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Works

New Reviews of Don't Quit Your Day Job: The Adventures of a Midlist Author

 

In Don't Quit Your Day Job, Michael Fedo shares with his readers some of his favorite stories from that long history of bashing out words for money at a host of venues and on a host of subjects. He works as a stringer; he writes up society events; he secures contributing editor gigs for magazines that take all his piece-ideas and allow him to make a fairly steady living. He marries, he travels, and he keeps his wits about him.or all readers interested in the workaday writing life, it's fascinating to follow Fedo through his many adventures, from writing an unauthorized biography of Garrison Keillor, vehemently opposed by its subject to interviewing Cloris Leachman about starring in a play about Grandma Moses (which flopped).

Throughout the book, Fedo pays his readers the unspoken and refreshing compliment of never instructing them (indeed, one of the book's only explicit pieces of advice is its title). This is a writing life - very much the rule rather than the exception - laid out in detail: the high points, the thrill of publication (even in little weeklies that promptly go out of business), the frustration of having editors simply stop responding, and the uncertainties of breaking into the book-writing world on any level. Smart, determined would-be writers will learn a great deal from this veteran's favorite stories. And - writers being hopeless quixotic types - many of them will persist regardless. 

Steve Donoghue, in Open Letters Review.

 

Practical, rich with anecdotes and wisdom he learned along the way, it's an entertaining read that will likely be useful to anyone who thinks that a publishing contract is a guarantee of — anything. "Are we after fame and wealth?" he writes. "Most likely so, but I long ago learned to accept reality."  Michael Fedo's book is a healthy dose of reality for aspiring writers. 

Syndicated nationally by Minneapolis Star Tribune

Fedo has a lot of cred as an author, publishing hundreds of articles, essays and short stories in the nation's top magazines and newspapers. A native of Duluth, he's also a former teacher at the Loft Literary Center.  In Fedo's 10th book, he writes of his newspaper days and encounters with celebrities such as James Stewart, and the pressures of freelance writing for a living. 

St. Paul Pioneer Press

 

 

Indians in the Arborvitae

Richard Fundy, a 43 year-old man whose wife has left him, moves in with his father after losing his position as a claims adjuster at Blessed Assurance Life and Casualty. He takes a job teaching American Studies at Button Gwinnet High School in his hometown and runs afoul with the principal, and has difficulty with his father, Elwood, who believes Indians spy on him from his arborvitae, and people with hyphenated last names signify the end of modern civilization. A series of misadventures follow, including crashing a funeral for a free lunch, visiting a strip mall hypnotist, disrupting a wedding ceremony, and participating in a ferret-legging competition.

Zenith City: Stories From Duluth

Duluth may be the city of "untold delights" as lampooned in a Kentucky congressman’s speech in 1871. Or it may be portrayed by a joke in Woody Allen’s film Manhattan. Or then again, it may be the "Zenith City of the unsalted seas" celebrated by Dr. Thomas Preston Foster, founder of the city’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 character -- 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 Duluth’s colorful -- and occasionally very dark -- 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.

The Lynchings in Duluth

On the evening of June 15, 1920, three young black men, accused of the rape of a white woman, were pulled from their jail cells and lynched by a mob numbering upward of 19,000 men, women, and children.

A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows

by Henry Wood, as told to Michael Fedo

Henry Wood spent the years 1910-1941 performing in old-time medicine and tent shows. In this warm, engaging memoir, recorded and transcribed by his grandson-in-law, Michael Fedo, we learn much about the lives of performers who roamed the hinterlands and backwater villages of early 20th century America.