Garrettsville, Ohio: Indian Summer

BY CAMERON GORMAN

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project. 

indian_summerHeat shimmers off of the lake, creating a strange in-between place that catches my thoughts and turns them into prayers for iced tea. The sun falls onto my dark hair, heating it to a fiery length.

I am floating there, suspended in the green-clear water, my legs pumping above the silt that sucks at my feet below. The fish turn in their lazy circles, watching, silent observers to my grandmother’s satisfaction as she turns her head upwards.

The rays catch her gently cragged face as she floats by me, her inner tube’s plastic surface crashing against the translucent waves as a ship breaks water. Her nose is high, it’s the Indian blood. Her hair falls delicately down her shoulders, the stark white of January cooling the stifling air.

I paddle harder against the distance and grasp her hand, slick with duckweed. The light spills over the top of her hair, gilding her expression as her eyes fly open.

I remember when we were both younger. Springtime, Easter, when I still wore dresses and she still painted her nails, dark red like blood. We looked for bones in the forest, muddy and filled with something unpinnable- fast butterfly wings.

She smiles and closes her eyes once more, the water lapping at both of us from the center of the lake. It bubbles up from somewhere underground, the sweet smell of the earth in its core.

It is cool against my body, but our arms extend across the translucent space and ignite.

Cameron Gorman is currently a student at Kent State University in Ohio. She works for the student-run newspaper and spends all of her free time writing. Her work will also appear in Work Literary Magazine in October. 

Elkhart, Indiana: The Long Afternoon

rural-indiana-1428941439jRbBY GARY V. POWELL

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project. It’s based on a real unsolved murder that haunted the town of Elkhart, Indiana in 1969. Warning: A graphic sexual assault is detailed in this essay. 

Did her assailant lie in wait, or did Mrs. S answer a knock at the door and welcome a stranger inside? No sign of forced entry the police said, so maybe she recognized the man. On the other hand, she might have left the door unlocked while out shopping, unwittingly inviting danger into her home. People trusted their neighbors in those days, and in a small, Indiana town on a county road, wasn’t everyone a neighbor.

She was allowed time to put the groceries away. She sorted mail, delivered her husband’s journals to his home office, passing photos of her three daughters in the hall—all those girls tall, leggy, and auburn-haired like their mother, fine-featured and green-eyed. All three damaged in their own way by what the oldest daughter, a high school junior at the time, would come to refer to as The Event.

Her naked body came to rest in the kitchen, between the breakfast nook and range, but signs of struggle appeared throughout the house—blood spatter, broken lamps, and toppled chairs. She bore bruises and other blunt-force trauma about her face and head. Defensive knife wounds marked her hands.

The man, some said monster, first violated her over the arm of the living room sofa. Stains from bodily fluids testified to the act. Her underpants, flung onto the back of a nearby wingchair, corroborated sequence and location. A large window, devoid of curtains or other treatments, invited viewing from a herd of Angus cows grazing in Denton’s fallow pasture a quarter mile below.

Authorities suspected that rather than ending quickly and mercifully, her ordeal endured throughout that long afternoon. Dress, stockings, and bra lay strewn room to room. Sheets and blankets twisted and writhed in a damp heap on the bed. The autopsy revealed both vaginal and anal penetration.

Two Coca Colas, each partially consumed, stood mute on a coffee table in the family room, leading some to believe that during a hiatus she attempted to pacify her attacker, reason with and convince him that no real harm had been done—why, having satisfied his lust, he could simply walk away, and she’d forget the entire incident.

The toilet seat remained up, the bowl unflushed. She may have tried to call for help, but the olive green telephone, ripped from the wall, was used to bludgeon, its cord to strangle. Folks wondered why they hadn’t heard her screams.

By the grace of God, friends said, the husband, a well-known banker, arrived home ahead of the girls, all three of whom were involved in after-school extra-curricular activities.

After discovering his wife’s body, Mr. S fled on-foot down the long, tree-lined driveway. He descended the hill to the Yoder residence, rang the doorbell, and blurted out his horrific news.

