Michigan bestseller list for March 2016


Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 5.11.28 PM1) Viola Shipman–The Charm Bracelet: A Novel (Thomas Dunne Books)

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

3) Andy Mozina–Contrary Motion: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau/Random House Books)

4) Doreen Cronin–Bloom (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Simon & Schuster)

5) Tom Rath–Strengths Based Leadership: Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow (Gallup Press)

6) Denise Brennan-Nelson–Leopold the Lion (Sleeping Bear Press) [last month #3]

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

8) Jody Valley–Twisted Minds (Bella Books)

9) Todd E. Robinson–A City Within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Temple University Press)

10) Jim Harrison–The Big Seven (Grove Press)

11) Brad Meltzer–Heroes for My Daughter (HarperCollins Publishers)

12) John Smolens–Wolf’s Mouth (Michigan State University Press) [last month #2]

13) Brad Meltzer–Heroes for My Son (HarperCollins Publishers) [tie]

13) Kristen Remenar–Groundhog’s Dilemma (Charlesbridge Publishing) [tie]

13) Steve L. Robbins–What If: Short Stories to Spark Diversity Dialogue (Nicholas Brealey America) [tie]



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

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

3) Jim Harrison–The Big Seven (Grove Press) [last month #5]

4) John Smolens–Wolf’s Mouth (Michigan State University Press) [last month #2]

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

6) John Fortunato–Dark Reservations: A Mystery (Minotaur Books)

7) Emily St. John Mandel–Station Eleven: A Novel (Knopf Doubleday) [last month #6]

8) Jim Harrison–Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon Press) [last month #4]

9) John Smolens–Fire Point: A Novel of Suspense (Three Rivers Press/The Crown Publishing Group)

10) Thomas Funke–50 Hikes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Walks, Hikes, and Backpacks from Ironwood to St. Ignace (Countryman Press)

11) Mikel B. Clausen–Teddy Roosevelt & the Marquette Libel Trial (The History Press) [tie]

11) Steve Hamilton–Let It Burn: An Alex McKnight Novel (Macmillan) [tie]

11) Russell M. Magnaghi–Upper Peninsula Beer: A History of Brewing Above the Bridge (Arcadia Publishing) [tie]

11) Michael McDonnell–Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America (Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) [last month #8] [tie]

15) Ron Riekki–Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Michigan State University Press)

The Michigan Bestseller List for March includes twelve Michigan bookstores: Between the Covers in Harbor Springs,facebook.com/btcbookstore; Blue Frog Books in Howell, bluefrogbooksandmore.com; Bookbug in Kalamazoo, bookbugkalamazoo.com; Great Lakes Books & Supply in Big Rapids, greatlakesbook.com; Kazoo Books in north Kalamazoo and south Kalamazoo, kazoobooks.com/; Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, nicolasbooks.com; Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, www.saturnbooksellers.com, Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Okemos, schulerbooks.com, and Snowbound Books in Marquette, www.snowboundbooks.com.

A Day Before Frank O’Hara’s 85th Birthday

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 12.03.58 PMBY CRAIG COTTER

Put a new bottle of pain meds on the shelf above my desk

knocking down a pile of mementos

including tickets to two Detroit Tiger games from 1976


one orange, one blue.


I Googled “Detroit Tiger past boxscores”

and got the page from the “Baseball Almanac.”




August 20th was a Friday.

The orange ticket meant lower deck.

I was in SECTION 21, ROW 7, SEAT 1.


The blue ticket






I have no memory of going to Tiger Stadium twice the same week.

I always wanted to go more.

Used to nag my dad—

but he was a frugal and mostly exhausted GM engineer

who often worked in Detroit—and driving back there

from our home in Drayton Plains

somehow didn’t appeal to him.

Was it that he could never see his Brooklyn Dodgers in Tiger Stadium?




I remember Jerry Kitchen’s mother taking us.

I remember Gordy taking Jerry and me and Curt Toth.




I remember sitting in an upper-deck section between home and third

with my family

I’d gone to get hotdogs and drinks

I was 15—

the summer we moved from Michigan—

that worst summer of my life so far,

losing all my friends in one drive to Rochester, New York

for my dad’s promotion back to the mother-ship, Rochester Products.

Ben Oglivie was batting, and he fouled a ball back

that landed at my feet.

I could’ve got it instantly by dropping the food—

but didn’t do it—hands scrambled at my feet and one got the ball.


I think one of the games my dad took me to, and we saw Mark Fidrych win—

I seem to remember it being his 18th or 19th win—though late August seems too early for that

as I think he won 19 that rookie season, figure that last win must’ve been deep in September.


Maybe I got two games the same week because friends

were taking me for a good-bye game

and my dad too.

