Friday, April 04, 2008


Two weeks ago on March 20, my favorite author died. Jon Hassler was a true Minnesotan, born in Minneapolis, graduated from St. John's in Collegeville, taught in high schools while earning a master's from UND, taught at Bemidji State, and then returned to St. John's University where he taught from 1980 until he retired in 1997. He died of a disease similiar to Parkinsons.

I love his novels! He wrote of a mythical town in Minnesota named Staggerford, which was also the name of his first novel in 1977. Many, if not most, of his characters were senior citizens. Agatha McGee was his most memorable invention. She was a retired school teacher, prim and proper, who turns out to be a brave loveable old woman. My favorite character was the retired professor from Simon's Night, Simon Shea, who voluntarily commits himself to a rest home when he began to forget things and negligently set fire to his kitchen. The New York Times Book Review said about this book: " of the most delightful novels I have read in years, a work of manifold virtues, felicitous, intelligent, and very funny...full of anecdote, right with scenes and characters of tremendous comic vitality." And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls Simon's Night "A simple, beautiful novel."

I have read all of his books, including: Staggerford, Simon's Night, The Love Hunter, A Green Journey, Grand Opening, Dear James, Rookery Blues, North of Hope, The Dean's List, The Staffggerford Flood, and the New Woman. He has also written several short stories, some non-fiction, and even a couple of children's books.

I will miss his writing. It is so real, his characers so believable, and he wrote with such compassion, and as the Chattanooga Daily Times said: "It is hilariously funny...touchingly sensitive, a narrative that touches life in all of it's reality."

Jon Hassler, we will miss you. But I understand we have one more treat coming. Apparently he finished his last book just a few weeks before he died. Unable to type anymore, he whispered the words to his wife who typed them. I can't wait!

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