His essays have been photocopied and sent to friends, cut out and taped to the wall or stuck on the refrigerator door, read aloud at various meetings, reprinted in area newsletters and, on occasion, praised or damned in letters to the editor.
INTRODUCING FRED’S WAY
Fred’s Way is a coming-of-age novel about a young man torn between going off to college to become an ordained Lutheran pastor or staying home in Chicago to marry his high school sweetheart. It resonates with the agony of someone trying desperately—and often comically—to find his role in a society that refuses to fit his innocent expectations.
The central character, Fred Hansen, is at root a mystic, alive to the wonder and glory of life. Like a latter-day Don Quixote, he’s never quite in synch with what others call reality…
Everybody knows the universe is a big place. What’s hard to grasp is how big. A few years ago I bought my wife a telescope for Christmas, figuring she could check out the moon and a few planets and get a fix on a star or two and help fill in some of the gaping holes...
A Lovely Land On a recent road trip out to Washington State and British Columbia, I found myself astonished by the beauty and variety of our continent. Not that this insight is anything new. My wife grew up near Seattle, and through the years we’ve driven or flown out...
In Chad Harbach’s superb novel The Art of Fielding, in a burial scene near the end of the book, one of the characters says of her dead father, “You told me once that a soul isn’t something a person is born with but something that must be built, by effort and error,...
Thanks for A Place Called Home!
"Thanks for A Place Called Home! Your timing was perfect - just finished two great books about place and time Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams and Robert Treuer's Tree Farm when your delightful and insightful volume arrived - a perfect finale to a change of seasons trilogy."
Port Wing, WI
Your long-awaited book has arrived and what a joy it is!
"Your long-awaited book has arrived and what a joy it is! Each evening l read three or four chapters and then probably start again. Thank you so much for writing it and especially thank you for sending Al and me an autographed copy. I've ordered several more for family and friends."
Mary Agnes M. - Edina, MN
"I began reading your book the day it arrived. Not only do I enjoy and appreciate your writing but I so admire your appreciation for nature and ability to truly see the tiniest essence of our world. One of my very favorite books of all time that had the same meaning for me was Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. There were times when her words would ground me, and now I have A Sense of Wonder. Thank you!"
I found it to be a truly wonderful book
"I just finished reading A Place Called Home and wanted you to know that I found it to be a truly wonderful book. Never again will I take Mother Nature for granted, or worse, ignore it. Never again will I complain about Minnesota winters or sultry summers. When I take Riley (our dog) out for a walk, it will be a joy instead of a chore. Thank you for your book. Thank you for opening my old eyes."
Pat W. - Pequot Lakes, MN
It is a wonderful book, and a treasure that I will keep
"Just a quick note to say 'hi' and to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. Once I started to read it, I couldn't put it down! There was something so peaceful and comforting that came over me as I read it, perhaps it stirs up my Midwestern roots! It is a wonderful book, and a treasure that I will keep."
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your wonderful little book
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your wonderful little book. Your love of the land and family and mastery of the language come shining through delightfully. It's been said that when love and skill combine, expect a masterpiece. A Place Called Home comes pretty close."
Beaver Dam, WI
The essays are delightful and profound
"It was so kind of you to send us a copy of your book, A Place Called Home. We are both enjoying it immensely. Christopher reads me chapters while I cook. The essays are delightful and profound, an inspiration to me as I struggle with my own book project. Many thanks and best wishes."
Kaslo, Bristish Columbia
Thank you for reminding me of the simple joys
“This past weekend I partook in a piece of the journey of your life by reading A Place Called Home. Thank you for reminding me of the simple joys. I was particularly excited when I read the chapter “The Humility Bead.” I have made it a point to pick up bits and pieces of obscure knowledge about the Native Americans of our region, and along the way I learned this tradition. I wish I could have showed you the humility bead in the beadwork of my wedding dress. It was put there deliberately as a way of saying Kurt is marrying me for who I am, in all my glories, and all my imperfections.”
