Capturing the spirit of Detroit: An Interview with Jim Daniels


Meredith Counts recently had the opportunity to interview Detroit-reared and Pittsburgh-based fiction writer and poet Jim Daniels, whose newest book of short stories, Eight Mile High, was released in the summer of 2014 by Michigan State University press. What follows is a portion of the interview. For the full interview, check out the print edition of GLR Fall 2014, which will also feature Daniels’ story “Pearl Diving.” 

The two stories from your new book Eight Mile High  that have been published in the Great Lakes Review – “Pearl Diving” (Fall 2014) and “Our Lady of No Mercy” (Summer 2014) — take place in a mostly Polish Catholic neighborhood of assembly line workers in Warren, Michigan. It’s such a specific place with its own landmarks and rules and characters. I wouldn’t assume it’s directly from your memory, but it reads as very real. Could you talk about the importance of place in your writing, in this collection in particular?

JIM DANIELS PHOTO FOR GLRPlace has always been important to me in my writing, and it’s often been wrapped up in social class—both a physical place and an economic place, and how those two things are linked. I’ve always had a little chip on my shoulder about the people I know the best and care about the most not showing up enough in our literature. I want to say, these lives are important and deserve our attention. In a lot of my earlier writing, I tended to blur things, referring to Detroit as a more general term for the metropolitan area rather than go into distinguishing the city from its surrounding communities.

For Eight Mile High I decided to zoom in even more on Warren, and even more particularly on the area next to Eight Mile Road, the border with Detroit, where I grew up. Anyone from Detroit knows Warren is not Detroit, and I wanted to focus on the distinctions, this white working-class community next to Detroit. I want this book to be like a magnifying glass or a camera with a zoom lens—to intensify the experience by limiting it geographically. This area in particular tends to look generic, the streets anonymous, but what makes them distinct is the people—the lives lived on those streets.

While the work is definitely fiction, I did want to capture the spirit and feel of the real place.

You grew up in Michigan and you’ve been living and teaching in Pittsburgh since 1982 but your fictional eye is still in your hometown; you are still sending characters in your stories on trips up north and following their lives in neighborhoods designed around auto assembly plants. Are you a Michigan writer no matter where you go?

Michigan has its hooks in me. It’s always pulling me back. I can’t say for sure why, but while I have written about other places—including Pittsburgh—Michigan is definitely still home for me. I am close enough (5 hour drive, though on the Ohio Turnpike, it seems longer….) to get back frequently to visit family in Michigan. I’ve got the emotional and physical distance to give me some perspective on the place, but still very attached to it too. Many of my initiatory experiences took place there, and I inevitably return there in my work.

My wife kids me about my Michigan pride—Michiganders have a state pride that Pennsylvanians simply do not have, with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on opposite ends, and, as I believe James Carville said, “Alabama in the middle.” I think exploring that territory in multiple genres—poetry, fiction, film—has hopefully allowed me to keep making it new without repeating myself too much.

Tell us some of your favorite writers from the Great Lakes region?

Jim Harrison might be my favorite because I came across his poetry (he’s a great fiction writer, but I really love his poems) early on when I was in college and first beginning to read contemporary poetry.  Phil Levine, of course, though I came to him later. I should stop there, otherwise I’d be going on and on….

Besides my teachers, the first living poets I met were Conrad Hilberry and Herb Scott, two Michigan writers who I learned a lot from—they made the whole thing real. Hey, these ordinary guys publish poems! And they weren’t crazy or assholes—and most importantly, they weren’t dead.

One of the stories in Eight Mile High that leaves the neighborhood is “Raccoon Heaven.” It’s about a sort-of-reformed drug dealer and his disastrous attempt at a healthy marriage and a normal vacation cottage. His story gets worse and worse and it’s sensory, like he’s remembering this time in full, with his whole body. The rotten fish alone… It would be a terrible story to read while hungover.

Then in the story “Our Lady of No Mercy,” after a disturbing revelation, the narrator says “Okay, it’s all on the table now. Or, most of it anyway. I don’t blame you if you get up from the table. I don’t blame you if you lost your appetite. Me, I’m always hungry. Me, I never get full.”

Eight_mile_highDo you feel that way as a writer? I sometimes do. What’s so important about writing the ugly stuff?

Yeah, I guess I do. I tend to have a dark sense of humor, so sometimes I’m surprised when some readers find the work depressing and I think it’s kind of funny in some twisted way.

But I do think we have to go there—where the ugly stuff is—if I find myself hesitant to write about something—scared, even—I take that as a good sign. You want to say, oh, that hole’s deep enough, but you have to keep on digging if you want to be honest with your readers, and with yourself.

I’ve got to go with my man, Celine, here—I used this as an epigraph for my second book, Punching Out:

“The greatest defeat in anything is to forget, and above all to forget what has smashed you, and to let yourself be smashed without ever realizing how thoroughly devilish men can be. When our time is up, we mustn’t bear malice, but neither must we forget: we must tell the whole thing, without altering one word—everything that we have seen of man’s viciousness, and then it will be over and time to go. That is enough of a job for a whole lifetime.”

In trying to give a quick synopsis of the “Raccoon Heaven” I didn’t manage to convey any of that dark humor, but it is there for sure. This plague of algae and the illegal fish that eat it, the former homeowner with her yappy dog, the sinister neighbor children with their George-and-Lennie-vibe – it’s funny-grotesque, weirder and weirder stuff piling up.

Have you read this one out to groups yet? It’s the kind of story that if you read it out loud to the right crowd they’d be roaring…

I have yet to read that story aloud. I’ll have to try it and see if the tone comes through.

You write fiction about big issues – death and grief, sexual abuse, domestic violence, shame and addiction. Yet the stories in the end are about the people, not the abstract issues, because there’s also hand-holding and cigarettes and porn and pancakes and unlikely alliances. It’s like story tax, if you kill a character, you have to give the reader something else to keep them reading, to keep us from getting up from that table? Like if there’s a death, you have to give us some pancakes. Is it all intuition? How do you balance the ugly with the sometimes sweet and often mundane?

Story tax—what a great way to put it. I guess looking at the list of subjects, it is a pretty dark book, though I think there’s more humor in this one too. I do hope it is about the people, in the end. With all of our flaws, we still love each other.

