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


A Big Place

A Big Place

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

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 there several...

Being There

Being There

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,...

Craig’s Books

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