I had fun reading "Fred's Way", I wish there were some way to end the book less abruptly, maybe there's a sequel to follow ?
That is learning how to be you own person — a good person — and how to relate to the people …
Nagel has a firm grip on living a naive life in the early 60’s, while taking the world he has been given by his parents and church, and finding that he doesn’t exactly accept everything he has been taught to believe. And so he begins the journey of a lifetime — one that is endlessly challenging. That is learning how to be your own person — a good person — and how to relate to the people around you. His writing seemed to me fairly simple and elementary at first and it grows in complexity and sophistication along with Fred’s growing persona. That is a very neat trick. Nagel’s descriptions of his characters are sometimes laugh out loud funny and at other times silky smooth and knowing.
I’m of an age to feel deeply the authenticity with which Nagel explores Fred’s world and I recommend it — it is just a good story, but if you lived in that era, it can be truly powerful to find yourself back in it.
Fred’s Way is a kind of Odyssey
Fred’s Way is a kind of Odyssey. But unlike Odysseus whose goal was always the same Fred spends the whole story stepping goal to goal like pilgrim crossing a river on stones. As far as my decades have revealed, life is like this. It’s not what you thought it might be. But life itself... living is good. Finding that out is enough for anyone. Nagel helps us see the simple truth and makes us laugh out loud in the process. No book can hope for more than this.
If you want to get a good feel for life in the north woods, this is the book for you. Craig's insights and descriptions of everyday , year round, life in the woods is spot on. I read it next to my fireplace, in Ohio, this winter and it certainly made me homesick for the lakes, woods and loons (flying and footed) of northern Minnesota!
A beautiful book
Craig Nagel is an essayist in the tradition of some great naturalist writers: Sigurd Olson, Aldo Leopold, Terry Tempest Williams. His essays span a life--"a life of quiet joy", as he puts it--and in exploring themes of family, work, and the magic of the Minnesota woods, he illuminates the lessons that can be learned by really seeing the world around you. Visual, affirming, and funny, hopeful and grateful even in the face of great tragedy, Nagel tells tales of his "ordinary life", and in the process knits this world together with his words. Anyone who finds peace, beauty, and the sacred in nature will find a kindred spirit in Craig Nagel, and a satisfying read in A Place Called Home.
There are few books that, even as you read, you know you will reread again and again. This is one of them! I'm still experiencing the afterglow. Some stories brought back memories while others made me smile, some vividly painted places I have never seen, and fulfilled dreams I had yet to have. When you have finished reading the book from cover to cover, you will be amazed by the enlightenment you feel, and appreciate this author for his talent and gift of insight with you. This book is a keeper. You will want to buy more than one copy to share this down-to-earth magical experience with your family and friends!
Sharon Doering - Sarasota, Florida
I lived in Craig's neck of the woods for 20 years. It's very comforting to read his stories about northern MN country life. His musings about the North woods and lakes and the adventures and discoveries to be found there, are wonderful. His love of life, and nature, nurture my currently "citified" spirit. They are a gift, even if they make me homesick. Keep shoveling, planting, hiking, enjoying and WRITING Craig!
And contemplation of love and loss
Craig Nagel has selected a most pleasurable collection of his columns depicting the natural pleasures of life in rural Minnesota, of days gone by and wonders of the seasons, and contemplation of love and loss. I especially enjoyed his explorations of the connectedness and inter-dependencies of life with fellow humans and other critters. "A Sense of Wonder" is an apt name for this fine group of essays.
Superb and heart warming!
This was a wonderful book! I always read before going to sleep, and this was the perfect book. Loved all the short stories about wildlife, nature, and memories... This is a great read if you want to relax and laugh here and there-a great feel good book! Craig Nagel has a great sense of humor, I loved all of his stories. This is my second order for a friend. I would definitely read another book from this author.