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."
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.
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.
Despite the journal's name, Great Lakes Review editor John Counts is "wary of getting too deep into whether our region has its own distinct regional voice akin to American Southern literature," he said. "That question is probably best dealt with in academic dissertations. But I will say we believe great writing is something that rises above its setting."
On April 28 at Literati Bookstore, Great Lakes Review will host an event that celebrates the release of a printed collection of 2016 stories and poems that rose above their settings.
We talked to Counts about how independent journals champion “riskier” writing, that elusive Midwest voice, and the role of Great Lakes-area writers during a political climate that could threaten the region's ecosystem.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #634
In Marlena * *, Julie Buntin's "(s)ensitive and smart and arrestingly beautiful debut" (Kirkus Reviews), 15 year-old Cathy (now calling herself Cat), arrived at Silver Lake, a small rural community in Northern Michigan with her newly divorced mother and older brother, determined to shed her good-girl image and reinvent herself, and was immediately drawn to the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena, her next door neighbor.
Over the course of the coming weeks, the girls turned the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground - skipping school, running feral as Marlena introduced Cat to a new world of drinking and pills and sex and also friendship, the depth of which neither girl has experienced before. Within the year, Marlena was dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby.
Prolific author Roxane Gay returns to Ann Arbor with a Literati Bookstore-hosted event on June 16 at Hill Auditorium. Tickets were just announced in the Literati newsletter, and the seats are likely to fill up fast. If you're wondering why, here's a quick overview of Gay.
Bestselling author Elizabeth Kostova (The Historian) may now be touring to promote her newest novel, The Shadow Land, but when she arrives in Ann Arbor to appear at Nicola’s Books on Monday evening, she may feel like she’s back home.
Why? Because after Kostova earned a spot in the University of Michigan’s renowned MFA program in creative writing, and graduated, she stayed in Ann Arbor until her family moved to Asheville in 2009.
“I’d intended to just stay (in Ann Arbor) for two years, then go back east and resume teaching there,” said Kostova. “But I loved it so much there that I ended staying. My family was there almost eight years. It was a great place to be for a while.”
An April 2017 LibraryReads, Kate Eberlen's engaging debut Miss You * brings to mind One Day by David Nicholls, where two souls that are meant to be, crisscross each other for years without connecting, after a chance meeting as 18 year-olds.
Tess and (An)Gus first met in a dim church in Florence and bumped into each other on the Ponte Vecchio while on holiday, before heading off to university in London.
Graduate student Ava Antipova made her way home to upstate New York when news of her estranged twin Zelda's death reached her in Paris. They have not spoken for 2 years after a bitter betrayal.
Arriving at Seneca Lake where the family's failing vineyard Silenus, was located, Ava immediately stepped into caring for their ailing mother and estranged father who long ago, abandoned them for a sunnier vineyard, wealthier wife, and a younger family in California. Almost immediately, even before the Police suspected foul play, Ava began receiving cryptic emails and social media messages from Zelda.
Arranged in 26 chapters, each beginning with a letter of the alphabet and recounting the games the twins played as children, Zelda led Ava on a scavenger hunt, delivering "a lock-room mystery with flavors of Perec", which as it became increasingly obvious, was also a taunt for the Edgar Allan Poe scholar (subject of Ava's dissertation) and the OuLiPo Movement - writers obsessed with mysteries and literary games.
* = starred review
➥ Fabulous Fiction Firsts, full archive
Feeling alienated from his own world, Jim imagines his parents’ yard and woods as his private country -- the titular Wallaçonia. But as we all must do, Jim grows up and realizes he has to leave behind not only his secret place but certain assumptions he made about himself.
Bookseller Pat Baxter asks Jim to work at his store with him over Christmas break. Jim at first feels conflicted about working for the openly gay Baxter. But when Jim’s father makes fun of Baxter, Jim takes a stand by working for him. He feels he should stand by this man and be an ally to Baxter. Through the course of the book, Jim realizes that is more than an ally -- he is gay himself.
“The book is more about the 'how' than the 'what,'” Pratt said. “Jim has some of the same insecurities as Pat and it was important to me to have a setting where they could talk and get to know each other.”