I wasn’t speaking much to my dad after he announced we were moving

with no conversation

after I’d complete my 10th grade year at Waterford Kettering High School.

I was fitting in, was doing lights in plays, had friends since earliest memories,

good grades.

Was a brain, was skinny, had friends with all the groups, jocks, stoners, rockers,

losers, nerds, without being in a group.


Mr. Tuttle did a test on our social studies class one day.

He walked in on a Monday with our pile of exams.

He apologized for not having time to grade them over the weekend.

He said we’d grade our own.

He passed them down the aisles, then read the answers.

We calculated our scores, then he called us one-by-one

to report our grades.

I had earned an A with 18 of 20 correct.  We had to give our grade and score.

I thought of saying A/19.  He got closer and closer to me as the scores and grades rang out.

I was sweating a bit. I thought I was going to say A/19.

But when he got to me I said, “A/18.”

He finished the verbal collection of the scores.

He sat and assessed the grade book.


He then announced this had been a test of honesty.

He had graded all the papers over the weekend, and recorded our scores and grades.


[As an interlude I want to say that AT&T is a totally corrupt company.

After I bought my two-year cell plan they took down most of the towers in my neighborhood

of Pasadena, California.  I've had no service within a four block radius of my apartment for two years.

When I call to request a new tower be opened, I have been lied to 20 times that a new tower

is to be installed on X date, but it never was.  My AT&T land-line is not fiber-optic cable

but copper wires wrapped with plastic buried underground in leaking pipes.

When it rains, like it’s been doing a lot lately, there is no land-line service.

Which is the case now—my phones are dead.  When I called them about the dead

land-line the guy said it would be at least 4 days because they don't work weekends.

He then asked me if there was anything else he could help me with.

No irony in his question.

Once the AT&T help person told me she could sell me a cell phone signal booster for $20 a month.

"So my phone doesn't work and you want to take $240 more dollars from me a year

so my phone works like it's supposed to?"

Throughout this two years of criminal corruption, AT&T sends me three flyers per week—

professionally printed—asking me to add high speed internet service

to my AT&T package, and that they would give me a bundled savings rate.

Sometimes when I call reporting no cell or land-line service they ask me if I want to buy their internet


"When the two services I have from you don't work, how could you ever expect I would add a third?"

But enough of what a criminal, corrupt company AT&T is, back to our nostalgic look at my past.]


He said, “Everyone in class lied except for Craig and Kelly. Craig got an A/18, Kelly an F/4.”


I looked over at Kelley. She was a burn-out, obviously high—and terminally hot.

She smiled her lovely burn-out smile, proud of her F, I smiled back at her briefly

raising my eyebrows slightly.

I’d always liked Kelly.  Her falling asleep in class.  Her smart-ass comments when she

occasionally talked.  The dark circles under her eyes.  Her perfect body.  Her hunky boyfriends.

Her utter disdain for school as I studied and studied.

When we’d find each other side-by-side in a lunch line

there was always mutual respect.

I was never gonna get in her pants, she was never gonna want to hang out with me—

but we accepted the other for our life choices so far.


So maybe that Wednesday was Jerry’s mom taking me for a farewell game

and that Friday my dad?


I remember the Fidrych game being a sell-out.

And remember looking down at him on the mound—was he 19?—

just 4 years older than me?—talking to the ball, patting the mound with his hands.

And he probably pitched all 9 innings/didn’t Ralph Houk burn out his arm?

Though I remember Ralph later trying to get The Bird back to pitch a few games in Fenway

when he became the Sox manager so Mark could get a major league pension.

But he kept getting shelled and Houk couldn’t get him those last few innings needed.

And then when Mark sucked the next year, and his arm appeared wrecked,

there was also the rumor that he’d made a pass at a married guy’s wife

in a bar in Florida during spring training, and that the guy had screwed his arm up behind his back

tearing an important muscle that never healed.

This seemed like a more logical homeroom explanation for us sex-crazed boys

then that Ralph Houk and the Tiger organization blew out his young arm

by rarely bringing in a relief pitcher for him as the fans had paid to see The Bird.


Let’s check the boxscores:


It was a double-header with the Twins.  Above the first box score is this quote:


“The box score is the catechism of baseball, ready to surrender its truth to the knowing eye.” – Author Stanley Cohen in The Man in the Crowd (1981)


Wow, Lyman Bostock was leading off for the Twins,

went 0-for-4.

Wasn’t he the young phenom batting around .330

but got shot to death?  In Chicago?

Someone trying to kill the guy next to him

in the car he was riding in but shot Lyman

in the chest by accident?

I used to love his APBA card

when Jerry and I used to play.

I was wondering if he could develop to hit .400,

something I still want to see

as I wasn’t around for Williams in ’41.

