Fifth Avenue Press celebrated the release of five new books by Ann Arbor-area authors and illustrators
Last fall, the Ann Arbor District Library released five new literary works on its Fifth Avenue Press imprint, which focuses on works by local writers:
by Amy Hepp
School’s out and first-grade teacher Emma Richards is desperate for a vacation. Two weeks in a gorgeous lodge in northern Minnesota is a perfect way to escape the congested city and the reality of her failed marriage. Much to her surprise, a registration error lands her in the middle of a 10-day canoe camping adventure through the rugged wilderness of the Boundary Waters with an eclectic group of campers including Mark, a handsome teammate who is looking to soothe the ache of his recent loss. Together, they face miles of open water, storms, bears, and steep portages in the Boundary Waters. But the biggest challenge might be opening their hearts.
Ann Arbor Adventures: Visit to the University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History
Ann Arbor Adventures: Visit to Matthaei Botanical Gardens
both written by Ashlee Edens and illustrations by Nicole Ray (Sloe Gin Fizz)
Ann Arbor Adventures is a picture book series that captures the magic of the city of Ann Arbor. In Visit to the University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History, a family of beavers explores the recently constructed building and learns about Michigan ecosystems, fossils, the solar system, rocks, minerals, and so much more. In Visit to Matthaei Botanical Gardens, a family of squirrels wanders through the conservatory looking at tropical plants and cacti, visit the outdoor gardens and bonsai, and explore the trails as they learn what blooms all year long.
Skip, the Stone
written and illustrated by Emily Siwek
A wave carries Skip, the Stone from the safety of the lake bottom all the way to the surface and he's not sure if he'll sink or swim. Embracing the unknown, the Petoskey stone’s true nature is revealed as generations experience the joy of discovery, the timeless nature of memories, and the unexpected delight of letting go.
My UnBEElievable Life
by Rebecca and Owen Wittekindt
This colorful, hardcover children’s picture book takes you into the hive as one worker bee tells you about her life. From the first stages of development and through all her jobs in the colony, you learn through whimsical verse all the amazing things bees do in their short yet productive lives.
On December 2, 2022, AADL hosted a reception at its Downtown branch to celebrate the release of the books; below is a video of the event where the authors talked about their work and their creative processes:
In Conversation: New AADL Video Revisits Dur e Aziz Amna's "American Fever" Debut Novel and Summer Event
In American Fever, Amna tells the story of 16-year-old Hira, who's on a yearlong exchange program in rural Oregon. Hira must swap Kashmiri chai for volleyball practice and understand why everyone around her seems to dislike Obama. A skeptically witty narrator, Hira finds herself stuck between worlds.
Kirkus calls American Fever "a funny and affecting novel ... a wonderful new spin on the coming-of-age story. A smart, charming debut."
Hailing from Rawalpindi Pakistan, Amna now lives in Newark, New Jersey. She graduated from Yale College and the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. Amna also has been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, and Al Jazeera.
Everybody's Kranky: In a recorded talk, Bruce Adams discussed his recent book on the rise of Chicago's thriving 1990s independent music scene and the influential record label he cofounded
For a guy who cofounded a record label named kranky—small k, thanks—that used marketing slogans such as "Honk if you hate people, too," Bruce Adams is one of the nicest people in the music industry.
Adams' new book, You're With Stupid: kranky, Chicago, and the Reinvention of Indie Music, recalls not only the rise of his experimental label but also the inventive, genre-hopping sounds that were coming out of the city in the 1990s. It was also a time when major labels swooped into town to sign the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, and Liz Phair after Nirvana showed corporations that the independent music scene could sometimes provide commercial hits.
A former Ann Arbor resident, Schoolkids Records employee, and WCBN-FM DJ, Adams moved to Chicago in 1987 to work for various music-distribution companies. He also worked at the influential Touch & Go Records as a publicist, handling bands such as Ann Arbor's Laughing Hyenas as well as Slint, Die Kreuzen, The Jesus Lizard, and many other bands that took the energy of punk rock and twisted it into new forms of dynamic and frequently very heavy music.
