Thistle Journal: And Other Essays

Daniel Minock, Author Mid-List Press $14 (0p) ISBN 978-0-922811-34-2
A college writing instructor in Michigan, Minock has eclectic interests--poetry, birding, construction, gathering wild mushrooms--but his quiet observations will be familiar to anyone who has ever walked in the woods, argued with a family member or realized halfway through a project that hiring a trained professional would have been a good idea. Much of the first half of this collection, winner of the Mid-List Press First Series Award for Creative Nonfiction, is taken up with Minock's recollections of building his house, a project he undertook with his sickly father. In the long run, the project brought father and son closer, but the actual experience was anything but a harmonious ritual of togetherness: the Minock men clashed over everything from roof trusses to landscaping. Upon completion, Minock Jr. is so ashamed of his handiwork (neighbors even sent him a note complaining about his tricolored siding) that he entertains thoughts of planes and meteorites crashing from the sky, destroying it. This family pathos is balanced by Minock's loving musings on his walks in the woods near his home. His ongoing fascination with a family of great horned owls is especially gripping and--here's proof of his writing ability--he's able to make even a nature-illiterate worry about the whereabouts of a baby owl. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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