Synopses & Reviews
Duluth may be the city of andldquo;untold delightsandrdquo; as lampooned in a Kentucky congressmanandrsquo;s speech in 1871. Or it may be portrayed by a joke in Woody Allenandrsquo;s film Manhattan. Or then again, it may be the andldquo;Zenith City of the unsalted seasandrdquo; celebrated by Dr. Thomas Preston Foster, founder of the cityandrsquo;s first newspaper. But whatever else it may be, this city of granite hills, foghorns, and gritty history, the last stop on the shipping lanes of the Great Lakes, is undeniably a city with characterandmdash;and characters. Duluth native Michael Fedo captures these characters through the happy-go-melancholy lens nurtured by the people and landscape of his youth. In Zenith City Fedo brings it back home. Framed by his reflections on Duluthandrsquo;s colorfulandmdash;and occasionally very darkandmdash;history and its famous visitors, such as Sinclair Lewis, Joe DiMaggio, and Bob Dylan, his memories make the city as real as the boy next door but with a better story.
Here, among the graceful, poignant, and often hilarious remembered momentsandmdash;pranks played on a severe teacher, the familyandrsquo;s unlikely mob connections, a rare childhood afflictionandmdash;are the coordinates of Duluthandrsquo;s larger landscape: the diners and supper clubs, the baseball teams, radio days, and the smelt-fishing rites of spring. Woven through these tales of Duluth are Fedoandrsquo;s curious, instructive, and ultimately deeply moving stories about becoming a writer, from the guidance of an English teacher to the fourteen-year-old reporterandrsquo;s interview with Louis Armstrong to his absorption in the events that would culminate in his provocative and influential book The Lynchings in Duluth.
These are the sorts of essaysandmdash;personal, cultural, and historical, at once regional and far-reachingandmdash;that together create a picture of people in a place as rich in history and anecdote as Duluth and of the forces that forever bind them together.
and#160;andquot;A memoir, with a smattering of local history, Fedoandrsquo;s collection will engage any reader with his fond and frank reminiscences of family life combined with vivid recollections of his native Duluth as it once was and, in many ways, still is. Thoroughly enjoyable.andquot;
andmdash;Jim Heffernan, author of Cooler Near the Lake: Fifty-two Favorites from Thirty-four Years of Deadlines
andquot;For Duluthians, this prodigiously chronicled memoir will delight, awaken, and inform you of a place you thought you knew. Rising above the delicious details and references is a story of growing up in Middle America at a time not so long ago that seems of another era.andquot; andmdash;Wing Young Huie
andquot;[Fedoandrsquo;s] Zenith City wonandrsquo;t make you feel warm and fuzzy. But you will learn some truths about Duluth and about one of its too many good ones who got away.andquot; andmdash;Star Tribune
About the Author
Michael Fedo, Minnesota stringer for the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor from 1970 to 1985, is the author of many books, including The Lynchings in Duluth, The Man from Lake Wobegon, the novel Indians in the Arborvitae, One Shining Season, andand#160;A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows, by Henry Wood as told to Michael Fedo (Minnesota, 2011).
Table of Contents
This Is Duluth!
Miss Weddel and the Rats
Beware the Ides of March
He Believed Writers Are Made, Not Born
Sinclair Lewisandrsquo;s Duluth
Diners, Dives, No Drive-ins
Thou Shalt Not Shine
My Father and the Mobster
A Family Informed by Pyloric Stenosis
The Unmaking of a Missionary
The Grand Piano Smelt
Uncle See-Seeandrsquo;s Secret?
Keep Your Eyes Open
Joe DiMaggio Turns His Lonely Eyes toward the Girl at 2833 West Third Street
Jogging with James Joyce
At the Flame
For a Moment Dylan Played in Our Shadow
Christmas with the Klines
Brotherhood Week in Duluth
A Life Informed by a Lynching