Two things to love about Duluth

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I have spent a disproportionate amount of my life in three cities: my home town, Redlands, California; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Duluth, Minnesota. "Disproportionate" in terms of these cities' esteem in the world's eyes. No one asks you why you are living in Washington DC or Tokyo -- although they probably should. But Duluth?

I love these three cities. Redlands, for obvious reasons of sentimentality and intrinsic beauty. (And less obvious ones, like its newly chic bed and breakfast industry.) Kuala Lumpur, because my family spent two wonderful years there in a colonial rubber-planter's bungalow that now sits in the shadow of the 88-story Petronas Towers. It's just off to the right in this picture. And Duluth for a long list of reasons. The grand homes built during its golden era as a grain-and-minerals port, and now heartbreakingly cheap. The long, beautiful walkway built along Lake Superior, for running or walking, and the similar lakeside course for an annual summer marathon. The outdoor life. The culture (yes! including an outstanding symphony orchestra I saw this evening, thanks to my friend Ian Bentley). The most innovative and successful small aircraft company in the world, Cirrus Design. A sense of, well, niceness among the people that can be unnerving to those not from the midwest.

But here are two more immediate and beer-related lowbrow reasons: Fitger's brewery and hotel, with a view over the lake; and a small liquor store with as broad a range of good beers from small breweries as I can remember seeing. But I can't find its name on a web site now! I will check it out. This is a very nice city. (The weather, of course, is a different matter.)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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