Suspicion settled first on the husband, but soon lifted when it was learned he’d consulted with clients all afternoon. Further inquiry exposed neither motive nor pathology on his part. Instead, all who knew the banker proclaimed him a devoted and loving husband.

In the months that followed, several patients at a nearby mental health clinic came under scrutiny. As it turned out, these usual suspects tendered either bullet-proof alibis or denials accompanied by a lack of evidence implicating them, forensic science not being then what it is today.

Some winked and assumed she’d kept a lover, attributing the violence of that day to an affair turned sour. But if she’d been unfaithful in her marriage, she’d been more than discreet. No one recalled her dining or having a drink in what could have been construed a compromising situation. Interviews with friends and neighbors told the story of a woman who when not with family dedicated herself to volunteer activities on behalf of the school, hospital, and church.

Asked if she had enemies, her husband replied that years earlier she’d written editorials to the People’s Forum, excoriating Birchers and KKK that resided and proselytized in the community. She’d mocked their views that Dr. King was a Red and the civil rights movement a mere shill for Communist Revolution. In the weeks following her editorials, she’d received hate mail, but the letter writer was never identified and the threats eventually ceased. Any trail went cold.

Less than a mile away, State Highway 19 ran north and south.  Hitchhikers and other unsavories sometimes strayed onto the county road. Could Mrs. S have been the victim of one of these passersby? Did a serial killer haunt the highway, leaving a trail of death up and down the State?

Dahmer, Bundy, Speck—men like this were out there.

The crime remained unsolved.

Residents of the small town tried to forget, yet found themselves imagining the awful events that occurred while they’d been working, napping, or watching daytime TV. How could this have happened here?

They pretended it hadn’t happened, all the while locking their doors and averting their eyes on the street. They installed motion lights and purchased weapons. Parents called their children in by dark. Women clung together in groups.

No one asked the pretty girls to dance.

Gary V. Powell’s stories and flash fiction have been widely-published in both print and online literary magazines and anthologies including most recently the Thomas Wolfe Review, Fiction Southeast, SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, and Best New Writing 2015. In addition to winning the 2014 Gover Prize for short-short fiction (Eric Hoffer Foundation), his work has placed in several other national contests including The Press 53 Prize (2012), Glimmer Train Short-Short Contest (2013), and the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (2014). His first novel, Lucky Bastard (Main Street Rag Press, 2012), is available at http://www.authorgaryvpowell.com/debut-novel/

 

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BESTSELLER LIST FOR JULY

 MICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST TOP 15 FOR JULY 2016

1) Mel Boring, Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self-Experimenters in Science and Medicine (Henry Holt and Co.)

2) Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 (Laurel-Leaf)

3) Daniel Silva, The Black Widow (Harper)

4) Amy Young, A Unicorn Named Sparkle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

5) Tom Stanton, Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit (Lyons Press) [last month #1]

6) Alison DeCamp, My Near-Death Adventures: I Almost Died. Again. (Crown Books for Young Readers)

7) Angela Flournoy, The Turner House: A Face_In_rockNovel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) [last month #9]

8) Viola Shipman, The Charm Bracelet: A Novel (Thomas Dunne Books) [last month #13]

9) Loren Graham, A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press) [last month #8]

10) Steve Hamilton, The Second Life of Nick Mason (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Books USA) [last month #3]

11) Deborah Diesen, The Pout-Pout Fish (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

12) Bonnie Jo Campbell, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories (W.W. Norton & Company)

13) Shannon Gibney, See No Color (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group)

14) Stan Tekeila, Birds of Michigan Field Guide (Adventure Publications) [last month #11]

15) Alison DeCamp, My Near-Death Adventures (99% True) (Crown Books for Young Readers)

15) Travis Mulhauser, Sweetgirl: A Novel (Ecco Press/HarperCollins Publishers)

 

UPPER PENINSULA BESTSELLER LIST TOP 15 FOR JULY 2016

1) Alison DeCamp, My Near-Death Adventures: I Almost Died. Again. (Crown Books for Young Readers)

2) Steve Hamilton, The Second Life of Nick Mason (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Books USA) [last month #1]

3) Loren Graham, A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press) [last month #2]

4) Aimée Bissonette, North Woods Girl (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

4) Abe Sauer, Goodnight Loon (University of Minnesota Press) [last month #6]

6) John Smolens, Wolf’s Mouth: A Novel (Michigan State University Press) [last month #13]

7) Alison DeCamp, My Near-Death Adventures (99% True) (Crown Books for Young Readers) [last month #5]

8) Mardi Link, The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance (Grand Central Publishing)

9) Jerry Dennis, The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Press) [last month #8]

10) Mardi Link, Wicked Takes the Witness Stand: A Tale of Murder and Twisted Deceit in Northern Michigan (University of Michigan Press)

11) Mardi Link, When Evil Came to Good Hart: ‘an up north Michigan cold case’ (The University of Michigan Press)

12) Molly Beth Griffin, Rhoda’s Rock Hunt (Minnesota Historical Society Press) [last month #10]

13) Charlie LeDuff, Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Books)

14) Michael Delp and M.L. Liebler, Bob Seger’s House and other Stories (Wayne State University Press) [last month #14]

14) Holling C. Holling, Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)

The Michigan Best Seller List and Upper Peninsula Bestseller List for July consists of 18 participating Michigan bookstores: Between the Covers in Harbor Springs,facebook.com/btcbookstore; Bookbug in Kalamazoo, bookbugkalamazoo.com; Great Lakes Books & Supply in Big Rapids, greatlakesbook.com; Falling Rock Café & Bookstore in Munising, http://fallingrockcafe.com/; Island Bookstore in Mackinac City and on Mackinac Island, http://www.islandbookstore.com/; Kazoo Books in north Kalamazoo and south Kalamazoo, kazoobooks.com/; McLean and Eakin Bookstore in Petoskey, mcleanandeakin.com; Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, http://www.michigannews.biz/; Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, nicolasbooks.com; North Wind Books in Hancock, bookstore.finlandia.edu; Pages Bookshop in Detroit, http://www.pagesbkshop.com/; Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, www.saturnbooksellers.com; Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Okemos, schulerbooks.com.; and Snowbound Books in Marquette,http://www.snowboundbooks.com/.

 

Michigan’s U.P. poet laureate shares top 10 books from Superior country

ScarpinoTo celebrate the release of, What the Willow Said as It Fell, the new book from Andrea Scarpino, we asked the Upper Peninsula’s poet laureate what her top ten poetry books are with ties to the U.P.

1. A Story of America Goes Walking by Saara Myrene Raappana and Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton (an absolutely wonderful brand new collaboration of poetry and visual images)

2. In the Land We Imagined Ourselves by Jonathan Johnson

3. Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, edited by Ronald Riekki

4. Errata by Lisa Fay Coutley

5. Voice on the Water: Great Lakes Native America Now, edited by Grace Chaillier and Rebecca Tavernini

6. Small Enterprise by Mary Biddinger

7. Milk Tooth, Levee, Fever by Saara Myrene Raappana

8. How to End Up by Jennifer A. Howard (technically, this is a chapbook of short short stories, but it reads like poetry, and I just love it)

9. Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged by Russell Thorburn (Russ is the first poet laureate of the UP, and this is my favorite of his collections)

10. Light as Sparrows by Jillena Rose

Scarpino’s book-length poem, out now from Red Hen Press, “bears witness to the body as a site of loss, to chronic pain as an all-encompassing experience, and to the mythological and medical ways we understand the body as it is continually created and lost,” according to the publisher.

“(It) asks the reader to sit with and inside the body’s many losses, to grow comfortable and restless in its vagaries, and to acknowledge the myriad ways the body shapes and informs our lives,” the publisher said in a press release. “Incorporating found poetry, including from her own medical records, and the ash and willow tree as mythological figures, Scarpino writes with lyric intensity from a place of resistance and questioning as she tries to describe, understand, and record chronic pain as a growing epidemic.”

Find the book here.

