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A look back

Lynd native pens a novel about life in a small town during the mid-1930s

June 4, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

Richard Londgren admits that in the stories he writes he tends to create an "exaggerated version" of his brother Duane in his younger years.

Londgren, a Lynd native, recently completed his second book "Whistle-Stop," which takes place in a town similar to Lynd.

Londgren was born in 1930 and said the Great Depression influences a lot of his stories, as well as basketball. His brother, Duane, who recently died, was on the 1946 Lynd basketball team that made it to the state championship.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Pictured are Richard Londgren, right, and his wife, Anita. Londgren, a Lynd native, recently wrote a book “Whistle-Stop,” which does spin off a bit from his own life during the Great Depression in a fictious town that is a bit like Lynd.

"Whistle-Stop" is about a young ambitious teacher named Linda Helgeson, who comes to a small town named Lincoln, which is modeled after a familiar town.

"It does spin off a bit from our own life in the Great Depression, with the fictional town of Lincoln being a bit like Lynd," Londgren said. "Basketball in the story parallels the Lynd team, including losing the championship game in the Minnesota state tournament."

Londgren said Helgeson wants to encourage one of her students, Jim Youngquist, who got tall enough to be an outstanding player on the basketball team, to go to college. Londgren said Jim is a bit of a mix between his brother and another basketball player, Fritz Vanstrom.

Like Jim, Londgren said he and his brothers delivered the Minneapolis newspaper and enjoyed swimming.

"Later, World War II affected us in many ways, with several from Lynd in the service and we experienced rationing and scrap metal drives," he said.

Londgren refers to the Marshall newspaper as the "Marshall Monitor" in his book, when Helgeson teaches journalism at her small school.

"I do mention a few (towns) by name, Balaton, Tyler, Wilmar, Montevideo, Worthington, Mankato and Pipestone," Londgren said.

Creating characters is a challenge, Londgren said, and he tries to let dialogue rather than descriptions define the characters and the story.

"I treat my stories much like a newspaper feature story, striving for an interesting start and moving along at a good pace with growth of the characters, but not a lot of detailed description. And some conflict of course," he said.

He likes to use art and architecture as themes in his writing and two of the manuscripts he's working on feature an art theme - "Art Sleuths" and "Artful Forger."

Currently, "Whistle-Stop" is only available in a PDF format.

"It's so expensive to publish in printed form," Londgren said.

Books face an ever-increasing marketing challenge in the Internet age, he said.

"Event though marketing fits my background, I can't claim much success in selling," Londgren said. "I do promote via a bit on Facebook, but I'm not skilled in the social network. So I remind myself that writing stimulates my brain and helps make life interesting even if the story doesn't sell."



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