Shades of Gray: Lori Rader-Day discusses "The Day I Died" at Aunt Agatha's


Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day photo by Iden Ford.

“This is a book that will get under your skin and stick with you,” said Aunt Agatha’s co-owner Robin Agnew of Lori Rader-Day’s psychological thriller The Day I Died. “It’s a book that shows multiple sides of the story, not in terms of black and white but shades of gray.”

On Thursday, May 18, at 7 pm, Rader-Day joins Aunt Agatha’s monthly book club to discuss her novel. The author is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. The Day I Died tells the story of Anna Winger, a handwriting expert who is called into an investigation of a missing toddler. Anna has tried to keep her secrets hidden in the past as she moves along in life with her teenaged son. But everything comes spilling out when her son disappears and she is forced to confront painful memories from a past from which she is still trying to hide.

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Temptation: Yale prof Richard Prum on “The Evolution of Beauty" at AADL


Richard Prum

For the birds: Richard Prum's new book documents his avian studies on mate choices in the animal world.

Yale ornithology professor Richard Prum did his graduate work at U-M in the 1980s, but the two places where he spent much of his leisure time no longer exist.

“The Del Rio was a great place,” Prum said of the beloved bar that stood at Ashley and Washington for more than 30 years. "And I went to Borders, back when it was the only one in the whole world. It was such a great bookstore. I remember going to Borders and deliberately leaving my wallet in my office. Not that I ever had much money in it, anyway, but I didn’t want to be tempted.”

Temptation, as it happens, plays no small role in the former MacArthur “genius” fellow’s new book, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World -- and Us, which he will discuss at the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown Branch on Thursday, May 18, at 7 pm. The book argues that mate choice in the natural world is often driven by a subjective desire for beauty instead of more pragmatic considerations, thereby complicating the long-held notion that natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life.

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Slow Tide of Decline: Lauren Hulthen Thomas reads from her debut at Literati

Lauren

Lauren Hulthen Thomas, States of Motion.

Laura Hulthen Thomas' reading from her debut collection, States of Motion, at Literati on Wednesday, May 17, will be special to her. “I was one of the last authors to read at Shaman Drum, the iconic indie bookstore that was the last downtown seller to shutter," said Thomas, the head of the creative writing and literature program at the University of Michigan’s Residential College.

"Honestly, I didn't think another bookstore would ever take a chance on a Midwestern downtown, even a literary city like Ann Arbor," Thomas said. "Thank goodness [owners] Hilary and Mike [Gustafson] have the vision and passion to make such a success of this marvelous store. And having a beautiful reading space to showcase authors and even host student readings and other community events is just incredible. ... I would love to thank Literati for hosting me, and for being downtown’s literary light and gem."

States of Motion is published by Wayne State University Press, whose press release said, “[T]he stories in Laura Hulthen Thomas’ collection take place against a backdrop of economic turmoil and the domestic cost of the war on terror ... these stories follow blue collars and white, cops and immigrants, and mothers and sons as they defend a world that is quickly vanishing.”

Thomas is thrilled that Wayne State University Press (WSUP) released her book and "for publishing and supporting so many Michigan authors through the Made in Michigan series. We're able to talk about regional literature and Michigan's place in it because of the work WSUP is doing to bring our state's literature to readers."

We chatted with Thomas about how Michigan is reflected in her stories, how that’s shifted in the recent political climate, the Midwestern voices that have inspired her writing, and more.

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Crime novelist Steve Hamilton returns to AADL for his second Nick Mason novel


Steve Hamilton

Exit Strategy is U-M grad and Michigan native Steve Hamilton's second Nick Mason novel.

Last year Steve Hamilton took a u-turn.

The award-winning author of the popular Alex McKnight detective series introduced a new series with a very different main character in The Second Life of Nick Mason, a New York Times bestseller and multi-award winner that is being developed as a major motion picture.

McKnight was a straight arrow ex-Detroit cop, who left Detroit after his partner was killed and he was seriously wounded in a confrontation with a mentally ill man with an Uzi. McKnight escaped to rent cabins in tiny, isolated Paradise on the shores of Lake Superior in the U.P. But soon he was reluctantly being drawn into one case after another as a private detective.

