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Vicki Gerdes, Forum Communications Co., Published January 19 2011

Weaving a tale: Author talks memoirs

If you go

Award-winning Minnesota fiction writer Will Weaver has recently released a new book of his memoirs, called “The Last Hunter” – and now he would like to help others write their own life stories as well.

Weaver will be in Detroit Lakes, Minn., this Friday for a 7 p.m. program at the Historic Holmes Theatre, called “Telling Our Own Stories, Writing Our Own Lives.”

A native of Park Rapids, Minn., Weaver said his grandparents once had a farm in eastern Becker County, and he grew up on a dairy farm.

“I know the landscape well,” he said. “That’s what I write about – our northwestern (Minnesota) landscape.”

And while most of his published work, prior to “The Last Hunter,” has been in the area of fiction, Weaver noted, he didn’t find the change of writing about his own life to be an uncomfortable transition.

“I don’t write science fiction or fantasy … most of my fiction has a lot of realism in it,” he explained. “It wasn’t a great departure for me to write this memoir.”

The title of “The Last Hunter,” Weaver said, refers to the fact that while he grew up in a family of hunters and still loves the sport, his children are not so inclined.

“I grew up on a dairy farm near Park Rapids, and hunting was, we could say, seamlessly integrated into our farm life,” Weaver recalled. “It was a natural part of my childhood.”

But as it is with anyone who gets married, there are always two sides to the family tree – and his parents were no exception.

“My mother’s side was a non-hunting family, but my father’s … they were dyed-in-the-wool outdoorsmen,” Weaver said. “I grew up as a hunter, but both of my kids are not. I’m the last one in my family.”

Oddly enough, however, Weaver said he has noticed he has nephews and great-nephews who are starting to show some interest in the sport.

Besides hunting, Weaver’s memoir also touches on other themes.

“There’s been a great shift (of population) off the farm and into town,” he said. “That’s part of my story, and it’s part of many people’s stories.”

When a shift like that occurs, much of the flavor of the old way of life can be lost – unless someone decides to write it down.

“We all have to write our own stories, because we’re the ones that know them best,” Weaver said. “I’m encouraging people to write down or somehow record their important family stories, because if we don’t, who else will?”

Weaver’s presentation will also touch on some of the mechanics of how to write a memoir, or any type of nonfiction.

While many of his own fiction stories are born from dramatizing or expanding upon real-life occurrences, Weaver said, there is often much drama to be had simply from telling those stories as they actually occurred.

“We don’t think we do (have anything interesting to write about), but when we do tell our stories to other people, they will often confirm that they’re pretty interesting,” Weaver said.

Weaver’s presentation at the Holmes Theatre this Friday is free of charge; funding was provided to the Lake Agassiz Regional Library for his appearance, in whole or in part, with money from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Weaver will also be appearing in Barnesville, Minn., on Thursday; visit www.larl.org for details. For more information about Weaver and his work, visit www.willweaverbooks.com.


Vicki Gerdes is a writer for the Detroit Lakes Tribune