Bourke’s Bookshelf: Wine and Words 2024 – author Timothy Schaffert – Brainerd Dispatch

Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking readers on a literary world tour, from the north woods of Minnesota, across the ocean to sunny Italy, back in time to early 20th century Paris, and across worlds to the quaint woodland village of Shady Hollow . .

Theresa Bourke head shot

We’ll be exploring the authors who will be speaking at this year’s Wine and Words event, taking place from July 24 to 26 at Grand View Lodge.

The event, organized by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library, is the largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit and features food, drinks, silent auction items, raffles and, of course, author readings.

The first is Timothy Schaffert, an Omaha writer who grew up on a farm in Nebraska. He is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including “The Swan Gondola” and “The Perfume Thief.” Schaffert teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The two Schaffert novels I picked up are far apart and show quite a range of writing and storytelling skills.

‘The Titanic Survivors Book Club’ (2024)

This book is truly a work of art.

Yes, I know all books are art, but that is the best way I can think of to describe “The Titanic Survivors Book Club” by Timothy Schaffert.

The writing, characters and storyline harmonize so beautifully to create a thought-provoking story that I won’t soon forget.

Despite his name being on the death list, Yorick never boarded the Titanic on that fateful day in 1912. He is not sure if he can really be counted as a survivor, as he never sailed on the ship, but an anonymous letter a year later. makes him see his situation in a whole new light.

He feels like an imposter as he is invited to meet other survivors and prepares for the powerful story he will tell.

What Yorick finds in this meeting and book club goes far beyond the deck of the Titanic and the feelings he has about the fact that he is not going to sea. And that is exactly what this club, which now takes place in Yorick’s Parisian bookstore, is all about.

I don’t often include quotes in my reviews, but this passage really stood out to me and I think it captures the spirit of the novel exceptionally well:

“Well, we could start a book club. We all want to meet again, but what will we talk about? How happy we are? How guilty? Meet again and again to talk again and again about the fact that we have no words for how we feel? But if we have a book to discuss, we can talk about anything that concerns us without having to talk about ourselves at all.”

From the first anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking through World War I, ‘The Titanic Survivors Book Club’ uses a pivotal time in history as the backdrop for its hauntingly beautiful story of second chances, complete with the most intense love triangles, a passion for books and the harshest realities of life that cannot be ignored.

‘The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters’ (2002)

Phantom limb syndrome is a chronic condition in which amputees experience a feeling of pain or discomfort in a limb that is no longer there.

Sisters Mabel and Lily can still feel their late father’s presence, even ten years later. The clutter in their store contains countless memories and connections to the past, especially their father’s old records and all the letters from their mother.

The Rollow sisters have been left to fend for themselves for some time now. Their father committed suicide when they were both young, after which their mother fled to Mexico. Their grandmother finished raising her children but left Omaha as soon as Lily graduated from high school, leaving the two girls – 18 and 21 – alone in their family’s junk shop.

It’s a strange existence, but one that they’ve both grown accustomed to to some extent. Lily eventually decides that she must go find their mother, and Mabel becomes entangled with the idea of ​​communicating with their father’s ghost.

What follows is a quirky, gothic story about bizarre family dynamics and the search for something more in life.

This year’s Wine and Words event will take place from July 24 to 26 at the Grand View Lodge. Schaffert is joined by authors Cary J. Griffith, Claire Lombardo, Catherine McKenzie, Juneau Black and emcee Lorna Landvik.

A limited number of tickets for the event are available at

THERESA BOURKE can be reached at

[email protected]

or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at Theresa


Theresa Bourke

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.

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