Catch-"13": A2 author Michael A. Ferro's new book is a satire & character study of Midwest Americans

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Author Michael A. Ferro

Some authors would give their right arm for a book deal. Others would give a kidney or two.

Author Michael A. Ferro gave an eye.

“It started when I noticed that I couldn’t see out of my left eye,” Ferro says. After a visit to the emergency room (following a quick stop to Google the symptoms), the Ann Arbor-based Ferro learned he had Central Serous Chorioretinopathy. This disease largely strikes men between the ages of 30-50, and while its exact cause is unknown, it's believed that stress plays a major part -- for instance, the enormous stress and hard work associated with publishing a book.

On the positive side, that stress and hard work produced a spectacular debut novel called Title 13.

Below the Borscht Belt: U-M's Eileen Pollack & her "Bible of Dirty Jokes"

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Eileen Pollack by Michele McDonald

U-M professor Eileen Pollack grew up in the Borscht Belt, which is where her new novel takes place. Photo by Michele McDonald

A cousin who runs a Vegas strip club? A beloved brother who goes missing while in Vegas? A late husband who wrote dirty jokes for a living? A heroine with a failed stand up career who must save the day?

These colorful characters make up the new book The Bible of Dirty Jokes by U-M professor Eileen Pollack, but the roots of the novel come from a different era.

“I grew up in a hotel in the Borscht Belt," Pollack says. "It's really where stand up comedy got its start. Famous comedians would perform there, creating this sort of culture, and that’s what I knew.”

Art & Performance: Joseph Keckler returns to Ann Arbor as a multifaceted star

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Joseph Keckler

Joseph Keckler in Alyssa Taylor Wendt's feature film/video installation HAINT.

Joseph Keckler is a writer, artist, actor, musician, and singer with a three-octave range, and he often blends all those talents while creating his art. Because of his multidimensional skills, Keckler is frequently called a performance artist, which is fine by him.

“I didn’t intend to be one," the Michigan native said, "but it’s a good umbrella term for me and people like me who don’t fit into a particular discipline. ... So while I’m still not sure I am (a performance artist), the label has given me a great deal of permission to create my own way of working and to pursue certain traditions outside the traditional realm.”

Keckler graduated from the University of Michigan and he makes his triumphant return to Ann Arbor on Wednesday, Feb. 7 as part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series where he'll read from his recently published book of essays, Dragon at the Edge of a Flat World: Portraits and Revelation.

Ann Arbor's Jane Austen jones is sated with many bicentennial events

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: The first edition in this form was printed in October 1894; reprinted March 1895. The Austen drawing is from her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh's A Memoir of Jane Austen, 1886, sixth edition. Both images are from the University of Michigan Library collection.

Jane Austen once said, “There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.”

But Ann Arbor-area fans of Ms. Austen have no reason to stay home these days as local booksellers and libraries are honoring the bicentennial of the author’s death with book readings, workshops, and events celebrating the beloved author and her work. 

Architect of Suspense: Tom Grace presents "Undeniable" at Nicola's

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Author Tom Grace and his book "Undeniable"

He's a thriller: Michigan native and U-M grad Tom Grace brings his latest Nolan Kilkenny novel to Nicola's Books on Sunday, Jan. 21.

The inspiration for his hero’s name comes from his nephew and ancestral home. His love for thrillers comes from his father and brothers. And being an architect leads to a unique and intriguing writing style. These influences all lead to the successful Nolan Kilkenny series by bestselling author Tom Grace.

The first Kilkenny book, Spyder Web, is a thriller that launched the former NAVY seal protagonist into a pursuit of modern day pirates who stole intelligence programs from the CIA -- the titular SPYDER program. Book six of the Kilkenny saga, Undeniable, finds the hero involved in a race against time to find a cure for a young boy suffering from a genetic disease. Genetic testing shows that the boy, adopted in a “blind” adoption, and Kilkenny have the same biological father. This revelation thrusts Kilkenny into the world of reproductive technology of clones, stem cells, DNA -- and blackmail. 

Jessica Shattuck wrestles with her family's Nazi history in "The Women in the Castle"

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Jessica Shattuck, The Women in the Castle

Jessica Shattuck was a teenager when she learned her grandparents had joined the Nazi party before World War II.

Jessica Shattuck says that it wasn’t a big secret in her family. She always knew her grandparents were “ordinary Germans” during and before tWorld War II. “But in my late teens, I grasped that they had also enthusiastically joined the Nazi party in the late 1930s,” Sattuck said. Learning this family history from her grandmother prompted Shattuck to begin writing what became her new book, The Women in the Castle, which she'll read from, discuss, and sign at Nicola's Books on Friday, Jan. 12.