Michael Fedo

Zenith City: Stories From Duluth

Duluth may be the city of "untold delights" as lampooned in a Kentucky congressmanís speech in 1871. Or it may be portrayed by a joke in Woody Allenís film Manhattan. Or then again, it may be the "Zenith City of the unsalted seas" celebrated by Dr. Thomas Preston Foster, founder of the cityís 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 Duluthís 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.

Here, among the graceful, poignant, and often hilarious remembered moments -- pranks played on a severe teacher, the familyís unlikely mob connections, a rare childhood affliction -- are the coordinates of Duluthís larger landscape: the diners and supper clubs, the baseball teams, radio days, and the smelt-fishing rites of spring. Woven through these tales of Duluth are Fedoís curious, instructive, and ultimately deeply moving stories about becoming a writer, from the guidance of an English teacher to the fourteen-year-old reporterís interview with Louis Armstrong to his absorption in the events that would culminate in his provocative and influential book The Lynchings in Duluth.

These are the sorts of essays -- personal, cultural, and historical, at once regional and far-reaching -- that together create a picture of people in a place as rich in history and anecdote as Duluth and of the forces that forever bind them together.

Selected Works

Fiction
"This slender volume is an exercise in humor writing of a kind one rarely finds these days." Omaha World-Herald. From the beginning the book is chock full of laughs and chuckles, which I attribute to Fedo's gifted creativity in his use of words and word pictures." Star Astrologer Books 5 Stars "This book is non-stop laughs!" Huntress Reviews "(Fedo) has written a madcap honey." Dave Wood, syndicated book columnist "(Fedo) has a sharp eye for humor and parody. . . . He gives us a number of comical debacles, amnd some wonderfjul Dickensian caricature." Whistling Shade
Memoir
"A memoir, with a smattering of local history, Fedoís collection will engage any reader with his fond and frank reminiscences of family life combined with vivid recollections of his native Duluth as it once was and, in many ways, still is. Thoroughly enjoyable." -- Jim Heffernan, author of Cooler Near the Lake: Fifty-two Favorites from Thirty-four Years of Deadlines
by Henry Wood, as told to Michael Fedo
A glimpse into a forgotten era of popular entertainment.
Nonfiction
The story of the June 15, 1920 lynching of three black men in Duluth, Minnesota.

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