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A bittersweet, seriously funny novel of a life, a small town, and a key to our troubled times traced through a newspaper columnist’s half-century of taking in, and taking on, the world
The curmudgeon who wrote the column “Ramblin’s by Walt” in the Granite Creek Gazette dismissed his successor as “puking on paper.” But when Haze Evans first appeared in the small-town newspaper, she earned fans by writing a story about her bachelor uncle who brought a Queen of the Rodeo to Thanksgiving dinner. Now, fifty years later, when the beloved columnist suffers a massive stroke and falls into a coma, publisher Susan McGrath fills the void (temporarily, she hopes) with Haze’s past columns, along with the occasional reprinted responses from readers. Most letters were favorable, although Haze did have her trolls; one Joseph Snell in particular dubbed her “liberal” ideas the “chronicles of a radical hag.” Never censoring herself, Haze chose to mollify her critics with homey recipes—recognizing, in her constantly practical approach to the world and her community, that buttery Almond Crescents will certainly “melt away any misdirected anger.”
Framed by news stories of half a century and annotated with the town’s chorus of voices, Haze’s story unfolds, as do those of others touched by the Granite Creek Gazette, including Susan, struggling with her troubled marriage, and her teenage son Sam, who—much to his surprise—enjoys his summer job reading the paper archives and discovers secrets that have been locked in the files for decades, along with sad and surprising truths about Haze’s past.
With her customary warmth and wit, Lorna Landvik summons a lifetime at once lost and recovered, a complicated past that speaks with knowing eloquence to a confused present. Her topical but timeless Chronicles of a Radical Hag reminds us—sometimes with a subtle touch, sometimes with gobsmacking humor—of the power of words and of silence, as well as the wonder of finding in each other what we never even knew we were missing.
About the Author
Lorna Landvik is the author of twelve novels, including the bestselling Patty Jane’s House of Curl,Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Oh My Stars, Best to Laugh (Minnesota, 2015), and Once in a Blue Moon Lodge (Minnesota, 2017). She has performed stand-up and improvisational comedy around the country and is a public speaker, playwright, and actor most recently in the one-woman, all-improvised show Party in the Rec Room. She lives in Minneapolis.
"A comic love letter to journalism and literature, Lorna Landvik’s newest novel is smart, funny, and intimate, with a terrifically memorable cast of small-town characters. Read the book, then head for the kitchen and start baking. Delicious!"—Julie Schumacher, author of The Shakespeare Requirement
"With a sprinkle of some very special Minnesota magic, Lorna Landvik has once again created an absolute delight on the page. Chronicles of a Radical Hag is a tribute to hardworking journalists, the power of feminism, and, as always, the importance of friends and family. Book clubs will be gathering with platters of Almond Crescents and coffee as they talk long into the night."—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books
"Landvik uses wisdom and her trademark humor to encourage readers to have a thoughtful response to the world and the people with whom they share it. A pleasure to read."—Kirkus Reviews
"At a time when local newspapers are nearing extinction, and reporters are deemed enemies of the people, Landvik’s smart and lovely paean to journalists is a welcome reminder of the important role they play in the lives of those who depend on newspapers for more than just information."—Booklist
"Landvik’s heartwarming novel is packed with big-hearted people tenderly and hilariously learning to appreciate the past and each other by visiting the planet of the town’s octogenarian columnist and coming away the richer for it."—Star Tribune
"This is a real tribute to all of the small-town, warmhearted, big-mouthed ‘radical hags’ out there, and a truly fun read for them, too."—The Washington Post
"Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) uncovers secrets, cures heartaches, changes assumptions and offers opportunities."—Hutchinson Leader
"Your book club wants this book. Put it by your easy chair, bedside, lunch box, or tuck it in the car. Find it in the library or the bookstore because Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) is a book you’ll want to take with you."—Rushville Republican