Homes and Homelands: Yaa Gyasi at Rackham Auditorium

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

U-M professors Guarev Desai and Aida Levy-Hussen joined author Yaa Gyasi (center) at Rackham Auditorium on Feb. 6.

U-M professors Gaurav Desai and Aida Levy-Hussen joined author Yaa Gyasi (center) at Rackham Auditorium on Feb. 6. Photo by Lisa Powers.

I am a little afraid to read Yaa Gyasi’s novel, Homegoing, much for the same reason I’ve picked up but never finished reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I’m gun shy when it comes to fiction that portrays, in any fashion, chattel slavery. I’ve never even seen Roots. For me, there is something extremely uncomfortable about knowing my existence and all the opportunities that have come with it are a direct result of my ancestors’ suffering.

On Feb. 6, I had to face my fears to a certain degree at “Homegoing: A Conversation with Yaa Gyasi,” the 2018 Institute for the Humanities Jill S. Harris Memorial Lecture, which took place at Rackham Auditorium. Homegoing is also the 2018 Washtenaw Reads book, a title selected by a panel of community members from Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti. The Washtenaw Reads program aims to promote reading and dialogue through community members experiencing and discussing a common book.

Keeping Promises: Joe Biden at the Michigan Theater

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann.

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann.

I have a chaste crush on Joe Biden.

There is something special about him that shines through in a way that speaks to my heart. He’s one of those people onto whom I have projected unsolicited personal significance. When times are tough, Joe Biden is one of those people I think of to help me through a difficult time.

When I found out he was going to be at the Michigan Theater as a part of his American Promise tour, I bought a ticket immediately.  Now, 193 days later, a failed attempt to download my ticket, three customer service calls, and one backup ticket purchase later I found myself in a large line of people waiting to hear the former vice president on Monday, Feb. 5.

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. 

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

WRITTEN WORD

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 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, 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, Memory Palace.

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

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Petra Kuppers, PearlStitch

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

The cover of Petra Kuppers’ 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 "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.