Central Lakes College on Nov. 27 marked the fourth anniversary of naming its Brainerd campus library after a former instructor who became one of Minnesota’s most beloved authors at “A Night with Jon Hassler.”
The library event that attracted more than 100 guests featured retired CLC instructor Joe Plut reading from the forthcoming publication, “A Simon’s Night Journal.” The new companion book offers insight from the late author while writing his 1979 novel, “Simon’s Night.”
Plut and Hassler were English faculty at the Brainerd college, where Hassler began his writing career.
Plut, author of “Conversations with Jon Hassler,” has followed that work with the next of his many retirement projects centered on his favorite topic: Jon Hassler. As a result of their friendship and Hassler’s prolific writing career, Plut taught a special course focused on several of Hassler’s 20 books.
Today, 32 years after Hassler left to teach at St. John’s University, CLC English instructors Ryan Deblock and Matt Fort include Hassler’s first novel, “Staggerford,” as part of the curriculum.
Hassler taught at Brainerd Community College from 1968-80, leaving Brainerd to teach at his alma mater, St. John’s University, Collegeville. He also taught at Park Rapids (“Staggerford”) and Bemidji State University.
“My Simon’s Night Journal” will be published soon by Nodin Press, Minneapolis, which also published “Conversations with Jon Hassler.” It is based on informative letters to friends while Hassler was writing “Simon’s Night.”
The CLC event included announcement of several donations to the library and the Jon Hassler Scholarship, as well as readings from Plut’s extensive research and the Hassler archives. Special guests included Gretchen Kresl Hassler and publisher Norton Stillman of Nodin Press.
Larry Kellerman, CLC librarian, introduced Jon Hassler items added to the library, from honorary doctoral degrees regalia to publications and multimedia featuring interviews and reviews.
Hassler died in 2008, at age 74. The Jon Hassler Theater in Plainview is named for him.
Images from the event may be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/58518185@N04/.