For me, maybe it is all intuition, though maybe I do try and add humor as a survival tool. I don’t think I consciously try to balance things—in life, obviously, we can’t. Things are always tilting one way or another. We’re just trying to keep our balance, which I believe is a form of dancing, in order to stay alive. Even though we know that too is going to ultimately result in failure, death. So, eat the damn pancakes, right?

Coney dogs vs. Cheesesteaks?

Coney dogs—not even close. I’ve been taken to the best cheese steak places in Philly, and all I can do is shrug. What’s the big deal? Now, coney dogs, that’s a whole different story. They’re the perfect food to come from Detroit—they have the personality of Detroit. Nothing subtle about them. When I had a Detroit News paper route, every Friday after I collected from my customers, I would go to this coney place on Ryan Road and get two coney dogs and a root beer and sit at the counter with my piles of change and eat like a king. In winter, taking a coney dog in my frozen fingers and taking that first bite—pure heaven.

Visit the MSU Press for more information on Eight Mile High


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Michigan bestseller list for August 2014

For August 2014, the largest rise on the Michigan Bestseller List was Patricia Polacco’s The Bee Tree, debuting at the #1 slot.  Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit and Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior have their third consecutive month on the bestseller list.

The Michigan Bestseller List for August compiled lists from 19 participating Michigan bookstores: Between the Covers (106 E. Main St., Harbor Springs), Blue Frog Books (3615 E. Grand River, Howell), Book Bug (319 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo), Book World Marquette (136 W Washing


ton St, Marquette), Falling Rock Café and Bookstore (104 E Munising Ave, Munising), Grandpa’s Barn (340 South Fourth, Copper Harbor), Kazoo Books (407 N Clarendon St, Kalamazoo), Kazoo Books II (2413 Parkview, Kalamazoo), Leelanau Books (109 N Main St, Leland), McLean & Eakin (307 E Lake St, Petoskey), Michigan News Agency (308 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo), Nicola’s Books (2513 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor), North Wind Books (601 Quincy St, Hancock), Saturn Booksellers (133 W Main St, Gaylord), Schuler Books & Music (1982 W Grand River Ave, Okemos; 2660 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids; 2820 Towne Center Blvd, Lansing), Snowbound Books (118 N 3rd St, Marquette), and Squirreled Away Books 22985 W Main St, Armada).  The list is compiled by Ron Riekki.

1) Patricia Polacco—The Bee Tree (Puffin)

2) Charlie LeDuff—Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Press) [last month #1; 3rd month on list]

3) Ellen Airgood—South of Superior (Riverhead Trade) [last month #8; 3rd month on list]

4) John Green—The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books) [last month #9]

5) Kathleen Flinn—Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family (Viking Adult)

6) Jennifer Billock—Keweenaw County (Arcadia Publishing)

7) A.J. Baime–Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) [last month #7]

8) Jerry Dennis–The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Griffin) [last month #3]

9) Julia Mary Gibson, Copper Magic (Starscape)

10) Joseph Heywood, Killing a Cold One: A Woods Cop Mystery (Globe Pequot Press)

11) Heidi Chandler, Holding Avery: A Memoir (MP Publishing)

12) Holling C. Holling – Paddle-To-The-Sea (Sandpiper Books)

13) Steve Hamilton – Let It Burn: An Alex McKnight Novel (Minotaur Books)

14) Thomas Foster—How To Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines (Harper Perennial)

15) George Cantor–Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions (Taylor Trade Publishing)

15) John Green—Looking for Alaska (Speak)


For August 2014, the largest rise on the Upper Peninsula Bestseller List was Jennifer Billock’s Keweenaw County, which reappears on the list from its previous inclusion in June.  Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior, Robert Archibald’s Northern Border, and Loren Graham’s A Face in the Rock have their third consecutive month on the bestseller list.

The Upper Peninsula Bestseller List for August compiled lists from 5 participating U.P. bookstores: Book World Marquette (136 W Washington St, Marquette), Falling Rock Café and Bookstore (104 E Munising Ave, Munising), Grandpa’s Barn (340 South Fourth, Copper Harbor), North Wind Books (601 Quincy St, Hancock), and Snowbound Books (118 N 3rd St, Marquette).

1) Charlie LeDuff—Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Press) [last month #1]

2) Ellen Airgood—South of Superior (Riverhead Trade) [last month #2; 3rd month on list]

3) Jennifer Billock—Keweenaw County (Arcadia Publishing)

4) Loren Graham – Death at the Lighthouse: A Grand Island Riddle (Arbutus Press)

5) Robert Archibald–Northern Border: History and Lore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Beyond (NMU Press) [last month #3; 3rd month on list]

6) Steve Hamilton – Let It Burn: An Alex McKnight Novel (Minotaur Books)

7) Loren Graham – A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press) [last month #10; 3rd month on the list]

8) Julie Buckles – Paddling to Winter (Raven Productions) (tie)

8) Joseph Heywood—Red Jacket: A Lute Bapcat Mystery (Globe Pequot Press) (tie)

8) Jim Harrison—True North (Grove Press) (tie)

8) William Kent Krueger –Windigo Island: A Novel (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster) (tie)

12) Jim Harrison — Brown Dog: Novellas (Grove Press)

13) Bonnie Jo Campbell – Once Upon a River: A Novel (W.W. Norton & Company) [last month #7]

14) Sonny Longtine — Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (The History Press) [last month #8]

15) William L. Blewett – Geology and Landscape of Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Vicinity (Wayne State University Press)



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Hell, Michigan: I’m from Hell


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

By Sswonk (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

By Sswonk (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

I’m from Hell.  Almost.

Technically, I’m from Pinckney, but I claim Hell.  How could I not?  The winding roads of the area create a playground for motorcyclists.  Teams of Harleys, mostly, can frequently be spotted along M-36, all the way through Pinckney, making the turn on Darwin to Hell.

Yes, that’s right.  The road to Hell is called Darwin.

