Craig Nagel


For the past thirty years readers of the Lake Country Echo in north-central Minnesota have enjoyed the bi-weekly column by Craig Nagel called “The Cracker Barrel.”

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.


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…

Fred’s Way
by Craig Nagel


Steps to Better Thinking?

Steps to Better Thinking?

Several years ago, on a trip to England with friends, we decided to visit Charles Darwin’s home in Downe, some fifteen miles south of London in the Kent countryside. The home itself proved fascinating, not because of its architecture or historical importance so much...

September Song

September Song

There’s something about a grey September day that makes the heart grow melancholy. Shakespeare, in his sonnet No. 73, captures this brooding sense of autumn when he likens himself to the season.

A stroke of insight

A stroke of insight

On the 10th of December, 1996, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, experienced a rare form of stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Within four hours, she watched her mind lose its ability to process information. “By the end of that...

Craig’s Books

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