2012 Kerrytown Bookfest – Make it Happen!

It’s that wonderful time of year again! The Kerrytown Bookfest will take place in Ann Arbor on Sunday, September 9, 2012 and has more offerings than ever before. With so many distinguished authors slated to speak, this is definitely the year to make it happen!

Regardless of your literary appetite, the Bookfest has offerings for people of all genres. Sunday’s schedule of events will offer 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. For all information, link to the Bookfest site here.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Wrap Yourself in Winter with ‘The Windward Shore’

Cover ImageSlowing things down in our furiously paced society is a discipline or luxury few of us can afford. Technology, economy, and mere 21st century self-preservation have together constructed a high-speed connection to a life that leaves many of us sapped and stopping to smell only the virtual roses.

If winter, which was once respected as a period of rest and quiescence, has become a bang-out battle to avoid the flu and maximize those dwindling daylight hours, then perhaps you should meet Michigan author Jerry Dennis.

Dennis has made the very ebb and flow of the Great Lakes define his life’s direction. Well known for his literary works on nature, science, outdoor sports, Michigan’s lakes, and this entire Bountiful World, Dennis has become the collective voice of integrity when considering our magnificent waterways.

His latest book, The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, is a timely work as we silently slip from the hands of autumn into those of winter. The Windward Shore covers a season of winter solitude along Michigan’s shores in which Dennis lived in homes both posh and crude, taking in and reflecting upon our ever-evolving relationship with nature.

Dennis is a deep thinker, but he’s an accessible writer who won’t leave you behind. He takes the time to examine and brief us on our current eco-condition, and rewards with passages of introspection and great beauty.

“Wild nature is crucial to our well-being. It is our universal reservoir of hope. It is the raw material for our daydreams and night dreams. It sustains us even when our other hopes languish – hope in technology, for instance, or effective government, or wise leaders. An afterlife is the hope for many, of course, but for now, for life on earth, the only life we know, we turn to the remaining unspoiled deserts, forests, mountains, and seas, even if only in imagination and art, for relief from the turmoil of everyday life.”

Despite its depth, Dennis strikes an easy balance and offers plenty of humor as he grapples with his own bouts of boredom and unsettling ennui that so often hit us during winter’s thick-armed stretch. While some environmentalists push and preach, Dennis is a realist who doesn’t sound-off or claim to rise above. Instead, he defers to his subject matter – nature – with nothing less than sheer awe and appreciation of her power and unrelenting splendor.

The Windward Shore is a provoking work meant to accompany slow, steaming cups of coffee rather than an extra hot grande-on-the-go. It’s not  a wild page-turner that blows through to the end, but a work seasoned to mull over, enjoy, and consider long after you close the cover. “Let this be a celebration, then, and a grieving,” writes Dennis of The Windward Shore. “Both a love song and a lament. A tribute to what was and a plea for what remains.”

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

– Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

Jerry Dennis podcast discussion of his book, The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas

University of Michigan Press

Prior NLR Post on Living the Great Lakes

Meteorologist Paul Gross Takes ‘Extreme Michigan Weather’ in Stride

Mother Nature received a standing ovation last night for her exceptional performance in yesterday’s storms. Pooling water and weighted trees are a common sight this morning if you’re not still bailing out from the 3 inches of rain that fell across the Detroit metro area. Not sure what I’m talking about? Click here.

Michigan is a definite beauty, but the weather is full of stunning surprises every season, year after year. Much like the dog beaten by his master, we remain steadfast and true to the unpredictable climes of the state that keep us sunning in the summer and weeping in the winter.

Paul Gross, however, has taken Michigan weather up a few degrees. The Local 4 weatherman is well known in the area as the official meteorologist for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, and the University of Michigan football and baseball teams. Gross now adds the title of author to his forecast with the perfect “go to” book for those of us looking for more information on the mystifying weather that both irritates and brings Michiganians such pleasure.

Extreme Michigan Weather: The Wild World of the Great Lakes State is a slick paperback that digs into the state’s heat waves, bitter snows, ripping winds, ice storms, and yes, floods. Gross gets into the reasons behind our harsh climate and explores the causes behind fog, rainbows, lake breezes, ice jams, black ice and even global warming.

Extreme Michigan Weather carries the interest and kind of information that easily transfers to those of us who aren’t so science savvy. For more information about Extreme Michigan Weather, check out this interview with Paul Gross. If you’re interested in buying Gross’ book, it’s available through the University of Michigan Press site.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Freedom of the University Press

The November issue of The Writer carried an interesting article titled “Is a University Press Right For You?” in which Paola Corso ticked off the positives of publishing through a university press rather than a big-house publisher. Though the article is geared for writers, I thought it a good opportunity to tweak it toward the reader considering the wealth of authorship under its care.

We all know by now that the state of commercial publishing is far from ideal for aspiring writers (see NLR’s Price Wars, Along Came James Patterson). Corso contends that while large publishing houses can’t financially gamble on fresh new voices, “small presses have different priorities” and are much more receptive toward the representation of edgier, less accessible work.

Ultimately this is great news for wide-ranging readers. While there’s no denying the glitz and excitement surrounding upcoming big-house releases, there’s also great merit in the more subtle, organic approach of university outlets carrying lesser known titles of equal literary merit.

Corso claims that regional themes are often at the heart of university press selections, which certainly holds true in Michigan. With well-received titles in the past year alone, both the University of Michigan Press and Wayne State University Press have gone on to release award-winning titles with strong state connections. Whether it’s a short story portrayal of our hard economic times, or the eerie murder of a young nun in Isadore, it appears that our quiet local university presses are making plenty of national literary noise.

Buying books is big bucks and those of us who pinch our pennies take the selection process very seriously. With several hot university presses in our midst there’s no reason not to consider what our locals have to offer. So, if you are the type of reader who looks outside the box and dares to be a little different, it is well worth your time to explore.*

Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

*A note: I am NOT affiliated with any university or university press contractually or otherwise. I simply believe in what they have to offer.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

The University of Michigan Press

Wayne State University Press

Michigan State University Press

University of Michigan Press To Release New MLK Book

Prominent Americanist Godfrey Hodgson has authored a dozen books about politics in the United States. Covering presidential elections, political society, and key players in the wheel of American politics, The University of Michigan Press will offer his latest work titled Martin Luther King.

Touted by the publisher as “… ideal for new students of King or those looking to revisit the dramatic events of the era,” Hodgson’s book will release on January 18, 2010. Of no   coincidence, this Monday the 18th also marks the holiday commemorating the life and legacy of civil rights activist Martin Luther King.

Mr. Hodgson has also worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist. He has reported through media circles including television and documentary film. Additionally, he has been a university teacher and most recently acts as a visiting journalism professor at City University in London.*

*information taken from jacket

For more on the author and title, try the following links:

Martin Luther King on The UofM Press

Other books by Godfrey Hodgson

-Post by Megan Shaffer