But in 1993, Adams and his colleague Joel Leoschke looked at the stacks of indie-rock CDs and 7-inches flooding into the Cargo Distribution warehouse where they worked and decided they wanted to do something completely different with their record label. The duo took their inspiration from 1970s progressive-music labels such as Editions EG, which counted Brian Eno's transformational ambient albums in its catalog, and ECM Records, which focused on jazz (and classical) that came from a more European approach to improvisation; more open to exploring space and unique timbres rather than blues-informed swing. They also looked toward German kosmische musik of 1970s groups such as Neu! and Cluster as well as then-contemporary psychedelic bands such as Spacemen 3, which played drone-based rock 'n' roll.
Adams and Leoschke wanted kranky to represent music that was artful, hazy, and deep—and they found the perfect first band for their new label: Labradford.
Prazision was the debut album by the Richmond-based duo (later trio) Labradford, which used guitars drenched in reverb, 1970s analog keyboards that weren't popular then, and sung-spoken vocals that blended into the vast smudge of ambient sounds.
The label went on to release albums by godspeed you! black emperor, Stars of the Lid, and kranky's most popular act, Low, the slowcore band fronted by the husband and wife duo of Alan Sparhawk and the recently deceased Mimi Parker. The label still continues to this day, releasing forward-looking music by Grouper and Jessica Bailiff as well as albums by Dearborn's Windy & Carl and Ann Arbor's Justin Walter.
Adams and Leoschke used what they learned from working for indie labels and distribution centers in order to not make the same mistakes they saw happening over and over: treat the bands with respect, pay them, and only release music you love. In the words of American poet Joe Perry, kranky "let the music do the talking."
A lot of music memoirs are filled with gossipy details, but since Adams really and truly is a nice guy, You're With Stupid avoids any deep, dark revelations or pointed barbs. It's more a survey of the vast amount of creative musical endeavors that defined Chicago in the 1990s rather than salacious tales of excess.
Adams discussed You're With Stupid at the Ann Arbor District Library's Downtown branch at 6:30 pm on Thursday, November 17. I was the guy interviewing him, and we talked about the kranky's groundbreaking music and the 1990s Chicago independent music scene.
A video of our chat is below, and for those unfamiliar with the label, Adams picked five tracks and added commentary to introduce new listeners to the kranky sound:
Don't ever write a year-in-review intro before you've had lunch. See below for reasons:
2022 is Pulp’s sixth year of compiling a delectable list of Ann Arbor District Library staff picks, featuring a smorgasbord of media to review and devour. With an insatiable hunger for books, films, TV shows, podcasts, music, and more, our AADL staffer suggestions will whet your appetite for anything you may have missed in 2022—or from previous years.
Because who can keep current with everything on the media menu these days?
The current media landscape is a 24-hour grocery store with everything everywhere available all at once. It’s decision paralysis at the deli counter, so consider us your Instacart shoppers for things to read, watch, play, listen to, and experience. (Apologies if we missed anything on your shopping list, and we hope our substituting a banana for that frozen pizza is OK.)
With more than 36,000 words to ingest in the 2022 Staff Picks, we’ve divided everything into four separate courses so you can enjoy each portion at your leisure:
If you feel inspired as you eat up our words, let us know in the comments sections what you sank your teeth into this year. Your tasty tips can be from 2022 or any other era; it just needs to encompass whatever art, culture, or entertainment you enjoyed over the past year.
Now, open up these posts and chow down.
We’re off to make some spaghetti.
Sparks and Sawdust: Erin Hahn's romance novel "Built to Last" reunites childhood sweethearts on a home renovation TV show
Two childhood stars, Shelby Springfield and Cameron Riggs, try to rekindle their love when they are brought back together for a home renovation TV program set in Michigan—though things get off to a rocky start, not unlike how things ended. Lyle Jessup, their other costar and the person who caused conflict when Shelby dated him after Cameron, turns out to be the one who brings them together with his TV pilot proposal. While Lyle never left Hollywood and its gossip, Shelby and Cameron have diverged on their paths and must find out if they can work together again—and even have another try at a relationship.
