Pessl’s ‘Night Film’ is Deliciously Scary!

CT  CT nightfilm.jpgOkay, I loved Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics and couldn’t wait for her next book to come out. Her recent, horrifying release Night Film has me so scared I’m not even sure I can continue reading it. I am a fraidy-cat to be sure and I know it’s just a book, however, I am torn between wanting to know what happens and sending it straight back to the library! I’m halfway through and not sure my heart can take it. Delicious….

 

 

 

Looking for a few more scary reads this Halloween season? Check out a few of the lists below. Feel free to comment and add your personal faves.

- Amazon’s Top Ten Scariest Books

- Listverse Top 10 Most Disturbing Novels

- 10 Best Steven King Books for Halloween

- listal 25 Best Horror Novels

- Flavorwire 10 Utterly Terrifying Books for Your Hallowe’en Reading

Michigan Reads

- Paranormal Michigan Book Series

- University of Michigan Press – Sprirts and Wine by Susan Newhof

- Wayne State University Press – Ghost Writers: Contemporary Michigan Literature

- Haunts of Mackinac: Ghost Stories, Legends, & Tragic Tales of Mackinac Island by Todd Clements

-The Michigan Murders by EdwardKeyes

Murder in the Thumb by Richard W. Carson

Isadore’s Secret by Mardi Link

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Finding Robert Coles ‘In the Garden of Beasts’

In the Garden of BeastsAuthor Erik Larson’s nonfiction work, In the Garden of Beasts, has been sitting in my “to read” pile since its pub date back in 2011. For the love of summer, I was able to turn the final page last night and can’t quite stop thinking about it.

Larson, also the bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, shifts his focus in Beasts to 1930’s Berlin, where the unlikely American ambassador William E. Dodd has taken his post during Hitler’s chilling rise to power. As Dodd navigates the complexities of his political post, the reader is introduced to an incredible cast of characters both demonic and heroic.

ColesCompFinal.inddIt is a wonderful intersect when what we read gives way to contemplation, and more so, empathy for humankind. It is of note here that I have also been reading Secular Days, Sacred Moments:  The America Columns of Robert Coles, recently published by Michigan State University Press.

Coles is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities at Harvard University and “is unparalleled in his astute understanding and respect for the relationship between secular life and sacredness… .” (via)

In the thirty-one essays of Secular Days, Sacred Moments, which are drawn from Coles’s monthly column in the Catholic publication America, how odd that the one I happened to read today pertains to the German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer, who lived “a singular, voluntary opposition to tyranny that culminated in his execution in a concentration camp only weeks before the end of Hitler’s regime,” is hailed by Coles. Bonhoeffer’s brave resistance to the Nazis outweighed his concern for self-preservation, and he left the safety of the United States to return and stand by his fellow Germans.

There is both a Christian and psychological angle to Cole’s essay, and having just read In the Garden of Beasts, it’s poignancy can’t be missed. The question, “What would you do under such circumstances?” is posed in Cole’s work, and hums behind each line of Larson’s.

In the Garden of Beasts offers a close, personal look at a pivotal era in history. The “what-ifs” are boundless, and the outcomes staggering. It is an important book in terms of moral self-examination and offers endless ethical scenarios for consideration. Though my reading of Cole’s Bonhoeffer essay is a coincidence, his full body of work in Secular Days, Sacred Moments offers much in the way we reflect and interpret our everyday exchanges and the world that surrounds us.

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- Post by Megan Shaffer

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Announcing Our Jolly Good Fellows!

Image courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Image courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Oh, how I wish it were me! Congratulations to the 2013 Kresge Artist Fellows in the Literary and Visual Arts. With your combined talents and the generosity of the Kresge Foundation, may we keep the arts alive and well in Detroit and beyond.

“Announced Tuesday by the Troy-based Kresge Foundation, the no-strings-attached $25,000 grants are among the country’s most generous for individual artists,” states the Detroit Free Press. “This year, the recipients included nine in the literary arts and nine in the visual arts. Two independent panels of five professionals judged more than 700 applicants.” Lucky buggers.

For those of us who didn’t make the cut this year, there’s always next fall. Chin up and keep on writing…

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- Post by Megan Shaffer

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Vande Zande’s ‘American Poet’ Gives Notable Nod to Poet Roethke

perf5.500x8.500.inddDenver Hoptner walks at night. The recent University of Michigan grad, jobless and without prospects, has returned home to live with his father while he regroups and considers his future.

Instead of opening doors, Denver’s fresh MFA in Poetry has left him open only to his father’s scrutiny, and worse, at a devastating loss for the words he longs to put down. Seeking solace, Denver routinely takes to the bleak Saginaw streets searching for a sign.

In Jeff Vande Zande’s  tight, coming-of-age novel American Poet (Bottom Dog Press $18.00), Denver’s sign comes in the form of late poet Theodore Roethke’s boyhood home. The prize-winning poet’s house, found smoke-damaged and in disrepair, gives Denver angry encouragement and fuels his commitment to both his craft and the preservation of a bygone poet’s brilliance.

“It was one of the few things that I didn’t hate about the town,” Denver says. “When I was in high school and thinking that maybe I wanted to write, I used to walk out to the Roethke House at least once a month, just to look at it. He was a pretty big poet in his day. Pultizer Prize for one thing, and it meant something that a guy like that could come from a place like Saginaw. He was a guide. A lodestar.”