The final sharp curve opens to two brightly colored buildings, and a giant pole with arrows pointing in all directions gives the miles from here to various locations across the world.  Sixty-two miles to Detroit, 3,683 miles to North Pole, Alaska.  There is a portable marquee that offers puns, or congratulations to brides and grooms getting married in the chapel out back, in big black letters.  My favorite message:  “Welcome to Hell: Now Serving Ice Cream”.  There is mini golf and a boy and a girl devil painted on a piece of plywood with ovals cut out to stick your faces in and take a picture.  I have permanent proof that “I’m a little devil from Hell”, because that’s what we’ve all always wanted to be, isn’t it?  There is a gift shop full of Hell, Michigan branded merchandise that can be sent to friends who couldn’t make the journey to the dark land.  You can buy a thong that says “I’ve been to Hell and back”, or a keychain with a cartoon devil bent over with its pants half down.

Every possible play on the town’s name is printed on something.  The ashtrays, bottle openers and other tchotchkes will certainly spend their entire lives outside of that shop in the back of the drawer in everyone’s kitchen that no one ever cleans out.  There’s a bar next door to downtown Hell called the Dam Site Inn.  It’s exactly like you want it to be.  The floors sticky, the beer cheap, the light from Big Buck Hunter dim in the back corner.  The motorcycles packed three or four deep out front.

When he proposed and I said yes, I immediately knew I wanted to get married in my hometown.  I looked for fields or barns to rent and came up empty handed.  Then I remembered.  There’s a little chapel in Hell.  I met with the man who owns the place.  He once owned the car dealership in Pinckney so though we’d never met, his name was as familiar to me as anything from my childhood.  He rented me the chapel and field next to it.  I was nervous to tell my future in-laws, very conservative Southern Baptists, we were getting married in Hell, but they thought it was great.  They even told their Bible study group.  My dad was often given the response of, “of course Patti would get married in Hell.”  I knew exactly what they meant.  I sent out Save the Date cards from the post office branch there, and the woman behind the counter burned the corner of each one, then firmly stamped “I’ve been through Hell” in the left corner.  It was perfect.

A wedding in Hell. Courtesy of the author.

A wedding in Hell. Courtesy of the author.

We had the rehearsal dinner at my grandpa’s house a few lakes over.  We ate pizza from Zukey, drank beer and went swimming.  I woke up to a rainbow over Bass Lake, my niece and nephew already dressed in their fancy clothes.  The day was here.  “Congratulations Patti and Jason” on the marquee.  The field opened up and created quite a beautiful scene, the rushing river adding to the soundtrack of acoustic guitar and motorcycle engines.  Hundreds of candy colored balloons dotted the landscape.  I wore an off-white lace dress and walked down the aisle on my dad’s arm.  My oldest best friend officiated the ceremony, and when I looked out at the crowd, all huddled under their umbrellas because it was raining in Hell on my wedding day, I cried. It was, again, perfect.  Full of love and just the right amount of levity.  My sisters of blood and circumstance stood to my side with ribbons tied around their waists.  As soon as the ceremony was over, the rain stopped and sun flooded down on my new life.

Under the high peak of the tent were tables set with antique dishes collected over years by my dear friend.  She chose each cup to match each plate so when you looked at them all in a row, another rainbow appeared.  Flowers grown on a friend’s mother’s land, red, orange, yellow tied with tidy little twine bows, stalks of wheat to represent the prairie of my almost husband’s home. Wheat grass sprouted in planters built for me, lined up and creating a low runner of bright green down the center of the tables.  Soft white round lights climbed the seams of the tent and wrapped around the center pole, and as the sun set they played like the stars that wouldn’t come out in the sky.  I got to dance with Dad to the same song he played every time he’d picked me up from the airport, swaying slowly and completely unaware of everything else.  My husband and I smashed cake into each other’s faces, then he smashed it in my five year old nephew’s face which took everyone by surprise.  The little guy got him back, though, I made sure of that.  We listened to A$AP Rocky as loud as possible and danced and danced and danced.  I was home, surrounded by my most favorite people, eating, drinking, dancing, celebrating my love, in Hell.  The kitsch of the town, it just fit.  I was happy.

The marriage lasted only a few months.  Turns out, the little devil wasn’t me.  Back in Hell, I received an official certificate declaring I got married there.  In the legal sized manila envelope was another piece of paper, this one a coupon for a free second wedding if the first one didn’t work out.  They say a marriage that starts in Hell has nowhere to go but up, but even they don’t believe that.

Patricia Wheeler currently splits her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan and Johnson City, Tennessee. She is the The Moth’s Michigan StorySLAM producer and has the honor of studying storytelling in Appalachia. 

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Pictured Rocks, Upper Peninsula, Michigan: On The Trail And Near The Edge


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

Pic_rocks“If I wasn’t absolutely positive the fall would kill me, I would so fucking jump right now. Oh Christ, I’m talking to myself.”

The truth is I’ve already been talking with no one else around to listen for the better part of five hours. I’ve just finally verbalized it and confirmed to myself that I am, in fact, talking to myself. The madness of summer heat combined with — I don’t even know at this point, maybe like seven or eight miles of walking through a forest alone — leads one to forget the social norms that somehow exist out in the world of concrete and aluminum siding. I am standing, dripping with sweat looking out at the tip of Grand Island jutting up from the endless blue of Lake Superior. Below me, the most inviting waters. I know they are cold. Bluer than the eyes of a girl at the end of the bar who is so pretty you’re afraid to hit on her. Those waters are so clean I could open my mouth and happily drown myself trying to drink the great lake dry.

But, those purifying and welcoming waters are also more than 200 feet below me. And, as much as I hate myself for setting off on this trek — Munising Falls to Chapel Beach and back, 32 miles in two days — I’m not quite ready to die.

The trees wrap around me in the great forest that probably stretches forever southward, as far as I’m concerned. The uninterrupted wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the suffocating green forests that stretches from Copper Harbor to Manistique and Escanaba. And here I am, still another nine long miles from the great comfort of the driver’s seat of a Ford Focus, with a great land surrounding me on on all sides. Yes, I am contemplating a comfortable suicide, but I am home.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a world away from everything. What people call Up North, the area between, say, U.S. 10 and the Mackinac Bridge, is, for the most part, a tourist’s playground. There are a few spots to escape mankind in the summer, but you’re as likely to find a world-renowned brewery up here as you are to find peace and quiet during the latter half of June. The most northern portions of the Lower Peninsula, save for a few spots in Leelanau and the majestic beauty of the Straits, is a lot like the 2005 Detroit Pistons: Underrated so much that it’s overrated. You’ll never have a hard time finding a McDonald’s in those areas, for instance. Every 20 miles or so on Interstate 75, you’ll come to a fairly good sized town where you’ll find actual residents. Hell, you can access most of the area by a damn interstate.

