Michigan Voices Represent at 2011 Kerrytown Bookfest

It’s that wonderful time of year again! Since Borders has more or less closed their doors for the last time, why not embrace and relish our own literary greatness at this year’s Kerrytown Bookfest?

The Bookfest will take place in Ann Arbor again this year on Sunday, September 11th, with events beginning at 11:00am. While the date itself has grave undertones, the Kerrytown Bookfest is a time to celebrate indie bookstores, amazing authors and the remarkable talent and perseverance of the written word in Michigan.

This year proves to be something special due to the fact that much of the country has decided to sit up and take notice of the flourishing literary voices pouring forth from Michigan. Authors and poets such as Jaimy Gordon, Laura Kasischke, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Michael Federspeil, William Whitbeck, M.L. Liebler, Jeff Vande Zande, Jack Dempsey and Doug Stanton are just a sampling of those who will represent at Kerrytown this year.

Regardless of your literary appetite, the Bookfest has offerings for people of all genres.  The full events schedule offers children’s programs, book making workshops, illustrator samplings, indie bookstore displays, panel discussions and of course, books.

Michigan acts as host and home to a rapidly growing, ever-thriving literary community. The Kerrytown Bookfest is a great way to hear from Notable authors and those whose work we admire while making connections with readers and writers who share a passion for fine literature.

Kerrytown Bookfest takes place on Sunday, September 11, 2011. Travel directions, event times, speakers and more can all be found on the Kerrytown Bookfest homepage.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

‘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.

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

Kasischke Shines in ‘Eden Springs’

It was just this past October that I went to hear author Laura Kasischke read from her novel In a Perfect World. Therefore, I can only assume that Ms. Kasischke was already hard at work on Eden Springs, her seductive new novella about the true-life House of David sect in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

“In the spring of 1903, a preacher named Benjamin Purnell and five followers arrived in Benton Harbor, Michigan. They were ‘following a star’ and fleeing a scandal. Within a few years, their message had spread across the world, and a thousand more followers of King Ben had joined those first five at his colony, which he named the House of David.”

Benjamin Purnell, otherwise known as King Ben, is the smooth-talking charismatic leader of Kasischke’s surreal novella. Armed with the deep religious conviction that God wants him to create a paradise here on Earth, Benjamin convinces people the world over to settle in his Eden. Leaving their homes and personal possessions behind, new believers made their way by carriage, boat, and train to the unlikely destination of Eden Springs in Benton Harbor.

As followers of King Ben they were going to live forever. “The body would not perish but be returned to the days of its youth, the skin made fresher than that of a child’s, the blood in their bodies transformed to spirit. When the end came, the House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan, would be the only safe place on the face of the earth.” Thus, under these promises of preservation and salvation, Ben’s mighty flock came in droves to rest in the lush fields of Eden Springs.

Benjamin Purnell cut a fine figure in his tailored, crisp white suits. With his neatly brushed hair falling down his back, polished manicured nails, and charming bright-eyed demeanor, Ben thought himself Divine in every sense of the word. Men lured by Ben’s promises and good graces fully gave themselves and their families over to the tenets of this new church; including their wives and daughters.

But not all of the House of David women were on board with King Ben’s doctrine, and Kasischke does a great job casting shadows on the Eden-esque landscape of her tale. The twirling, billowing white skirts of young maidens running through lush, sun-flecked fields begin to take on an eerie, more sinister tone as the girls vie for  Benjamin’s attentions. And after a young female body is discovered by a local grave-digger, we are left questioning the moves and motives of Ben and the many women in his life.

Eden Springs is a quick but fascinating work. This flexed, true-crime novel moves on Kasischke’s ethereal prose and showcases her ability to artfully mix genres without losing her audience. Fiction based on extraordinary fact, Eden Springs offers you up to the House of David while using true portrayals, pictures and clips to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Though the story resolves, it definitely begs for more on the incredible House of David estate and it’s mark on Michigan history.

Eden Springs is slated for release on March 15th. Proudly presented by Wayne State University Press, Eden Springs is part of the Made in Michigan Writers Series which highlights the works of Michigan’s diverse voices. Please see related links below for more intriguing information on the House of David.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

-Book:  House of David Baseball Team

Eden Springs Park and Zoo

History of Benton Harbor, Michigan

Publishers Weekly Fiction Book Reviews

University of Michigan Creative Writing Program

Fresh Off the Press of Wayne State University

It might be worth your while to pop over to the Wayne State University Press site if you are looking for fresh reading material. Slated for release this March are three works penned by some of Michigan’s very own. Anne-Marie Oomen’s An American Map, Laura Kasischke’s novella Eden Springs, and Michael Delp’s stories As If We Were Prey are part of WSU’s Made in Michigan Writers Series and will be available for purchase this month. Though I have only read Laura Kasischke’s title thus far, I highly recommend Eden Springs and will post my promising review later this week. Once again, I strongly suggest checking out our university presses for their rich literary offerings.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Post from NLR:  Freedom of the University Press

The University of Michigan Press

Wayne State University Press

Michigan State University Press

Author Kasischke is Living In a Perfect World

In A Perfect World by Laura Kasischke
In A Perfect World by Laura Kasischke

An intimate crowd gathered at Borders in Birmingham Wednesday night to hear author Laura Kasischke read from her new novel In a Perfect World. Kasischke, a creative writing teacher at the University of Michigan, was appearing for the second time since the book’s release just over one week ago.

In a Perfect World is based on character Jiselle, a young flight attendant contending with a new marriage, stepchildren and a bizarre pandemic that threatens both her new family and the world at large. The Phoenix flu of the novel ironically echoes that of several recent pandemic outbreaks; the most recent being the  H1N1 (swine) influenza.  However, Kasischke had completed her writing of the book prior to the Swine flu wave and chalks it up to bizarre coincidence.

Ms. Kasischke said this latest work took her about two years to write and had many incarnations. She relies on her husband to read her final drafts but doesn’t bother him to micromanage each chapter she writes. When it comes to making appearances, Kasischke says she appreciates the objectivity of her readers and is grateful for their suggestions.

Being a mother and teacher leaves Kasischke little room for her own creative writing which she tries to get to every day. Though she squeezes writing in whenever she can, she admits she is forced to write “even if she is not inspired”.  After amassing her work,  she then looks for the theme and “carves out the story”.

No doubt Kasischke is a fine whittler, she now has seven collections of poetry and seven novels published in her name. Kasischke will continue her Midwest tour for In a Perfect World over the next several months making several more appearances in Michigan. Check the Borders website and your local libraries for upcoming dates and times.

-Post by Megan Shaffer