The Spectator

Filed under Currents

Writer’s talk hits close to home

International travel writer speaks about living in the Midwest

Travel+writer+Frank+Bures+reads+one+of+his+stories+to+the+audiences+after+his+talk+in+Centennial.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Writer’s talk hits close to home

Travel writer Frank Bures reads one of his stories to the audiences after his talk in Centennial.

Travel writer Frank Bures reads one of his stories to the audiences after his talk in Centennial.

Travel writer Frank Bures reads one of his stories to the audiences after his talk in Centennial.

Travel writer Frank Bures reads one of his stories to the audiences after his talk in Centennial.

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






“There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west.”

Robert Plant sang this line in the Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven.”

As a boy growing up in the Midwest, Frank Bures would listen to these lyrics and dream of what he could accomplish if he ever escaped the Midwest.

“I would hear that line and literally look west,” Bures said.

Bures grew up in Winona, Minn. and attended college at St. Olaf College (Minn.). He writes about his experiences traveling all over the globe and has been published in several different publications. He has won numerous awards for his work. He currently resides in Minneapolis; however, he said as a younger man he fell victim to what he describes as “The Gatsby narrative”.

“The Gatsby narrative,” as Bures explained, is the belief that the Midwest is a place where dreams die. He said in his youth he bought into this belief, and as a young writer he often felt surrounded by it.

“At a gut level I didn’t really believe it,” Bures said. “Even though everyone around me seemed to.”

The talk on Tuesday in Centennial Hall titled “Does the Midwest Matter: Thoughts on the Geography of Greatness, Travel and Home” was part of the Chippewa Valley Book Festival and the Department of Geography and Anthropology and the UW-Eau Claire Council on Internationalization and Global Engagement sponsored the event.

Geography and Anthropology Department Chair Paul Kaldjian said they were excited to have a travel writer speaking at the university. Bures also spoke to an interdisciplinary geography and writing course on Wednesday.

Brenda Brant, alumna, said she was able to relate to the feelings Bures expressed about wanting to leave the Midwest.

“I wasn’t one that went anywhere,” Brant said. “But I wanted to.”

Bures started to warm up to his Midwestern roots when he returned to Winona after a trip in Africa. He got a job writing for the Winona Daily News doing mostly obituaries. The newspaper eventually gave him the chance to work on a special heritage section, a job that required him to go through the city’s historical archives.

He said many of the things he learned fascinated him, especially the knowledge that famous architects designed many of the city’s buildings.

“It was hard to believe that there was a time when people living there had these grand schemes,” Bures said.

After delivering his speech, the audience of around 30 people, mostly community members, waited for Bures to read them some of his stories.

He shared stories about his experiences talking with plant psychics, vacationing without grandma and covering cases of imagined genital theft in Africa.

Audience member Denny Shea said the whole talk started to finally hit home with him when Bures read his story about vacationing for the first time without grandma.

“It started making sense to me once he started telling stories about where he came from as a man who originally wanted to escape from everything,” Shea said.

Bures said humans are a species that learn to live based on the stories they’ve heard, and they buy into the “Gatsby narrative”  because they don’t often hear about famous and successful people around them. However, he also said everybody possesses the power to shake it.

“The beauty of human beings in the end is that we don’t have to believe all the stories we hear,” Bures said. “We can create our own.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Currents

    Thank you, professors

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Column

    From this neck of the woods

  • Currents

    Fluffy friends on upper campus help students destress

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Currents

    Summer in Eau Claire features numerous events

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Currents

    Women speak out about the joys and hardships of motherhood

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Column

    Pura Vida

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Currents

    Money, money, money! ‘Mamma Mia’ seats all sold out

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Currents

    Sculpting the city of Eau Claire

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Currents

    Local author’s new book explores empathy through technology

  • Writer’s talk hits close to home

    Currents

    Minneapolis-based abstract artist coming to campus

Navigate Right
The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Writer’s talk hits close to home