Posts tagged ‘memoir’



By Darrell Pedersen

236 pages

Published by River Place Press

ISBN: 979-8986268132

In CAMPFIRE IN THE BASEMENT, Darrell Pedersen proves you don’t have to be famous to write a successful and engaging memoir. Whether you’re a movie star, a professional athlete, a renowned international politician, or a retired pastor from northeastern Minnesota, you have a story to tell.

Darrell Pedersen’s book is filled with episodes of his life that give the reader insights to how he became the person he is.  There are the heartwarming tales of family events.  There are humorous situations that centered on young Darrell that led to his nickname as “Little Dickens”.  Darrell’s ancestors appear in several tales, revealing his deep respect and admiration for his past, which very well may be what inspired him to write his memoir.  There are milepost stories as the author crosses into new eras of his life that range from his early school years to finding his lifelong partner Jennifer.

Each story is a chapter are of a nice, readable length.  Pedersen’s tone is casual and conversational, as if the reader were sitting across the kitchen table listening to him over a cup of morning coffee.

The book spans the author’s lifetime to date – his childhood in the 1950s to into his adulthood, where the reader will meet his private life and his career as a pastor.  The pacing is fine – there is no dwelling on any specific event, whether tragic of enlightening.

Everyone has a story – yes, everyone.  Darrell Pedersen’s CAMPFIRE IN THE BASEMENT is a good one to bring home and enjoy.




By Barbara J. Mack

Self Published

98 pages

ISBN: 979835792295

The first chapter title says it all.  “WELCOME, I’M GLAD YOU’RE HERE”.

Reading this book is like stopping in for a cup of coffee with Barbara Mack for some friendly conversation.  You’ll be welcomed into her home, brought into the kitchen, provided with a nice cup of fresh coffee and cookies to go with it.  Barbara Mack will join you with her own cup, sit down at her own table in her own kitchen and start talking with a smile on her face.  You might start with some small talk, but eventually, you ask about her book.

And then, you will be listening to a lady who tells her story from the beginning, as she weaves her way through the years.  She is totally upfront about the bad times filled with multiple seizures, complicated by bouts of depression, and how she and her family face all of this.  You will find yourself listening intently as she describes the disease that has invaded her life. You’ll find out how epilepsy preyed upon our author in ways that you and I might never imagine. Epilepsy could have brought her down completely.  It could have destroyed her.  And if that weren’t enough, life threw other curves at our author – deaths in the family, accidents, financial crises – This could have been a book about tragedy and sorrow. But you’ll find no sour grapes, no pity seeking from Barbara Mack.  This is a story about rising and living and falling and rising again.

In your conversation with Barbara Mack, in words that are more often sunny than not, you learn how Ms. Mack has faced epilepsy over the years, and how she accepted the circumstances, and was the better person for them.  You will hear in her easy voice how the peaks triumphed over the valleys.  Time and again, Ms. Mack got back up on her feet as best she could after each valley.  She relates each episode in the book with a clarity that allows the reader to grasp the reality of epilepsy, even when she delves into the technical aspects of the disorder, into the various forms of epilepsy, and into the numerous treatments she endured.

THE HAND I’VE BEEN DEALT is short, less than 100 pages.  But Ms. Mack’s story is long on the reality of epilepsy, long on the issues she faced, and long on the hope and endurance and grace that helped Barbara Mack along the way.

When you finish your cup of coffee and it comes time to leave, you will know more about epilepsy, and you will know, thanks to Barbara J. Mack, that such issues as epilepsy can be dealt with in positive ways.

Book Review: HUNDRED MILES TO NOWHERE: An Unlikely Love Story

By Elisa Korenne
Published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Minnesota
ISBN: 978-1-68201-064-8 (Paperback); 978-1-86201-080-8 (Ebook)
328 pages (Reader’s Guide and an Afterword follow the text)

In her memoir of her transition from Big City Girl to Small Town Citizen, Elisa Korenne describes her presence in central Minnesota as she transplants herself, a musician from New York City looking to improve her songwriting skills, to a small artsy town known as New York Mills, where she finds a new breed of people, one of whom becomes very important to her. It is a struggle in some ways, and a natural flow of her life in other ways. She takes the reader from day one (arriving in New York Mills, Minnesota from New York City, totally throwing anything resembling caution to any kind of wind) to the end of the book, where she finds she has become entirely comfortable in her new self that develops out of her New York Mills experiences.

We follow the love between Elisa Korenne and the man in her life, Chris. The two grow together and grow apart, and back together in ways that every couple faces. This is the ‘city mouse – country mouse’ element that the reader might expect – and the story is totally believable with every stressful moment and every tender scene that the couple shares.

There are other people here as well: her long-time friends in New York, her new friends in New York Mills; all of whom vary between nice, ordinary examples of Americana to eccentric folks formed by their surroundings – and of course, the families of Elisa and Chris. We find the landscapes of both places clearly described, often poetically – the big city has its manicured parks, its fine architecture, its robust and crowded traffic patterns. The small town has its serenity (and the boredom that often comes with it), its simple, slow life pace, and smaller vehicles (canoes and four wheelers) that would be out of place in New York. Ms. Korenne’s descriptions help the reader sense the qualities of both environments in every way possible.

Ms. Korenne’s adventures include outdoorsy tales of canoe trips and watching early morning birds in a field. Switch to the big city, and the reader is taking in the sounds and smells of city traffic – and indoorsy things like coffee at the local diner in the small town, singing for crowds in towns with populations smaller than her apartment building in her New York City days. Her writing for such goings-on include humor and an emotional range of pure joy to loathsome moments of conflict with even those closest to her. Guaranteed laughing moments: a wedding that features a blend of Jewish culture and Lutheran traditions, and an experiment in lost ways to experience adult language. Pieces of drama appear throughout as well – self-revelations, those outdoor adventures, and nasty weather top that list.

There’s a big difference in setting throughout: we find the hard-concrete world of the city, and just a few pages later, we find the hardscrabble existence of families who keep their houses barely tar-papered and sealed against the elements. The common element is Ms. Korenne’s literary vocabulary that keep the reader totally aware of every tree, every animal, every sound, taste and smell, and every twinge in her introspective mind and heart as she evolves into her new self – sometimes willingly, sometimes, not so sure about the whole idea. There’s a delightful, clear style here – literary, yet reader-friendly.

Suffice it to say, Elisa Korenne can verify that one can’t hail a taxi in front of the New York Mills Cenex gas station with a loud two-finger whistle any more than one can drop in on the Hello Deli just off Broadway in New York and order a pastrami on rye with a “Yah, sure, you betcha.” But, in the end, she sure makes her choice clear to the reader as she leads us through the years covering this memoir.