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


Don’t They Know?

Don’t They Know?

Some months ago grandson Jack, then 7, asked me to tell him something about “the old days.” When I asked him what he meant by that, he said, “You know. Something old-fashioned. When things were different than they are now.” Casting about for a recollection that might...

Character and Fate

Character and Fate

When I was a callow young fellow and knew a lot more than I know now, someone told me that character and fate were pretty much the same thing. Instead of fate crashing down on you from the outside, it supposedly grew from within the seeds of your own character....

Night Thoughts

Night Thoughts

The other day a friend called to tell us of the death of a mutual acquaintance, and that night I had difficulty sleeping. Over the past year a number of close friends have passed away, and each time my mind rebels at accepting the fact of their disappearance. This...

Craig’s Books

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