORD fame, is one of the participants.

Compared to Hassler's other novels, this is a very short work, only 214 pages, but it has a certain Garrison Keillor hominess about it, and it's good to hear from Agatha again. ... Read more

3. Grand Opening
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 336 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$5.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345410173
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A small town in Minnesota is the setting for this strong novel about the moral awakening of a child in 1944. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Small Town America Rediscovered
I have read three of Jon Hassler's novels and I consider this the best of the lot. The book succeeds in capturing the character and personality of small town America. The characters in the novel are interesting and they all play a significant role in the development of the plot. Hassler brings to life the challenges a family faces in the move from the privacy afforded by a metropolitan area to a small town where they find themselves the topic of conversation and rumor. The change places stresses on all family members and their reactions to it are well handled by the author. This is a classically great novel.

R. Thomas Roe, Author of The Gaelic Letters

5-0 out of 5 stars Small town mirror
Since I live near a small town (I'd never live in one).I enjoyed Hassler's characters and their struggle with right and wrong.I especially liked his revelations about the two Christian denominations and their unChristlike behavior.

5-0 out of 5 stars WELL WORTH MY TIME

5-0 out of 5 stars Small town life...
I have many different ways of rating a book; writing style, emotional impact, what it has taught me, etc.
Although I have read quite a few good novels this past year I think Jon Hassler's Grand Opening has been my favorite despite the fact there was really nothing spectacular in the style of writing. There was something very real about this book. It's the perfect portrayal of how certain individuals will just never be accepted into small town life. I have grown up in small towns all my life and have experienced this treatment because my family was never one for participating in small-town politics. It also didn't help matters that my mom was a "big city girl" from Minneapolis, MN. It's hard to be accepted in a small town unless you were born there, but really...even the people who are born there rarely make the cut themselves.

This book is full of bad things happening to good people. It's also full of good people having not-so-good thoughts and being hard on themselves for it. The beauty of Catholic guilt is well reflected in the character of Brendan.

The book had me split the entire time; I loved it for it's realism, yet I hated it because it wasn't an escape for me. People generally read to escape from the issues of daily life, yet this book paralleled the small town behavior I have viewed my entire life.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing Look At Small Town Life
GRAND OPENING is like taking a step back in time to 1944 and makes the reader both want to return to a simpler place and time while also being glad that times have changed and we don't have to live in Hassler's fictional town. In the book we meet the Foster family: Hank and Catherine and their son Brendan and Catherine's father. The family is staunchly Catholic and moves to the small town of Plum to open a grocery store. They soon discover that the town is evenly split between Catholics and Lutherans, neither of whom will socialize with the other. They also learn that small the politics of small town life are not always easy to navigate and that harsh judgments rarely go away. We see innocence in Brendan who loves his new home, and we see some quirks from the grandfather that can be amusing. We also meet a group of interesting characters: Wallace Flint, a man who is more disturbed than he appears; Dodger Hicks, a young man with few chances or saving graces in his life; Fr. O'Day, the parish priest without the finesse of Bing Crosby's famous Fr. O'Malley; Paul Dimmitburg, the son of the Lutheran minister taking a leave from his seminary studies; and Mrs. Brask, the mayor's wife and the worst kind of snob imaginable.

Hassler has a gift for creating good characters and he presents a slice of life in this novel that is both pleasant and dark. There are conflicts throughout the book, both large and small. Hassler does not immediately throw the reader into controversy as some writers do. Instead he brings the reader into the town itself and sets the reader on firm ground, and then the conflicts and tensions begin. It's almost as if we're being transported back to 1944 and we've moved to Plum. Hassler also doe a good job at creating a small Midwestern town at the end of World War II, keeping the historical circumstances in mind while not allowing World War II to envelope the entire story.

This book will be enjoyed by many of Jon Hassler's fans, and is a great introduction to the works of an enjoyable writer.
... Read more

4. The Staggerford Flood
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 208 Pages (2003-10-28)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$0.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452284627
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In The Staggerford Flood, Jon Hassler brings back Agatha McGee and reunites other favorite characters from his award-winning Staggerford novels.When a flood hits Staggerford and neighboring towns, Agatha McGee's house on the highest hill in town becomes a refuge for seven female neighbors, friends, and former students for three days and three nights.This deluge of old and new friends-as well as a new young priest who thinks Agatha has become a bit too zealous about morality-helps to restore Agatha's own very distinctive spark. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars Sleepy and Unimaginative
This book has a promising premise... a certain saccharine-sweet appeal to it when you look at the cover and read the first few pages.
The problem, though, is that there are too many characters which are easy to confuse with one another, and too little of an attraction by the reader to the characters' story. I'm halfway into this book, and so far, it's just a blur of old people and their families, and random thoughts and odd comments made by a protagonist who's not very appealing.
I just have no connection to these characters. If you have a Minnesota connection, however, and/or are not bothered by a slow pace, you might like this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not one of Hassler's better novels...
I was really looking forward to reading this book. I must sadly write, Staggerford Flood is not one of my favorite Jon Hassler novels.I'm a big Hassler fan; I've have read most of his books, but I feel this latest offering pales next to others.The characters are not as well developed, and the plot (7 or so local residents are holed up in the protagonist's house during a flood) did not hold my interest.The flood and its physical consequences are not described with much detail. The book focuses more on the flood's psychological influence on the characters.If you plan to read this book, I would suggest reading 'Staggerford' first. Not only is Staggerford a superior read, but it will also help you to better identify with the characters of `Flood.'

3-0 out of 5 stars (3.5) An octogenarian's slumber party
At a time when neighbors are barely acquainted, Hassler offers a welcome distraction, a visit to a place where America is known for its small towns with friendly people, where the postman greets everyone on his route. The Staggerford Flood is author Jon Hassler's intimate novel of small town life, in Staggerford, Minnesota, where everyone's business is discussed by folks who have known each other all their lives. Staggerford has the aura of turn-of the-century America, long before extended families began their exodus to crowded cities, where distance is an obstacle to communication.

Most of the characters in this novel are familiar faces, returning from previous tales, updating their stories. The most endearing character is Miss Agatha McGhee, a former schoolteacher and octogenarian and the resident wise woman. Agatha hasn't gotten out much the last few months, slightly under the weather, but when she sees her name in the headlines of the local newspaper, she is incensed that anyone would announce her business without consulting her. The newspaper article gets Agatha's dander up and she is on the move, fueled by a need to set the record straight. While in town, Agatha learns that the recent rain threatens to flood, that the Badbattle River will inundate all of Staggerford, as well as the neighboring towns.

Immediately concerned with those neighbors who may not have shelter when their homes flood or are unable to reach the safety of higher ground, Agatha prepares for the worst, gathering blankets and canned goods to accommodate at least two guests. When the number of stranded women increases drastically, Agatha is hard-pressed to accommodate everyone comfortably.

Agatha has gathered an odd assortment of eccentrics under her roof. Among the guests are Agatha's best friend of many years, Lillian, and her obdurate daughter, the town's new undertaker, Linda Schwartzman, Janet Meers with her daughter Sara and the much-married Beverly Bingham Cooper. Her usually quiet residence is filled with female chatter and laughter, as the women nestle contentedly out of harm's way, pleased to be warm and dry. Even when the electricity shorts out, the little group snuggles together in candlelight, festive and secure.

