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Curiosity's Cats: Writers on Research

Historian Philip J. Anderson’s Pilgrim Voices recounts his journey from studying the English civil war at Oxford University to battling carpenter ants and bats as he rebuilds an old house in Hovland, MN. The house was at the center of his new field of study, research “fueled by a deepening appreciation of the importance of place and homemaking in the human experience.”

Bruce Joshua Miller’s The Mad Bomber Guy narrates his obsessive search for the facts about George Peter Metesky, who carried out a sixteen-year war against his former employer, the Consolidated Edison Company of New York. Miller describes the joy of conducting face-to-face interviews with retired police officials and reporters as he puzzles out why Con Ed withheld essential information from police.

When Ali Selim picked up the Minneapolis Star-Tribune one day in the autumn of 1990 he found Will Weaver’s short story, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat.” The pathos of the story moved him to tears and his essay, Stay Here as Long as you Like, describes his successful fifteen-year quest to write and direct Sweet Land, an independent film based on Weaver’s story.

Minnesota Book Award winner Bruce White shows us what historians and detectives have in common after he finds a small red Boy Scout Diary from 1926 in a Duluth curio shop. He unearths a good deal of information about the boy and his fractured family, and gives us a poetic and absorbing essay, A Boy in Duluth in 1926, along the way.

Steve Yates tells of the research involved writing his first novel, Morkan’s Quarry (Moon City Press 2010), about a limestone mining family surviving the Civil War in the Missouri Ozarks, and about the ways in which the archive, the book, the library, and the observant human heart are all prerequisites to living fiction. His essay is entitled, To Understand You Must Break In.

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