Tag Archives: Literary Blog

Birmingham Author Annis Pratt Makes Way to ‘Marshlanders’

Local author Annis Pratt is on the move. Though the Birmingham resident and former college professor is now retired, she certainly doesn’t appear to be altering her pace. As a community activist, writer, facilitator, and educator, Pratt is well known for her intellectual and philosophical prowess. However, it is for her latest accomplishment as a novelist that Ms. Pratt took some time to discuss the journey toward the achievement of her dream.

“I wanted to be a poet and realized I couldn’t support my family being a writer,” Pratt shared. “So I went off to be a college professor. Every time I changed jobs I kept trying to get back to the writer … Being able to get to be a writer at last is really nice.” And now, with the recent publication of her first novel The Marshlanders, Pratt is beginning to enjoy the hard-earned fruits of her labor.

Though perhaps not a poet by profession, the sweep of Annis Pratt’s life has indeed been poetry in motion. Settling in Birmingham with her husband Henry in 1979, Pratt found herself holding a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with no promising offers of a full-time professorship. Limited by local prospects, professor Pratt landed a job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, resulting in a weekly Michigan commute which lasted twenty years.

Laughingly, the affable Pratt freely admits the commute was “a terrible pain.” Yet as an English professor in Madison she was widely known as a mover in women’s rights and women’s literature. Her writings on mythology and archetypes garnered high praise and she penned two prize-winning non-fiction books in the process. However, by 1990 Pratt had tired of academia. Courageously tossing her Full Professorship to the wind, she decided to become a novelist and return to her two daughters, husband, and home in Birmingham.

The Marshlanders is the narrative result of Pratt’s decision and marks her first foray into fiction. More than ten years in the making, The Marshlanders is the first published volume of The Marshlander Trilogy and a true labor of love. Based on harmonious, self-sustaining communities at odds with their dystopian counterparts, Pratt believes her fiction is an opportunity to share rather than preach about ethical and environmental responsibility. “The animals, birds, rivers … getting the beauty of that is where my soul is. I’m talking about ideal communities.”

And ideal community is something Annis Pratt knows plenty about. Her humble claim that she’s doing “more thinking and discussing than running around” at this point is a touch hard to believe. Despite writing “two hours a day, if not more” in addition to marketing her books, Pratt remains an integral link in the chain of community activism.

Ever the educator, the energetic author continues to teach adult education classes at the Birmingham Unitarian Church and also facilitates the discussions at Baldwin Public Library’s Socrates Cafe. But it’s not all cerebral for Annis Pratt. She also manages to organize donations for the Welcome Inn in Royal Oak and avidly attends local commission meetings to advocate for public transportation.

For now though, Pratt is thrilled about The Marshlanders and is contagiously excited about the second volume in her trilogy titled Fly Out of the Darkness. “Age, wisdom, perspective,” she smiles. And why shouldn’t she? She’s a writer.

* You can also find this article by linking to the online news publication Birmingham Patch.

For extended excerptsand more information on Annis Pratt, you can link to her website here.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer


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Chef George Vutetakis Brings Back ‘Vegetarian Traditions’

George Vutetakis is coming home this weekend. Though he now resides in San Diego, the culinary progressive and former owner of The Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak is revisiting his “roots” with his latest work Vegetarian Traditions.

Veggies have made quite a comeback over the last decade, and no doubt Vutetakis has played a pivotal role in their fame. Before “Whole Foods” and other chains began to tout and commercialize the value of organics and natural, healthy fare, Royal Oak’s very own was already far ahead of the trend.

As stated of Mr. Vutetakis on his site, “His reputation as a leader in the creation of delicious, healthy and innovative vegetarian cuisine using fresh, unadulterated ingredients flourished as chef and owner of the award winning Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak, Michigan.” You can read all about the famed chef, author, and teacher here, or check out his popular blog at www.thevegetarianguy.com.

George Vutetakis will appear at  The Book Beat on Sunday, June 13th at 2:00 pm to promote his cookbook Vegetarian Traditions:  Favorite Recipes From My Years at the Legendary Inn Season Cafe. As always, check all dates and times before stepping out the door.

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

-Post by  Megan Shaffer

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-‘Vegetarian Traditions’ is available at several local outlets including one of my favorites, the Birmingham Farmers Market.

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New Titles on Tap for May

Another month, another slew of good books in the chute. As my work load picks up in May, I will likely be posting less but reading more this month. Regardless, here is a list of some of the many titles appearing in May. Please feel free to post a comment on any of the titles sharing your likes or dislikes (thus assisting in the weeding out of time snatchers). By the way, I did review Paul Doiron’s debut thriller The Poacher’s Son for BookBrowse which was quite good. Look for a full review on NLR in the next few weeks.


New Titles for May (partial list)

May 3:  The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

May 4:  Private Life by Jane Smiley

May 4:  The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

May 4:  The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

May 4:  Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

May 4:  Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush

May 4:  Innocent by Scott Turow

May 4:  Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Illustrated by Jack E. Levin, Mark R. Levin

May 4:  The Last Stand:  Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick

May 4:  My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

May 4:  Spells by Aprilynne Pike

May 4:  Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

May 4:  Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

May 4:  The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

May 4:  The Shadow Effect: Harnessing the Power of Our Dark Side by Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Debbie Ford

May 4:  Indigo Blue by Catherine Anderson

May 4:  Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

May 4:  Passages in Caregiving:  Turning Chaos into Confidence by Gail Sheehy

May 4:  The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman May 11: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

May 11: War by Sebastian Junger

May 11: The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

May 11: Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

May 11: The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron

May 11: The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern

May 11: Last Call by Daniel Okrent

May 18: Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

May 18: 61 Hours by Lee Child

May 18: Storm Prey by John Sandford

May 25: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson

May 25: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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My Top Ten Faves for 2009

books in a stack (a stack of books) by austinevan.Well, I have to do it sometime so it might as well be now. Below I have posted My Top 10 Selections for books published in 2009. Though my “to read” stack still holds a few titles that would potentially bump a couple off of this list, it’s not likely that I will finish them before the new year. Therefore, I offer these up along with with my yearly lament…so many books,so little time…


Annie’s Ghosts:  A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan

Brooklyn:  A Novel by Colm Toibin

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Half Broke Horses:  A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha A. Sandweiss

The Big Burn:  Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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