‘Here On Lake Hallie’ Tells Tales of Tight-Knit Community
Wisconsin Historical Society Press publishes Patti See’s new essay collection
Patti See encompasses all the joy of living in a small town, connected to community and family, in her new essay collection, Here on Lake Hallie: In Praise of Barflies, Fix-It Guys, and Other Folks in Our Hometown. The book details moments from her childhood, the natural beauty around her lake house, as well as family and community.
The volume is a collection of stand-alone essays See has written over the past decade, each essay first published through national journals and local newspapers. Its thematic order highlights the beauty and community of small towns like Lake Hallie. The stories create a fluidity of humor in serious situations, like See’s parents’ deaths in the narrative. She emphasizes the ability to find joy in every aspect of life, even the ending of one.
“One of the things that I’m really proud of is that I’ve taken small town life and I’ve captured what I think might be the best part of it,” See said. “The scenes that I capture are real, and I think a lot of people can identify both with the family and the friendships and the small towns that I write about.”
Her inspiration for these short stories came about in tandem on an oral history project See worked on about her neighbors living on Lake Hallie. Her husband, Bruce Taylor (himself a writer and poet), had always mentioned that someone should memorialize these stories when she would come home and tell him about a fascinating event that occurred with the neighbors.
“There are a lot of creative, brilliant, quirky people living in the Chippewa Valley, and I think those are the folks that I highlight,” See said.
See works as an academic advisor at UW-Eau Claire and is one of the “Sawdust Stories” columnists for the Leader-Telegram. Most of her writing begins on the recumbent bike in the morning with a simple notebook to jot down ideas.
In 2019, right before the pandemic, she pitched the collection as a book idea to the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Though put on hiatus for two years, the book was officially released on May 25. A launch party is set from 6-7pm Tuesday, June 28, at Lake Hallie Golf Course. Go for a chance to meet the author and enjoy some cake and beer. It promises to be the perfect evening for a small town lake party.
Read Here on Lake Hallie to experience that feeling everyone has for a place they call home, summarized by See in her book: “I didn’t know it as a teenager: everyone who moves here wants to stay forever.”
Here on Lake Hallie will be available online at shop.wisconsinhistory.org as well as at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire. Author Patti See will hold a reading at The Local Store on July 20.