Books by Faye Berger
Faye’s books are available:
AMAZON.COM – click the book covers for purchase
LOCALLY – titles ares available at Barnes & Noble and at independent book stores.
FOR SIGNED COPIES:
Please send check or money order to:
7810 Winnetka Heights Drive
Golden Valley, MN 55427
GUMPTION TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Overall – how did you experience Gumption while reading it? Were you immediately drawn into the story, or did it take awhile? Did Gumption intrigue, amuse, disturb, inspire, or sadden you?
2. Do you find the characters convincing? Are they believable? Compelling? Are they fully developed as complex, emotional human beings?
3. Which characters do you admire or dislike? What are their primary characteristics?
4. What motivates Russ’ actions? What about the actions of the other members of The Gang? Do you think those actions are justified?
5. Do any characters grow or change during the course of the story? If so, in what way?
6. Who in Gumption would you most like to meet? What would you ask – or say?
7. If you could insert yourself as a character in Gumption, what role would you play?
8. Is the plot well-developed? Is it believable? Do you feel manipulated along the way, or do events unfold naturally?
9. Is Gumption driven by plot or character? In other words, does the plot unfold quickly or focus more on characters’ inner lives?
10. What impact does WWII have on the lives of the characters?
11. How do the characters adjust for their different life experiences in their new social group, The Gang?
12. How might the story be different if all were able drivers?
13. How might a similar group of women focus their time together?
14. Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? Was it forced? Was it neatly wrapped up – too neatly? Or was it unresolved, ending on an ambiguous note?
15. If you could rewrite the ending, would you?
16. Can you pick out a passage that strikes you as particularly profound or interesting – or perhaps something that sums up the central dilemma of Gumption?
17. Does Gumption remind you of someone – a friend, family member, co-worker, boss – or something – an event, problem – in your own life?
18. If you were to talk to the author, what would you want to know?
FINDING FOXHOLES TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What is the central idea of the book? What issues or ideas does the author explore?
2. Do the issues affect your life or someone close to you?
3. What evidence does the author use to support the book’s idea?
4. Consider the format of the book with the two time periods: Does it flow?
5. Is the author’s language objective or passionate? How about the language of Private Albrecht?
6. Are any long or short term issues raised?
7. What are the book’s strengths?
8. What have you learned from reading the book? Has it broadened your perspective about sharing stories, family dynamics, WWII history, veteran issues?
9. Have you learned anything about yourself by reading the book?
10. Share a specific passage or scene from the book that left an impression on you.
11. What role do photographs and maps play in the book?
12. If you were able to talk to the author, what would you want to know?
What people had to say...
Finding Foxholes: A World War II Infantry Route, Then…and 48 Years Later
Kim Ode, Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 26th, 2014
“Wartime reminiscences come in degrees, from veterans quick with a story to those who’ve never breathed a word. Russel Albrecht’s memories fall in line with many of his fellows’ in that he invariably recounted his experiences on the front lines of World War II with enough detail to make the drama clear, yet never so much that it sounded heroic. Like this: When his captain was killed 10 feet away, he saw the likely sniper in a church tower. “That’s the first aimed shot that I took in the service,” he said. “I shot a lot of times from the hip where you see a bush or something and you blast that, but I never had an aimed one until then.” The sniper was silenced. “I just figured someone else shot at the same time I did. Anyway, he didn’t bother us, and I went on.”
That we have this story is due to daughter, Faye Berger, collecting his thoughts in 1992 as they revisited his infantry route in Europe on the trip of a lifetime. “Better put, it was a trip of a past life,” writes Berger, a retired paralegal from Golden Valley. She bolsters her widowed father’s accounts with her own travelogue about seeking landmarks a half-century later, of struggling with languages, of wondering if this was a wise pursuit.
There are no grand conclusions, which makes this book all the more accessible, credible and, ultimately, quite moving. Faye Berger will be at the Golden Valley Library, Brookview Center, at 10 a.m. Wed.”
Al Quie, Former Governor of Minnesota, WWII Veteran, and Grandson of a Civil War Vet
“When you start reading Finding Foxholes, you will not be able to lay the book down. Faye Berger weaves history, the present, and the future together in a most fascinating way. War is different now. The causes are much the same. Enemies can still become friends by the Grace of God. You will be amazed by Faye Berger’s sensitivity.”
Senator Bob Dole, WWII Veteran
“Like so many in our World War II generation, Russel Albrecht answered the call of duty in 1944 and proudly served our nation overseas. Only in his later years did this humble hero share his remarkable stories with his daughter, Faye Berger. Finding Foxholes is a one-of-a-kind book, born from a father’s recollections and a daughter’s admiration.”
William (Bill) Thien, Commander in Chief, Veterans of Foreign Wars
“This book perpetuates the memory and history of our World War II veterans. I only wish that I could have taken that journey into the past with my father, as he fought his way through the Pacific. They were indeed ‘the greatest generation’ and unquestionably saved our way of life.”