During a visit from Lyle, who becomes the showrunner, the now sober Shelby watches Cameron’s longtime friends, Beth and Kevin, at their bar:
My cheeks hurt from smiling so hard and the fizzy ginger ale does a little swirl in my stomach. These two make it look so simple. You meet, you fall in love, you get married and have babies, and you spend the rest of your life with that one person who likes you best, who you like best.
Both Cameron and Shelby are wildly attracted to each other, but the question becomes whether they can push past the drama of filming and reconnect.
Cameron reflects, “Maybe I wasn’t looking for something to tie me down. Maybe I’ve been looking for someone, an anchor. And not just any someone. Not like the proverbial 'someone,' but her. As in, she is the only one.” He senses how important Shelby is, but their relationship could either be just a pivotal part of growing up or a long-lost—and now found—real deal.
Hahn lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and two kids. Previously, I interviewed her about her last book, 2021's Never Saw You Coming. We connected again to discuss Built to Last, Hahn’s fourth book.
David Fenton's "The Activist’s Media Handbook" traces his life in the media, from the "Ann Arbor Sun" to progressive public relations
Activist and public relations firm founder David Fenton launched his very first PR campaign in Ann Arbor in 1971: Fenton worked to get John Sinclair out of prison where he was serving a sentence for giving drugs to an undercover agent.
Following this effort, Fenton wrote for the countercultural newspaper Ann Arbor Sun where he worked on a campaign to increase sales by running a contest called “Win a Pound of Colombian Marijuana.”
Fenton’s new book, The Activist’s Media Handbook: Lessons From 50 Years As a Progressive Agitator, spends two chapters on his time in A2 and also details what happened before and after.
Of his time working at the newspaper and in activism, Fenton writes:
To fill up your November calendar, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of arts-related events, exhibits, and more throughout Washtenaw County. Check out some local cool happenings in music, visual art, theater and dance, and written word and film.
Canterbury House, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bill Edwards performs tracks from his new Americana album, Thirteen Stories. Throughout his latest release, Edwards pens sentimental stories from different perspectives, including a hall-of-fame baseball player, a seasoned songwriter, and a nostalgic boater. Read our preview and interview here.
Nervous But Excited
The Ark, Ann Arbor
Ten years after their sold-out finale at The Ark, the local folk duo of Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver reunite for one of their final Nervous But Excited performances. Their repertoire ranges from smart, introspective narratives to the tactfully political while interspersing songs of love and loss.
Olivia Van Goor
Blue Llama Jazz Club, Ann Arbor
The Milford jazz vocalist is influenced by swing and bebop jazz from the mid-20th century. Van Goor unearths and reshapes gems from the Great American Songbook and other jazz standards in a way that’s beyond replicating what has already been done before. Read our past interview with Van Goor here.
Swimming was not just swimming for Ann Arbor author and visual artist Kim Fairley.
The sport was layered with physical challenges, abuse from coaches, and family expectations that exceeded what was reasonable, all of which she depicts in her new memoir, Swimming for My Life.
At the start of her book, Fairley shares an early, positive memory of swimming at the beach where she struggled in the waves and remembers, “The ocean reverberated in my head, but when I glanced up at Dad, I saw his pride: my daughter, my oldest.” Following that experience, Fairley’s parents encouraged her to join a swim team in third grade in Cincinnati where she grew up. While Fairley did not immediately love swimming even back then, her attempts to stop were not heard even though she tried to tell her father:
The 35th Annual Ann Arbor Jewish Book Festival features seven Ann Arbor authors and many more Michigan and international writers
The 35th Annual Ann Arbor Jewish Book Festival features 31 authors in a mix of online and in-person events, November 6-18. Three of those evenings feature Michigan-based authors, including seven writers who live in Ann Arbor—two of whom we've interviewed recently.
Michelle Segar and Scott Hershovitz are the writers who spoke with Pulp about their new books, and they're joined at the festival by fellow Ann Arbor authors Ken Wachsberger, Ann S. Epstein, Julie Goldstein Ellis, Nancy Szabo, and Phil Barr.
Most of the in-person events are at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor, but the Ann Arbor District Library will host children's authors Ruth Behar and Sarah Sassoon, and a local authors gathering will be at the new Ann Arbor shop Third Mind Books.
Get the full list of events below, with each author's event web page linked in the book title for registration and more information: