The Music of Failure

In a compact collection of two dozen short essays and prose poems Bill Holm explores his life and, by extension, our lives, “and how they flow together to make the life of a community, and then a country, and then a world.” Holm, whom Roger Miller called “a Garrison Keillor for Icelanders” and Garrison Keillor called “the tallest radical humorist in the Midwest,” grounds his observations on modern America in the Minneota, Minnesota, he knew as a boy in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“Bill Holm’s essays test the general assumptions of Americans about themselves against the private realities of their lives in a particular place. The place is Minneota, Minnesota, vividly evoked in Tom Guttormsson’s photographs as well as in Holm’s words.”—Tobais Wolff

“Bill Holm’s essay ‘The Music of Failure’ is worth the price of the whole book. Why will Americans agree to experience so many things, but not failure? The beauty of failure is his theme. A brilliant essay.”—Robert Bly

“A good book, perhaps even a great book. Holm has found his voice, and he speaks to the ‘hollowness of heart’ words that remind us—and convince us—that the true symbols of fullness of heart exist only in nature and in failures like Pauline, rather than in things that can be charged on credit cards.”—Elmer Suderman, St. Paul Pioneer Press

“He shows the inhabitants of any place how to find the soul of that place—and he beleaguers the places themselves with his stamp and thump until the ideas in his own soul get clear. The writing is delicate and splendid and funny.”—Carol Bly

A 1987 Pushcart Foundation “Writer’s Choice” Selection

102 pages
fifth printing
$6.95 paper