In the UP? Not so much.

Cruising through the upper reaches of the Lower Peninsula as twilight slowly descends on the rolling hills, I barely have time for all these summer hamlets with their downstate residents making their way to weekend cottages. The sight of the Mackinac Bridge — Mighty Mac standing tall against the elements season after season — peeking through a gap in the hills caused by that concrete river that took me northward, ever northward, makes my heart leap. As my trusty Focus rolls up to the bridge, I throw off the restraints of cliche and find “Free Bird” on Spotify. Fuck it, man. It’s time.

As you cross the bridge, getting closer and closer to St. Ignace, you see a sign getting clearer: “Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” The sun is setting on the Straits of Mackinac and I am doing my best to take in the view, but that sign makes my chest warm and makes me smile wide. The towering forest along the coast stretches back to the interior and it feels like you’re opening the door and walking into the welcoming arms of a lover.

I pull up to the toll booth, turning down the wailing solo, and am struck by the beautiful Native American man working that Thursday night. I hand him a twenty and hear him mumble something.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” I ask, leaning out the window.

He looks up at me and grins. “Welcome back, young man.”

Chills shoot down my spine and I don’t find the words to reply. I want to tell him it’s good to be home. I want to tell him how I’ve missed this empty place. Instead, I drive off into the majestic embrace of U.S. 2. The northern coast of Lake Michigan unwinds in front of me, all sandy beaches separated from the darkened forest by a simple two-lane highway. My goal is a campground 30 minutes west, where I manage to beat the sun, the bugs and the nagging fear that inevitably comes with being all alone in a great forest, to watch the sun dip behind the trees and drop gracefully into the deep lake.

I wake up to sunlight pouring into my tent and mosquitos parked on top of it. Also on the sides of it. Really, just about anywhere but inside of it. I’d convinced myself they wouldn’t be so bad, but what the hell do I know. In 20 minutes, I’m changed, packed and driving west again heading back to a place where I felt I was reborn into this world. Pictured Rocks, the stretch of Lake Superior coastline between Munising and Grand Marais, was my first thru-hike, 47 miles of forest, beach and stunning cliffs. Hiking was a hobby in the months before that trip, and afterward became a passion. Michigan was a place to escape before I walked those four days. It was a place to love in the years since.

One might pray for a coffee shop while driving in the Upper Peninsula’s interior, but all you’ll find are lonely gas stations in one-stop-light “towns.” Sometimes, you just have to make due with some beef jerky and an energy drink before walking 16 miles, but the crisp northern Michigan morning made up for any lack of food or drink. By the time I park at the trailhead in Munising Falls, I feel like a horse in the starting gates waiting for the sound of a gun.

At a pace that can comfortably called “Death March,” I blitz through the first eight miles, arriving by lunchtime at Miner’s Castle, which I’m sure is beautiful when it’s not full of fat people eating lunch. This is where their trip into one of Michigan’s most beautiful landscapes would end. Me? I have a date with the cliffs.

A few more miles later, and I realize I am minutes from what I’ve been longing for. The first sight of the grand lake hundreds of feet below you steals the wind from your chest. The trail bends around some trees and, quite suddenly, the only thing between you and Lake Superior’s icy blue waters is three steps and Michigan air. The sandstone cliffs jut in and out, never sheer, the erosion wearing lines in the rock like smiles do to a beautiful woman’s face. The base of the tan rock widens at the water line, the outline clear in the shimmering water. Some trees lean out over the chasm, their leaves gently slapping the cliff face.

The mosquitoes swarm and the promise of more beckons. Along the next five miles or so of trail, there will be a hundred such overlooks, every turn in the trail bringing a new point from which to ogle Michigan’s great rack. Every now and then, the blanket of the forest envelops the trail again only to spit you out onto a lonely beach a hundred feet above the lake where the water is invisible and only the horizon is there to greet you. I’d happily live on those beaches enduring whatever nature could throw at me.

But the summer heat holds me and is starting to wring me dry. My clothes are damp, my feet hurt and my eyes long for the sight of a tree growing out of a rock outcropping with the center somehow  – as if by cannon blast and missing. When I reach it, the sand of Chapel Beach is comforting and the lake is calm, but the swarms of infernal mosquitoes seem destined to ruin this fine dinner of re-hydrated chicken fajitas. The tent becomes home and I fall asleep listening to the blustery winds whipping through the trees.

I wake the next morning knowing I would soon face one of the sternest tests of my life. Another 16 mile walk back to the car awaited me and I curse my decision making.

“Why the hell didn’t you just park at Miner’s Castle and save yourself 16 miles?” I ask, starting the soon-to-be-troublesome habit of speaking to myself while alone on the trail.

In short order, my crippling fear of heights was washed away by the slightly dehydrated and completely fatigued urge to float on my back in the ice-cold lake. Within the first hour  – a relatively straight forward hike to Mosquito Beach  – I begin thinking there is, in fact, a difference between things you can do and things you should do.

But, there is no where else to go. And nothing else to do. So, I keep walking.

Apparently, the wind in this stretch of the southern Lake Superior coastline has Saturdays off. The sun rises high in the sky and the wind barely ruffles the leaves of the ancient trees that thankfully provide me shade. The heat falls on me. My mind grows tired, which always means my thoughts speed up. My mind is like the rapids of a river, moving fast but incredibly shallow. I lose myself in the drumbeat of my feet, moving ever onward.

It is a short time before Miner’s Beach, a sandy portion of the trail unprotected from the sun’s rays, when I stand over the beautiful cliffs and contemplate jumping. The greens of the trees contrast with the yellows of the sandstone; the reds, blacks, blues and greens of the minerals bleeding out inside the cliff face give the appearance of a master tossing paint on the earthen canvas. I pant like a dog, desperate for cool water and a respite from the June sweat.

