The Killdeer: And Other Stories from the Farming Life


Product Details

$18.00  $16.74
Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Inc
Publish Date
6.1 X 8.4 X 0.6 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Honored by his peers as a Circle of Excellence Storyteller
of the National Storytelling Network, Michael Cotter was born near Austin, Minnesota, in
1931 on the farm that had been in his family since 1876. He
was the youngest of eight children and was raised in a strict
Irish-Catholic household. However, the barn and fields were
a different world, populated by hired men who were hoboes,
drifting in during the Great Depression. His stories reflect
those two conflicting life styles, blended together with his own
version of Irish humor.
Michael has farmed with horses and combines with
global positioning; and his stories describe the personalities of
the people and animals that were a part of that evolution.
He was fifty years old when he first stepped on the
stage, and his unusual approach to storytelling has given him
the opportunity to perform throughout the U.S.; including
the Smithsonian Folk Festival, National Storytelling Festival,
schools, fairs, retreats, programs, television, hosting radio
shows in Des Moines, Iowa, and Austin, and a number of
other venues. He was the Artistic Director of the Minnesota
Storytelling Festival for twenty-two years, starred in a healing
stories film used by the Mayo Clinic, and is a national award
winning storyteller.
Michael now resides in Albert Lea, Minnesota, with
his wife Beverly, a writer and artist, and still spends his days
working with his son on the farm.


"So genuinely real are Michael Cotter's stories that they make me miss people I never knew and the farm where I never grew up! This book is a wonderful form of magical transportation!"--Donald Davis, storyteller, author and teaching artist, Ocracoke, NC
"Michael Cotter's stories have the unmistakable beauty of observation that arises from an honest, hardworking person who sees perhaps more clearly than most, and who tells the truth he sees. They remind us that our stories are the only real thing in the world. I am a city girl but in each of these farm stories, I found a piece of myself."--Joyce Slater, Artistic Director, Kansas City Storytelling Celebration
"Michael Cotter's stories ring with universal truths and values common to every society, whether agrarian like his own, or urban. His settings celebrate the farming life, and his themes touch every heart. Only a generous spirit could have written these affecting stories, penned by one of the most gracious people I've had the honor to know."--Jimmy Neil Smith, Founder of the National storytelling Festival (USA)
"Though the language is plain and silence fills spaces between people in his stories, Michael's awareness is breath-taking. He honors those who find meaning in labor, honor in duty, consolation in loss, and beauty in tenderness. His stories reveal that connections we long for are there to shatter our solitude and isolation, to strengthen community, to teach us how to live in 'the healing power of stories'."--Carol Birch, Circle of Excellence storyteller, author, recording artist, Southbury, CT
"Michael Cotter's voice is wise and real. In this book, he reflects upon what is truly important in his life, and in ours."--Ben Rosenfield, PhD, storyteller, retired school principal, and past president, Northlands Storytelling Network
"The Killdeer" by Michael Cotter is one of those wonderful books that is going to bring pleasure to a great many different sorts of people. Cotter is a professional storyteller so his vignettes, told in a way that seems perfectly natural, are, of course, very carefully and artfully composed. Storytellers have spent years reacting to their audiences, picking up all the little nuances of their listeners, and seamlessly blending this live response into the fabric of the tale. That quality of resonance rings in these written stories.

Cotter is a Minnesota farmer and his stories are mainly about the struggle and satisfaction of working that land over three generations There are lots of horse stories; one tends to forget how much a part of a Midwestern farmer's life involved horses. One such is an amusing tale of gypsies and horse-trading, and immediately there sprang to my mind a story my grandmother told about hiding under the bed with her little sister when all the grownups were gone and they spotted gypsies coming up the road along side their farm. "Those gypsies stole our watermelons," grandma said, "every last one of them!" But I had forgotten all about that story-- or about gypsies, for that matter--until I read "The Killdeer." That is the great art of the storyteller: he brings your own long forgotten stories to mind.

By coincidence, Alison Gopnik had a column in the Wall Street Journal recently about a University of Utah anthropologist who had lived with a tribe of hunter/gatherers in Botswana. The anthropologist analyzed the conversations of these people and found that in the daytime it was pretty much business-as-usual, but at night, when they gathered around the fire, people told stories 81% of the time: --"stories about people they knew, about past generations, about relatives in distant villages, about goings-on in the spirit world...they talked about people and places that were far away in space and time and possibility, they transmitted cultural wisdom and historical knowledge to the next generation, and they explored the mysterious psychological nuances of other minds." Fire gave humans the evening, not to work, but to talk. suggests you put a copy of "The Killdeer" on the bedside table in your guestroom. You may find that, regardless of the day's headlines and all the electronic gadgets that rule our daylight hours, even the breakfast conversation can be a great deal more fun.

--Zanne M. Gray ""