By contrast, Mason is a tough kid from the south side of Chicago, a career criminal. He and two of his buddies began stealing cars as teenagers and then moved on to a series of minor crimes. Mason tried to give it up for his wife and daughter, but he and his pals became involved in a dock heist that went seriously bad, leaving one friend and a policeman dead. Mason took the rap and refused to rat on his associates, one his best friend. He was given 25 years without parole.

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String Theory: Jas Obrecht is “Talking Guitar” at Nicola’s Books

Jas Obrecht, Talking Guitar, Eddie Van Halen

Jas Obrecht and some guy in Van Halen.

Longtime professional music journalist Jas Obrecht regularly tells his Washtenaw Community College creative writing students a story from early in his career.

Obrecht was sent by Guitar Player magazine to a music festival to interview Canadian rock guitarist Pat Travers, who, flanked by two young women while snorting cocaine off a mirror in his dressing room, sent Obrecht away. Obrecht stumbled upon a basketball hoop and ball, and after a few minutes of taking shots, a wiry young guy approached and asked to play.

That guy was Eddie Van Halen, who’d recently released Van Halen’s debut, self-titled album; and Obrecht found a new subject for his article.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #636 & #637



Fabulous Fiction Firsts #636

At long last. After 170 years, readers of Charlotte Brontë's beloved Jane Eyre (1847) and Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), which tells the story of the mysterious madwoman in the attic, will finally hear from Mr. Rochester himself. Not only will we get a first-person perspective from "the brooding romantic antihero" created by Charlotte Brontë, but debut novelist Sarah Shoemaker has also created a credible back story and adds unexpected twists to the tale.

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Back in the Deep End: Paula Hawkins signs "Into the Water" at Nicola's Books

Paula Hawkins, Into the Water

Photo by Alisa Connan

“I was hoping for some level of success, but what actually happened was off the scale,” said Paula Hawkins, author of the international bestseller The Girl on the Train. “It was extraordinary.”

Hoping for equivalent success with her second mystery novel, Into the Water, Hawkins is heading out on tour to promote it, including a stop at Nicola’s Books on May 17. (AADL and Nicola's will co-host a The Girl on the Train discussion on May 8 at 7 pm at the library's Westgate branch.)

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One World, Many Stories: Children’s Book Week


Children’s Book Week

Libraries, schools, and bookstores have celebrated Children’s Book Week for almost 100 years. The weeklong celebration began with a librarian’s belief that literacy and children’s books can be saviors for kids. While the things we read and the way we read have changed over the years, books remain life-changers for kids. Several local events will honor Children’s Book Week, which takes place May 1-7.

“It is so important for children to have a book in their hand and to read it, sleep with it, carry it around, have it with them," said Lynn Pellerito Riehl, events manager for Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. "Many of us still harken back to the childhood books we read that fostered our love for reading and opened our minds to different ideas."

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Author Events: May 2017


April 2017 Author Events

Illustration by Comfreak/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 May 2017 author events.

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Small Town, Big Names: Midwest Literary Walk in Chelsea

Heather

It's hard not to get caught up in Rich Fahle's enthusiasm for the Midwest Literary Walk, which strolls through downtown Chelsea on Saturday, April 29, offering readings and author meet-and-greets.

"The lineup for the Midwest Literary Walk this year is one of our very best, and this year represents an amazing array of authors who work or live in Michigan," said Fahle, a member of the festival's organizing committee and the executive producer of PBS's Book View Now.

The free event also includes Washington, D.C.-area poet, author, and former Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander, but the majority of the Midwest Literary Walk's roster lives in The Mitten and has a connection to the University of Michigan.

"That lineup includes Peter Ho Davies and Derek Palacio, both of whom teach at the University of Michigan and have books that appeared on many best-of 2016 lists, including The New York Times," Fahle said. "Heather Ann Thompson is a professor of history at the University of Michigan, a National Book Award finalist, and Pulitzer Prize winner. And Airea D. Matthews lives in Detroit but she is the former assistant director of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan where she also earned her M.F.A."

The five author events are all within walking distance of one another, and there's time between events to duck in and out of Chelsea's downtown stores. The event wraps up at 5 pm, which is the perfect time to grab dinner at one of the town's restaurants, or you can continue the literary chat session at the Chelsea Alehouse, which is hosting the afterparty.

We interviewed Fahle about the Midwest Literary Walk's history, its spirit, and other things to look out for in downtown Chelsea.

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