Book Report: Poet Breckenridge writes an autobiography

by Dave Wood

Several years ago, Geoffrey Wolfe wrote a gripping biography of his father called “The Duke of Deception.”

Turns out that his father did not have an Ivy League degree as he claimed, had not done the adventures he regaled his son with.

Turns out that his father was a con artist, a duke of deception.

Now Minneapolis poet and memoirist and former director of The Loft writer’s organization and founder of its mentor series Jill Breckenridge has written an autobiography that certainly reminds me of Wolf’s earlier book.

It’s called “Miss Priss and the Con Man” (Nodin Press, $19.95 paper).

Miss Priss Jill Breckenridge and the Con Man is her charming and handsome father, a Pacific Northwesterner who gets hooked up with some unsavory characters who wear black suits and white on white, and later gets involved with shady real estate deals and ends up in the pen.

But he’s a likeable fellow who loves his daughter, more than her mother does.

Mother is an alcoholic from a nobler family than her husband and quickly sickens of his antics and the marriage that resulted in the birth of the author.

“Murder at Lascaux,” by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden ($26.95) is recently out from Terrace Books in Madison, but takes place far away in France’s Dordogne region.

Authors Draine and Hinden tell the story of Americans Nora, an art historian and her husband Toby lie their way into the famous caves of Lascaux home of the prehistoric cave drawings.

There’s a murder in the cave and guess what?

Nora and Toby are suspects.

Their task is to find the real killer and also try to learn something in the cooking school they’ve signed up for at a chateau in the neighborhood.

It’s a tasty dish from two former English professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

On the regional scene, “Blue Guitar Highway,”by Paul Metsa (University of Minnesota Press. $24.95) will certainly please music buffs who remember Metsa’s days in the joints on Minneapolis’s West Bank.

Metsa grew up in Virginia and arrived in Minneapolis, bright-eyed, in 1978.

Since then he’s played 5,000 gigs in dives and huge auditoriums with local musicians and Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen.

There’s a brilliant introduction by New York Times media critic David Carr, an old pal of Metsa’s from the days when Carr wrote for the Twin Cities Reader and snorted coke with the bright young things along Hennepin Avenue.

Editor’s note: Dave Wood is a past vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle and former book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He can be reached at 715-426-9554.

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