Closest I got was a Brett .390 year and a Carew .376 year

or something like that.


And there’s Ron Leflore leading off.

The Tigers would barnstorm summers,

and I met him and several others when they swung through

and played our high school teachers in a softball game

on our baseball field.

The Tigers completely annihilated our teachers.

Norm Cash hit a softball I never saw land it went so far.

Ron LeFlore had a hot bombshell on each elbow

as he walked on the field.

I still have his autograph on a scrap of paper I picked up

from the ground.


Hardly anything left from our ’68 Series team.

But there’s Mickey Stanley batting second,

going 0-for-4 and playing first base.

Willie Horton, the man I copied my warm-up swings from,

going 2-for-4 batting clean-up.

Bill Freehan still there, going 0-for-3, batting 7th.

I did love Rusty Staub who bat third—

he was one of our great trades.

And learned to love Aurelio Rodriguez.


Roberts got the win and pitched all 9 innings,

and was then 12-12.  I don’t remember him.

No Fidrych and no Ben Oglivie.

Plus I am now vaguely remembering that my dad

took me to the Fidrych win.


Horton and LeFlore got doubles.

Willie was a slow runner, especially by then.

It probably would’ve been an inside-the-park homerun

for most other players. He’d often gap them into left-center

420 feet away and just barely make it to second.

I saw him hit a laser rocket into the Green Monster at Fenway

one day on TV—an instant homerun in Tiger Stadium.

It hit so hard it ricochet back to the shortstop and Willie

only got a single.


LeFlore stole 2 bases and got caught once.  Loved his speed.

Turns out he’d lied about his age and was older than we knew.


Just got a call on my landline—could only hear ringing and static.


I do remember the name Hisle in the first box score.

Larry I think his first name was.  Had good power, good average,

and I remember him being a slow base runner.


Game 2 of the double-header:


The fucking Twins beat us.


LeFlore 2 for 5 again.  He was our only .300 hitter.

Well, half way through that line I realized Staub used to do it

too or get close.  Danny Meyer was 2 for 5.  I hated him.

So inconsistent.  And there’s my boy Ben Oglivie, going

2 for 4 with 4 RBIs (we lost 8 to 5).  I loved Ben.

Good power.  We were stupid to trade him.

Mr. Staub DHed and went 1 for 4.

Oh Christ John Wockenfuss caught the second game.

Hated him too.  And the Johnson pinch-hitter—

was that Alex Johnson?  The Tigers were good at

picking up veterans at the end of their careers—

like Eddie Mathews.  I loved Alex Johnson.

He won a bunch of games for us.


Fuck, a giant, Rod Carew—he played first base.

He was a lousy second baseman in his prime,

but became an excellent first baseman later in his career.

That man was an amazing hitter.  And he went

3 for 5 with 3 RBIs.  Bostock 2 for 5.  Will have to Google

him and see if I remember him dying young.


[Yeah—he was shot with a shotgun in the backseat

of a car by Leonard Smith.  Smith's wife was also in the back seat

and he was trying to shoot her.  He shot Lymon in the head.

He died 2 hours later.  Smith was found guilty by reason

of insanity.  He was released after 21 months, which caused the

Indiana legislature to change its laws about insanity defenses.

Lymon had been in Chicago, but went to Gary, Indiana

to visit his uncle.  You can read the rest on Wikipedia.

I remember being very sad because I liked Lymon.  And being

a closeted 15-year-old gay teen, I also thought he was cute.]


Horton and Stanley pinch-hit, but didn’t get hits.  John Hiller

worked some relief—he was one of our big stars.  Had a heart

attack as a player and returned.  Lemanczyk was our starter.

Our pitching sucked then.  Even Hiller gave up 2 earned runs

in 2 innings.  We were a shell of our World Series self.


Carew got a double off Hiller.  LeFlore got a triple.  He was so

fast, turned a lot of doubles into triples.  Hisle hit a tater.

Oglivie hit 2 homeruns!  Loved his power.  He got his in

the first and second innings—and now remember wanting

him to get 3 or 4.  Horton was actually intentionally

walked when he came in to pinch-hit.  Good decision by

the manager—Willie was a god.  Only 17,385 in the stands.


Wednesday, August 25, 1976:


Well, before opening the box score, we won 3-1, which

would’ve been a good Fidrych score.  But my dad—I have

no memory of him taking me to an evening game during

a work-week.  If we went, we went on weekends.  But maybe

this was to try and settle me down after announcing

he was taking all my friends away.


Here we go:


Yup, Fidrych pitched all 9 innings, giving up 1 run, walking 1

and striking out 1.  I remember he forced a lot of ground

balls.  Had excellent control.  And pitched fast.