There is much reminiscing and storytelling as the women wait out nature's fury.
Add an assortment of town regulars who check on the women's safety, the sheriff, a local radio talk show host (a gossip) and Agatha's nephew, Frederick, and the octogenarian's house becomes a temporary home to some wonderfully eccentric characters. Agatha oversees her disparate quests, content to have brought these women together, their troubles far away for this short time. Occasionally, the old woman dozes, dreaming of the friends who have peopled her long and well-lived life.

This novel perfectly showcases Hassler's unique talent. Like Garrison Keillor of Lake Woebegon, Hassler is the undisputed muse of Minnesota. Quirky and wry, Hassler's seductive and charming characters offer his readers a welcome respite from the stresses of everyday life, a walk back in time, when conversations were held on porch swings and grandparents lived only a block away. Luan Gaines/2003.

5-0 out of 5 stars Welcome Back Home
I have read all of Jon Hassler's novels.He has the rare ability to write a good story about people you come to care about.In this novel he brings back many of the characters who were so prominent in his other novels - almost like a reunion of characters.For long time readers of his novels this is a visit back home to see how the family is getting along.For new readers of his work, I would suggest that you begin with his earlier work and build to this one.Specifically start with Staggerford, Simon's Night, A Green Journey and Dear James.Rookery Blues would also be a prerequisite to this novel.You won't be disappointed.I grew up and still live in the area that Mr. Hassler writes about.He was also my poetry teacher in my first year in college at Brainerd Junior College.For those of you who like to read about central Minnesota this is the real Lake Wobegone.Jon Hassler describes real people - don't miss out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Like attending a reunion in your old hometown.
No matter where you come from, Hassler's Staggerford feels like home, and his characters like the old friends (and nemeses) you probably grew up with.With an unerring eye for the universally mundane, and an ear for the commonplaces we all expect in conversations with old friends, Hassler brings Staggerford, Minnesota, to life during the "flood of the century," as the Badbattle River overflows and inundates the town one spring.

There's nothing like a good emergency to inspire Agatha McGee, the 80-year-old spinster who taught most of Staggerford at St. Isidore's School.Ignoring ill health, she takes charge among her neighbors and friends, inviting seven unlikely people to ride out the storm in her house on the highest land along the river.With warmth and great good humor, Hassler recreates their long-standing friendships and loyalties, along with the gossip, resentments, and long memories which make life in any small town a community activity.

For Hassler's long-time readers, this novel is like a reunion--everyone in the old gang, from all the previous novels, is here, older, perhaps, but still going strong.Beverly Bingham, the sad teenager who found refuge with Agatha in Hassler's first novel (Staggerford) returns as the mature mother of a schizophrenic son.Lolly Edwards, the radio gossip who held her own memorial service so that she could hear what people would say about her (The Dean's List) and her son, Leland, now President of Rookery State (Rookery Blues), are back, along with Fr. Frank Healy (North of Hope).Agatha's shy nephew Frank Lopat; her best friend, ditzy Lillian Kite, and her termagant daughter, Imogene; and Janet Raft Meers, the young woman who looks after her; and many others, continue their stories here, along with several new characters.

The characters are believable, the dialogue is pitch perfect, and the community dynamics show Hassler's sensitivity to and love for the subtleties of small town life. The behavior of the characters is completely consistent with their personalities as we know them, and their ability to remain individuals while also acting for the good of the community is one of Hassler's greatest achievements.Hassler is careful to explain past histories here so that new readers can enjoy the novel almost as much as devotees of the previous novels, but new readers are urged to start with one of the earlier novels first in order to enjoy this one and its characters more fully.This is a "grand finale" of a novel, one you don't want to reach too soon.Mary Whipple ... Read more

5. Simon's Night
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: Pages (1997-06-23)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$428.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345418255
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"A marvel. Out of Old Age, which our peculiar times have determined to view as a sort of generational sin, Jon Hassler has drawn forth a poignant, funny, wise novel about Eternal Youth."
Simon Shea, a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college, has begun to forget things and is making dangerous errors in living. Thinking he needs to be cared for more closely, he commits himself to a private rest home, and opens a world of the strange, delightful, frightening, and comic, as he attempts to recover from his mistake.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars What is the Best Way to Spend One's Last Years?
This book is readable and interesting though not one of Hassler's strongest novels.
However, even a weak novel by Hassler is better than most other books.Hence, I
rated it a '4'.

Simon Shea is 76 years old and a retired professor of English when he enters a home
for the elderly.The book takes place during a seven day period wherein Simon eval-
uates his choice to give up his home and enter an assisted living facility.Through
reminiscence, current experience and Simon's reflections, we journey with him as he
looks at his future and decides which path to take.

I recommend other Hassler books instead of this one; 'Staggerford' and 'A Green

5-0 out of 5 stars this is a great writer.
my first jon hassler read, simon's night is a great piece of fiction. a novel that caused me to buy everything i could find with this author's name on it. no pretension here, no postmodern posturing, just a wonderful old-fashion novel with interesting real-life characters brought vividly forth by a master. mr hassler should be as famous as anne tyler or john updike, he creates a complete fictional world that is a treat to look into. my highest recommendations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, a novel about an older man which is realistic!
Simon Shea, a retired college professor used to living a rather solitary life, becomes frightened after he has a few episodes of forgetfulness, the worst one causing an overheated pan to set his kitchen on fire. Shaken and feeling suddenly old, he decides he needs to commit himself to a rest home. In short, he no longer feels competent to live the independent life he's relished for so long and fears he is losing his mind.
This is, of course, a BIG mistake for Simon has plenty of vim and energy left and his mind is just fine. Luckily, he has a perceptive young doctor who sees his potential even when Simon's spirits falter and a visit from his wife (who Simon hasn't seen in years) also helps to set things straight. But before that happens, Simon has to confront his own demons, revisit his memories of teaching, marriage and...finally...re-examine his religious beliefs and come to terms with how they've shaped his life.
But this book is far, far more than I can describe here. Simon Shea is a complex, enigmatic character, nothing like the stereotypes of the elderly that fill too many books these days. It was a joy to get to know him and by the end of this novel, I felt I wanted to see waht happened to Simon. Wonder if there is a sequel to this one out there?

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the best
Jon Hassler is simply the best writer in American literature today period. It is amazing that more people have not read Hassler. Each of his books are poignant and charming. He writes in the style of the giants of yesteryear.

5-0 out of 5 stars an insightful perspective on aging
John Hassler's, Simon's Night, is an incredible novel that creatively portrays issues surrounding the experience of aging.Hassler achieves this by personalizing the experience in his character, Simon Shea, a retired English professor.The novel explores Shea's mental process while he isstruggling to be responsible about his decision to give up independent careand place himself in the care of a nursing home.Hassler successfullydepicts the challenges many elderly people face through Simon's experiencesand witty commentary on maintaining dignity, handling fear, reconcilingpast experiences, and living in relation to a culture which glorifiesyouth. For such an important and potentially depressing topic, thisnovel was a pleasure to read. The well developed characters wereintriguing, often funny, and I found myself emotionally attached to them. This attachment gave the wisdom of Hassler's insights the strength ofemotional connection. ... Read more

6. Dean's List
by Jon Hassler
Mass Market Paperback: 432 Pages (1998-03-28)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$46.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345424735
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Leland Edwards, a piano-playing fisherman and English professor, has become dean of Rookery State College in Minnesota. With this title comes the daunting task of saving his beloved campus from diminished enrollment, hockey thuggery, and its ignoble associations with Paul Bunyan. So when the most famous poet in America agrees to come to Rookery, Leland hopes that his reading will put Rookery State on the literary map.

