Sol Etudes: Poet and pianist Rebecca Biber at Bookbound

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Rebecca Biber reads from her book Technical Solace during the Fifth Avenue Press launch party at AADL on Nov. 5, 2017

Rebecca Biber reads from her book Technical Solace during the Fifth Avenue Press launch party at AADL on Nov. 5, 2017.

“I’m going to have my own experience of whatever writing is.” --Rebecca Biber

On Saturday, Jan. 13, at Bookbound Bookstore, Rebecca Biber read from debut poetry collection, Technical Solace. Her longtime friend Roy Sexton emceed the event. They know each other mostly through theater, where Biber often performs musical accompaniment for local shows. Sexton introduced her, listing some of Biber's accomplishments, but lingering over her musical talents. This was a fitting way to begin since Biber’s relationship to music is the first doorway into 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.

AADL 2017 Staff Picks: Books, Movies, Music & More

MUSIC FILM & VIDEO WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

 

Ann Arbor District Library's Pittsfield branch at night, 2007.

 

Ann Arbor District Library's Pittsfield branch at night, 2007.

The list below is a collection of books, music, movies, and more that made an impression on our eyes and ears in 2017.

January 2018 Book & Author Events

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January 2018 Book & Author Events

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 January 2018 author events.

Townie Tales: Richard Retyi's "The Book of Ann Arbor" at Literati

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Richard Retyi by Melanie Maxwell

Richard Retyi features all the stories fit for print (from [http://www.aadl.org/annarborstories|his podcast]) in his new collection, The Book of Ann Arbor: An Extremely Serious History Book. Photo by Melanie Maxwell.

On Dec. 7 at Literati, Richard Retyi read from his new book, The Book of Ann Arbor: An Extremely Serious History, which tells 41 townie tales in a humorous, accessible fashion. But Retyi didn't originally set out to write a book. His project began as a podcast, [http://www.aadl.org/annarborstories|Ann Arbor Stories], which Retyi produces with Brian Peters in partnership with the Ann Arbor District Library. (Retyi recently became the marketing and communications manager at AADL.) The podcast was modeled after another audio show, [http://thememorypalace.us|Memory Palace].

Poems Provoke: U-M's Institute for Research on Women and Gender discussed Petra Kuppers’ "PearlStitch"

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Petra Kuppers, PearlStitch

U-M professor Petra Kuppers' PearlStitch poetry collection was the focus of a panel discussion.

The cover of Petra Kuppers’ [http://www.spuytenduyvil.net/pearlstitch.html|PearlStitch] is provocative. It draws the eye and keeps it as the viewer takes in an open mouth and an extended lace-covered tongue with a bead of clear fluid at its tip. Her poetry is provocative, too, and after the Nov. 29 panel of University of Michigan faculty members discussing PearlStitch as a part of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender’s "[https://lsa.umich.edu/women/news-events/all-events.detail.html/46079-10…|Gender: New Works, New Questions]" series, I knew I wanted to dive into Kuppers’ latest collection. But I wasn't unable to put my hands on a copy of the book following the reading as Ann Arbor bookstores were sold out.

Balancing on the Edge of Motherhood: Anna Prushinskaya, "A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother"

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Anna Prushinskaya, A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother

Anna Prushinskaya's debut book, A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother, deftly examines the spaces between places and states of being.

The end of pregnancy is a strange time. You wait for the biggest change that can happen to a person other than death and yet, for most, you don’t know when the change will happen.

When will the baby be born? When will a woman become a mother?

When I was pregnant with my son, I read the title essay of [b:1519570|A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother] by [a:Prushinskaya, Anna|Anna Prushinskaya] probably 15 times. It became almost a talisman to me, a promise that he would eventually be born, that I would be able to cross over to motherhood.

When my water broke just like Anna described in her essay, unexpectedly and fast, I still had no idea what was coming. I was still perched between womanhood and motherhood.

In [b:1519570|A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother], Prushinskaya writes beautifully about her experience balancing between places, between states: between pregnancy and motherhood, and between her Soviet homeland and her current home of Ann Arbor.

I spoke with Prushinskaya about her experience writing the book, how motherhood has changed her as a writer, and the birth of her second son. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Midwest Meditations: Cal Freeman, "Fight Songs" at Literati

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Cal Freeman Fight Songs

The new Midwest: Cal Freeman's Fight Songs is full of Rust Belt ruminations. Photo by Shadia Amen.

“This is a lot of people for a poetry reading," said writer Cal Freeman. "I’ve read for three people before.” On Nov. 11, Michigan poet Freeman read from his new book, Fight Songs, at Literati bookstore. The crisp November evening seemed perfect for listening to regionally focused poetry as the temperature made its way downward.

Freeman is the kind of poet I would have spent a semester in a creative writing class peeking at over a copy of the latest student work being workshopped. He’s tall, though not quite lanky, and was dressed in mostly gray. I wouldn’t describe his look as rumpled, but the word crossed my mind. Very Midwestern.

She's Picking Up Good Vibrations: Lynn Comella, "Vibrator Nation" at Literati

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Lynn Comella, Vibrator Nation

Babes in toyland: Lynn Comella studied the feminist sex-toy industry for her new book, Vibrator Nation.

When it comes to other adults’ sexual choices, I’m very live and let live. And in my personal life, I’m very willing to make a joke or tell a story laden with sexual innuendo, and I’ve long ago accepted that I’m the person who will robustly fall face-first into a strange double-entendre, I found myself a bit shy at the bookstore when I purchased my copy of Lynn Comella’s Vibrator Nation in advance of attending her discussion of the book which took place on November 14th at Literati.

This book was based on more than 80 in-depth interviews with sex-toy shop owners, employees of said stores, and pornographers. Comella herself worked at Babeland in New York City, which provided her ethnographic access from both sides of the sales counter. Her book synthesizes this and examines the role of feminist sex-toy stores on the larger adult industry.

Why study sex-toy shops?