Winner of the 2019 Minnesota Book Award for Novel & Short Story
Poignant portrayals of life on the edge in northern Minnesota border country, from the best-selling author of These Granite Islands and Vacationland
Bitter winters are nothing new in Hatchet Inlet, hard up against the ridge of the Laurentian Divide, but the advent of spring can’t thaw the community’s collective grief, lingering since a senseless tragedy the previous fall. What is different this year is what’s missing: Rauri Paar, the last private landowner in the Reserve, whose annual emergence from his remote iced-in islands marks the beginning of spring and the promise of a kinder season.
The town’s residents gather at the local diner and, amid talk of spring weather, the latest gossip, roadkill, and the daily special, take bets on when Rauri will appear—or imagine what happened to him during the long and brutal winter. Retired union miner and widower Alpo Lahti is about to wed the diner’s charming and lively waitress, Sissy Pavola, but, with Rauri still unaccounted for, celebration seems premature. Alpo’s son Pete struggles to find his straight and narrow, then struggles to stay on it, and even Sissy might be having second thoughts.
Weaving in and out of each other’s reach, trying hard to do their best (all the while wondering what that might be), the residents of this remote town in all their sweetness and sorrow remind us once more of the inescapable lurches of the heart and unexpected turns of our human comedy.