We were playing the White Sox.  Remember a few of the

names—Hairston, Orta, Lemon, Dent.


LeFlore 0-for-4 for the Tigers.  Danny Meyer freaking me out

again with his mediocrity.  (Horton used to play left, now it

was Danny Meyer!)  Oglivie another 2 for 4 day.  Staub DH but

0 for 3.  Just can’t talk much about Jason Thompson.  He had

some power and was an OK firstbaseman.  But he wasn’t

Norm Cash so I never acclimated.  I think he had some bigger

homerun seasons after we traded him for not being Norm



Bruce Kim catching—not Bill Freehan.


We didn’t have a Kaline or Lolich to push us over the top that year.


Hmmm, Ben Oglivie made 2 errors in right.  I never saw Al

Kaline make an error in right.  Though he certainly made a few

on his way to 10 Gold Gloves.


Jason Thompson stole a base?  He was like 6-5 and lumbering.

Have no memory of that.  Maybe a delayed double-steal?

But Martin wasn’t the manager.  Oglivie stole second in the

6th—he was very fast.


Hmm, and we didn’t sell out that day—39,884 in attendance.

Think Tiger Stadium held 45,000 or so people.  Lemme look.


[Tiger Stadium saw exactly 11,111 home runs, the last a right field, rooftop grand slam by Detroit’s Robert Fick as the last hit in the last game played there.


Only four of the game’s most powerful right-handed sluggers (Harmon Killebrew, Frank Howard, Cecil Fielder and Mark McGwire) reached the left field rooftop.

In his career, Norm Cash hit four home runs over the Tiger Stadium roof in right field and is the all-time leader.

In Detroit on July 13, 1934, Babe Ruth hit his 700th career home run. As noted in Bill Jenkinson’s The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, the ball sailed over the street behind the then single deck bleachers in right field, and is estimated to have traveled over 500 feet on the fly.

Ruth also had a good day in Detroit earlier in his career, on July 18, 1921, when he hit what is believed to be the verifiably longest home run in the history of major league baseball. It went to straightaway center, as many of Ruth’s longest homers did, easily clearing the then single deck bleacher and wall, landing almost on the far side of the street intersection. The distance of this blow has been estimated at between 575 and 600 feet on the fly.

On May 2, 1939, an ailing New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig voluntarily benched himself at Briggs Stadium, ending a streak of 2,130 consecutive games. Due to the progression of the disease named after him, it proved to be the final game in his career.]

Seems to have held, after last renovation, 54,500.  Though
I bet more got in—there were standing room only admissions

to some of the big games.


Time to get some breakfast.  See what’s going on in Los Angeles.

Unstoppable: A Poem by Bill Reyer


“Life is its own mirage of change.”

T’ao Ch’ien

Nearby the North-Flowing River


the color of coffee-with-milk,

high in the late-winter


The warm south wind

ruffles the waves,

urging them onward

toward the Great fatigued Lake.

River-rocks await

Sandusky’s ebb

to welcome back

the herons

who fish when shallow pools

glimmer with prey.

Unstoppable the surging flow

of seasons,

the beautiful illusion

we call time.


Issue 6 available half off for a short time: $5, cheap!

For a short time, we will be offering Issue 6 at a discounted price of $5 plus shipping.

The issue includes poetry, fiction and drama from Michael Zadoorian, Ron Riekki, Dianne Borsenik, Craig Cotter, Michael Steinberg, Devin Murphy, Grace Epstein, Daniel Perry, Emily Kathryn Utter, Chris Pannell, Eugene Ostashevsky, Robert James Russell, Donald G. Evans & Carolyn Saper, Zachary Lee, Brigit Kelly Young, Michael Dunwoody, Dylan Weir, Terence Huber, Kathe Gray, Mary Hawley, Amorak Huey, Lynn Pattison, Mark Ramirez and Janeen Pergrin Rastall.

You can send a check made out to John Counts for $8 to the following address:

Great Lakes Review
P.O. Box 361
Whitmore Lake, MI 48189

Or order online:

Inside U.S.

Outside U.S.

Garden City, Michigan: Corner of Maplewood and Hartel


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

In an unknown world at the edge of Detroit, there is a green diamond ablaze beneath the sky. We, the young ones in this place of little pattern houses, call it the Lighted Field. Year after year, grasping at childhood, we ride our bikes with streamers on our handlebars, whooshing down Maplewood. Meet me at the Lighted Field, we say. Game or no game. Night or blinding summer day when the sun extinguishes the fierce electric lights. Meet me at the Lighted Field.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.40.43 PMBut this night, this 1969 night, burns brighter than sunlight. Sears my memory. Mosquitoes fry high above the infield on white-hot bulbs. Dust flies after base runners. Crowded feet in sandals and sneakers dangle between rows of bleacher seats. Bats pop. Popsicles melt. Top of the ninth. You and I make out behind the clubhouse at the Lighted Field. We run before the inning ends. To Canada.