But when he arrives, the poet is more and less than what Leland expected--and their relationship leads Leland on a wild ride that will compel him to harbor a fugitive, stand up to his domineering mother, and finally make peace with his brief attempt at love and the tragedy that ensued. . . .Amazon.com Review
Readers of Jon Hassler's Rookery Blues will remember Leland Edwards as a high-spirited young English professor and jazz pianist who, with like-minded fellow academics, formed a quartet called Icejam in 1969. In Hassler's latest novel, The Dean's List, Leland is 25 years older and a much sadder man. Now the dean of Rookery State College, a mediocre institution in northern Minnesota, Leland finds his administrative duties and his dying mother shouldering out what little energy or time he has for music. But if Leland Edwards has given up his dreams of a jazz career, he still has some hopes for his reputation as an academic. When a famous elderly poet, Richard Falcon, comes to Rookery State to work on what he hopes will be his final masterpiece, Leland sees an opportunity to put himself and his institution on the map.

The Dean's List is more melancholy than its predecessor. Still, Jon Hassler's inimitable style, his flair for character, and his well-limned portraits of Minnesota and its people lighten the shadow of gloom that hangs over Rookery State College this year. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Find a comfortable chair, put up your feet, and enjoy!
There's a comfortable "old-shoeness" to picking up a Hassler novel. One doesn't read Hassler primarily for the plots, though they are sometimes dramatic and alwaysinclude a grande finale. Rather, one reads him for his wrydepictions of ordinary humans and for hisgentle, but trenchant observations about midwestern,middleclass, or academic life. The Dean's List is a sequel toRookery Blues, and it is helpful, but notnecessary, to have read that.

Though the plot line here is not asinsistent as in some of his other novels, onedoesn't really care. Who can read this bookand not be amused by characters like Dot, "traumatized in...youth bythe Great Depression," a woman who"hangs up her used paper towels to dry." Theannual fund-raiser dinner at the Hi-Rise housing for the elderlyis a classic-- collecting funds to build restroom facilities on the main floor so that residents"caught short" won't have to go upstairs to theirapartments to find relief. Lolly Edwards'splanning and attending her own full-blown wake so that she can see herfriends and out-of-town relatives and hear all hereulogies is so remarkable one wonders whymore people don't do it! I loved every minute of this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another enjoyable novel from Mr. Hassler
Mr. Hasslers's books are always a treat to read, and this one is no exception.He combines humor and wry observation to amuse us, while at the same time making us think about the serious matters in life. Comparisons toRusso's Straight Man and Smiley's Moo are inevitable. Dean's List struck meas less humorous than these two novels but still had plenty of humor.Asalways Hassler excells with characterization, although I thought thecollege president too stupid to be real (at least I hope so).Thecharacters from the retirement center were superb.I would not hesitate torecommend this book to anyone who enjoys intelligent fiction.All five ofthe Hassler novels I have read so far have been wonderful.North of Hopecontinues to be my personal favorite.

5-0 out of 5 stars Minnesota Blues
I have not read Hassler's "Rookery Blues," but after finishing"Dean's List" this morning, I plan to start "Blues" bynightfall.Hassler's story stays with you even when you're not readinghim--the mark of a good writer.Although much of the book is suffused witha melancholic, wintry mood, it is also greatly funny at times.Themalapropic hockey coach is particularly hilarious. On the down side, theremay be just a few too many extended-family characters than necessary, andit is hard to believe that the protagonist, approaching 60 years of age, isgenuinely such a "mama's boy"!Also, the protagonist's secondmarriage at the end seems a little forced, as we learned comparativelylittle about his new wife during the main part of the book. On theplus side, Hassler's story keeps the reader involved, and his inclusion ofpoems by the fictional, aging poet, Robert Falcon, adds a nice touch ofrealism.I would also truly love to see hordes of people come out to see abeloved poet, as happens in the book.In short, "Dean's List" isengaging without being overwrought.I'd especially recommend it for anyonewho is or has been in academia in the 1990s.Hassler, much like RichardRusso in "Straight Man," manages to poke fun at higher educationwhile also eliciting a certain amount of respect for it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful story of life in small-town Minnesota!
One of the things that I love most about Jon Hassler's writing is that he takes us to a level where we become intimate with the characters and their stories.I very much enjoyed the first person perspective of Leland in Rookery Blues, and felt as though he were someone I knew and cared about by the end of the story.Although Jon does have Parkinson's, I do not believe that this book was a questioning of his effectiveness/impact of either his writing or of his life.I believe that he is very comfortable with his accomplishments and with who he is, and happen to know that he actually has a number of projects that he is currently working on.So the good news--we've not heard the last from Jon Hassler yet!

4-0 out of 5 stars Jon Hassler's Dean's List explores aging and significance.
As a displaced Minnesotan, I always enjoy revisiting my home state via the novels of Jon Hassler. Like coming home for the holidays, this book evokes the mixed emotions of anticipation and disappointment, the joy and frustration of renewing relationships with the relatives, and the uncomfortable reality that time takes its toll on the ones we love.

Hassler fans will find in The Dean's List another enjoyable trip to the now-familiar small town of Rookery. But this book is unlike its predecessors in that it may be Hassler's last outing to the Badbattle River valley. Readers may not know that Hassler has Parkinson's disease. And the awareness of his mortality seeps through the pages of this book.

While all of his books are to some degree autobiographical, we see in The Dean's List a greater sense of authorial self-revelation. Leland Edwards, the Icejam Quintet alumnus and now dean of the college, is a frustrated academic-turned-administrator struggling to keep his school above water. He encounters his hero, Richard Falcon, a Frost-esque poet working on his magnum opus. Edwards decides to revitalize the good name of Rookery State by bringing the esteemed poet to campus for a rare reading.

Little does Edwards know that Falcon has his own struggles, not the least of which is the onset of Parkinson's disease. And in these two characters we get a glimpse of Jon Hassler's own plight. Both Edwards and Falcon--and Hassler himself, we might surmise--are fighting to achieve a sense of purpose, meaning, accomplishment and lasting significance at a point in their lives where the clock is ticking and the odds are against them. Will they achieve their goals? Will they complete the tasks that lie before them? And will they be remembered when they are gone?

It is these elements that make this novel an intriguing read. True, it lacks some of the power and beauty of his earlier novels--but this too, is illustrative of the trauma we experience as we approach the end of life. Can we find meaning and significance in our midlife and waning years? This novel provides insights well worth contemplating, from one who well knows what it feels like to be there. ... Read more

7. Conversations with Jon Hassler
by Joseph Plut
Perfect Paperback: 278 Pages (2010-04-12)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1932472975
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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During his early years as an aspiring novelist, Jon Hassler drew inspiration from author interviews that appeared regularly in the ''Paris Review.'' In the years preceding Hassler's death in 2008, his long-time friend Joe Plut returned the favor, interviewing Jon about the origins, publication history, themes and anecdotes associated with each of his nine popular novels. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Conversations With Jon Hassler
I thoroughly enjoyed the book that Jon and Joe put together before Jon passed away. I knew and took classes from both these teachers many years ago and it was very fun to remember what it was like and to learn new things about both of them. The book was well written, interesting, but perhaps more so to those from the midwest or to those who knew them. It is difficult to be objective but I think those who are interested in literature, writing and the writing process will find the book, with its inside view into the hearts and minds of these two men, quite fascinating. ... Read more

