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Wednesday, July 27,2011

'River' siren

Bonnie Jo Campbell makes a major splash

by Bill Castanier
It’s easier to name a major author Bonnie Jo Campbell hasn’t been compared with (Edith Wharton comes to mind) than it is to tick off the long list of writers to whom she’s being compared: Eudora Welty, Mark Twain, Raymond Carver, