The Geography of Madness
“ONe of the Best Travel Books of the Decade” –Newsweek
“With The Geography of Madness, Frank Bures has created a literary, thoughtful study that explores the connections between culture and psychology, storytelling and health. It’s also, to my knowledge, the most pleasant and least painful way to learn about penis theft.” —Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones and Strange Stones
“Frank Bures has some of the widest (and wildest) curiosities of any writer out there. This is a man who truly wants to know the world, in all its strange and beautiful variations. He is fearless in his reporting, generous in his spirit, and brilliant in his prose. I would follow him anywhere.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things
“Penis theft. Vampires. Black magic. These are not exactly prime ingredients for a hilarious, empathetic travel book, but Frank Bures has pulled off something incredible in The Geography of Madness. In demonstrating how culture-bound concepts of ‘madness’ and ‘sickness’ really are, he reminds us what we human beings have in common, which is to say, we’re all beautifully, fascinatingly nuts.”—Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter and Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve
“Frank Bures has a brave, hungry mind and a heavily inked passport that have taken him to the far reaches of the world and human behavior. You’ll be glad to join him on his quest in The Geography of Madness, a book that reads like a magical treasure map. The chapters take us through the quirky, the wondrous, the horrifying, but ultimately leave us with a better understanding of ourselves. Bures writes as some combination of investigative journalist, cultural anthropologist, daredevil, and empath.”—Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Dead Land
“In a world coming unstitched, Frank Bures travels the globe gathering threads, weaving the odd and the otherworldly into something whole. I would follow Bures to the far corners of the earth for his stories—finally, in The Geography of Madness, I can.” —Michael Perry, author of Population: 485—Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and The Jesus Cow
“With the drive of an investigative reporter, a researcher’s patience and a poet’s gift for words, Frank Bures teases out the logic and sanity behind madness. In going into the histories and psychologies of some of the world’s strangest maladies, he shows us that it takes a village to make a penis disappear. —Mukoma Wa Ngugi, author of Black Star Nairobi
“By turns harrowing and hilarious, Bures’s global journey explores the deep complexities of how culture influences the way we see the world.” —Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
Under Purple Skies
“In nearly every piece, I almost couldn’t help feeling a little Geiger-like clicking yes! as the city I know and love was described anew, over and over, in ways I’ve never seen articulated.” –Weston Cutter, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“This is the best collection of Minnesota writing I’ve read in ages. These stories will make a Minnesota native laugh, reflect, remember, and, in my case, deeply homesick.” ―J. Ryan Stradal, bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest and The Lager Queen of Minnesota
“Here are voices from her streets, parks, riversides, lake shores, alleys, train tracks, and seemingly private places everyone who lives here knows or will know. In strong prose and evocative poetry, these authors tell us Minneapolis is an indigenous place, a Dakota homeland, an immigrant place, a whiter-than-white place, a Black place. Minneapolis may seem simple to those who visit (‘It’s so pretty, so clean!’) but this book tells us there’s a deeper city, one as complex as a clock and as telling of our times.” ―Heid E. Erdrich, poet and editor of New Poets of Native Nations
“Ranging from the purple storm-skies above Minneapolis, to the sandstone caverns beneath it, these poems and essays manage a kind of inventory of the city: music, lakes, rivers, communities of every class and color, behavior(s), and geographies. The tonal range moves from James Wright’s great curse on the city (‘The Minneapolis Poem’) to objective observations and the occasional blessing. Something wonderful must have come together to inspire these beautiful poems and essays, and this collection is the best guidebook I can imagine for both the longtime resident and the newcomer.” ―Charles Baxter, author of There’s Something I Want You to Do: Stories and The Soul Thief
“The opening lines of David Mura’s poem are a tantalizing hint of what lies in this marvelous anthology: ‘There are 150 first languages in our schools/and so many aliens even E.T. would go unnoticed.’ You’ll find Prince and Bob Dylan and many other familiars, but every entry is a pleasant surprise, including a tribute to a local tattoo artist. Under Purple Skies will earn its place on your bookshelf for a very long time.” ―Jim Heynen, author of Ordinary Sins and The Fall of Alice K.
“The ultimate (literary) tour guide to the neighborhoods and wild places, history and politics, culture and cuisine, music and myths of the Twin Cities, a place I only thought I knew. This anthology feels like the equivalent of a shaken snow globe―for if you look closely enough, and turn it this way and that, you’ll discover the magic of a whole hidden world. What a great place to call home and what a talented group of writers has assembled here.” ―Benjamin Percy, author of The Dark Net, Thrill Me, The Dead Lands, and Red Moon
“This is a first-class tour of Minneapolis, brought to you by writers and poets who will make anyone reading Under Purple Skies want to live there.” — Lorna Landvik, author of Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)
The Shape of the World: Essays on Travel, Culture, and Belief from Rotary magazine
In this collection, long-time Rotary magazine contributor Frank Bures explores everything from the rewards of taking risks, to the power of stories and words, to the need for human connection.
Written with humor and empathy, Bures travels across the world, and across cultures, to shed light on what we can learn about our own.
The essays included have been selected as “Notable” in the Best American Essays anthologies, won Folio magazine’s Eddie & Ozzie Award and received other honors.
For speaking engagements based on the collection, please see the Speaking page.
“Reading through these columns again now, I’m struck by the timelessness of his work. Even after more than 10 years in some cases, the pieces are as relevant as when they first appeared —some of them even more so.”
—Jenny Llakmani, former Managing Editor, Rotary magazine