8. Staggerford: A Novel
by Jon Hassler
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (1986-07-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345333756
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"A writer good enough to restore your faith in fiction."
It is only a week in the life of a 35-year old bachelor school teacher in a small Minnesota town. But it is an extraodinary week, filled with the poetry of living, the sweetness of expectation, and the glory of surprise that can change a life forever....
"Absolutely smashing....An altogether successful work, witty, intelligent, compassionate."
... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars Why aren't more people reading this book?
Staggerford is one of the best novels I've ever read, but I'd never heard of it when I picked it up in a bookstore a few years ago. Hassler's writing is deceptively simple; if you want a flashy novel with car chases, guns, and sex, this is not for you. I think it's been miscategorized as a "cozy read" because two of the main characters are unmarried teachers living in an old house in a small town, but the stories being told here are complex. This book is funny, honest, and incredibly sad. It's written with a quiet understanding and compassion for its characters that I've never encountered before. A book like this is what makes people want to write.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hope as a Sustaining Life Force
Jon Hassler has a great way with words.By the time I had finished this book,
I felt like I knew all the characters well.I knew what they were really like -
the important stuff.Like Wallace Stegner, Hassler catches the soul of people,
that nobility and nuance of character that is elusive to so many writers.

On the surface, the book examines several days in the life of a high school
English teacher, the religious spinster who he boards with and whose
strength and friendship influence him, and a young student who comes from
a troubled family.The characters are small town folk who have spent their
lives together in Staggerford, a community in Minnesota.We see their foi-
bles, aspirations and losses as they translate into action or angst.

Interwoven into this this novel is the theme of hope - hope to rise above
madness and poverty, hope to surmount cultural differences, and hope to
impact others in some positive way.I think that Hassler is a very spiritual
person and his true belief in hope as a sustaining life force is a message
that he tries to impart in this book.

I highly recommend this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book - Horrible ending
Wonderful writing, characterization, and wit.It was a lovely story...until the end.Hated the ending.Absolutely hated it.Why do modern authors feel like they need to shock us, pull us off kilter with senseless violence and sadness?Too, too bad.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good
As a Minnesotan and a frequent viewer of public TV (why, I don't know -- bad habit I guess), I am very familiar with this author. But I always figured that if the public TV crowd like this guy (and they do bow down to him) why waste my time? However, a friend gave me this book and, on his recommendation, I read it and I loved it.

First the mundane: Both Principal Workman and Superintendant Stevenson spoke to me in precisely the voice of the late character actor Paul Ford. You may remember him as Colonel Hall in the 'Phil Silvers Show' or the mayor in 'The Music Man'. I have to believe that Ford was at least part of the inspiration for these characters.

I have to take issue with the reviewer who thought that the conclusion was rushed. I just did not see that at all.

The book runs the full range of great storytelling from extremely well-drawn characters to morality to instense sorrow to funny things that make you laugh out loud. Hassler deserved a national reputation and this book rises way above regional appeal.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
I was assigned this book in high school 15 years ago, and enjoy reading it every year. I grew up in a small Minnesota town much like Staggerford, which I feel does help the reader to identify with all the characters in the book. The main character is Miles Pruitt, a single man in his late 30's who rents a room from the spinster school teacher in town. Miles grew up in Staggerford and returned after college to teach English at the high school. The story takes place over one week in Miles's life. The charcters are intertaining and memorable. Jon Hasslers writing style is nice and easy with a repetitive edge to it which can help the reader with a somewhat seemingly boring story. The end is a real shocker that leaves me wanting it not to be true every time I read it. I really enjoy Mr. Hassler's story telling. ... Read more

9. North of Hope (Loyola Classics)
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 670 Pages (2006-03)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0829423575
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Father Frank Healy unexpectedly encounters his former high school girlfriend, Libby, at a time of crisis in his vocation. He is drawn into the lives of Libby, her criminal husband, her troubled daughter, and other characters living in and around an Ojibway reservation in northern Minnesota where Frank pastors a mission. This absorbing, realistic and faith-filled novel explores the territory all of us find ourselves in when we believe ourselves to be "north of hope." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Very Worthwhile Read....
This is my first book by Jon Hassler, and I'm intrigued enough after reading it to consider others of his for the future.This is an absorbing novel in an odd sort of way.One can almost feel the biting cold and the endless gray sky of a Minnesota winter, along with the doubt, despair, and ultimate redemption of some of the characters.Many of these characters have real texture, if not quite the depth in some cases that one would find a bit more satisfying.When I came to the end of Part I and then found that 23 years had passed at the beginning of Part II, I was put off a bit.I needed a bit more filling in of the time we lost...I almost felt like I wasn't sure how we got "from there to here."I wanted a bit more substance to chew on as far as the development of some of the main characters.I found that Libby left me kind of cold; she didn't inspire much real feeling or empathy, and I couldn't understand what Frank saw in her, considering his own make-up.Monsignor Lawrence didn't do much for me, either, for quite a few pages, but I found some depth in him toward the close of the book, something that made me like and respect him.I wish the crisis of calling/identity that Frank experiences were a little more sharply drawn and that the author had delved more deeply into what this was about and how it came to be resolved.In any case, a good read with some memorable characters; I'm glad I've found Hassler and will pursue more.Many of these Loyola Classics are wonderful finds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Misbegotten Souls in Northern Minnesota
This novel is an intriguing account of misbegotten souls in northern Minnesota.Frank Healy is a priest who fell in love with libby before entering the priesthood.Twenty-five years later she re-enters his life with her manic-depressive daughter and evil husband.Her life is tormented and desperate.

The book examines spirituality and faith in a very accessible way, not highly philosophical or on a 'high horse'.It also looks closely at love an commitment and the many ways they can be demonstrated.It is refreshingly honest.It sends the message that little everyday truths are the real way to understand deep things.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great character novel
If you enjoy books with strongly-developed characters, then "North of Hope" is for you. It begins with Frank Healy, a young man with an aspiration to the priesthood and living in Minnesota. He falls in love with Libby Girard, a beautiful local girl. Unfortunately, Libby marries a local bully, Vernon, the guy who got her pregnant. Frank, upon learning that his mother's dying words were "I want Frank to be a priest," decides to enter the seminary. A couple of years into his formation, Libby visits Frank and wants him to leave the seminary and marry her. Frank refuses, and as Libby sadly drives away, Frank pleads to God to keep her out of his life.

Twenty years later, when the school Frank had been teaching at since his ordination closes down, Frank experiences a vocational crisis. He requests a transfer to his hometown parish, which is granted. With a twist of divine fate, Frank encounters Libby once again in the local Objiway Reservation's medical facility. The remainder of the book consists of Frank struggling to find a relationship with Libby that is loving yet not romantic, and helping Libby's troubled daughter Verna. Along the way we encounter characters such as Libby's drug-dealing husband, the sleazy Judge Bigelow, and the overprotective Eunice Pfeiffer.