 

 

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MICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST FOR JUNE

Screenshot 2016-07-19 15.41.48MICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST TOP 15 FOR JUNE 2016

1) Tom Stanton–Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit (Lyons Press)

2) Allison Leotta–Last Good Girl: A Novel (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)

3) Steve Hamilton–The Second Life of Nick Mason (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Books)

4) Terry McMillan–I Almost Forgot About You: A Novel (Crown Publishing Group)

5) David Maraniss–Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (Simon & Schuster)

6) Katie Dalebout–Let It Out: a journey through journaling (Hay House)

7) Julie Lawson Timmer–Untethered: A Novel (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

8) Loren Graham–A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press)

9) Angela Flournoy–The Turner House: A Novel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

10) Patricia Abbott–Shot in Detroit (Polis Books)

11) Stan Tekeila–Birds of Michigan Field Guide (Adventure Publications)

12) Mary Emerick–The Geography of Water (University of Alaska Press)

13) Viola Shipman–The Charm Bracelet: A Novel (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne Books)

14) David Means–Hystopia: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

15) Emily St. John Mandel–Station Eleven: A Novel (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

 

UPPER PENINSULA BESTSELLER LIST TOP 15 FOR JUNE 2016

1) Steve Hamilton–The Second Life of Nick Mason (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Books USA)

2) Loren Graham–A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press)

3) Mary Emerick–The Geography of Water (University of Alaska Press)

4) Emily St. John Mandel–Station Eleven: A Novel (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

5) Alison DeCamp–My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) (Crown Books for Young Readers)

6) Abe Sauer–Good Night Loon (University of Minnesota Press)

7) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy (Lyons Press)

8) Jerry Dennis–The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Press) [tie]

8) L.E. Kimball–Seasonal Roads (Wayne State University Press) [tie]

10) Molly Beth Griffin–Rhoda’s Rock Hunt (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

11) DeLorme Mapping Company—Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme Publishing)

12) Jim Harrison—The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press)

13) John Smolens—Wolf’s Mouth (Michigan State University Press)

14) Bonnie Jo Campbell–American Salvage: Stories (Wayne State University Press)

14) Michael Delp and M.L. Liebler—Bob Seger’s House and Other Stories (Wayne State University Press)

14) Steve Hamilton–A Cold Day in Paradise (St. Martin’s Press)

 

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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN: MILWAUKEE PEOPLE

BY ED MAKOWSKI

Screenshot 2016-07-07 11.46.07This poem is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

We got

9 inches of snow

after 4 was predicted.

 

While driving home from work

I pulled over to the side,

knowing I’d get stuck,

but a black Chrysler

was beached in the intersection

spinning nowhere.

 

I started pushing on their trunk

then two other people

scampered up to lean in

and soon they were sliding away.

 

You don’t thank the other strangers

who also push a stranger’s

car out of the snow,

more nod and smile

at having completed

an unpreferable task

together.

 

My car was beached

on the 9 inches of snow

so I grabbed my shovel from the backseat

and started shoveling out

underneath my front bumper,

around the front tires,

under the doors.

 

then from behind

I heard a man’s voice suggest

that I get in and try, he’d push.

 

I turned toward the voice, then said,

“Oh hey Tony.”

 

He looked at me for a second,

“Oh hi Ed.”

 

Chuckling into the driver’s seat,

 

while tossing the snow shovel

on the passenger seat floor,

 

that I have the kind of friends

who offer to help

before they recognize you.

 

Ed Makowski is a poet and writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He writes and edits at a nature center and makes drinks at a tiki bar. Ed prefers two wheels to four, but it’s really nice to drive in a car throughout winter. edmakowski.com

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MICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST FOR MAY

Screenshot 2016-06-20 20.13.09MAY 2016 MICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST TOP TWENTY

1) Darcy Woods–Summer of Supernovas (The Crown Publishing Group)

2) Rachel DeWoskin–Blind (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Books USA)

3) Steve Hamilton–The Second Life of Nick Mason (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Books USA)

4) Viola Shipman–The Charm Bracelet: A Novel (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne Books) [last month #14]

5) Victor J. Strecher–Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything (HarperOne/HarperCollins Publishers)

6) Shaka Senghor–Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison (Convergent Books/Penguin Random House Company)

7) Angela Flournoy–The Turner House: A Novel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) [last month #1]

8) Stan Tekiela–Birds of Michigan Field Guide (Adventure Publications) [last month #4]

