‘Night for Notables’ to Honor Michigan’s Finest

Michigan’s finest authors will be stepping out Saturday night for a few hors d’oeuvres, some fine Michigan wines, and a swell of well-deserved recognition for their award-winning contributions to the 2011 Michigan Notable Books.

The Library of Michigan’s annual Night for Notables is an event designed to pay tribute to those authors who have written works that offer “high-quality titles with wide public appeal” and “are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience.”*

The event’s featured speaker this year is none other than Traverse City’s National Writers Series founder Doug Stanton, a New York Times best-selling author. Saturday’s Night for Notables will honor this year’s title contributors and also provide a forum for the authors to sign and discuss copies of their award-winning books.

What are the Michigan Notable Books? Each year, the Library of Michigan selects up to 20 published titles over the last year that celebrate Michigan people, places, or events. Stretching back to 1991, the Michigan Notable Books began as the “Read Michigan” program but switched its name in 2004.

Anywhere between 250 to 400 Michigan-related titles are reviewed each year. Book selections are highly competitive and are reviewed by a board of 10-16 members who come from various literary backgrounds. The program is supported by sponsors and grants handled by the Library of Michigan Foundation.

Night Light Revue has covered several of this year’s Notable authors and their works. If you are interested in a few of NLR’s book reviews or author event coverage, please feel free to click on the links below. If you are interested in reading any of this year’s titles, our undervalued yet oh-so-amazing local libraries carry copies of the Michigan Notable Books both past and present and offer author events throughout the year. For free. For everyone.

Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters!

Heather Sellers – “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know”

Writers Live! Features author Heather Sellers

Heather Sellers Delights at Writers Live! Event

Bryan Gruley – “The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery”

‘Starvation Lake’ is a Trip Worth Taking

Laura Kasischke – “Eden Springs”

Kasischke Shines in Eden Springs

Thomas Lynch – “Apparition & Late Fictions”

Life With Death – One Good Thing Leads to Another

-Post by Megan Shaffer

*As stated on the Michigan Notable Books site.

Strand Mag Honors Two of Our Own

Cover ImageThe latest quarterly issue of The Strand Magazine boasts a few familiar faces; some easily recognizable and some quickly becoming so. In his article The Winners’ Circle, Bruce DeSilva covers Strand Magazine’s annual Critics Awards which took place in Manhattan and honored two of Michigan’s own.

It takes but a mere second to register Elmore Leonard’s subtle smile staring back from one of several glossy black and whites taken at The Strand event back in July. Leonard, a longtime Michigan resident, was presented with The Strand Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award; his third such award this year. Though Leonard is lightheartedly quoted as saying he doesn’t “know if that’s too good a sign,” he continued to encourage those writers in attendance to have fun in the process; sound advice coming from a literary icon who has sold “well over 20” of his books to Hollywood.

Also on the scene was native Detroiter Bryan Gruley, who tied for best first novel with his hockey-based sensation Starvation Lake (Josh Bazell also won for Beat the Reaper). Fairly new to the genre, Gruley is making plenty of noise with his Starvation Lake series which is based on a fictional town in northern Michigan. His second book, The Hanging Tree, was released last year and snagged a spot on the 2011 Michigan Notable Book List. Gruley must at least be having a little bit of fun – he’s already hard at work on his next Starvation Lake installment titled The Skeleton Box.

For Bruce DeSilva’s full article and the latest in Strand Magazine, check out Issue XXXII 2010, or link to www.strandmag.com. This issue includes Alexander McCall Smith, Dennis Lehane, and Peter James to name a few. And did you know that Strand resides right here in Birmingham, Michigan? Just one more reason to support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer


NLR Starvation Lake Review

NLR The Hanging Tree Review

Elmore Leonard Receives Strand Award

NLR’s 2010 Top Ten Lit Picks

Cover ImageSince the Detroit Free Press didn’t deem necessary the inclusion of their top literary picks in today’s section, The Year in Review 2010: Arts & Entertainment, I quickly compiled a “2010 Top Ten” list (in no particular order) on behalf of Night Light Revue. For those of us in the metro area who do, in fact, consider the written word to be both Art and Entertainment, this entry is for you.

*Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

*Eden Springs by Laura Kasischke

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

*The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

*The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace

*The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Most Fabulous Book I Read Overall This Year: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

*denotes a Michigan author or tie to the state of Michigan

Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

More from Michigan With 2011 Notable Books

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not speaking of the warm fuzzy holiday season, but rather that time of sensational selection when the Library of Michigan annually decides on 20 Michigan Notable Books that have been published during the year.

As stated on the Notable site, The Library of Michigan annually decides on 20 of the most notable books that “are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience.”  Such works feature “high-quality titles with wide public appeal” and are either penned by a Michigan resident or written about a subject related to our state.

The Michigan Notable Books for 2011*

1) “Apparition & Late Fiction: A Novella and Stories” by Thomas Lynch

NLR Comment:  If you have the chance to hear Mr. Lynch read in person – grab it!

2)“Blues in Black and White:  The Landmark Ann Arbor Blues Festivals” by Michael Erlewine and photographer Stanley Linvingston

NLR Comment: For anyone who loves black and white photography, these pictures are not to be missed.

3) “Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation” by Steve Lehto

4) “Detroit Disassembled” by Andrew Moore

5) “The Detroit Electric Scheme:  A Mystery” by D.E. Johnson

6) “Eden Springs: A Novella” by Laura Kasischke

NLR Comment:  I highly recommend this work by Kasischke. Though fictional, it is based on fascinating Michigan history. You can link here to NLR’s review, “Kasischke Shines in Eden Springs.”

7) “Freshwater Boys: Stories” by Adam Schuitema

!) “The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery” by Bryan Gruley

NLR Comment:  The Starvation Lake series is well-written and a ton of fun. Make sure you don’t forget to read Gruley’s “Starvation Lake” which is the first in the series as well. You can link to NLR’s reviews of both: ‘Starvation Lake’ is a Trip Worth Taking and Gruley Turns it Up in Starvation Sequel ‘The Hanging Tree’

9) “Lord of Misrule” by Jaimy Gordon

NLR Comment: As this year’s National Book Award winner for fiction, I am absolutely twitching as I try to patiently wait in the library queue for Gordon’s “Lord of Misrule.”  If anyone feels compelled to send it to me as a Christmas gift, feel free!

10) “A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir” by Godfrey J. Anderson

11) “Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country” by Alison K. Hoagland

12) “Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan” by Michael R. Federspiel

13) “Reimagining Detroit:  Opportunities for Redefining an American City” by John Gallagher

14) “Sawdusted: Notes From a Post-Boom Mill” by Raymond Goodwin

15) “Sixty to Zero: An INside Look at the Collapse of General Motors and the Detroit Auto Industry” by Alex Taylor III

16) “The Sweetness of Freedom: Stories of Immigrants” by Stephen Ostrander and Martha Bloomfield

17) “To Account for Murder” by William C. Whitbeck

18) “Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams” edited by M.L. Liebler

NLR Comment: This work is published by Coffee House Press which I recommend as a solid link. Do yourself a favor and check out their site www.coffeehousepress.org.

19) “Wounded Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson” by Lawrence M. Glazer

20) “You Don’t Look LIke Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face-Blindness and Forgiveness” by Heather Sellers

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

*List information taken from Free Press article 2011 Michigan Notable Books Winners Explore Regions Lively Diversity

Gruley Turns it Up in Starvation Sequel ‘The Hanging Tree’

Cover ImageBryan Gruley is back and, dare I say, better than ever with his Starvation Lake sequel, The Hanging Tree. Admittedly I had prepared myself for the potential let down that tends to trail a bang-up debut, but was instead gifted with an agile follow-up that will likely establish Gruley as a steady player in the genre.