North of Hope is one of those rare novels that stays with you long after you've finished it. The final resolution is effective, though probably not what many readers will want. Hassler could have used the book to uncritically praise or rant against priestly celibacy, but he doesn't; he trusts the readers to make their own decisions. Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Potboiler Plus
Mr. Hassler's thick novel has conventional characters populating predictable predicaments (middle aged priest doubting his vocation, drinking too much, meets his childhood sweetheart once again...will he, won't he succumb etc). Still...there is a "life as it is" quality that kept me going to the end despite my better judgment. Hassler is skilled at capturing the sort of good, sort of rotten qualities that most of us exhibit stumbling our way through. It's impossible to really hate any of his characters...but it's hard to love them either. Father Frank's faith is modern American Catholicism: almost non-denominational and primarily a matter of compassion and shared weakness with his flock and intimates. His priestly celibacy seemed more a matter of habit and contingent feeling rather than a solemn promise made to God. It was hard for me to discernany real chemistry between Father Frank and his youthful flame, now a forty-year old depressive.
Still, it's one of those novels I thought about during busy days. It waited, fat and friendly, at my bedside table. So I succumbed to its 670 pages, some of which were gems, others pieces of coal. On the third hand, I don't think I'll revisit northern Minn. anytime soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars should be a household name in the world of book lovers.
jon hassler writes great old-fashioned novels, as if the form of the novel itself is still a thing to cherish instead of something to bend out of shape. he creates complex characters with depth and a skilled artist's insight, and he makes it all look so easy. great storytelling in the great tradition of the novel. a sort of balzac of minnesota. i highly recommend this fantastic book. ... Read more

10. The Love Hunter
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 336 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$63.05
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034541019X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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"John Hassler is a writer good enough to restore your faith in fiction. Unlike so many contemporary writers, he creates characters you come to care about and believe in....His third novel is the kind of book that makes you want to buttonhole someone and say, 'Read this.'"
Larry Quinn lives in a college town in rural Minnesota. He is dying from multiple sclerosis and his best friend, Chris MacKensie, has fallen in love with Larry's wife, Rachel. The love for the dying and passion for the living form an uneasy bond, as the three of them face the truth of life together....
... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars Do we need to know all this? Get on with the story
This is one of the worst books I've ever read.It takes forever to get the plot line moving because Hassler seems to have to describe every little thing that isn't necessary. He has an interesting idea for a book but executes it very poorly.Much of the book is just a summary of what happens rather than putting us directly into the scene and letting us see what happens.It's sort of like reading a summary of a book rather than the book itself.It was a real struggle to finish this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Friendship, Love, Betrayal

This novel deals with friendship and love.A man falls in love with his friend's
wife while his friend is slowly dying of multiple sclerosis.The book examines
the connections between people, personal motivations, and human frailties and

This book is good but it does not come up to Hasler's other books.I recommend
reading another one of his novels such as 'Staggerford'.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ordinary People, Extraordinary Passions
Hassler breathes fresh life into two of literature's weariest clichés: the lovers' triangle and the suffering of mortal illness. Because he handles these subjects with a lightness of touch and firm structural craftsmanship, the result is realistic yet never maudlin, insightful though not preachy. An honest read with delightfully quirky characters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Author Discovered After Death
His, not mine. Despite growing up in the Midwest, majoring in English lit and favoring contemporary authors, I never heard of Jon Hassler until I read his obit earlier this year in the New York Times. The documentation of Hassler's life was so laudatory and the description of his prose so intriguing that I ordered from Amazon.com a paperback copy of his first novel, "Staggerford." I so enjoyed the humor, vivid characters and the realistic dialog and emotional reactions between them that I soon ordered several more of his books. Hassler created very real people who populate his Minnesota communities with conflicts about love, power, faith and doubt, social codes and other aspects of life we all can easily relate to. "Love Hunter" portrays a very complex triangle between two best friends and much-younger woman they both love. One, her husband, wastes away with terminal disease while the other attempts to justify his mercy killing. Duck hunting provides part of the scenery (and if there's a better description of the "sport" I haven't seen it), small-college life in the Midwest consumes the rest. This work, Hassler's second novel, lacks the ironic humor that I loved in "Staggerford" and is so different in tone, pace and environment I am convinced this author's skill was vast. I'm now on a third novel and if they keep getting better will work through the whole catalog with an engagement not felt since I discovered Hemmingway and Steinbeck.

3-0 out of 5 stars Well done, but not as easy to love as his others
Like the other Jon Hassler books I've read, this one had sentences and turns of phrase that were so felicitous, and showed such amazing powers of observation, that I read them over and over. The descriptions of Iowa, Minnesota, and Manitoba brought the landscape into sharp relief, and I felt like I was there at the grody hunting cabin, and wading in the cold water.

The biggest problem for me in this book was the characters. None of them was likeable, except for Rachel. And she spent so much time keeping the others going that I hardly got to see her as her own person. Long sections of this book (especially at the hunting resort) were less than pleasant to read because I didn't like or care about the people I was watching.

I admire this book, but when I go to re-read some Jon Hassler I will turn to Staggerford, which renders the same kind of landscape and small-town life not just in perfect detail, but in loving detail. I believe Staggerford is Hassler's masterpiece, and The Love Hunter didn't quite measure up. ... Read more

11. Rookery Blues
by Jon Hassler
Mass Market Paperback: 512 Pages (1997-11-26)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$43.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345423089
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Rookery State College in the late 1960s is an academic backwater if ever there was one--until the Icejam Quintet is born. With Leland Edwards on piano, Neil Novotny on clarinet, Victor Dash on drums, and Connor on bass, the group comes together with the help of its muse, the lovely Peggy Benoit, who plays saxophone and sings. But soon isolated Rookery State will be touched by the first labor union in the college's history. As a teachers strike takes shape, the five musicians must struggle with their loyalties to the school, the town, their families and one another. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Lots of well drawn characters
At the heart of this novelis an amateur musical quintet, consisting of 5 college professors at a small, underfunded Minnesota state college.All the characters, and there are quite a few, are well drawn and interesting, often fun, but they are who they are, the reader does not develop any special insight(the mama's boy is the one exception).For my taste, the novelist is a bit too pathetic; converselythe music teacher is an extremely enjoyable person - everyone finds her so, including the reader.Hassler excels in describing the joy of making music, and does a very effective job with art, in the one scene which takes place at an art exhibition.

The novel would have benefited from better editing: occasionally, Hassler tries too hard to make the novel entertaining, which is surprising since he does not shy away from such themes as drunkenness, hard ball college politics, a marriage which is ruinous for both parties; at the same time, the dumping of thedrunken professor outside his house in the bitter cold is simply not credible.

4-0 out of 5 stars Friendship Between Professors in a Small Minnesota Town

I have not read a Jon Hassler novel that I didn't enjoy.This
novel is about college professors n a small Minnesota town.
They get together to play music, talk about politics, work on
their dreams and fall in love.

Though sometimes trite and formulaic, Hassler's characters are
good and decent people who possess a sense of strong core values
rarely encountered in modern novels.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Reader's Blues
I find myself at a loss here.I bought and plodded through this book until the last syllable of recorded inanity (on page 484) due to the warm reviews it received here on Amazon by top reviewers.It seems we have been reading different books.I did not find this book engaging.I did not find the characters true-to-life, much less fascinating.Above all, I didn't find anything at all "funny" in this book, the adjective that seems to be the common denominator among aforesaid reviewers.The plot and characterisations are pasteboard. The so-called "humour" in almost every instance is something straight out of The Three Stooges.Truth be known, it is all pasteboard and slapstick with a Disney/Hollywood ending to wrap things cheerily up.

It's truly difficult to write a review of a book in which there is absolutely nothing of substance to cover.The sole purpose of this review, then, is to warn readers away from all this silliness.A test for the prospective reader:Do you find Norman Rockwell's paintings "exquisite"?Do you find Readers Digest' articles intellectually stimulating? If so, this book is for you, for it ends up parodying itself.I think perhaps Hassler began with the intention of wreaking satirical havoc among these hayseed collegians, but found that he was too much like them, that he actually LIKED them.The light he throws on the characters leaves no shadows.I might like them or his book as well if it did, but going beyond the surface into psychological depths is simply not Hassler's métier.