Soon, your draft notice will land in the family mailbox, but find no soldier boy there to enlist, because of small acts across our childhood years. Chase games, hiding games. A red crayon Valentine slipped through your locker door. Secrets. Blushes. Whispering, camping in the backyard, our homemade tent cloaked in suburban sprawl. Beach towels and transistor radios at the lake. Warm sand coating our skin. Until tonight’s game. Wet, frightened adolescent kisses send us flying for your life. All the way to downtown Detroit in your old Ford, along Michigan Avenue, past the big stadium aglow, right turn to the River, through the Windsor Tunnel and out the other side.

Top of the ninth. Years too late. A summer afternoon, I park my car on Hartel and find a place on the bleachers at the Lighted Field, baking my bare, outstretched legs in the sun. Unknown, unknowable world at the edge of Detroit. There is the clubhouse where you and I used to hide and scheme and make out. Then you went to Vietnam.

No one recognizes me anymore. I watch the game. Until the day of my own death far from this place, if my old mind flickers to the green diamond beneath hot sun or beneath tall electric lights and black sky; or if the words, Lighted Field, flash and then go dark, then one last time, my heart will race and my throat tighten with grief.

A historian, writer and photographer, Amy Kenyon was born in Dearborn, Michigan and spent her childhood in suburban Detroit. She is the author of Dreaming Suburbia (Wayne State University Press) and Ford Road (University o Michigan Press).  

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Manistee National Forest, Michigan: The Bear


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

5ACBD117-2B08-4EFC-A3DC-1C9D7EDAB3A7The Sunday after the memorial services, we all went morel hunting.

Sara found two more morels in the front yard of her mother’s house. I had found one the day before, amidst dead wood along M-55, where lumber trucks barreled out of the Manistee National Forest. With three morels found, even though the season was long over, we decided to take the kids and grandpa out into the forest to hunt for more beneath overcast summer skies.

We drove a few miles west and pulled off at a sign (erected in 1983) celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of a Civilian Conservation Corp camp that had toiled in the woods during the Depression. Beyond the first tree line, in the clear path beneath new power lines, Oscar (age 5), stumbled along in the grass with his hands outstretched. Abigail (age 2), toddled after her ‘buther’.

“C’mere, little cabbage moth,” Oscar said quietly, his hands moving up and down, following the loping, drunk flight of the small insect.

Beyond the second tree line, along fallen poplars, we found cup fungus, white shelf fungus, and richly colored sulphur fungus. But there were too many pines, and so we marched west were we saw more beech and oak leaves.

As we ascended a sandy hill, we found angled iron set in old, crumbling concrete.

“What was here, Dad?” Oscar asked.

“I guess it was part of the old camp for the men who worked here years ago,” I replied, uncertain. We found several stout concrete posts arrayed around a large cone of concrete almost as tall as me, with a bent and rusting piece of rebar atop it.

“A toad!” grandpa called, happily, and Oscar and Abigail ran over with me following. The toad hopped amidst the shepherd hook sprouts of fiddle head ferns, hiding beneath maple saplings. All across the forest floor, sprouting from the leaves, were tiny mushrooms and white star-flowers.

Oscar chirped as he raised his cupped hands. And inside, frightened but safe, there was the tiny form of a gray tree frog with his yellow inner thighs pulled close against his white belly.

Oscar carried him deeper into the ruins of the camp while Sara and grandpa looked under fallen logs for morels. Abigail wrapped her hand around one of my fingers. “I looking for river,” she said to me seriously. I picked her up and carried her on my hip. She whispered in my ear, “You can find a big river, and,” I leaned close to feel her lips against my cheek. Then she said, “and I find a teeny tiny river.”

Beyond the ruins there was a huge treeless bowl between two hills. Down the eastern slope of the bowl, as we descended, we found crumbling shingles, maybe from the camp, maybe dumped years later.

“I think,” Oscar said, stumbling across the shingles, “that a house sank here into the hill.”

We really didn’t have any better explanation.

But then he fell and landed on his cupped hand.

“Is the frog okay!” Sara asked, concerned. “Are you okay, Oscar?”

We examined Oscar, and the frog, and found that both were okay. Oscar took the frog back up the hill into the wet leaves beneath the trees and released him by a corner of exposed concrete.

The clouds drew close, and the air was cool.

“Maybe it rain,” Abigail said, toddling out into the treeless expanse of the open bowl. At the northern end of the bowl was a high mound built by aggressive black and red ants. At the southern end there was the curled over gray stump of some long dead tree.

