Jane Greer

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On Her Way
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On Her Way

This is the third and newest book in Sally Wright’s well-received “Ben Reese Mystery Series.” The first two—Pride and Predator and Publish and Perish—drew rave reviews from the Washington Times, National Review, Publishers Weekly, and

A Survivalist in Madison
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A Survivalist in Madison

Imagine, if you will, a residential street in Madison, Wisconsin, where every neighbor is a member of the university faculty. Is this a metaphor for Hell? A trip to the Twilight Zone? A sequel to Richard Russo’s tenure-track satire,

A Lot of Nerve
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A Lot of Nerve

It was an editor’s dream: poems of this caliber, unsolicited and unexpected, in my post office box. The verse was assertive, muscular, practiced but never unsurprising. Who was this man?

Everyone else knew, it seemed. Richard Moore’s poems and essays

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I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help

Leo Widicker farms outside Bowdon, North Dakota. Last winter, Widicker had a quarter section—160 acres—that was badly wind-eroded from several dry summers and snowless winters during which there was no ground cover. Much of the topsoil had blown into a

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Highway Robbery

On our Disneyland day, the first time for all of us, we rose at 6 A.M. to be sure to get there early, as we’d been warned to do. We showered, dressed, wolfed a donut in the Comfort Inn lobby,

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The Big Dusty

A friend says her secret wish is for some very old distant relative, who she’s never met and won’t miss, to die and leave her a fortune. Waiting for rain this summer is a lot like that—only less realistic.

In

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We’re Not as Dumb as They Think

It’s gone just about too far this time.

In the past year, North and South Dakota were included in a group of states described as “America’s Out back” by Newsweek. As if that weren’t bad enough, both states were

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Make a Joyful Noise. Awomen.

Two years ago, because it felt inevitable and right, I took the happy leap of faith that I had been approaching for years and became a Catholic. The reasons why are perhaps fodder for another letter at another time. Let

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Not a Smashing Success

It’s the little things—not the front-page disclosures—that suggest to us that we’ve been had.

Take, for instance, a 1987-88 study by the Oregon Department of Transportation. ODOT studied 551 students between 16 and 19 years of age who had

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

It’s bound to happen. As the prodigal metropolises east and west of North Dakota accumulate garbage, after they’ve tried and failed at recycling and incineration, they’re going to want to put that garbage somewhere—stuff it where it won’t offend a

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“Zip to Zap”

The first “Zip to Zap,” or “Zap-In,” made headlines around the world, in places as different as Pakistan and Russia, to say nothing of Washington and Miami. It was 1969, with civil rights and anti-Vietnam marches, US forces in Southeast

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Waking Up Middle-Aged in the New Age

There I was, nearly 36, being paid to do mundane work (but not paid nearly enough), unable to finish any of the large writing projects I’d been working at, and victim of a series of professional disappointments. This was a

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The God Biz

For some reason (perhaps God knows why) I recently started receiving packets of postcard advertisements from Media Management’s Ministry: Values for Growing Churches. “Dear Pastor,” the top card began.

I read that an identical packet had been sent to

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When Pigs Fly

Elsewhere, life is predictable: the State Legislature wants a raise, Khomeini wants someone dead. Tiny Tim is running for mayor of New York, and Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith are pregnant, ecstatic about it, and planning to move up

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Only in a Place Like This

In America, we can judge the significance of an event by the pre-maturity and questionable taste of the memorabilia it spawns. In mid-January 1989, three months before the Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC) was scheduled to descend upon Bismarck, North

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A Prophet in His Own Country

It took millennia for North Dakota soil to acquire what nutrients it has (and they’re substantial) in the Red River Valley along the eastern border, the silt-rich bottom of huge prehistoric Lake Agassiz. It took only a hundred years or

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Walt Disney Rolls Over in His Grave

Fun for the whole family, the ad for the movie said. (I was relieved to know that it wasn’t zany or lafF-packed, although later I would have settled for that.) Our kids, then eight and 13, deserved a celebration for

Don’t Quit Your Job to Raise a Litmag
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Don’t Quit Your Job to Raise a Litmag

“Poetry is the most overproduced commodity on the market, next to zucchini.”
—Judson Jerome, Writer’s Digest poetry columnist since 1960

According to a 1985 study cited by Writer’s Digest Books, 23.3 percent of all people who think of themselves as

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Waiting for the Mountains

Eastern Montana: a gigantic plate of congealed gravy. Chicken gravy. A shimmering, menacing, pale silver-yellow, begrudgingly patched with some better-off-nameless light green culture. We’re talking stubble here in this drought year, not chest-high grain. The gravy platter stretches east and

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The Candidate

She’s embarrassing and unpredictable, known as a “gadfly” and a “maverick” (among other names). She admits she’s never been a joiner. She has alienated both political parties and the Minnesota media. There are no topics on which she doesn’t

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Phi Beta Kappa Fake

When I was 11, I saw a photo of the Radcliffe campus in fall, with a beautiful long-haired blonde in a plaid wool skirt sitting on a flight of leaf-covered steps in front of a red brick building. (Fran Schumer

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Lumpenpolitics: A Lament

Election Day nears, and two faceless candidates leer ahead of us like dopestarved punks who know there’s nowhere else for us to go. They need a fix, and in the process we’ll lose our money and our dignity. If that’s