9) Doreen Cronin–Bloom (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Simon and Schuster)

10) Nathan Bomey–Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back (W.W. Norton & Company)

11) Desiree Cooper–Know the Mother: stories (Wayne State University Press)

12) Bonnie Jo Campbell–Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories (W.W. Norton & Company) [last month #7]

13) M.L. Liebler–I Want to Be Once: Poems (Wayne State University Press)

14) Nevada Barr–Boar Island: An Anna Pigeon Novel (Macmillan/Minotaur Books)

15) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy: A Woods Cop Mystery  (Lyons Press) [last month #3]

16) DeLorme Mapping Company–Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme Mapping Company)

17) Steve Hamilton–A Cold Day in Paradise (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press)

18) Jim Harrison–The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press) [last month #2]

19) Ed Shenkman–I Went to the Party in Kalamazoo (Commonwealth Editions)

20) Paula McLain–Circling the Sun: A Novel (Random House)

 

MAY 2016 UPPER PENINSULA BESTSELLER LIST TOP TEN

1) Steve Hamilton–The Second Life of Nick Mason (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Books USA)

2) Nevada Barr–Boar Island: An Anna Pigeon Novel (Macmillan/Minotaur Books)

3) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy: A Woods Cop Mystery (Lyons Press) [last month #2]

4) DeLorme Mapping Company–Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme Mapping Company)

5) Steve Hamilton–A Cold Day in Paradise (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press)

6) Jim Harrison–The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press) [last month #1]

7) John Smolens–Wolf’s Mouth: A Novel (Michigan State University Press)

8) Duffy Brown–Braking for Bodies: a cycle path mystery (Berkeley Publishing Group/Penguin Books USA) [last month #10] [tied]

8) Emily St. John Mandel–Station Eleven: A Novel (The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) [tied]

10) Jerry Dennis–The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Island Seas (St. Martin’s Press)

The May Michigan Bestseller List is for books about Michigan topics, written by Michigan authors, or published by Michigan publishers, compiled by Ron Riekki, from fifteen Michigan bookstores: Battle Creek Books in Battle Creek, www.battlecreekbooks.com/; Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, facebook.com/btcbookstore; Blue Frog Books in Howell, bluefrogbooksandmore.com; Book Beat in Oak Park,
www.thebookbeat.com/shop/contact_us.php; Bookbug in Kalamazoo, bookbugkalamazoo.com; Dog Ears Books in Northport, www.dogearsbooks.net/; Great Lakes Books & Supply in Big Rapids, greatlakesbook.com; McLean and Eakin Bookstore in Petoskey, mcleanandeakin.com; Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo,www.michigannews.biz/; Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, nicolasbooks.com; Pages Bookshop in Detroit, www.pagesbkshop.com/; Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Okemos, schulerbooks.com; and Snowbound Books in Marquette, www.snowboundbooks.com.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Champagne in the Sour Times

Courtesy of Thomas Hawk/Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of Thomas Hawk/Flickr Creative Commons

BY TORI SZEKERES 

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

I didn’t notice how drunk my coworker Erin was until she fell down for the second time on our way to Summerfest.

Erin and I weren’t friends outside of work. We weren’t friends at work, either. The marketing firm we worked for took its company’s employees to Summerfest on the opening night of the music festival.  We were together in a group walking over from a bar on Water Street. I was one of the old ladies of the company at 27. Many of my coworkers were just out of college, or, like Erin, just 21.

For those of you not familiar with Summerfest, it’s an opportunity for all the bands you love to play on Milwaukee’s lakefront in late June and early July.  What the promotional materials don’t tell you is that it’s a ten-day chance for a million people to party till they puke a river of Miller Genuine Draft under a bridge.

I knew of Erin because she was dating Ryan, who sat in the next cube. He didn’t really talk about her all that much when she wasn’t around.  Nor did he talk to her that much when she stopped by his desk.

He was not walking over with us. I didn’t tell Erin this, but while she was working on the second floor, Ryan would flirt with our boss, Jessica, who seemed interested in learning more about what he had to offer.