The forest behind us had been a mix of pine and poplar and oak, but the forest up the western slope of the bowl was entirely deciduous, and it was there that we marched to look again for mushrooms.

“Look, here are two!” Sara called out. But when we came closer, we saw that the mushrooms had gone black and peeled back at the head. They were days old and had gone bad.

Oscar and Grandpa marched steadily further west, out onto a lumber road, where they played hey-batter-batter-swing with sticks and stones.

As Sara and Abigail and I searched, we found clumps of morels every ten or fifteen feet, all at the same level, half way up the western slope of the bowl, beneath rotting logs or against ancient trees. But every time, the morels had gone bad, turning black, melting back into the sandy loam of the hillside.

And along with the morels, a little further of up the hill, we kept finding the heavy odorless scat of brown bear. Abigail was getting tired, tumbling down into the leaves, whimpering a little.

“I don’t like the look of that,” Sara said after we found the third pile of bear scat. The bear had been marching around the western half of the bowl for quite a while, staying up along one level of the hill, drawn here for some reason.

Abigail pulled down the top of a fiddlehead fern to inspect the curled end. “Worm,” she said to me, indicating the curled up head of the fern.

At the end of it all, we had found ten rotting morels.

Defeated, we marched back down into the bowl. Abigail, exhausted, cried into Sara’s shoulder. And in the dead center of the bowl, on the flat sandy ground beneath ferns and atop star flowers, we found a skull.

“Is it a deer?” Sara asked.

But it was too stout, a deer skull usually stretching  out at the snout.

“No,” I said tentatively, “I think it belonged to a bear. Maybe a juvenile.”

It was missing its canines, so it was hard to tell, but that’s what I think rested in the middle of the great open bowl in the forest.

I scooped up Abigail, and as she wailed, I marched back to the car.

Oscar, holding Sara’s hand, paused over the skull.

“Are you scared,” Sara asked.

I crested the hill, almost jogging along the old concrete left behind by the men who had restored this wild place after a century of heavy logging.

I heard Oscar say, “No, Mom. I think I’m just a little sad.”

Fritz Swanson is the Director of Wolverine Press, the letterpress studio for the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. His writing has appeared in such places as McSweeney’s, The Believer, The Christian Science Monitor and Esopus.

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1) Jim Harrison–The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press)

2) John Smolens–Wolf’s Mouth (Michigan State University Press)

3) Denise Brennan-Nelson–Leopold the Lion (Sleeping Bear Press)

4) Dr. Michael Petty–Dr. Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs: The Complete Medical and Integrative Guide to Treating Pain (Countryman Press)

5) Gary D. Schmidt–Okay for Now (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

6) Z.G. Tomaszewski–All Things Dusk (Hong Kong University Press)

7) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy: A Woods Cop Mystery (Lyons Press)

8) Lansing State Journal–Green Machine: The Story of Michigan State’s Return to Football Dominance (Lansing State Journal/Detroit Free Press)

9) Katherine Applegate–Crenshaw (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan)

10) Jim C. Hines–Revisionary: Magic Ex Libris Book Four (DAW/Penguin Books)

11) Nancy E. Shaw–Sheep in a Jeep (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

12) Travis Mulhauser–Sweetgirl: a novel (Ecco Press/HarperCollins Publishers)

13) David Maraniss–Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (Simon & Schuster) [last month #2]

14) Adam Grant–Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Viking Books/Penguin Books)

15) Bill Loomis–On This Day in Detroit History (Arcadia Publishing)



1) Jim Harrison–The Ancient Minstrel (Grove Press)

2) John Smolens–Wolf’s Mouth (Michigan State University Press)

3) Joseph Heywood–Buckular Dystrophy: A Woods Cop Mystery (Lyons Press)

4) Jim Harrison–Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon Press) [previously #8]

5) Jim Harrison–The Big Seven (Grove Press)

6) Emily St. John Mandel–Station Eleven: A Novel (Knopf Doubleday) [was #1 in December]

7) Leslie Helakoski–Big Chickens (Puffin Books/Penguin Books USA)

8) Jerry Dennis–The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan) [previously #2] [tie]

8) Michael McDonnell–Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America (Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) [tie]

10) Tom Daldin, Jim Edelman, and Eric Tremonti–Under the Radar Michigan: The First 50 (Scribe Publishing Company) [tie]

10) Steve Hamilton–The Lock Artist: A Novel (Macmillan) [tie]

10) Mardi Link–The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group) [tie]

 The Michigan Best Seller List for February includes 14 Michigan bookstores: Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, facebook.com/btcbookstore; Blue Frog Books in Howell, bluefrogbooksandmore.com; Bookbug in Kalamazoo, bookbugkalamazoo.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, and Snowbound Books in Marquette, www.snowboundbooks.com.

