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Cold Comfort

Life at the Top of the Map

2000
Author:

Barton Sutter

Cold Comfort

A whimsical look at the pleasures and challenges of living in the far north-now in paperback!

Temperatures that dive to forty degrees below zero are only part of life in northern Minnesota, according to award-winning writer Barton Sutter. Cold Comfort is his temperamental tribute to the city of Duluth, where bears wander the streets and canoe racks are standard equipment.

“Barton Sutter's Cold Comfort is an oddly brilliant and lovely little book, imbued with the true spirit of place but totally without the sense of regional xenophobia that currently afflicts us. This is Sutter's country and he tells us why, and also why nearly all of the rest of us wouldn't care for it. The book is resonant, evocative, and splendidly written.”
--Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

Bart Sutter's vibrant, burning passion for a place is a golden spike, fixing his heart to Duluth, the Arrowhead, and Lake Superior. Ranging from the Duluth-Superior Dukes ‘quasi-semi-pro’ baseball team to the demonic speed of a merlin hawk to a stand of birches he compares to 'a flock of nurses . . . getting off work,' the passion in Cold Comfort is broad and deep, lyrical and earthy.

Faith Sullivan, author of The Empress of One

A whimsical look at the pleasures and challenges of living in the far north-now in paperback!

"Sutter knows Duluth and the hinterlands to the North the way Garrison Keillor knows Lake Wobegon and the prairies. With a nimble wit and a roving eye for detail, Sutter goes beneath the veneer of the North Country to expose its attraction, its quirks, and its characters. There isn’t a clinker in the collection, and even if you’ve lived your entire life in Duluth or the North Country, you’ll see your home place with new insight after reading Cold Comfort." Duluth News-Tribune

"Mostly whimsical, sometimes meditative, but most often warmhearted, these essays explore Lake Superior, its neighboring rivers and streams, duck hunting, cross-country skiing, bridges, cider-pressing parties, and camping out in the family car. Sutter’s prose is clean, straightforward, and sometimes mirthful." Chicago New City

"An oddly brilliant and lovely little book. . . . Resonant, evocative, and splendidly written." Jim Harrison

Temperatures that dive to forty degrees below zero are only part of life in northern Minnesota, according to award-winning writer Barton Sutter. Cold Comfort is his temperamental tribute to the city of Duluth, Minnesota, where bears wander the streets and canoe racks are standard equipment.

Winner of a 1998 Northeast Minnesota Book Award

Winner of a 1998 Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction

Cold Comfort

Barton Sutter is the author of My Father’s War and Other Stories (1991) and three books of poetry, most recently The Book of Names (1993). His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, including Minnesota Monthly and the North American Review. He makes his home in Duluth, Minnesota.

Cold Comfort

Bart Sutter's vibrant, burning passion for a place is a golden spike, fixing his heart to Duluth, the Arrowhead, and Lake Superior. Ranging from the Duluth-Superior Dukes ‘quasi-semi-pro’ baseball team to the demonic speed of a merlin hawk to a stand of birches he compares to 'a flock of nurses . . . getting off work,' the passion in Cold Comfort is broad and deep, lyrical and earthy.

Faith Sullivan, author of The Empress of One

Barton Sutter's Cold Comfort is an oddly brilliant and lovely little book, imbued with the true spirit of place but totally without the sense of regional xenophobia that currently afflicts us. This is Sutter's country and he tells us why, and also why nearly all of the rest of us wouldn't care for it. The book is resonant, evocative, and splendidly written.

Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

Barton Sutter is something of a crank. A certain skepticism and irascibility comes through in his writing. It is his crankiness, I think, that prevents the essays in Cold Comfort, which are about a particular part of the country that he loves, from ever becoming sentimental. This crankiness gives the essays their oddness, their wit, and the sharpness of the northern winter air.

Louis Jenkins, author of Nice Fish

The only thing cold in these finely written and warmhearted essays is the wind coming off the big lake Sutter calls ‘God.’ Though he tries hard to be a curmudgeon, delight—in seedy places, unlikely humans, the grand ordinariness of thing—keeps breaking through on every page.