We pulled Erin up. We asked if she was okay. We progressed into the south gates of the Summerfest grounds. And then I realized what was happening: Erin was so not okay. She couldn’t walk without falling and it was up to me to ensure she returned home unharmed.  It was okay with me: I knew what could happen if you turned a blind eye toward another woman in need.  And the lineup that night sucked, anyway.

The other women went off into the night, not to be seen again until work the next day.  The 5 foot 8 inch me linked my arms under the arms of 5 foot 2 inch, 98-pound Erin. “I’M GOING TO TAKE YOU HOME!” I told her over the din. “I’M HOLDING ON TO YOU SO YOU DON’T FALL!”

“OK!” she said. “WHERE’S RYAN?”

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT HIM!” I shouted.

And we began our trek toward the North Gate, which would have the ATMs and taxis needed to get us back to my house on the east side, which had my car parked nearby.

Hours seemed to pass.  We were walking against a crowd of 200,000 people who were headed south on the grounds, toward The Fray playing at the Marcus Amphitheatre and the stages with the 10 p.m. shows. Neither of us said much to each other as we stopped at the women’s bathrooms.

But as we got to the midway point of the festival, security guards and other interested parties began to take notice of Erin’s current mode of transport. In response, I got her birthdate and started shouting out “TWELVE THIRTEEN EIGHTY FOUR! I’M TAKING HER HOME!” at anyone who raised an eyebrow.  They needed to know she drank legally tonight.

While we walked, I thought about the boys in my life that I treated like kings while they treated me like an assistant.

The last time I had been as drunk as Erin was August 2003. I called out my then-boyfriend for having an online friendship with a camgirl from his hometown. His lack of concern sent me toward the half-full bottle of Jack Daniels on top of the refrigerator. I intended to add the remaining pills of my Effexor prescription to the whiskey burbling in my stomach, but my parents got home first. I’m not the only one who has ever been treated like she didn’t matter, I thought, looking at the back of Erin’s head.

Erin and I finally got to the north entrance. I noticed there was a First Aid tent, so I thought it would be a good idea to get her checked out before we split. She was trying to convince me to let her call her friend Juan to give us rides back to our residences as I brought her into the tent. I emphasized I would be taking her home.

A medic took Erin behind a curtain and I looked around. There were three crying blonde women in various states of intoxication sitting against the wall. It was like I had entered into an adult daycare before naptime.

I took a breath and made eye contact with the crying girl in the middle of the group. Maybe this was a projection out of Psych 101, but I had an idea from where her tears stemmed. I said, “He’s not worth it.” She stopped crying. She didn’t give me a strange look, so I continued. “He’s not worth it,” I said again.

I also was amazed that there were so many dudes out there treating so many ladies like shit! I thought I was the only one, due to my weight and general awkwardness! I was concerned for Erin, yes, but this realization blew my mind.

“She’s right,” a man’s voice said behind me. “We’re not.” He brought Erin back out and released her to me.  She would be fine once she sobered up.

Tori Szekeres now lives 25 miles away from Lake Michigan in Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs. She enjoys stand-up comedy, graphic design and writing. She emphasizes that the names here are changed to protect the innocent. 

Peterborough, Ontario: Unsettled in Nogojiwanong

BY JANE AFFLECK

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

Otonobee_3After twenty-four hours by train and two by bus, I arrived in Peterborough, Ontario with two suitcases and a backpack weighted with books, laptop, and clothes. I’d have little more to get me through year one of my PhD. September through May, “home” was a furnished house shared with three other students; I’d rented out my house in Halifax, Nova Scotia and put my belongings in storage. Low commitment, I told myself, in case the PhD didn’t work out.

The landlady’s windowsill knick-knacks were relocated to the dining room so I’d have a better view of the backyard and, just beyond, the creek—one of many crossing Peterborough and feeding the Otonobee River, part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, a suture of switchbacking rivers, lakes and and locks running from Georgian Bay into Lake Ontario. Mornings after heavy rain, waiting for my toast, I’d watch the swollen creek tumble; through the winter, I’d guess how cold it was by how thick the ice looked. In spring, sun-warmed snow broke from the banks and dissolved into the current, flowing south-eastward.

