Tag Archives: Duluth

R.J. Julia Booksellers Author Spotlight Brian Freeman

I like it when things come full circle. I like the symmetry. I appreciate the natural order of things. I try to live a balanced life. In fact, my nickname is Even Steven. When Katie and I started researching the connection between fictional stories and the real places where they are set, Brian Freeman was one of the first authors we studied. And now a year later we’re introducing Freeman as our R.J. Julia’s Author Spotlight for April. I couldn’t be more excited.

The Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., was one of the regions where we focused our initial research–San Francisco and New Haven were the other two–and it became clear that Freeman is a literary legend in the area. Locals are proud that Freeman sets many of his Jonathan Stride novels in places they know–Duluth Central High School, the Kitchi Gammi Club, the Aerial Lift Bridge and the “Stride Cottage” as it is known on Park Point. Katie and I even visited many of these places while conducting our research.

Fast forward a year and Freeman himself is on our site mapping the new Jonathan Stride novel, The Cold Nowhere. He’ll also encourage his fans to map the places from his other novels throughout April, engaging with them over social media as they plot and share.

Check out the map on PlacingLiterature.com and follow Brian Freeman on Facebook.

Duluth is What?!

In the last post about crowdsourcing, we talked about the fact that crowdsourcing really transfers some of the power of placemaking to those who are making the place. Here at  Placing Literature, we are all about that kind of culture change.

Something that we need to keep in mind, that like any technology or culture change, there is the potential for conflict.  What happens when the crowd challenges the norm?

That brings us to Duluth is Horrible.

Duluth is seriously NOT horrible, but that is the name of a film by Vincent Gargiulo.  Vincent Gargiulo is a filmmaker from San Francisco who had the idea for a film – a lonely-hearts kind of tale.  He had the film title in mind…(insert community name) is Horrible.  But, he did not have a title until it came to him in a dream.  Duluth.  Duluth is Horrible.

Enter crowdsourcing, stage right.  The film idea was pitched on Kickstarter – a crowdsourcing funding site for arts projects – and funding was secured.  So, now Vincent Gargiulo is in Duluth to make a film called Duluth is Horrible.

How do Duluthians feel about this development?  As you might imagine, feelings are mixed.  There are those who welcome any effort to spread the name of Duluth.  There are those who are deeply offended that people would pick on their community.  The social scientist in me points to the fact that some of the funding came from Duluth, local actors are participating and Perfect Duluth Day is talking about the film. 

One blogger in Duluth stated, “With several filmmakers coming to Duluth and making films which extol the … er … um grittier nature of our fair city, I’ve come to wonder if we aren’t letting others define how others see us with their films.”

Good question.  The conflict of crowdsourcing – losing control of an image?  Potential damage from outsiders creating a definition for your community?

More on this in future posts.

See for yourself: