The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 29, 2013

Madison Lake writer prepares for publicity tour on cusp of book release

MADISON LAKE — Rachael Hanel’s time has come.

After more than a decade of literary labor, the Madison Lake writer’s long-awaited memoir “We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down” hits bookshelves everywhere in April.

With her first public reading already behind her — Wednesday at North Hennepin Community College — Hanel will continue taking her debut publication across the state in the coming weeks.

Though the month-long publicity tour is just the beginning, she said the moment feels like a culmination.

“I’ve spent all this time waiting for it,” said Hanel, who wrote the first section of what would later become a memoir about her upbringing as the youngest child of Waseca’s best-known gravedigger in a college writing class in 2000. As she continued to craft her story from an irresolute historical and cultural exploration into its more purposeful present form, Hanel sought constant feedback from editors and writing peers. Even after a series of rejection letters, she persisted through several revisions before attracting the University of Minnesota Press as a publisher in 2012.

“It finally feels settled,” she said.

But don’t expect prurient detail or salacious gossip from Hanel’s memoir.

Rather, the author characterizes her story as a slice of bygone life. With the often uplifting, sometimes surprising and occasionally heart-breaking impacts of her family’s cemetery existence tenderly reflected in thoughtful, polished prose, “We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down” is marked by none of the celebrity- and tabloid-driven narratives that dominate the memoir marketplace.

Instead (to borrow some of the imagery Hanel employs in her book), she uncovers meaning through the common undulations of life, just as the gentle movements of earth and time periodically reveal fieldstones, remnants of long-dormant glacial movement so common in our prairie soil:

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