A Minnesota native (born in Minneapolis in 1933) and lifetime resident, Hassler is the most prolific writer working there today. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Gretchen, and is a Regent's Professor (Emeritus)and writer-in-residence at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. He received a B.A. from St. John's in 1955 and a M.A. from the University of North Dakota in 1961. After teaching high school English for many years, he taught at Bemidji State University and Brainard Community College (1968-1980). He joined the faculty at St. John's in 1980. Since 1977 he has been producing novels set mainly in small, northern Minnesota towns. Even so, he continues to be a well-kept secret by his many loyal readers.
"His prose is accurate, but not poetic. His verbiage, utilitarian" wrote A&E editor Steven Andersen1. Hassler starts by imagining the characters; the plot grows out of their interactions with each other. In fact, critics have said that Hassler's books could use more drama, but readers seem to love the way the books come out. Characters with with full, rich lives fill the pages of his novels. When events occur--love, death, betrayal--they avoid overwhelming the characters. Instead, the characters show their true selves in their reactions to events and to each other, just as people do in real life. Hassler often includes glimpses of his Catholic faith in his books, and faith is definitely a part of his characters' lives.
Jon Hassler was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by Assumption College in Massachusetts in 1993, another by the University of North Dakota in 1994, and a third by the University of Notre Dame in 1996. Many of his works have won various awards and some have been adapted as plays. He also produces drawings and paintings2.
Hassler has Parkinson's Disease. He once said "if you're going to have a terminal disease, Parkinson's is the one to have because it's so slow."3
Books written by Jon Hassler:
Four Miles to Pinecone 1978 (for young adults)
Simon's Night 1979
Jemmy 1980 (for young adults)
The Love Hunter 1981
A Green Journey 1985
Grand Opening 1987
North of Hope 1990
Dear James 1993
Rookery Blues 1995
The Dean's List 1997
Underground Christmas 1998
Keepsakes & Other Stories 1999 (short stories)
My Staggerford Journal 1999 (author's journal about the writing of Staggerford)
Rufus at the Door & Other Stories 2000 (short stories)
Staggerford Flood 2002