Summing up, the book is more reportage from Hassler's own life than anything else.The prose is so wooden I think the only word for it is anti-poetic. ----So Rockwell enthusiasts, slapstick gourmands, here is your book! -----Lovers of literature, cast your eyes elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Laugh?I thought I'd die!
This is the eighth Hassler book I have read, and while it is different from some of his others, there is so much funny in the book my wife told me to go to another room to read since I was helplessly laughing aloud so very often.There is nothing theological about this book, and in fact nothing judgmental (I thought there could have been at least some indication of non-approval of the adultery), but nevertheless one can't help but be caught up in the zany story.Jon Hassler kind of suggests to me a male Anne Tyler.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dickensesque
ROOKERY BLUES revolves around the experiences of the Icejam Quintet during the `60s at Rookery State College: Leland Edwards on piano, Neil Novotny on clarinet, Victor Dash on drums, Connor on bass, and Peggy Benoit, saxophonist and singer. The musicians are professors and instructors at the college. Each of them has a story line. The beautiful Peggy Benoit is taken with alcoholic Connor. She's kind of a groupie, being more enamored of Connor's reputation as an artist than the man. I found Neil Novotny, who plays clarinet, the most interesting character, because he gives Hassler an opportunity to satirize beginning novelists (and I imagine what he remembers about the experience himself). My favorite Hassler book is STAGGERFORD in which Hassler satirizes the political and personal machinations that occur in a high school setting. As a twenty-year teacher, I found those more interesting than the story line.
I also had fun trying to pick out any similarities to the two colleges Hassler taught at: Brainerd Community College and St. John's (just outside St. Cloud, Minnesota). There's an ice fishing scene which seems to point at the little lake right next to St. John's. The other character I found intriguing was Victor Dash, the faculty union representative. Most of the teachers involved find labor negotiations beneath themselves; Dash revels in the matter, would like nothing better than to strike.
Hassler is a Dickensesque writer, totally immersing us in this academic setting. Major characters and minor characters are given the same careful attention to detail. You can't lose with ROOKERY BLUES. ... Read more

12. Dear James (Loyola Classics)
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 586 Pages (2006-09-29)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 082942430X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Agatha Magee, the feisty, quick-witted, fiercely Catholic doyenne of Staggerford, Minnesota, confronts crises large and small in her 70th year. She is forced to retire from her beloved teaching, she's crushed to learn that her Irish pen pal James is a priest, and she's faced with the evils of the world -- from Irish terrorism to the petty jealousies that tear apart life in a small town.Jon Hassler explores themes of loss and spiritual renewal in this engaging novel. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Follow-up to 'A Green Journey'

This novel is a follow-up to 'A Green Journey'.Agatha and James renew their
friendship and Agatha navigates some stormy times in Staggerford.Reading
this book was like spending some time with old friends.I loved it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Staggerford
It is my misfortune to discover many of our finest contemporary writers some 15-20 years after they've begun publishing. Better late than never in such cases as Jon Hassler, who travels in much the league and genre of J. F. Powers and Garrison Keillor. Hassler's voice and craft, however, are all his own, and they are a delight. "Dear James" is my introduction to his oeuvre; I look forward to reading much more.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Book of All Time!!!
I have read this book four times now (there is NO other book I've read this many times).Agatha is one of my favorite characters in all of fiction and I read a lot of fiction.She's true to herself in everything she does!I really love the relationship she has with the townsfolk and most particularly with James, although this isn't the first book with Agatha (Staggerford) or with Agatha and James (Green Journey), it can stand alone.It's warm, it's touching, it's funny, it's sad, it's, quite simply, wonderful!

3-0 out of 5 stars Weird, unlikable characters in a diffuse plot
Hassler is an excellent writer and knows how to develop characters, but there just isn't enough plot in this book. Dragging in a bunch of stories about people caught up in the Irish feuds didn't do it for me - in fact, Iskipped some of that. Agatha is distinctly unlikable as is Imogene. Theonly character I cared about was French. Hassler's books always moveslowly, but this one was too glacial for me. I did finish it, but onlybecause I was on vacation and didn't have much else to do.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it!Please give us more about Agatha
I love Jon Hassler's novels and wish he would write many more, especially if Miss Agatha is one of the characters.I find myself thinking about her all the time, wondering how she is doing, and hate to have to remind myselfthat she exists only in our imaginations.She is a combination of yourfavorite grade-school teacher, a beloved aunt or grandmother, the elderlyneighbor loved by all, with a little of Aunt Bea mixed in.Read everythingJon Hassler has written.You can't go wrong with any of his books. ... Read more

13. Green Journey
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 304 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345410416
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"Hassler's characters have old-fashioned values and typical human failings; they make this a novel to restore your faith in humanity."
Agatha McGee is following a dream, though it might be late in the game. She's just retired from a career of teaching and travels to Ireland in search of the romance she never had time for. And along the way, she not only discovers people she would never have let herself know before, but learns through experience, at long last, that love is unpredictable, unstoppable, and never appears as we dream it will.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
I have just finished reading Green Journey and enjoyed it very much.Jon Hassler's book is particularly interesting for his character studies.He brings them alive in his writing.The plot is interesting as well as the characters.I recommend this book to anyone that appreciates good writing, good characters and good plot. R. Thomas Roe, Author of The Gaelic Letters

4-0 out of 5 stars August Book Club Read
I liked the book.It was easy to read and had a couple of different viewpoints woven throughout the story.The ending, while complete, was a little abrupt.However, there is a continuing story to read for next month's book club meeting.Being from Minnesota, it was nice to have Minnesota in part of the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Grieving an Unrequited Love
This is a poignant and beautifully characterized novel.Agatha, a teacher in her mid-60's,
is a friend and mentor to many.However, she is lonely in her own life and develops a cor-
respondence/friendship with James, an Irish man.Agatha's feelings become romanticized.
When she travels to Ireland to meet James, she finds that he has misrepresented himself,
omitting the fact that he is a priest.

The novel explores Agatha's relationship with her Bishop, neighbors, and young women
friends as she struggles with her own pride and grief after meeting James.

I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars a mature book
i like this book very much.every time i read it i discover new things. i didn't find it at all similar to the mitford series.
it is a bittersweet story, but very touching and very realistic.
it is one of the best books i've read. there's something quite special about it..... i hope you'll find out what that is when you read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my new favorites...
A friend recommended that I read Jon Hassler, and it isn't very often that I find an author whose work just blows me away.A Green Journey, my first Hassler book, ranks up there as one of my new favorites.

Hassler is a wonderful observer of small-town America, and A Green Journey begins in Staggerford, Minnesota.Agatha McGee, a 68 year-old parochial school teacher, anchors this novel.This no-nonsense, orthodox spinster is as feisty as she is inflexible."Every time Rome announced some new accommodation to a century that was already two thirds gone, Agatha felt betrayed.Her heart had already been broken countless times since Vatican II, for it was not too much to say that Agatha loved the Church of her girlhood above everything else in the world."Yet, Agatha could be full of surprises--as when she takes in the pregnant teenager and former student, Janet Raft.Raft is a "hardscrabble" motherless girl from a poor farming family, but McGee sees promise in this bright teen.
Unfortunately, McGee's world is threatened when her diocese is assigned a new bishop, Dick Baker.Bishop Baker is set upon making many changes to the traditions McGee holds dear.The two quickly become adversaries.

