Regionalism can completely unsettling you in a sudden, subtle, and completely banal way. What am I talking about? In the state of Minnesota, the children’s game Duck Duck Goose goes by a different name. Minnesota is the only state in the United States that does this and to such a degree many and most Minnesotans don’t even register it as unique. When my wife, a Minnesotan through and through, discovered that nowhere else calls the game Duck Duck Gray Duck she was astounded. How had this excessively minor trait just slipped through? All the while the rest of us just scoffed confused about why would an entire state of people randomly decide this.
Quirks. Your state, your region has them. You think you’re ‘normal,’ but you’re not. Your community says and does ridiculous things, but you never blink because to you it’s always been that way like the way people from certain regions of the US refuse to pronounce the letter ‘r’ inserting it into words that don’t have it or how every soda is a ‘Coke’ in the south. Once you leave your comfort zone, the facade comes crashing down. Seeing yourself from the outside, especially in these petty distinctions making up local color, is invigorating. It is also a wonderful way to get a glimpse into the casual lives of others in places you may never go.
Annie Jenkins doesn’t believe in a power larger than herself, but the Minnesota State Fair won’t let her stay away. Through craft beers and Pronto Pups and a flowering onion or two, she reconnects with some of the most important people in her life at a time she needs them the most.
The debut novella by Kayli Schaaf, Now Through Labor Day is a State Fair-themed novella that was a recent finalist in the StarTribune’s Summer Serial series.
Schaaf’s novella transports readers to a Minnesota institution, the Minnesota State Fair, where her romance is deftly set to give us maximum story within a strict time frame and boundaries of place. Readers who adore Midwestern literature will find Schaaf’s novel at once quirky, familiar, and at more than a few moments touching.
Read an excerpt
While this may be Kayli Schaaf’s debut, she is a prolific writer. Hopefully, Gray Duck Press will bring us more of her work as well as that of other Minnesotan or Midwestern writers.