Midwest Passages

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)
July 18, 2004 Sunday ALL EDITION

Midwest Passages


Former Menomonee Falls resident Mike Magnuson (author of “Lummox”)
returns to the Milwaukee area this week to read from his new book,
“Heft on Wheels,” a memoir about a big man’s determination to turn
his life around.

Magnuson weighed 250 pounds a few years ago. Booze, cigarettes and a
rotten diet were his way. But he joined a biking club — and began
cycling slowly as part of a balanced diet-and-exercise routine.
Instead of being nuts on parties, he became nuts on cycling.

The man is 175 pounds today and cycles in tournaments. “Heft on
Wheels” is a humorous look at a makeover. Magnuson, now head of
Southwestern Illinois College’s creative writing department, has
arranged his book tour to Milwaukee to coincide with Saturday’s
Downer Avenue bike race. Yes, he plans to ride.

A few years ago, a friend gave University of Wisconsin-Madison
creative writing teacher Judith Claire Mitchell a stack of letters to

They were written by the friend’s great aunt, who had been a YMCA
volunteer in France in 1919. One of the letters mentioned an Armenian
who lost his family during deportations.

Mitchell used that tiny thread to begin weaving her debut novel, “The
Last Day of the War.”

She reads on Wednesday from this love story between a Jewish girl
from St. Louis and an Armenian-American soldier in Paris at the end
of World War I.


What: Talk Who: Mike Magnuson When and where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Harry
W. Schwartz Bookshops, 2559 N. Downer Ave.

What: Discussion, reading Who: Judith Claire Mitchell When and where:
7 p.m. Wednesday at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, 4093 N. Oakland
Ave., Shorewood.