Stan Turner, Radio Show Host and Broadcast Journalist
“I have had the honor of interviewing scores of World War II combat veterans. To a man, they say they did nothing special, just ‘did their bit.’ Russel Albrecht was one of them. In Finding Foxholes, Faye Berger pays heartfelt tribute to her father, a humble, dedicated and very brave man. He was in the thick of it ‘at the point of the spear.’ He was much older than his fellow grunts and that makes his story all the more compelling. Faye Berger has written an important and memorable story of ordinary men doing extraordinary things.”
Donald (Don) G. Patton, Colonel (Retired – U.S. Army) WW II History Round Table
“The methods involved in this book are four objectives we use to guide the development of Programs for the World War II History Round Table. They are to: (1) draw out and chronicle the wartime experiences of the Veteran; (2) use historical annotations or records to support the Veteran’s stories; (3) visit the locations that impacted the Veteran and involve local Nationals where possible; (4) AND Most of all, integrate the Family and Children of the Veteran with the Veteran’s experience. Finding Foxholes achieves this in all aspects.”
GUMPTION: Lessons on old age, loneliness, and a hotdish
Marcie Parker, Ph.D., CFLE, Family Forum, Minnesota Council on Family Relations
“Berger has contributed an important, revealing and heartwarming book to enhance our understanding of how men age and cope with loss and widowhood”
Click to see the full review in the Minnesota Council on Family Relations newsletter here.
Kim Ode, Staff Writer, Star Tribune
“”Gumption” is a peculiar book, yet utterly and unexpectedly compelling for anyone worried about a widowed father living alone — or perhaps if you are that widower, wondering exactly how to live without a wife who always made all of life’s arrangements. Minneapolis author Faye Berger has in some ways written her father’s memoir, having talked extensively with Russ [Albrecht] during the years after his wife, Lorraine, died. In those conversations, Berger learned about “the Gang,” a group of fellow widowers in the small western Minnesota town of Morgan. They’re mildly notorious, carpooling to area cafes and even taking cruises together. But the story also is about how Russ, since deceased, became the go-to guy to call when someone fell or needed a meal or just craved company. “Gumption” is about a support group for those who rarely get the attention: widowers of a certain age trying to figure out their new lives. Anyone from a small town will recognize the small hurdles of religion, occupation and finances they overcome, and a son or daughter from anywhere may take Russ’ story as a sort of guideline for the next of life’s turns.”
Audrey Kletscher Helbling, Minnesota Moments
“I LAUGHED. I cried. I nodded my head and thought, “by golly, she got that right.” She” would be Faye Berger, author of Gumption, a book about small-town life, aging and the value of friendship. No matter your are, where you live, or where you grew up, you will be moved by the honesty and genuineness in this story about Berger’s father, Russel Albrecht, and the late-life friendships he forms with a group of widowers known as “The Gang. Set in Berger’s hometown of Morgan, this book depicts the daily goings-on in this small southwestern Minnesota town. Anyone familiar with rural Minnesota will recognize the talk about crops and weather, the daily gatherings of men for cards and coffee, the hotdish served at funerals, the ten-o’clock whistle, the swipe of bread across the last bit of gravy on a plate, and the sharing of garden produce. Gumption seems a fitting title for a story that focuses on Albrecht, a man with a philosophy to “Get out there and do things!
When his wife, Lorraine, dies of cancer after 48 years of marriage, Albrecht doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself. Rather, he forges new friendships with men who have also lost their wives and they become “The Gang,” making weekly dinner outings and even vacationing on a cruise ship. They learn to depend on each other for companionship and help as they grow older. They become family.
This book offers an honest, and often humorous, Iook at the realities of growing old – the physical limitations, the closeness to death, the loss of independence. Berger grasps those concepts in her well-chosen words, in sentences like this: “They piled out of the car a limb at a time, a gangly group with feed elevator caps, bodies hunched. Into the mix of men, also comes a woman, Agnes Ziegenhagen, who plies Albrecht with her pickles and jam. Berger weaves her stories with the knack of a storyteller who speaks from the heart. Her uplifting book is a must-read for anyone entering the golden years, for the adult children of senior citizens and for anyone who interacts with the elderly. It’s that good, that relevant, that moving.”
Richard Leider, Bestselling author of Repacking Your Bags & The Power of Purpose
“An entertaining, inspiring treatise, Gumption isn’t about “how to”, but rather the necessity today of common sense virtues such as get-up-and-go, back bone and pluck!”
Dan Detzner, Professor, College of Education and Human Development, UMN
“The fierce independence of ‘the gang’ of six old men is repeatedly tested by the realities of late life but these guys gain strength from their daily routines, toughness, and friendships. A well-told story about the common need for love, companionship, and community in small town Minnesota, “that’s for darned sure”.”