“God it looks so good,” I say to myself, apparently no longer concerned with the two-way, one-person conversation.

The blue of Lake Superior, from that spot, can almost reach up and grab you. The depths of the freshwater sea are unfathomable. You stare at it and wonder who’s gone to rest there forever, what lives has she claimed and would it really be so bad if she claimed yours?

“I mean, what if you didn’t die? What if it was just really cold and nice?”

“Well, then how the hell would you get back? Are you going to flag down a tour boat? You’re sure as hell not swimming to Munising.”

“Yeah, and I’d lose my pack and all that too. If I lived and managed to get back to Munising, I’d have to come all the way out here and get it.”

“Exactly. Not worth it, man. Keep walking. Keep talking.”

And so I did. All the way back to Munising Falls, once again not bothering to take the side trail to see the actual waterfall because I was too exhausted, too ready to drink a Gatorade and get into sweatpants. Time goes by, but some things never change. The minute my boots hit the pavement and my eyes saw the Focus, waiting patiently as any good horse does, a smile crept across my face. I looked back into the forest – the place that tried to steal my breath away from me, the place that wrang me dry of damn near every drop of water in my body, the home of a place that pictures can’t do justice – and I missed it immediately.

Kyle Feldscher is a reporter and writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

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Michigan bestseller list for July 2014

For July 2014, the largest rise on the Michigan Bestseller List was Jerry Dennis’s The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas and for the U.P. Bestseller List, it was Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy, in part due to One Book One Community in Marquette.  LeDuff’s Detroit was the bestselling book in the Upper Peninsula and for the state as a whole.

UPMurderThe Michigan Bestseller list is compiled from 16 bookstores: Aunt Agatha’s New & Used Mysteries, Between the Covers, Blue Frog Books, Bookbug, Book World Marquette, Falling Rock Café and Bookstore, First Edition Too, Happy Owl Bookshop, Island Bookstore, Kazoo Books, McLean & Eakin, Michigan News Agency, North Wind Books, Saturn Booksellers, Schuler Books, and Snowbound Books.  (The Michigan Bestseller List is sponsored by Arbutus Press,

1) Charlie LeDuff – Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Books)  [last month #1]

2) Kelly O’Connor McNees – The Island of Doves (Berkley Trade)  [last month #9]

3) Jerry Dennis — The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Griffin)

4) Tobin T. Buhk — Michigan’s Strychnine Saint: The Curious Case of Mrs. Mary Mcknight (The History Press)

4) Michael R. Federspiel – Little Traverse Bay, Past and Present (Painted Turtle/Wayne State University Press)

4) Tom Rath — StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Gallup Press)

7) A.J. Baime — The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

8) Ellen Airgood — South of Superior (Riverhead Trade) [last month #11]

9) John Green — The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books)

10) Daniel Silva — The Heist: A Novel (Harper)

11) Dr. John J. Agria and Mary A. Agria — Bay View (Arcadia Publishing)

12) Robert Archibald – Northern Border: History and Lore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Beyond (NMU Press)

13) Steve Hamilton – Let It Burn: An Alex McKnight Novel (Minotaur Books) [last month #2]

14) P.J. Parrish–Heart of Ice (Pocket Books)

15) Stuart Dybek – Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


The U.P. bestseller list is compiled from: Book World Marquette, Falling Rock Café and Bookstore, First Edition Too, North Wind Books, and Snowbound Books.  (The U.P. Bestseller List is sponsored by Arbutus Press,

1) Charlie LeDuff – Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Books)

2) Ellen Airgood – South of Superior (Riverhead Trade)  [last month #2]

3) Robert Archibald – Northern Border: History and Lore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Beyond (NMU Press)  [last month tied #10]

4) Joseph Heywood – Killing a Cold One: a Woods Cop Mystery (Lyons Press)

5) DeLorme Mapping Company – Michigan Atlas and Gazetteer (DeLorme Publishing)

6) Todd Clements – Haunts of Mackinac: Ghost Stories, Legends, & Tragic Tales of Mackinac Island (House of Hawthorne Publishing)

7) Bonnie Jo Campbell – Once Upon a River: A Novel (W.W. Norton & Company)

8) Sonny Longtine – Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (The History Press)

9) Dennis Cawthorne – Mackinac Island: Inside, Up Close and Personal (Arbutus Press)

10) Loren Graham – Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (University of California Press) – [last month #7]

10) P.J. Parrish – Dead of Winter (Pinnacle)

12) Holling C. Holling – Paddle-to-the-Sea (HMH Books for Young Readers)

13) Kathy-Jo Wargin – The Legend of Mackinac Island (Sleeping Bear Press)

14) Jerry Dennis — The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Griffin)

15) Mary Casanova – One-Dog Canoe (Square Fish Books/Macmillan)

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What stories in Great Lakes-based lit journals have the most movie potential?

The Midwest is a long way from Hollywood.

DanielsBut Michigan poet, author and editor of “The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works” Ron Riekki is seeking to bridge the storytelling gap.

He recently asked some of the the top Michigan-based presses to submit their two best books or short stories in the history of their publishing that should be turned into movies.

The publishers, who have a combined 116 books selected by the Library of Michigan as Michigan Notable Books, combed through their material to submit what they thought would work on the silver screen.

The following were on the final nomination list:

Wayne State University Press: Laura Kasischke’s Eden Springs (2010) and Andrew Mozina’s Quality Snacks (2014).

Michigan State University Press: Robert Traver’s Laughing Whitefish (2011, originally 1965) and Bruce A Rubenstein’s and Lawrence E. Ziewacz’s Three Bullets Sealed His Lips (1987).

University of Michigan Press: Mardi Link’s When Evil Came to Good Hart (2008) and Mardi Link’s Isadore’s Secret: Sin, Murder, and Confession in a Northern Michigan Town (2009).

Thunder Bay Press: Anna W. Hale’s Mystery on Mackinac Island (1997) and Tom Powers’ In the Grip of the Whirlwind: The Armistice Day Storm of 1940 (2009).

Arbutus Press: Nancy Barr’s Page One: Vanished (2007) and Jennifer Sowle’s Admissions (2010).

William B Eerdmans: Diet Eman’s and James Schaap’s Things We Couldn’t Say (1999) and Katie Quirk’s A Girl Called Problem (2013).