The diocese sponsors a trip to Ireland, and McGee and Baker sign on with ulterior motives.McGee has an Irish pen-pal, Jim O'Hannon.She senses that O'Hannon might be her last chance for romance.Baker is looking for Irish priests to move to Minnesota, but in reality, he is trying to befriend McGee and convince her to take on a new job.Raft is also on the trip.The journey was supposed to be her honeymoon, but her husband backs out.These three make an unlikely trio, and there are some major disappointments for all of them.

I very much like Jon Hassler's writing style, his character development and the way he paces his plot.He definitely has a sense of the absurd, and I really had to chuckle at the confirmation scene, as well as when the bishop thought he was poisoned by mushrooms.
Hassler also has his finger on the pulse of Staggerford.He describes the parish priest as being "of middling intelligence serving a parish of middling spiritual and financial resources and determined to keep to the middle of the road."How true of most small towns.

I was disappointed to discover that Jon Hassler passed away on March 20th, 2008.But thank goodness he left behind a rich body of work that can still be enjoyed.I understand that Hassler uses Agatha McGee in his novel, Staggerford, which I am anxious to read.I can only hope that all of his books are as good as A Green Journey.

... Read more

14. Jemmy
by Jon Hassler
Mass Market Paperback: 160 Pages (1988-11-27)
list price: US$5.50
Isbn: 0449703029
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Since her Chippewa mother is dead, seventeen-year-old Jemmy's alcoholic father has insisted that she quit school to care for her younger siblings. But on her way home on her last day of school, she gets caught in a fierce snowstorm, and is rescued by Otis and Ann Chapman, who have moved to rural Minnesota from the city. Otis is a well-known painter, and he sees in Jemmy the model he needs to complete a mural of the Maiden of Eagle Rock. Jemmy soon finds that the Chapmans have rescued her in more ways than one...and that there's a whole world outside of her family's dreary existence, a world she can conquer, if only she has the courage to fight....
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Half breed girl
A 16 year old half American half Native American girl named Jemmy strives to find friends in a mostly white school. Along with trying to help support her brother and sister with her dad. Her father asks her to quit school so she can work around the house, do all the shopping, and try to get a job. So she does end up quitting. She ends up getting a job as a model for a painter. She is the model of a Native American girl who commits suicide because her heart has been broken. She goes to these nice peoples house every Saturday. She is paid very kindly.

I really really liked this book. Not only because it was multicultural, but because the author put a lot of feeling into it. Sometimes because the story sounded so real that I actually pictured the scenes in my head. It was a really awesome book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Memorable!
I read this book when I was 7 or 8...and I still remember it (15 years later!)!This was one of my favorite books as a little girl.

4-0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable book
I read this book because I am such a fan of Jon Hassler and have completed all his adult novels.Desperate for more of his writing, I read Jemmy.The previous reviewer summed it up much as I would.This book is strongeston character development and exploration of relationships among thecharacters.Readers who want plenty of action and a fast pace might bedisappointed.But the book should appeal to readers who like thoughtfulstories.The book is upbeat and positive, with clean language and a goodmessage.

4-0 out of 5 stars Jemmy
Jemmy is a book about a half-breed girl who is going to reservation school.Her dad says that she has to stay home from school to take care of her two siblings. Then she meets Otis and Ann.Otis, Ann, and Jemmy have good experiences and bad.Otis and Ann help her out when she needs it the most. I think that every one should read this book beause it shows a whole different perspective on many parts of life. For example, if your socioeconomic status is lower then the average American, this book will likely give you more insight, more hope, and perspective how you can change.If you are on the higher end of the socioeconomic spectrum, it will help you learn not to take your life for granted and that it may change in a heartbeat. I like Jemmy because I'm from a big city, and it widened my perspective on what small town life is all about.If you like suspense and alot of action, I would not suggest this book for you.This is a fairly slow, mellow bookthatwill open your eyes with its great plot. When you get attached to a character in this book, like almost everyone would, it tears your heart out when you see something happen to them.It will bring a 90 degree smile to your face when someone changes. Despite all of the good things that this book has to offer, there is a downside to this book, it is slow moving. There is a feeling of happiness, but also a great sadness.If you are into character development, this is the book you have been wanting, for it dishes out that and tons tons more. This book is for ages about 10-17, but almost every one would enjoy it,except the mediphores, vocabulary, and slow moving plot and slow action, may turn away younger children. If you read anywhere from 50-75 pages a day, you could get this book done in 3 days or less. If you read 30-49 pages a day, this book will take you 3-5 days to finish. If you are like me and like to read 10-29 pages a day, it would take less than a week and a half.If you read less 0-10 pages a day, it would take you from 1 week and a half to a whole life time. In interviewing classmates, they gave it a 7 out of 10,because it had good detail and there was always something excitinghappening. They also liked most of the characters. The author, Minnesota native Jon Hassler, was born in 1933, started teaching in 1955. He wrotesuch books as Staggerford in 1977 he also wrote Simon's night,The Love Hunter,The Green Journey, and North of Hope.Another young adult novel is Jemmy, Four miles to Pinecone On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this book a strong 8. into character development, this is the book you have been wanting, for it dishes out that and tons tons more. This book is for ages about 10-17, but almost every one would enjoy it,except the mediphores, vocabulary, and slow moving plot and slow action, may turn away younger children. If you read anywhere from 50-75 pages a day, you could get this book done in 3 days or less. If you read 30-49 pages a day, this book will take you 3-5 days to finish. If you are like me and like to read 10-29 pages a day, it would take less than a week and a half.If you read less 0-10 pages a day, it would take you from 1 week and a half to a whole life time. In interviewing classmates, they gave it a 7 out of 10,because it had good detail and there was always something excitinghappening. They also liked most of the characters. The author, Minnesota native Jon Hassler, was born in 1933, started teaching in 1955. He wrotesuch books as Staggerford in 1977 he also wrote Simon's night,The Love Hunter,The Green Journey, and North of Hope.Another young adult novel is Jemmy, Four miles to Pinecone On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this book a strong 8.

4-0 out of 5 stars Chi of St. Louis Park, MN
It's a good book that shows that there are many values in life-you just have to find them.It also shows that you can accomplish many things-you just have to know how.Jon Hassler also uses the eagle as a metaphore of Jemmy-that she glides and soars through life.I recommend this book to many!It has a great storyline! ... Read more

15. Underground Christmas
by Jon Hassler
Hardcover: 62 Pages (1998-10-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1890434094
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Jon's story is about a man named Jay who has come rather late to his midlife crisis. Nearing fifty, Jay finds himself dislocated by a divorce and by his only child's attempted suicide.Seeking stability, he has taken a temporary teaching position at his alma mater, St. Andrew's College.The story opens in the school's potting shed, which in earlier days had been a root cellar. ... Read more

16. An Interview With Jon Hassler
by Jon Hassler
 Paperback: 31 Pages (1990-06)
list price: US$14.95
Isbn: 9990219087
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great insights from a great writer
Jon Hassler provides delightful insights on inspirations, characters, and writing in general in this interview.This book is a must for any serious Jon Hassler fan.I recently had the honor of meeting Mr. Hassler, and fromthat experience, reading his books, and gaining insight into his thoughts,I am convinced Jon Hassler is one of the great midwestern writers of ourtime. ... Read more

