\u201cThe ground bass is failure; America is the key signature; Pauline Bardal is the lyrical tune that sings at the center; Minneota, Minnesota, is the staff on which the tunes are written.\u201d So begins the masterful title piece from Bill Holm\u2019s first book of essays, The Music of Failure. This collection introduced to many the singular vision and voice of literary giant Bill Holm, a writer who had traveled well and widely but came back to his hometown of Minneota-the town of his immigrant Icelandic ancestors-as, in his words, \u201cfor all practical purposes a failure.\u201d What emerges from these pages, and from Holm\u2019s cherished writings over the next two and a half decades, is anything but failure. From his ruminations on life in Minneota, family history, and the \u201chorizontal grandeur\u201d of the Midwestern prairie to a poetry-reading tour of Minnesota nursing homes and an account of a naked man eating lilacs out of his garden, The Music of Failure is a lyrical and surprising compilation that finds Holm mining the stories and places that captivated him and continue to enthrall his many readers. This 25th anniversary edition includes poignant portraits of Holm and the history of The Music of Failure by Jim Heynen and David Pichaske, along with an essay Holm requested be added to this new edition, \u201cIs Minnesota in America Yet?\u201d With beautiful black-and-white photographs by Tom Guttormsson, The Music of Failure is Bill Holm at both his early and quintessential best, an inimitable and much-missed writer who illuminates our private and common lives through both our quiet victories and our sublime failures.
Bill Holm (1943-2009) was a one-of-a-kind poet, essayist, and musician. He wrote several acclaimed books and won the Minnesota Book Award and the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. He lived in Minneota, Minnesota, and spent summers in Iceland, and he taught English for many years at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Jim Heynen has published widely as a writer of poems, novels, nonfiction, and short fiction.
David Pichaske is editor in chief of Spoon River Poetry Press, Ellis Press, and Plains Press.