Kari Berit, radio show host, author, The Unexpected Caregiver: How Boomers Can Keep Mom & Dad Active, Safe and Independent
“Three cheers to Faye for telling the story we all need to live! There is no rule book for growing older, but the gang in Gumption shows us how to embrace, rather than run from, our aging selves. Whether you’re a caregiver who needs to better understand your parents or an older adult who needs role models, Gumption is a must read.”
Julie Gammack, M.D., Division of Geriatric Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine
“A touching story about the bonds of friendship in an often overlooked segment of the elderly population. These single older men remind us that keeping active both physically and mentally is the key to aging successfully. This true-to-life tale is an inspiration to get up, get out and make the most of each and every day.”
Barry ZeVan, Multi-media consultant, reviewer and talent
“In an age of IMs, Tweets, snapshots and sound-bites, Faye Berger’s GUMPTION, based on true stories told to Faye by her Dad about ‘The Gang’, beautifully and meticulously reminds us of a time when people’s lives were enriched with depth, quality, wholesome good humor and genuine concern for others. ‘The Gang’ interacted without superficiality and built a rich foundation upon which today’s generation would be wise to emulate and perpetuate. GUMPTION should be among the most treasured in your book collection.”
FAYE BERGER ANSWERS SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS!
What sparked your interest on the subject of aging?
About fifteen years ago, I was inspired by a class at the University of Minnesota titled “Aging Families.” The term we used back then was “successful aging” – today more often it’s called “positive aging.” It’s the ability to move on despite losses. Ever since that class, I’ve been drawn to any news and stories on the subject.
When did you start your writing?
I have always enjoyed writing and playing with words. Even as a student, I was enthused with an assignment to write a term paper. But life circumstances didn’t present this creative choice for my livelihood. It wasn’t until I left my paralegal job after many years that I was struck with the idea for this book. I had time to think, and I knew that I needed to tell this story.
Where do you write?
Definitely not in coffee shops, like so many authors choose. I like the quiet of my little office overlooking the trees in my backyard. And if not there, it’s when I am on my daily run that I come up with ideas and words. A fabulous tool for these spontaneous thoughts away from the computer and notepads is my digital voice recorder.
How did you create the story?
I knew the events with the Morgan guys as they happened because Dad liked to share his new life experience – his life as a widower. And he liked to entertain with a good story. Meanwhile, I knew the entertainment value was there because my co-workers were always eager to hear more. When Dad died, I wanted the stories to live on. So I pieced together what I knew and added what I learned through interviews. Then I created the scenes – thank you, Loft instructors.
What did you learn in telling this “true tale”?
To keep myself and my sisters out of it. After all, Dad figured this out on his own.
Which authors do you enjoy?
Anne Lamott, Tim O’Brien, Isabel Allende, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rory Stewart, Michael Perry, Joan Barfoot.
All about Faye...
According to Faye, she has the best of three worlds – she grew up in a small town, Morgan, Minnesota, has lived her adult life in metropolitan areas, Fort Worth and Minneapolis, and now lives three months a year in another country, Mexico. Diversity.
Writing took a back seat to raising a family, finishing college, and working as a paralegal. For seven of those years she juggled the responsibilities as a single parent of her two children. More writing material.
Faye and her husband Wilt live in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Their four children and families – 7 grandchildren – all live in the Minneapolis area. Over the years, Faye and Wilt have signed on to short term missions in Haiti and then many more in Mexico. They hosted a student from Vietnam and another from Guatemala. And travel too, in the mode of hiking, has added to their cultural learning. Back home, they have focused on homeless families.
So the wait for writing has been worth it, with all of these experiences piling up. When Faye’s dad died in 2003, she was struck with an idea for this book – she wanted her dad’s stories to live on. So the process began. Meanwhile, in 2004 she submitted Russel Albrecht, The Soldier, to The Veterans History Project in Washington, D.C. In March 2006 Running Times Magazine featured Cross-Culture Running with Faye’s South of the Border.
Faye has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota. She volunteers at a nursing home as a one-on-one visitor and for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon as a head mile marshal.
For relaxation, Faye loves to cook and garden and learn all she can about nutrition and green living. She has a piano student, her grandson. The YMCA is her favorite hang-out, and what keeps her running marathons is the goal-setting. A weekly must is each Saturday morning at 7:30 when she and Wilt meet their running group for a run around the lakes, followed by a leisurely breakfast. More writing material.
Here's what's going on...
May 25th, 2013, 12:00pm-1:00pm
“The Stan Turner Show” Radio KLBB AM
Memorial Day Tribute featuring Russ Albrecht on tape (click below to listen):
November 11th, 2010
KYMN 1080AM, with Kari Berit, “The Unexpected Caregiver”
Click to listen
November 12th, 2010
KFAI 90.3FM Mpls / 106.7FM St. Paul, with Simon Husbands, “True Brit!”
Click to listen (starts around 25:00)