17. Good People . . . from an Author's Life
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 120 Pages (2001-08)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$2.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0829416366
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Fans of Jon Hassler and his work will no doubt delight in these sketches of the many good people who have accompanied him on his journey through life and warmed his heart. The varied cast of characters includes Hassler's parents, boyhood friends, relatives, colleagues, and even the fictional characters he has created in his many years as a writer. Like his other books, GOOD PEOPLE will be enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. ... Read more

18. Keepsakes & Other Stories
by Jon Hassler
Paperback: 120 Pages (2009-10-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873517873
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From Publishers Weekly
These seven gentle tales set in Minnesota and North Dakota and all written during the 1970s treat fans of novelist Hassler (A Green Journey; Jemmy) to the earliest fruits of his talent. Some are folksy portraits of small-town characters, while others are drier and more plot driven. Both the title story and "Resident Priest" feature crusty, 74-year-old Father Fogarty, a pastor who's leaving his parish after 23 years. In "Chief Larson," a seven-year-old Indian boy, known (rather improbably) only as "chief" on the reservation, rebels in a small but telling way against his white adoptive family. "Good News in Culver Bend" tracks two city reporters who travel to a small town and discover "the heart of Christmas." "Chase" and "Christopher, Moony, and the Birds" show how frustrated residents of small towns seek solace. The former, so brief it's nearly a prose poem, hints at Hassler's own adolescent discovery of his talent for fiction; the latter follows a lonely 50-year-old college professor as he goes on a consolatory walk with a student's awkward wife and child, watching "birds on family outings, hopping and halting on the grass." The cleverest story, "Yesterday's Garbage," follows a "garbologist" who finds the truth about a murder in a trash bin, and is then led to commit one himself. The publisher plans to issue Hassler's later short fiction in three more volumes, starting in the year 2000. (Sept.)


Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

... Read more

19. Rufus at the Door & Other Stories
by Jon Hassler
Hardcover: 126 Pages (2000-05)
list price: US$29.00 -- used & new: US$9.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1890434280
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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ONCE UPON A TIME, before Atheneum in New York took a chance on an unknown author and published "Staggerford" (1977), Jon Hassler wrote a number of short stories that introduce many of the characters in his later novels. Only a handful of these stories had appeared in print (mostly in small literary magazines) until Afton Historical Society Press published the best-selling RUFUS AT THE DOOR and KEEPSAKES.

RUFUS AT THE DOOR is also available in handbound Collector Editions, limited to fifty signed and numbered copies in slipcases, priced at $175.00. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rufus at the Door
Hassler captures meaningful things in life that we don't always notice and shares them beautifully in this book.The stories can be related to the simplicity of life yet some have unexpected twists making them interesting to read.It's neat how some of the stories tie into one another. ... Read more

20. My Staggerford Journal
by Jon Hassler
 Hardcover: 112 Pages (1999-12-07)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345432886
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"April 3, 1976. Completed Staggerford this morning at 9:15. . . . The most satisfying thing I've done since playing high school football."

In the spring of 1975, an unknown Minnesota teacher named Jon Hassler decided to take a sabbatical and fulfill his lifelong dream of writing a novel. A year later, Hassler typed the final page of Staggerford--a book that has won a cherished place as a classic novel of small-town life in America. Now, many years and many novels later, Hassler shares the private story of Staggerford's creation as recorded in the vividly revealing journals he kept while writing the book.

Hassler's My Staggerford Journal is at once the narrative of a work of art struggling to be born and the portrait of a creative mind in the throes of a life-altering breakthrough. Day by day, we peer over Hassler's shoulder as he breathes life into his creation--realizing with a sudden flash of insight that his hero Miles Pruitt should not have a wife, shaping and reshaping the character of the Bonewoman, heeding the good "advice" of the spirited Miss Agatha McGee, stumbling on the perfect title. Here, too, is the moving account of the novelist's inner doubts and comic missteps, his lonely triumphs and jarring sacrifices.

My Staggerford Journal affords a rare glimpse into the imagination of one of the best-loved masters of contemporary American fiction. Jon Hassler's many fans, as well as all readers interested in seeing the creative process at work, will be spellbound by this wonderful book.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars My Staggerford Journal
I had the extreme privilege to be taking a class from Jon while he was in the process of getting Staggerford published. He shared the galleys with us and talked about the process of publication. So needless to say, I loved this book. I loved the peek into what he was doing while writing it. Jon was a complex man with a kind and gentle heart... and this other side that one did not get to see, but was obviously there and came through in his books. I'm definitely biased and I loved the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Writing a first novel in 1970s Minnesota
I had never heard of STAGGERFORD nor of Jon Hassler till I bought this book today and devoured it in one sitting.Now I'm looking forward to reading the nove, STAGGERFORD.If you can believe the jacket copy and the back of the jacket, STAGGERFORD is one of those beloved masterpieces like CATCHER IN THE RYE that high school students everywhere are assigned to read, and even though they grumble, they eventually fall in love with the book and take it to heart.Even Hillary Clinton, says Mr. Hassler, has read STAGGERFORD.I feel so dumb not having known about it.Maybe I should have read the book before reading Mr. Hassler's 1975 journal describing the year he took off from an oppressive community college somewhere in Minnesota.

He took time off to visit historic sites in New England, including the House of the Seven Gables and Walden Pond.He makes an embarrassing faux pas inthe home of Emily Dickinson, in her bedroom, where like any other tourist he whips out his canera and the guide reminds him in a miserable shriek, "Cameras are not permitted in Emily Dickinson's bedroom."You can really feel his abjection as sadly he pockets his camera.He's lucky they didn't destroy it I guess.I had no idea that this house in Amherst is a private home and that you can see only two rooms, this bedroom and a sitting room.Who would want to live there, it would be weird.

Once STAGGERFORD gets published, by Atheneum, you get the feeling that finally Hassler gets some self-respect, indeed some balls.He quotes Thoreau to beautiful effect; "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in the common hours."

I didn't like the part where he encounters a colleague who praises him and tells him his own favorite line from STAGGERFORD, which is, "If you wish to befriend an Indian, feed him pie."I don't know, it just sounds a little racist.Outside of that, the book is well worth every penny.

5-0 out of 5 stars Novice Writers' How-to Book
'Loved reading this book; 100-pages that are worthy of gifting to otherswho love to read and write. With great clarity,Hassler expresses his joyas well as his struggle in capturing thoughts for the reader's enjoyment.And he sprinkles the copy with his down home, chuckle-invoking humor. HisStaggerford Journal is as enjoyable as Staggerford itself. Thank you foryet another gift, Jon Hassler!

2-0 out of 5 stars For Staggerford fans only
"What is any artist but the dregs of his work?" the authorWilliam Gaddis said, and one wishes Jon Hassler had remembered that beforepublishing "My Staggerford Journal," the tearings from his diaryhe kept in 1975 when he took a sabbatical from his English professorship towrite his first novel. While the book is only 100 pages long, there is verylittle that is of interest to anyone but fans of his work.

Thoseinterested in the artistic process will find little here of interest.Hassler recounts the decisions underlying the writing of"Staggerford" in the fashion of a carpenter building a chair("Coach Gibbon will talk about sports. Stella about the press box andher dentist. Imogene? Knowledge.").

The best parts of the book arethings that have nothing to do with writing. He visits Emily Dickenson'shome in New England, and spends three weeks in Great Britain and Ireland.He recounts a vacuous committee meeting at the community college where hetaught. After a week writing alone, he goes out into the Minnesota snowseeking any kind of social connection. When he book is accepted byAtheneum, he worries that he doesn't know how to pronounce the name. Butoverall, the best part of Hassler is found in his novels. ... Read more

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