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Other titles in the Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Books series:

The Music of Failure (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book)


The Music of Failure (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“The ground bass is failure; America is the key signature; Pauline Bardal is the lyrical tune that sings at the center; Minneota, Minnesota, is the staff on which the tunes are written.” So begins the masterful title piece from Bill Holm’s first book of essays, The Music of Failure. This collection introduced to many the singular vision and voice of literary giant Bill Holm, a writer who had traveled well and widely but came back to his hometown of Minneota—the town of his immigrant Icelandic ancestors—as, in his words, “for all practical purposes a failure.”
What emerges from these pages, and from Holm’s cherished writings over the next two and a half decades, is anything but failure. From his ruminations on life in Minneota, family history, and the “horizontal grandeur” of the Midwestern prairie to a poetry-reading tour of Minnesota nursing homes and an account of a naked man eating lilacs out of his garden, The Music of Failure is a lyrical and surprising compilation that finds Holm mining the stories and places that captivated him and continue to enthrall his many readers.
This 25th anniversary edition includes poignant portraits of Holm and the history of The Music of Failure by Jim Heynen and David Pichaske, along with an essay Holm requested be added to this new edition, “Is Minnesota in America Yet?” With beautiful black-and-white photographs by Tom Guttormsson, The Music of Failure is Bill Holm at both his early and quintessential best, an inimitable and much-missed writer who illuminates our private and common lives through both our quiet victories and our sublime failures.

Book News Annotation:

A celebrated essayist and avid pianist, Holm (d.2009) wrote deeply observed and personal accounts of life in Minnesota and his relationship with music. In this volume, the 25th anniversary edition of his first book of essays is presented with an additional Holm essay, "Is Minnesota in America yet?" and two tributes by writer Jim Heynen and editor David Pichaske. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

Bill Holm (1943–2009) was a one-of-a-kind poet, essayist, and musician. He wrote several acclaimed books and won the Minnesota Book Award and the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. He lived in Minneota, Minnesota, and spent summers in Iceland, and he taught English for many years at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Jim Heynen has published widely as a writer of poems, novels, nonfiction, and short fiction.

David Pichaske is editor in chief of Spoon River Poetry Press, Ellis Press, and Plains Press.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Jim Heynen, The Grand Tour, Horizontal Grandeur, On Tour in Western Minnesota, The Poetry-Out-Loud Troupe Reads in Four Nursing Homes, An Icelandic Woman Visits Minneota, The Mountains in Lincoln County, What the Prairie Eye Looks for in a Mountain: Chief Mountain, MontanaIcelanders, Boxelders, Soybeans, and Poets, Bill Holm Sr., Fred Manfred in Roundwind: Luverne, Minnesota Ronald Catholics, The Old Round-Up Saloon, Sunday Morning Singing, Latin in New Ulm, The Music of Failure: Variations on an Idea, Cold Snap Spring Comes, A Little Talk for the School Teachers of Appleton, Minnesota, Lucky Stone At the Grave of William J. Holm: Bay View Cemetery, Bellingham, WashingtonIs Minnesota in America Yet?, Afterword: A Left Bank Can Be Found Anywhere on Earth, David Pichaske

Product Details

Holm, Bill
University of Minnesota Press
Foreword by:
Heynen, Jim
Heynen, Jim
Pichaske, David
Heynen, Jim
Afterword by:
Pichaske, David
Pichaske, David
American - General
United States - State & Local - Midwest
Holm, Bill
Poets, American -- 20th century.
Edition Description:
Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book
Publication Date:
8.25 x 5.38 x 0.5 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
History and Social Science » World History » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science

The Music of Failure (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book) New Trade Paper
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Product details 160 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816670086 Reviews:
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