Bill Holm, author of The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth

Sutter knows Duluth and the hinterlands to the North the way Garrison Keillor knows Lake Wobegon and the prairies. With a nimble wit and a roving eye for detail, Sutter goes beneath the veneer of the North Country to expose its attraction, its quirks and its characters. But while Cold Comfort conveys a strong sense of place, for Sutter the North also serves as a backdrop for some poignant thoughts on life itself . . .There isn’t a clinker in the collection, and even if you’ve lived your entire life in Duluth or the North Country, you’ll see your home place with new insight after reading Cold Comfort.

Sam Cook in the Duluth News-Tribune

Sutter soberly but amusingly recounts long, deep winter months when all he can do midway throught the season is map fishing, an oddly humorous daydreaming of past expeditions. Mostly whimsical, sometimes meditative, but most often warmhearted, these essays-each a few pages long-explore Lake Superior, its neighboring rivers and streams, duck-hunting, cross country skiing, bridges, cider-pressing parties and camping out in the family car. Sutter’s prose is clean, straightforward and sometimes mirthful.

Chicago New City

Sutter, an award-winning poet and fiction writer, sees Duluth with wide eyes and brings this vision to readers with brilliant crisp prose sure to resonate with anyone else who loves this beautiful, cold place “at the top of the map. In short, Bart Sutter wrote a book any Duluthian could have written in a way that very few could have written it. In the end, Cold Comfort challenges readers, bringing them face-to-face with their own lives, their own failures, the close proximity of their own mortality. Sutter approaches this topic with the same poetic touch and keen eye with which he approaches Duluth.

Duluth Budgeteer News

You sense it in essay after essay: He knows it’s cold (in boldface) in Duluth, he knows it’s backward, he knows it’s crazy to live in a town where winter causes car tires to become square and freeze to the street-but, dang it, he lives here on purpose and he kind of loves it. Sutter, a poet and fiction writer who has lived in Duluth for 11 years, is a master of description. His words conjure vivid pictures.

Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune

Cold Comfort documents Barton Sutter’s love affair with Duluth, Minnesota, the frozen port city at the foot of Lake Superior. The book is half Wordsworth, half Hallmark. A series of two- and three-page essays, Sutter’s work weaves together homespun wisdom and profound insights into a tapestry that should keep his readers warm and comfy through the winter.

Minnesota Monthly

The fine writing, the palpable sense of place, and his looking askance at all of these familiar places make this a book that can let you both discover and remember life at the top of the map.

The Ridgeline

Cold Comfort is endearing because it is so sincere. One chapter will bring tears to your eyes. Another will have you laughing out loud. Several do both.

The Land

Cold Comfort is full of wry humor and quietly affirm community and family values through reflections that are rooted in a sense of place. What emerges from these accounts is a man who has weathered the turmoil of mid-life changes and finds beauty and much of value in simple pleasures, family relationships, friendships, nature, and the rhythms of the seasons. The author has a delightfully unpretentious way of philosophizing about life through connections with simple objects. His meditation on his overcoat exemplifies his approach. This book is a good read, whether read a chapter at a time or devoured in short order.

Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho)

Cold Comfort is well-known to Duluthians proud of this quirky town, a perfect book to send to mystified family and friends around the country to answer the question, “Why do you want to live up there?” It is the kind of book that gets an author noticed in his local community. It is provincial produce to be proud of.

The Ripsaw

The chemistry with Duluth and Sutter is perfect, and the resulting essays are memorably fine. Cold Comfort is far from being a self-help book, but we can see in it clearly the effort of a man to put a life together out of some sensible choices, some pleasures, some passions and self-deprecation, and some hard-won, slow-coming self-knowledge. Down-to-earth, honest, fair- magnificent. Duluth has found its essayist-laureate in Barton Sutter, and I’d go as far as to say that America has found one of its best essayists, period. These essays are pungent, vivid, sane, often poetic, often funny, often deeply moving. Not the least of their pleasures is that they are written with the greatest clarity and grace.

The Hollins Critic

Sutter is clever and will make you laugh.

Star Tribune

In chapter after chapter of Cold Comfort you will be inspired by Barton Sutter’s observations of our constantly changing landscape and the people and communities that it has shaped. As the days grow darker and colder, you may find yourself searching for reasons to remain among the people of the north. Just reach for a little Cold Comfort.

Duluth News-Tribune