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Broncos 2, NOW 0

It was hard times down at the Bismarck chapter of The National Organization for Women. The girls were tired of playing “Old Maid” and “Hangman” all day, and to some of them even the prospect of a date with a

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The Genuine Article

Linda Hasselstrom is a friend of mine, although we don’t write often or know each other well. I visited her South Dakota ranch, between the Black HOls and the Badlands, only once, six years ago, at which time I had

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And the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Deborah Epstein Popper is a graduate student in geography at Rutgers University, and Frank J. Popper chairs the university’s urban studies department there: in New Brunswick, New Jersey, about as far away from the Great Plains, in every way, as

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Bleary-Eyed for Christ

Anxious to be liked, mainstream Churches roll over and piddle on the floor regularly these days, and seem to do so with the greatest vigor in the spring, when the pasqueflowers sprout on virgin soil and the “renewal” comes to

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Auguries of the End of Innocence

My first-grade son was recently bitten in the arm by an exuberant classmate. Luckily (said his principal) my son was wearing a heavy jacket, and the boy’s teeth didn’t puncture his skin: “Human bites are even more dangerous than dogs’,

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Don’t Tread On Me

I had the intense pleasure of visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire in August. Although I’m happy where I am, I think I could be happy there, too, and if anyone wants to give me a family-and-pet-sized cabin halfway

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The Dakota Men

“What ever happened to real men . . . the kind of men with good old-fashioned values like honesty, integrity, sincerity, and ambition?” asks FOOD—Farmers of Ongoing Determination—in a promotional flier. It turns out that they think they have a

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You Can Lead a Horse to Water

I came across Mitch Snyder’s name the other day. Remember Mitch? He made the news first about three years ago, when, as head of the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV), a Washington-based “homeless rights” group, he spoke out against the

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Now That the Dust Has Settled

American poetry has for the past few decades been going through what can only be called an adolescence, discarding rules and conventions simply because they existed. Poetry and all the arts go through a healthy siege of anarchy every so

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Beginnings Past All Remembering

The Knights of Columbus Club is just beginning to buzz as we pull up at 7:45, 15 minutes fashionably late. Our cars hold two families of three people each; the two small boys—cousins, one in each car, for sanity’s sake—love

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Government Jerky

My husband, a beef jerky afficionado, tells me that C & I Jerky, Ltd. makes some of the best he’s ever tasted.

Ileene Nodland and Cheryl Knutson produce it themselves in Dunn Center, North Dakota, which had 170 residents during

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Hawkeye Econ 101

“Directions for Iowa’s Economic Growth” ought to be required reading for every local and state government body, to say nothing of the boys in Washington (the less said about them, the better).

Drafted by a University of Iowa research

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Where the Action Is

Between now and the turn of the century, 16 eastern and southeastern states will celebrate 200 years of statehood. Here in the hinterlands, seven more states will have their 100th birthday. Then there will be just five state centennials left,

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Prairie Dog

Fairbanks has an interesting hypothesis: that early prairie women loved the plains and their adventurous lives here as much as pioneer men did. I have never believed in the myth that every pioneer woman was long-suffering, silently hating the

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Gay Violence

It was Homecoming 1986 at Jamestown College in southeastern North Dakota. Scott Westcott, 19, was at the dance. So was Shaun Erickson, 28, a senior who lectures and writes widely about his homosexuality.

The room was crowded, and, according to

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Just One More Drink of Water

A recent Time article reported an astonishing new find. Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that men are good for women.

Actually, there’s more to it than that—what they

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Dakota Days

It was their ordinariness that made them matter. . . . Individual life was by its very nature a tragedy; it came to an end; for all of us it was going to be a short way to that grave.

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Who’s Wearing the White Hat?

In the heartland’s fiercest modern-day shoot-out—farmers versus lawyers and bankers—it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad.

Charles Niska, farmer and father of eight, is serving two consecutive one-year sentences in the North Dakota State Penitentiary for illegal

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Just the Way We Are

Zig Ziglar came to Bismarck recently. (My husband, who doesn’t do aerobics, likes his finger of Cutty before bed, and is understandably paranoid about his decadent life-style, says it feels to him as if Zig comes here once a month.)

Paradise Enow: A Midwestern Perspective
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Paradise Enow: A Midwestern Perspective

This is not an invitation. Frankly, if you don’t live here already, most of us would rather you stay where you are, although we can’t blame you for wanting to come. Oh, some of our businessmen and bankers and ministers

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What I Would Have Asked: A Tale of Two Cities

1. Fargo, North Dakota—Not long ago, in a city far, far away from almost everything, there was founded an abortion clinic called the Fargo Women’s Health Organization.

A little later came an antiabortion counseling center, which its supporters named

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Young Yuppies In Love

North Dakota—the last place most people ever think of-makes the national news from time to time, usually as part of a survey or study. Sometimes the results surprise those of us who live here, but mostly they don’t.

For instance,

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What Ever Happened to Basket Weaving?

I try to be a calm and charitable person. But just when I have some of my smaller base urges under control—my flippancy, my latent cynicism—I trip in some new droppings of those sincere, well-meaning U.S. citizens whose rhetoric can’t