New Issues Press: Kevin Fenton’s Merit Badges (2011) and Mandy Keifetz’s Flea Circus: a brief bestiary of grief(2012).

Midwestern Gothic/MG Press: Eric Shonkwiler’s Above All Men (2013) and Justin Machnik’s short story “Marquette” (2013).

Michigan Quarterly Review: Kevin Haworth’s short story “The Scribe” (2009) and Peter Ho Davies’s short story “That Fall” (2011).

The Purple Rose Theatre Company (the theatrical company, started by Jeff Daniels in Chelsea, Michigan, is a bonus to the list): Michael Brian Ogden’s Corktown (2011) and David MacGregor’s Consider the Oyster (2011).

“Producers or screenwriters interested in adapting any of these top nominated works from Michigan’s publishing history should contact the authors and publishers/theater directly to see about film rights,” Riekki said. “They may just find that some of the authors already have the screenplay version in their back pocket and would look forward to collaborating.”

Riekki brought up the example of Jennifer Sowle, who is in the middle of adapting her novel Admissions as a screenplay. Fancy Pants Theater in Kalamazoo has agreed to do a reading once the screenplay is completed.

Writers interested in hearing their work for the stage or screen read aloud can consider submitting to Fancy Pants’s Firstage reading series,

Riekki hopes other Michigan theaters and production companies will work to put these nominated works into the voices of actors.

“CMU Theatre would be interested in staging something,” said Dr. Timothy Connors of the Central Michigan University Theatre Department, adding, “I’d certainly be willing to look at something for 2016-17 (my next scheduled slot in the directing rotation).  Some of my colleagues might also be interested.”

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Kitchener, Ontario: The Somnamulists of Southern Ontario


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


On Friday nights, I would meet Ren somewhere downtown around 6 or 7 o’clock, usually at the coffee shop. The coffee shop was not the only coffee shop in downtown Kitchener, but it was the only one that one might describe as a “café.” That would change. In only a few years, after I moved away for college, the Coffee Time at Ontario Street closed down, Donut City on Gaukel disappeared, Tim Hortons gave up on Market Square, while places with “Café,” “Commons,” and “Bean” in the name took their spots.

Sometimes we started our walks through Victoria Park. In only a few hours it would fill up with teenagers getting high and breaking things. For now, though, there was no one in the city. Those kids were only just slinking out of their parents’ houses. The university students didn’t come downtown, and the  people who worked in the offices were all at The Still, drinking and gnawing on suicide (suicide, not ghost pepper) chicken wings before returning to their subdivisions for the weekend. Back then, we didn’t usually cross King Street in front of The Still or the other restaurants, unless it was to pass through the square at city hall. Those two blocks had what they call “nightlife.” We preferred streets that led into parking garages, the quiet and wooded lanes around the park, the flat and empty roads around the train station, the dilapidated area south of Market Square, and the plazas in what only the two of us called Little Saigon. Little Saigon was a short strip of King Street by the school where you could get phở and Vietnamese subs (before we knew they were called banh mi), packaged seaweed, Chinese DVDs, and suits from a tailor from Haiphong who called his store “Hong Kong Fashion.”

On a raining October evening we shambled through Victoria Park. We circumnavigated the lake and wound up back behind the bus terminal, following a forgotten-looking street, lined with dumpy looking houses on one side and a parking garage on the other. It lead to the Lang Tannery, an enormous pink brick structure that looked deserted like all the other factories along the railroad and Victoria Street. But people lived there, and there was a karate dojo and several signs for photography studios and other things you didn’t really think about. Ren had wound up meeting some college-aged hippie who rented one of those apartments. The building seemed half deserted and half lived-in, like a gentrified squat. There was sawdust on the hallway floors and it seemed like it was under construction. It was. Later it would house another one of those “cafés,” an overpriced Toronto chain that plastered its walls in quotes from French novelists, along with a Google office.

The two of us never really started going to parties. Instead, we started hanging out with a few Waterloo kids who skulked around the city, drinking outdoors because they didn’t want to wait for someone’s parents to leave town. They didn’t stop in winter. There were the gaps in the city, and we were lucky enough to live in a city that fell asleep by midnight. We stayed away from the students bars up King Street. That’s where the police inevitably were. We stuck to the reservoir behind Waterloo City Hall, we stuck to parking lots and churchyards and the loading docks behind Len Mills, by the train tracks or further along them.

The quickest route between uptown Waterloo and downtown Kitchener wasn’t King Street, which almost took a ninety degree turn at the hospital, but the train tracks. This is a city that was built around trains. Trains were part of our night life. We heard them clicking as they sat in the station, we watched them pull laboriously back and forth in some kind of freighting dance, we stumbled into the ditch when they roared past us, half-hiding our liquor bottles. It was one of the local spurs that diverted from the main trunk, like a tributary that had collected freight from the factories to the north and southwest. It crossed Louisa at grade and snaked behind the houses and warehouses in the old neighbourhood that bridged the two cities. The trains were responsible for carving those gaps out of the urban fabric, the places where we wasted time. You emerged back onto the streets at Len Mills.

In the week before Christmas the coffee shop closed by six in the afternoon. Ren and I met at the Tim Hortons next to the school instead. That night, Victoria Park was packed with families looking at the Christmas lights.  We were not used to sharing our nights and our city. The Iron Horse Trail led out of the park to a forgotten sector between downtown and the sprawling geography of subdivisions and super-plazas. We came out around Sterling, behind the Schneider slaughterhouse. There was an open storm drain running through this sector of Kitchener – a concrete ditch with a stream on the bottom. The same drain emerged on the other side of town by my mother’s house, but vanished in between. I thought it could be a canal lined with bars and bistros and bouquinistes like in those cities people dreamed about seeing. But then, wouldn’t we have to share it? When we kept walking, we got to the reservoir. We didn’t know there was a reservoir here. We were south of St. Mary’s hospital, a glittering anomaly down Queen Street, a promise that there was some kind of life out past downtown. On little more than a hunch that we followed an unknown residential street to Charles, not far from Ottawa. There was a Tim Hortons where we sat and had donuts.