End of May, I did too, returning to Halifax to teach an art history course. Reconnecting with friends and family, I rarely thought of Peterborough—not till late August, when Graduate Studies sent emails reminding me to register, which I did the day after I returned, within hours of the deadline.

My ambivalence was puzzling. For second year, I had a one-bedroom apartment with a front garden, and soon, movers would deliver my things from storage: bed and dresser, sofa, oak table and desk, a couple hundred books, and mementos and photographs of my travels across Canada, the UK and Asia. But unpacking boxes, leafing through books, I felt only brief moments of joy; I couldn’t shake an unsettled, even sad, feeling. I joked with friends that it was “buyer’s regret,” having committed to living in Peterborough and doing the PhD. Once I had a routine, I figured, I’d get over it.

But as the days passed, my ambivalence intensified; I missed Halifax more than during first year. So I tried to be social, hoping to feel connected, that the scales would tip in favour of being here. In this spirit, I went on the Anti-Colonization Walk-About during “DisOrientation Week” in late September.

A small group was already assembled at Confederation Square, the appointed meeting place. Our guide was a member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which had shared this land with the Mississauga before European contact—a fact sometimes overlooked, she noted, by the Mississauga and the government. Both the Haudenosaunee and the Mississauga are Anishinaabe people, whose traditional territories extend in all directions from the Great Lakes. Yet the territorial acknowledgement I’d learned the week before referred only to the Mississauga. I felt a trickle of doubt—not for our guide, but because I’d blindly accepted one version of the story.

Before the walk, our guide led us in ceremony: she placed a lit bundle of sage in a clamshell, wafted the smoke over herself, then passed it around so we could do the same.

We followed her to the edge of the park and a sign describing how “pioneers” had used it as an agricultural fair, then as a cemetery. At the bottom, two sentences acknowledged that remains of “First Nations” people had also been found. We followed her to a grass median in a parking lot and a small boulder with a plaque: “An Anishinaabe lies here. Rest in peace.” Nearby, a larger plaque detailed the life of the settler who’d found the remains. There was no further information about the Anishinaabe.

Indigenous bodies beneath settlers’ bodies; settlers’ words burying Indigenous history.

We followed her downtown. The quaint brick buildings of the main streets now seemed to conceal something, to be on shaky ground that might split open and swallow us up. I felt heavy, as though that boulder was now lodged between my heart and stomach. It was unlike any emotional weight I’d ever experienced—not the garden-variety blues that sometimes settle after several of life’s more trying days, not despair, not even grief. It was embodied—an emotion I was physically carrying.

We stopped along the west bank of the Otonobee. She asked us what we could hear.

A distant bird.

The wind in the leaves of the trees overhead.

Afternoon traffic crossing the bridges.

The constant drone of the ventilation system in the factory to the north.

But not the river.

A hierarchy of sounds; a hierarchy of cultures.

We followed her to a patch of grass for closing ceremony: fingers dipped into a cup of warm water, then touched to forehead, nose, neck, shoulders, knees, and ankles. Our guide’s brother used a feather to “sweep death” from our eyes and ears. It was an oddly intimate gesture, and I wasn’t sure I believed it would work. But opening my eyes, seeing his smile, the lightness of joy replaced the gravity, the lassitude, of that boulder.

Back at my apartment, porch festooned with the vines of ripening beans, a hint of the boulder’s lug returned. Unlocking the door, I was grateful for a quiet place to process the afternoon’s experiences, but more aware than ever that this was not my home, just a temporary place to be.

Three blocks eastward, the Otonobee River flowed on, as it had long before 1615, when Samuel de Champlain conscripted the Anishinaabe, whose knowledge he used to define and delimit the land and the waterways between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario, and beyond.

Three blocks eastward, the Otonobee River flowed on, as it will long after I’ve completed the PhD and found another, probably temporary, place to be.

In the meantime, reconciliation: of my feelings of ambivalence about staying for two more years in Nogojiwanong—the Anishinaabe word for Peterborough, meaning “place at the end of rapids”—and through becoming an anti-colonizing settler ally, wherever I am.

