A Mischief of Mice: Secrets, Lies and Love in the Sand Hills of Minnesota (Paperback)
From hanging an effigy of Old Annie to hunting Minnesota gangsters, a little corn-silk-haired girl with black tarred feet learns about death and life from the characters around her. The "mischief of mice" referenced in her title recall the poverty of her youth, but also the realizations that come with age, including the shocking mischief she uncovered in the man she revered most - her father, a jazz musician, and the secrets he carried to the grave.
Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson is best known for her poetry, and this book weaves poetry, color illustrations of wildflowers, and vivid storytelling, into her view of the St. Croix Valley's sand hills after the Second World War. This is a book full of sense and life, both lush and simple, real and imaginative.
From Jan Airhart, author of 'Mother of My Invention', "Just as a creek carves a path through its environment, Valley Creek shapes Cynthia Gustavson's early life near Afton, Minnesota in the 1950s.... Descriptions of exploits in the Valley, including the creek and its accompanying trail, are reminiscent of Annie Dillard's exploration of Tinker Creek. Despite the unwelcome mice making mischief within the walls of her childhood home and the secret deceptions that are eventually uncovered, Gustavson tells her story with compassion for those she's loved-even those who betrayed her. Music is a solace woven throughout the narrative, a legacy of her jazz musician father, while chapters are punctuated with the author's beautifully crafted poetry. A Mischief of Mice is a delightful depiction of one woman's ongoing relationship with nature and her resulting reverence for all of life."