Cognitive Overload: NY Times' Charles Blow talked truth & Trump at Rackham


Charles Blow

"A free, fearless, adversarial, in-your-face press is the best friend a democracy can have," said Charles Blow at U-M on Friday. Photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times.

Reading a long list of sponsors doesn’t usually prompt a standing ovation; but because celebrated New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow couldn’t hear, while backstage at Rackham Auditorium on Friday evening, what was being said while waiting to make his entrance, he gamely emerged before his official introduction had even gotten underway.

Not that the adoring, full-capacity crowd minded the miscue in the least. Presenting the keynote speech of a Humility in the Age of Self-Promotion Colloquium at U-M, Blow spoke for 40 minutes on the topic of Trump, arrogance, and democracy, and answered audience questions for an additional half hour.

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Mythological Duty: "Welcome to Night Vale" creators visit Ann Arbor


Jen Mann

It Devours is the new novel by Welcome to Night Vale podcast creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Photo by Nina Subin.

One article about the popular, fiercely beloved Welcome to Night Vale podcast begins with the line, “Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of” the show.

But until I’d received a copy of the novel It Devours! written by the podcast's creators, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, and researched Night Vale in preparation for a recent phone interview with Cranor, I’d been one such under-the-rock dweller.

Yet because the podcast could be described as the David Lynch version of A Prairie Home Companion -- focusing on a fictional desert town in the American Southwest, where all conspiracy theories are true -- I asked Cranor if any of Night Vale’s residents also live under rocks.

“No, but one of the characters is a rock -- the dean of the Night Vale Community College, Sarah Sultan,” said Cranor without missing a beat, referring to a character who communicates via telepathy.

Well, then. At least I might have some company.

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor will be with artist and illustrator Jessica Hayworth at U-M's Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre on October 23 at 7 pm, courtesy of Literati Bookstore. The three will be interviewed by Detroit writer, actor, comedienne, and The Moth Storyslam Ann Arbor host Satori Shakoor, followed by an audience Q&A and signing.

Cranor answered questions for Pulp about Welcome to Night Vale and It Devours!.

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A Wilde Afterlife: Laura Lee, "Oscar’s Ghost" at AADL


Bookbound open mic

Author Laura Lee dug deep into the mystery that helped shape Oscar Wilde's legacy. She'll discuss and sign Oscar’s Ghost at AADL's downtown branch on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 7 pm.

Oscar Wilde said the truth is rarely pure and never simple. These words apply to many facets of his life, including the feud between Wilde’s lovers Lord Alfred Douglas and Robert Ross. Laura Lee set out to find the truth of what happened between these men after Wilde’s death in her new book, Oscar’s Ghost: The Battle for Oscar Wilde’s Legacy, which she'll discuss at AADL's downtown branch on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Douglas and Ross each blamed the other for Wilde's downfall and early death as well the way the latter handled Wilde’s prison manuscript, De Profundis. Their feud escalated to include stalking, blackmail, witness tampering, prison, and lawsuits.

“When I first got a Kindle, I downloaded and read (Wilde’s) De Profundis," Lee says. "I discovered that this was actually an edited version of the book and that a longer version existed.”

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To Not Be Me All the Time: Jeffrey Eugenides at the Michigan Union


Jeffrey Eugenides

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides told the Rogel Ballroom crowd, "I’ve never really gotten over being a teenager."

Michigan native Jeffrey Eugenides told the crowd at the Michigan Union's Rogel Ballroom on Sunday that he never set out to be a regionalist. His three novels, The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, and The Marriage Plot, all revolve around characters from Detroit in their youth. Eugenides said that his time growing up in Detroit still makes up some of his most vivid memories, and that writing about something so innate to himself just “makes my job easier.”

Eugenides was joined by Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus, to discuss his recently published first book of short stories, Fresh Complaint. The collection contains 10 stories, including two that relate to his previous novels. One is an outtake from Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex and another, “Airmail,” is made up of letters written by Mitchell, the main character in The Marriage Plot.

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Survival in the Straits: Tiya Miles, "The Dawn of Detroit" at Literati


jessica Care moore

Tiya Miles' The Dawn of Detroit is about the perseverance of enslaved indigenous and African people.

On Monday, Oct. 7, author and University of Michigan professor Tiya Miles visited Literati Bookstore to discuss her new book, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. This book is an examination of Detroit’s early days and seeks to discuss an element of the city’s history that isn’t often discussed. Miles’ work aims to locate people of color in Detroit’s history, adding them to a narrative that is often told chiefly as the stories of European settlers.

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Protect Your Neck: Author, throat puncher Jen Mann hosts a moms' night out at AADL


Jen Mann

Jen Mann's publishing career began when a blog post about Elf on the Shelf mania went viral.

When you put the wrong date in your calendar for an interview with Jen Mann, the blogger/author behind People I Want to Punch in the Throat, you kind of fear that you’ll be added to the list.

But Mann -- who will be coming to the downtown library for a moms’ night out event on Wednesday, October 11 at 7 pm, as part of a book tour to promote her latest humorous essay collection, Working with People I Want to Punch in the Throat -- couldn’t have been more understanding, despite her famously feisty, tell-it-like-it-is persona.

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Hot Fight, Hot World: Environmentalist Bill McKibben at U-M


Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben believes the Great Lakes deserve and need better environmental stewardship.

Bill McKibben has long been sounding the alarm about our changing climate.

The renowned environmentalist and author (including the landmark The End of Nature) founded 350.org, a worldwide organization dedicated to climate-change issues. He will speak at Hill Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 5, on the topic “Down to the Wire: A Hot Fight in a Hot World.”

If it seems like the fight has gotten more difficult lately, given the current federal administration’s refusal to even acknowledge the problem, McKibben isn’t about to give up. He says it’s still possible to take significant action.

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America's librarian, Nancy Pearl, penned her own novel for the stacks


Nancy Pearl

NPR regular Nancy Pearl wrote her debut novel after longing for the "perfect thing to read."

Nancy Pearl -- coming to Nicola’s Books on Wednesday, October 4 at 7 pm to talk about her new novel, George & Lizzie -- may be the only person in America who could be referred to as a “celebrity librarian.”

For she’s regularly featured on NPR, where she recommends and discusses books; and she was the model for a librarian action figure that boasts “amazing shushing action!”

But locals who’ve heard Pearl on the radio may not realize that she has deep local roots. Though she now calls Seattle home, Pearl grew up in Detroit and studied library science at the University of Michigan.

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Author Events: October 2017


September 2017 Author Events

Manipulated original image from StockSnap/Pixabay.

What does having an amazing university, a plethora of fantastic local independent bookstores, and a pretty slam-bang public library system (if we do say so ourselves) bring to a town?

Authors. Lots and lots of authors.

In fact, so many authors pass through the area that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who is speaking and when and where. To help guide you, Pulp curated a highlights list of October 2017 author events.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #654



Librarian Extraordinaire and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl's debut novel George & Lizzie *, is a loving tribute to Ann Arbor and her Alma mater (UM, AMLS, 1967).

In this "astute, nimble, funny, and affecting love story" (Booklist), a stoned Lizzie sabotaged George's near-perfect game and a dream date at the Bowlarama when they met. Weeks later, they shared a tuna fish sandwich at Drake's on their first date. Almost against all odds, they married despite radically different upbringing and understandings of what love and marriage should be.

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