Jane Affleck is a writer, part-time instructor at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and PhD candidate in the Cultural Studies program at Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario. Her writing (short stories, feature articles and exhibition reviews) has appeared in several Canadian arts and culture magazines, including C Magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to international contemporary art. Her Peterborough “bucket list” (to do before completing the PhD and leaving town) includes visiting the Canadian Canoe Museum and, after a couple of lessons, venturing along the Otonobee River in a canoe.

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Michigan bestseller list for April 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 1.44.20 PMMICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST TOP 15 FOR APRIL 2016

1) Angela Flournoy–The Turner House: A Novel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

2) Jim Harrison–The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press) [last month #2]

3) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy: A Woods Cop Mystery (Lyons Press) [last month #7]

4) Stan Tekiela–Birds of Michigan: Field Guide (Adventure Publications)

5) Ernest Hemingway–The Sun Also Rises (Charles Scribner’s Sons)

6) Kathy-Jo Wargin–The Legend of Leelanau (Sleeping Bear Press) [tied]

6) Kathy-Jo Wargin–S is for Sleeping Bear Dunes: A National Lakeshore Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press) [tied]

8) Juan Cole–The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (Simon & Schuster) [tied]

8) Grace Tiffany–Gunpowder Percy: A Novel (Bagwyn Books) [tied]

10) Jack Clifford–The Least Likely to Succeed (Lone Wolf Press)

11) Bonnie Jo Campbell–Mothers–Tell Your Daughters: Stories (W.W. Norton & Company)

12) Diane Seuss–Four-Legged Girl: poems (Graywolf Press)

13) Jim Harrison–The Big Seven (Grove Press) [last month #10]

14) Viola Shipman–The Charm Bracelet: A Novel (Thomas Dunne Books) [last month #1)

15) Rae Blackledge–25 stylish knitted slippers: fun designs for clogs, moccasins, boots, animal slippers, loafers, & more (Stackpole Books)

 

UPPER PENINSULA BESTSELLER LIST TOP 15 FOR APRIL 2016

1) Jim Harrison–The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press) [last month #1]

2) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy: A Woods Cop Mystery (Lyons Press) [last month #2]

3) Ernest Hemingway–The Sun Also Rises (Charles Scribner’s Sons)

4) Jim Harrison–The Big Seven (Grove Press) [last month #3]

5) Jerry Dennis–The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan)

6) Bonnie Jo Campbell—Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories (W.W. Norton & Company)

7) Mary Emerick–The Geography of Water (University of Alaska Press)

8) Aimee Bissonette–North Woods Girl (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

9) Ellen Airgood–The Education of Ivy Blake (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Books USA)

10) Duffy Brown–Braking for Bodies: a cycle path mystery (Berkeley Publishing Group/Penguin Books USA) [tied]

10) Loren R. Graham–A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press) [tied]

12) William Durbin–Song of Sampo Lake (University of Minnesota Press) [tied]

12) Jim Harrison–True North (Grove Press) [tied]

14) Jim Harrison–Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon Press) [last month #8] [tied]

14) Jim Harrison–Returning to Earth: A Novel (Grove Press) [tied]

14) Howard Webkamigad–Ottawa Stories from the Springs: anishinaabe dibaadjimowinan wodi gaa binjibaamigak wodi mookodjiwong e zhinikaadek (Michigan State University Press) [tied]

The Michigan Bestseller List for April includes fifteen Michigan stores: Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, facebook.com/btcbookstore; Blue Frog Books in Howell, bluefrogbooksandmore.com; Bookbug in Kalamazoo, bookbugkalamazoo.com; Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising, www.fallingrockcafe.com; Great Lakes Books & Supply in Big Rapids, greatlakesbook.com; Kazoo Books in north Kalamazoo and south Kalamazoo, kazoobooks.com/; McLean and Eakin Bookstore in Petoskey, mcleanandeakin.com; Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, nicolasbooks.com; North Wind Books in Hancock, bookstore.finlandia.edu; Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, www.saturnbooksellers.com, Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Okemos, schulerbooks.com, Snowbound Books in Marquette, www.snowboundbooks.com.  (Bookstores wanting to add onto participation for the Michigan Bestseller List and Upper Peninsula Bestseller List can contact twitter @RonRiekki.)

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