Poet Theodore Roethke drew his words from the well of his Saginaw surroundings. Through Denver’s eyes, author Vande Zande also offers bright discovery in the gray and grit of this roughed-up city. Ultimately, it’s in Denver’s struggle to reconcile his future ideal with his present reality that his true poetry begins to emerge.

Jeff Vande Zande teaches English at Delta College and writes poetry, fiction, and screenplays. He was selected as the recipient of the 2012 Stuart and Venice Gross Award for Excellence in Writing by a Michigan Author for American Poet; his novel that was also selected as a 2013 Michigan Notable Book.

- This review can be found in the January, 2013 issue of Hour Detroit. For Hour subscription information, link here.

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- Post by Megan Shaffer

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Balthazar Korab Fans Invited to BPL Event With Author Comazzi

Korab Photo 2Baldwin Public Library is pleased to announce that John Comazzi – author of Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography – will pay a special visit to Baldwin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, for a book talk and question-and-answer period.  Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event courtesy of Book Beat.

Mr. Comazzi is visiting the Baldwin Public Library as part of the Library of Michigan’s 2013 Michigan Notable Authors Tour. The authors whose engaging works were chosen as Michigan Notable Books selections will visit nearly 50 libraries throughout the state.

“It’s a treat to have Mr. Comazzi in our community, sharing his captivating work in such an open, accessible way.  Given the strong local interest in the work of Balthazar Korab, we are delighted to host Mr. Comazzi on the Michigan Notable Authors Tour,” said Doug Koschik, Library Director.

“This year’s Michigan Notable Books delve into wonderfully diverse topics and offer something of interest for just about everyone,” said State Librarian Nancy R. Robertson.

Mr. Comazzi is an Associate Professor of Architecture in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota.  He received a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Virginia and both a M.Arch and M.S. in Architecture History and Theory from the University of Michigan.  He teaches at the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor.

The Baldwin Public Library is located at 300 W. Merrill St. in downtown Birmingham.  For details about this author event, call 248-554-4650 or visit the Web at www.baldwinlib.org.

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- Posted by Megan Shaffer, courtesy of Baldwin Public Library

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Words of Wisdom Rest in ‘Rules of Civility’

Rules of Civility“Uncompromising purpose and the search for eternal truth have an unquestionable sex appeal for the young and high-minded; but when a person loses the ability to take pleasure in the mundane – in the cigarette on the stoop or the gingersnap in the bath – she has probably put herself in unnecessary danger. What my father was trying to tell me, as he neared the conclusion of his own course, was that this risk should not be treated lightly:  One must be prepared to fight for one’s simple pleasures and to defend them against elegance and erudition and all manner of glamorous enticements.”

Looking for a literary pleasure trip? Try Rules of Civility by author Amor Towles. While you’re there, take a dip in the appendix to hone your social skills with The Young George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

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Post by Megan Shaffer

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‘Annie’s Ghosts’ is Back as the 2013 Great Michigan Read

Annie's Ghosts

The Michigan Humanities Council has announced their much-anticipated biennial title for the 2013-14 Great Michigan Read program. Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret by journalist and Detroit native Steve Luxenberg, is the selection for this impressive statewide program.

“It was quite a surprise, and certainly a pleasant one,” shared Luxenberg in a recent email. “It’s an honor for the book to be in the same category as the previous choices, and to be considered worthy and compelling enough for the selection committee to choose it.”

Annie’s Ghosts  is the thorough, moving story of Luxenberg’s mother, and a mysterious relative long hidden away at Eloise, the massive psychiatric hospital that once housed some nine thousand people from the state of Michigan. Luxenberg’s story digs into the dark corners of his family’s past, and exhumes the complicated history of his ancestors in hopes of revealing a family secret.

Michigan Humanities Program Officer Carla Ingrando said the response to Annie’s Ghosts has been tremendous. “Within three days of the announcement, more than 100 organizations have preregistered as Great Michigan Read partners.”

The Great Michigan Read is a statewide reading initiative sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council. Reaching out to schools, libraries, religious organizations and other nonprofits, the program aims to connect readers throughout the state with titles that explore our past, present and future.

How did the program select Luxenberg’s title? “The Great Michigan Read titles are selected through a grassroots process,” explained Ingrando. “During the fall of 2012, six regional selection committees made up of librarians, teachers, and literary enthusiasts nominated titles to a statewide selection committee, which met in January 2013.”

This year, Ingrando said the tragedy of Sandy Hook played a significant role in the 2013-14 title selection. “We met in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, and the committee felt like reading and discussing Annie’s Ghosts would provide an opportunity to think deeply about mental disability, mental illness, and mental health care.”

Annie’s Ghosts is a fascinating journey of immigration, identity and Detroit history. Luxenberg’s work has other honors in the Mitten as well; Annie’s Ghosts was selected as a 2010 Michigan Notable Book. For all program and participation information, link here.

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

Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Link

- Annie’s Ghosts on NPR: A Journalist Uncovers His Family’s ‘Ghosts’  Full of Detroit’s colorful history, this true mystery was selected as

- Live announcement of The Great Michigan Read -http://www.spreaker.com/embed/player/standard?episode_id=2201249

The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities

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