Jason Freure is from Kitchener, Ontario. He has published poetry in Vallum, ditch, Echolocation, The Hart House Review and Epiphany. He has also published essays and reviews in Lemon Hound and The Puritan.

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Fenstad’s Resort, Minnesota: A Most Superior Retreat


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

Fenstad'sJust north of Little Marais, Minnesota a narrow wooded road snakes from Highway 61 down to Lake Superior. Our family’s favorite place on earth, Fenstad’s Resort, perches there on the lake’s North Shore. It is a small unassuming “mom and pop resort” tightly woven into our personal histories. Year by year our photo albums chronicle growth and change in the same beloved spots: around a driftwood fire on the beach, high on the cliffs looking north to Canada, gulls circling and delicate blue harebells nodding in the breeze. In the rocky harbor anchored by the old fish house, an upside down horseshoe above its door.

Fenstad’s has provided snug respite to families for more than 100 years, but was first discovered by ours the year after my dad died, when Mom instigated an annual retreat with grandchildren. But soon one summer visit wasn’t enough and we joined the privileged few with a yearly August reservation—fleeing the heat and humidity of Minneapolis/St. Paul, just four hours south. The North Shore’s natural air conditioning cooled and calmed us, courtesy of Lake Superior, the largest, deepest and coldest of the Great Lakes.

On that first visit in June the ice was off the lake, but as we passed through Duluth lilacs still bloomed—a full month later than in St. Paul. Heat was sorely needed in our little three room cabin at night and Mr. Fenstad hiked up to Hilltop cabin after dark to install a new thermostat. It was a cozy way to get acquainted—the kids tucked into beds and air mattresses, and mere curtains for doors. My mom and Mr. Fenstad were similar in age, and his wife and two grown sons helped run the resort—all quiet Nordic types and dedicated stewards of the land. Seventeen rustic cabins rimmed the beach, skirted the two small rivers that rolled into the lake, and climbed the hill to the cliffs adjoining unspoiled state land.

The moment we arrived, the baseball player trudged up a river path in search of a sturdy stick for smacking rocks far into the lake. The agate hunter sifted stones at the water line, alert to the tell-tale translucent swirls, and occasionally reminded herself to look up, to the distant horizon—no land visible across the freshwater sea. Grandma strolled, searching for one smooth oval stone among the thousands that lined the lake in shades of charcoal—the one she would dub a perfect “worry stone.” The hiker headed up to the cliffs, and the girl cousins lit off for the swings, or perhaps the tether ball—legs lifting, hair blowing, giggles floating back on the breeze.

The Fenstads provided what we needed and thankfully they knew when to stop. Knotty pine paneling, large windows onto the lake, spare, but comfy furnishings, a basic kitchen, no television, and until recently, no cell phone service. Heaven. Regulars at Fenstad’s don’t long for jacuzzis, granite countertops or channel surfing. Dramatic north woods views, quiet and the simple pleasures of outdoor living ruled the days. Raspberry picking with the sun hot on our necks and the smell of tar rising from the wooden bridge over the creek. Beach time building rocky dams, tiny houses, paths and gardens, while lulled by the lap of waves. And competitive hunts for quirky driftwood finds—look, it’s a funny bird, an alligator, a dog.

Fenstad’s anchored our world, but we ventured out occasionally to state parks like Temperance boasting narrow waterfalls churning their way to the lake, boreal forests of birch and pine and boiling rivers the color of root beer. Few seemed to find our spot near the beach at Split Rock, but we ran for it just in case others dared infringe on the lone fire pit for our hot dogs. The crowds clustered up at the famous lighthouse while we gazed at the postcard view from the shade of birch trees below. Birches dubbed “dalmatian trees” by the baseball player as a four year old, noting their dappled bark.

On hot August days the Baptism River at Tettegouche lured us in to swim—its water warm next to Superior’s legendary chill. Each year waves and weather reshaped the mouth of the Baptism and its small beach. In narrow years the river spat us far out into the lake at great speed—an exhilarating ride that entailed a tough swim back to shore.

Later, Grandma unpacked the picnic bag under the lone cedar tree—a speck of shade nestled between the small beach and two cliffs. My mom was the Queen of Picnics, she-who-would-not-willingly-eat-in-a-restaurant, weather-permitting (or not). We lunched on sandwiches and oatmeal cookies while behind us walkers hiked by intent on Shovel Point and jaw-dropping views. As we settled into post=meal snooze time, young daredevils jumped one by one from the rocky crag into the river. Often it was the afternoon heat that chased us back to Fenstad’s, or the biting flies. Sometimes it was the summer fog. We’d see it first as a narrow white line hovering on the horizon, then a curtain drifting closer, to quickly engulf us in damp, and temperatures dropping instantly by thirty degrees.

Twilight always found us back at Fenstad’s around a driftwood fire toasting fire food. Food on a stick of course, as at the Minnesota State Fair, s’mores naturally, but also our family specialty—dough wrapped around a green stick—a burnt biscuit with butter and local blueberry jam. There was no better place to spend a summer evening than on our own beach, gazing at the ragged silhouette of the Sawtooth mountains while the sky went pink.

The hiker roamed far for chunks of birch, while the girl cousins settled for tinder left in tiny piles by the waves. They sang softly, practicing their songs for Grandma—performances for later, after dark, while swatting mosquitoes, listening for loon calls, and hoping for the northern lights. As usual, the baseball player sent stone after stone towards the setting sun. Later he will set down his stick and pick up his guitar to join them.

Lindsey McDivitt is a Minnesotan now living in Michigan and expanding her explorations to all five Great Lakes that rim its upper and lower peninsulas. Sandy beaches and even swimmable lakes! But Superior still has her heart. Now writing for kids and adults, she worked in healthcare for many years, primarily with stroke survivors. Lindsey believes children’s picture books are ideal for sparking conversations to increase understanding between generations and change attitudes to aging. She reviews Positive Aging picture books on her blog at

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

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

It rises before us, its two towers brightly lit beacons of a different world approaching.  It is five miles long, and allows for a twenty-three foot width of traffic, two lanes in each direction.  To a first-time traveler, it looks a bit ominous, even eerie.  Below its center, the Straits are 250 feet deep. Our car gets in line with a multitude of others on this chilly September evening. Gulls screech, circling above;  ferries make their last runs of the day.   Ships can pass beneath, as two hundred feet cushion roadway from water. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet here and their waters commingle. This is the Mackinac Bridge, the only means of car travel between Michigan’s Lower and Upper peninsulas, between Mackinaw City with its kitschy tourist shops and lovely, wooded St. Ignace, between the “mitten” and the land of the “Yoopers.”