Hockeyman Gus Carpenter is back on the rink and back on the job as the editor of the struggling Pine County Pilot. When he finds his second cousin hanging from the town’s famed tree in an apparent suicide, his reporter’s instincts tell him things are not quite as they appear. As Gus pieces together his cousin’s past he becomes, once again, the man Starvation Lake just loves to hate.

The Hanging Tree is ramped up in every way and the dialogue is at full tilt. Gruley seems more comfortable with his voice this time around and the result brings a hard core credibility to his characters both on and off the ice. Serving up social commentary with grit and righteous humor, Gruley gets his punches in while keeping up his mystery’s momentum.

No worries for those of you who didn’t catch Starvation Lake; The Hanging Tree stands firmly on its own. If you have read Gruley’s first in the series, the familiarity is an added bonus. A fast-paced read, The Hanging Tree moves from the still waters of Starvation Lake to the tougher tides of Detroit, leaving pure pleasure in it’s wake. Keep your eyes open for Gruley’s next book in the series, tentatively titled The Skeleton Box, which is expected to release next fall.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Info

NLR’s review of Starvation Lake

Bryan Gruley’s ‘Starvation Lake’ is a Trip Worth Taking

Cover ImageWhile my friends were Kicking the Hornet’s Nest with Stieg Larsson last weekend, I spent the holiday on Starvation Lake with author Bryan Gruley. Forget the fact that I was basking in the sun and under deadline to review an entirely different book, Gruley had me tensed and trudging through the freezing, knee-deep snows of northern Michigan.

Starvation Lake is a mystery with hockey at its heart, and Gruley has scored the perfect hat trick with his ice-time thriller; fast, intense, and tough. Like the unsuspecting octopus, Gruley tosses the reader headlong onto the rink and straight into the action alongside main character Gus Carpenter:

“You can never look into their eyes. Not once. Not for a second. Not if you’re a goaltender, like me. Because the guy shooting the puck wants you to look there. Then he’ll glance one way and shoot the other, or he’ll draw your eyes up just as he snaps the puck between your legs. Or he’ll lock on you just long enough to remind you that he knows exactly what he’s about to do and you don’t, that you’re just wishing and hoping that you’ll guess right. That you’re not at all in control. Then you’re dead.”

Hockey is the perfect metaphor for Gruley’s ever-curving plot, and keeping your eye on the puck is a challenge well worth taking. When the missing snowmobile of Starvation Lake’s famed former coach mysteriously resurfaces along its icy shores, it elicits an eerie restlessness from the locals, and as the ensuing investigation’s forensic evidence bubbles to the surface, so too do the bizarre and inconsistent events leading up to the coach’s demise.

Starvation Lake is stacked and immediately flicks on the mental projector, leaving no doubt that this mystery could easily make its way to the big screen. Gruley’s characters are beautifully fleshed-out; gritty in their resilience and painfully true to their struggling small town. His characters are familiar enough to enchant yet remain deeply private, casting just enough doubt as to who the playmakers of Starvation Lake really are. In essence, Gruley has set up the perfect whodunit.

For those of you who know nothing of hockey or its superstitions do not be deterred, this mystery reads well regardless. Though Gruley’s dialogue and setting have serious midwestern appeal, Starvation Lake has range and doesn’t fall short crossing over. A tight story of friendship, hardship, and redemption, Mr. Gruley has crafted a fine mystery revolving around both the rink and the larger arena of life.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Notes of Interest

-I first stumbled upon author Bryan Gruley while I was checking out The Edgar Nominees for 2010. One thing led to another, and I quickly realized that Mr. Gruley is one of Michigan’s own. According to the book’s reading group guide Bryan Gruley grew up in Redford, “a blue-collar suburb abutting Detroit on the west side.” As for the setting of his novel? It is based on the areas surrounding the author’s childhood cottage on Big Twin Lake in northern Michigan.

-Bryan Gruley’s site for Starvation Lake is really unique. My personal jury is still out due to the fact that I pulled it up after reading the book and the forced voice and visuals toyed with my conceived sounds and images of the story. It is definitely worth checking out as authors get more aggressive and creative with their marketing. You can check out the Starvation Lake site here.