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Southampton, Ontario: Being there

Courtesy of the author

Courtesy of the author


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

Note from the author: I based this poem on a storm I experienced in Southampton, Ontario, in 2013. Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes. With its panoramic crimson sunsets, white sandy beaches, and grassy dunes, its beauty is unparalleled and draws throngs of visitors to its shores every summer. Yet what it boasts in beauty, it also boasts in power. Serene and playful one day, it can unleash its fury the next. This was never more visible than in the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. Also known as the Freshwater Fury, it assaulted the shores of Lakes Huron, Erie, Superior, and Michigan from November 7 to 10 and claimed the lives of over 250 people. In one day alone, Lake Huron took eight vessels along with their crews.

Being There

The roar of the lake
Challenges, beckons
I push my way forward
Hair streaming back
Eyes half shut

A couple, shuttered together
Hurry past
Away, away
From the angry surge
A predator in full pursuit

The waves, impossibly high
Six-foot, seven-foot,
Barrel over each other
Spit their wrath
Onto the beach
Like rabid dogs
Behind a chain-link fence

                                                   Oh, the power!

The wind’s gnarly fingers
Rise from the lake
Whip through the sand
Tracing letters, words
Don’t underestimate me

I think of my grandfather,
His stories of the Great Storm
Back in 1913

“Twas a powerful spectacle,
That one
Many ships went down that day
Off Huron’s shores
Never seen anything like it
Before or since”

I find a dune, burrow down
Turn my attention to the sky
A single ray of setting sun
Boldly claims its place
Within the violent hues
The blues, the purples,
The blackest of blacks

                                             Oh, the beauty!

A crack of thunder
A jolt to the heart
Seagulls rise
In a panicked, squawking chorus

A flash of lightning,
Pure gold
Streaks across the horizon
Then another, and another
Nature’s fireworks
Soundless, throbbing

But I stay where I am
Held captive by this beast
By its sounds, its furies

Like a willing victim, I wait
For the next clap of thunder
For the next flash of light

Jennifer Hutchison teaches writing and English as a second language at George Brown College. She has also worked as a writer, editor, and translator for the private and public sectors. Short-story writing is a new, exciting realm for her. She lives in downtown Toronto with her husband, four children, and a giant Goldendoodle.   

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Franklin Island, Ontario: Georgian Bay Wild



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

My voice takes on that peculiar tone of warning, low to start, pitch rising, two syllables made out of a one-syllable name. “Jim.”

He’s ahead of me on the narrow path. Before I’ve even closed my mouth, he’s turned and started back, eyes on my face. He doesn’t run, doesn’t even pick up his pace. One twitch from me and I know he’ll ditch his pack to free his movements. With his back to the danger, it’s a matter of trust. But we’ve been through this before. I keep my eyes on the bear. It watches my husband’s retreat but doesn’t move.

We backtrack along the path. “Big or small?” Jim asks.

“Adult,” I say. “But I’m pretty sure it was alone.” With that, the tension recedes a little. Our first close encounter with a bear took place more than twenty years before on another island—Vancouver Island. I had our infant son on my back when the three of us somehow came between a cub and its mother on a narrow trail in dense bush. We made it back to camp safely, but the memory of our fear—the other possible outcomes our imaginations conjured up—still sticks with us.

I glance back. The bear is eating. Blueberries, I suppose, although it’s late in the season. “Wait it out by the water?” I ask, as if we have any real option. We’ve pulled up our canoe at the start of the portage to avoid rounding a windy point. The spot is boggy and breezeless, rife with whining mosquitoes.

“I guess,” Jim says, testing the wind with an upraised finger. It’s clear he wishes we’d pressed forward on the water, despite the westerlies. It’s me that’s afraid of the rollers and opted for the safer route. Back at the boat, I scrabble through a dry-bag and hand him a granola bar. “We’ll give it ten minutes,” I say, “then try again.”

The pinkish-grey rock where we sit is warm and smooth. We swat bugs as we eat. We’re delayed, yes, but not dissuaded. The bear will move on and the hard part of the day is over. We’ve packed up and left the city three hours behind, manoeuvred through the busy harbour, and paddled the open-water crossing. Already our skin has the sun-toasted smell of late, late summer. The susurrus of white pines has replaced the background track of traffic. Simultaneously, we exhale deeply and lie back to sunbathe while we wait.

But soon I pop up, my mind less willing to relax than my body. “Did you remember the rope to hang the food,” I ask.

“Uh-huh,” Jim mumbles, already halfway to sleep.

Of course he remembered. After dozens of these trips, we don’t forget the essentials. I settle back on the rock. This is how another weekend on Franklin Island begins.