We tune the car radio to AM 530, one of the two stations dedicated to bridge travel updates.  We’ve picked a good night to make the trip: clear weather, no delays reported.  As we queue up just outside Mackinaw City we lower the windows – the aromas of fudge and fish mingle in the air, a blended scent found nowhere else in Michigan and probably nowhere else in the world. The cold lake air is exhilarating.

We pay our bridge toll; the procession moves slowly forward, gradually upward.

For timid motorists, there is help. The Bridge Authority offers a “Drivers Assistance Program.” Anyone who is uncomfortable with the idea of driving across the Bridge can arrange to have their vehicles driven to the other end, for no additional fee. At least 1,200 drivers per year request this service. A humbling statistic. Should we be afraid? Some of them suffer from gephyrophobia, anabnormal fear of crossing bridges. Some have heard of the two vehicles that have fallen off the bridge (one blamed on high winds and excessive speed, the other an apparent suicide). Some are just nervous drivers. After all, the Straits’ depths loom below.

No passing, no speeding, we are warned. Who would pass or speed on this thing, we wonder.

Climbing higher, we remark that the bridge, “Mighty Mac,” is as old as we are, built the same year we were born. Completed in 1957, its construction claimed five casualties: two in falls, two in a catwalk collapse, and one from the bends, after ascending too quickly from an underwater depth of 140 feet. Those men would have been about the age of our parents. A plaque at the bridge’s southern point stands in their memorial. We wonder how many travelers notice it.

We are halfway over.  Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel are especially visible from this vantage point. They are pieces of the past, watching the twenty-first century traffic whiz by. No motor vehicles are allowed on Mackinac Island, only bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. Fort Mackinac is there, built by the British, during the American Revolution, for control of the Straits. We drive on, two southwest Michigan residents heading for the part of our state where the delicacy is pasties and snow arrives most of the year. 

It takes seven years to paint the entire bridge. When the project is finished, it begins again.

Each year on Labor Day there is a Bridge Walk. The Governor is first in line; no one may walk ahead of him or her. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush walked the walk, brought in by helicopter.

Walkers gather at St. Ignace, on the bridge’s north side, and finish their trip at Mackinac City. Bus transportation is provided in each direction for the intrepid hikers who, after leaving their cars at one end, are willing to wait in line for what seems like an eternity. In a typical year, somewhere between forty- and sixty-five thousand people participate;  it takes each of them about two hours to walk the bridge from start to finish.

It is faster to walk now than it was to drive then.

Prior to 1957, anyone who traveled from one of Michigan’s peninsulas to the other could go by ferry. Or they could take a long trip by car, westward around Lake Michigan, through Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, or eastward around Lake Huron and through Canada. Either way, they had to leave Michigan to get to the other part of it. Since then they can simply drive across the bridge.

We are descending gradually now, approaching land, approaching the U.P. Darkness has set in. The Mackinac Bridge is lit up resplendently, welcoming oncoming travelers, and bidding farewell to those departing. We have crossed over, and in a few moments will be “up north” in the truest sense. 

Already, we are looking forward to the return trip.

Deborah Davis is a former equities trader who lives and writes in Richland, Michigan, near Kalamazoo. For many years she lived blocks away from Lake Michigan in Chicago, and near Lake Erie in Ohio. Ordinarily a bridge-phobic person, she drives the “Mighty Mac” happily and without qualms. Her work has appeared in Halfway Down the Stairs, Fifty Words Stories, and Searchlights and Signal Flares.


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Michigan Bestseller List for June 2014

JUNE 2014

MICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST (includes Aunt Agatha’s, Between the Covers, Bluefrog Books, Falling Rock Café and Bookstore, First Editions Too, Grandpa’s Barn, Island Bookstore, Kazoo Books, McLean & Eakin, Michigan News, North Wind Books, Schuler’s Books & Music Okemos, Saturn Booksellers, Snowbound Books, and Squirreled Away Books; the Michigan Bestseller List is sponsored by


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

2) Let It Burn: An Alex McKnight Novel, Steve Hamilton (Minotaur Books)

3) Killing a Cold One: A Woods Cop Mystery, Joseph Heywood (Lyons Press)

4) Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme Mapping Company (DeLorme Publishing)

5) Red Jacket: A Lute Bapcat Mystery, Joseph Heywood (Lyons Press)

6) Keweenaw County, Jennifer Billock (Arcadia Publishing)

7) Quality Snacks, Andrew Mozina (Wayne State University Press)

8) Weird Michigan: Your Travel Guide to Michigan’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets—Linda S. Godfrey (Sterling)

9) The Island of Doves, Kelly O’Connor McNees (Berkley Trade)

10) Once Upon a River: A Novel, Bonnie Jo Campbell (W.W. Norton & Company)

11) South of Superior, Ellen Airgood (Riverhead Trade)


U.P. BESTSELLER LIST (includes Falling Rock Café and Bookstore, First Editions Too, Grandpa’s Barn, Island Bookstore, North Wind Books, and Snowbound Books; the U.P. Bestseller List is sponsored by


1) Keweenaw County, Jennifer Billock (Arcadia Publishing)

2) South of Superior, Ellen Airgood (Riverhead Trade)

3) The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works, Ron Riekki (Wayne State University Press)

4) Death’s Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913, Steve Lehto (Momentum Books)

5) Geology and Landscape of Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Vicinity, William L. Blewett (Wayne State University Press)

6) Agates Inside Out, Karen Brzys (Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum)

7) Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa, Loren R. Graham (University of California Press)

8) Learning to Stay, Erin Celello (NAL Trade)

9) Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan, Melanie Dobson (Summerside)

10) Northern Border: History and Lore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Beyond, Robert Archibald (NMU Press)

11) Picturing the Past: Finlandia University, 1896 to Present, Karen S. Johnson and Deborah K. Frontiera (Finlandia University)

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