Franklin. One of thousands of islands in Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. It’s a popular spot for canoeists and kayakers, novice and expert. We’ve been coming here for three decades, sometimes with our children, more recently by ourselves. As Crown land, it has the dual advantages of being uninhabited and accessible. Over the years, we’ve circumnavigated the island, clockwise and counter-clockwise, and used it as a jumping-off point to paddle to smaller, more remote island chains farther offshore when the weather’s been right—the Minks and the McCoys. On occasion, we’ve been lazy, paddling no farther than the first unoccupied campsite we’ve come across, quick to sling a hammock and uncork a bottle of wine. When a weekend opens up on short notice, or we just need to get away without much planning, Franklin has been our go-to place.

Experience has shown that the shoulder seasons—spring, or September-October once school resumes—guarantee the best choice of campsites and greater solitude on the water. Our favourite site is at the base of a deep, wide bay on the western side of the island. There’s a large plate of rock, the same runnelled granite that is found throughout the Georgian Bay islands. A patch of sandy beach is just big enough to land a canoe or air-dry on a towel after a swim. The lichen here ranges from a brilliant pumpkin colour to saffron; the sky and water gleam shades of cerulean blue. Storms and wind buffet this place and so the trees lean inland, some bare of branches on their exposed sides. Any one of them could be a model for a painting by the Group of Seven.

On our next sortie down the portage trail, the bear is gone. We pitch our tent on a spongy bed of needles. The day is relaxing but night is best on Franklin, the moon a slender white paring amidst a fizz of stars. We watch the sun set, the clouds settling in inukshuk shapes against a crimson horizon. The scent of resin clings to my hands; my hair carries the perfume of woodsmoke. We snuggle into our fleeces as September warmth is edged back by autumnal chill, listen to the rustles of small nocturnal creatures preparing for winter ahead.


Two summers later, we’re back, our favourite campsite unchanged. It’s a comfort to know that other people who enjoy this place treat it with respect and pack out their garbage. The ring of rocks that mark the campfire is tidy. No cigarette butts mar the miniature beach.

“Lunch, then a dip?” I call out, as Jim deposits the last of our dry-bags by the door of our tent. This trip, the weather is perfect and we’ve paddled around the island’s often-dicey southern point. Shoulders ache pleasantly.

We chow down on bagels toasted in bacon grease, on raw carrots and apples. Eager to swim, we toss our clothes on the sand, leave lunch cleanup until later.

Mid-stroke, I look up at our site. The sun glints in my eyes as a large, black shape ambles across the rock towards our makeshift table.

Like a repetitious bird, I sing out the same familiar song. “Ji…m.”

Jann Everard of Toronto, Canada, is a writer and part-time health administrator. Her short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies including The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, Grain, Whitefish Review, The Los Angeles Review and Coming Attractions 15 (Oberon Press, 2015). Jann is a frequent traveller and an outdoor enthusiast. Please visit her at www.janneverard.com 

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Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.44.25 AMMICHIGAN BESTSELLER LIST FOR JANUARY 2016

1) Emily St. John Mandel—Station Eleven: A Novel (Knopf) [last month #10]

2) David Maraniss—Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (Simon & Schuster) [last month #3]

3) Norma Lewis—Lost Restaurants of Grand Rapids (Arcadia Publishing) [last month #7]

4) John U Bacon—Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football (St. Martin’s Press) [last month #2]

5) Joyce Benvenuto—Poem Journey: More Poems & Prose from along Old Grand River (Thunder Bay Press) [tie]

5) Thomas R. Trautmann—Elephants and Kings: An Environmental History (The University of Chicago Press) [tie]

7) Christina Baker Kline—orphan train: a novel (HarperCollins Publishers)

8) Jim Harrison—Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon Press)

9) Joshua G. Cohen—A Field Guide to the Natural Communities of Michigan (Michigan State University Press)

10) Mitch Albom—The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel (HarperCollins Publishers) [last month #1]

11) Michael Emmerich—100 Things Michigan State Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books) [last month #4]

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

13) Katherine Applegate—The One and Only Ivan (HarperCollins Publishers)

14) Jim C. Hines—Unbound: Magic Ex Libris (DAW/Penguin Books)

15) Anand Giridharadas—The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas (W.W. Norton & Company)

The Michigan Bestseller List for January includes 12 Michigan bookstores: Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, facebook.com/btcbookstore; Blue Frog Books in Howell, bluefrogbooksandmore.com; Bookbug in Kalamazoo, bookbugkalamazoo.com; Great Lakes Books & Supply in Big Rapids,greatlakesbook.com; Kazoo Books in north Kalamazoo and south Kalamazoo, http://www.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; and Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Okemos, schulerbooks.com.

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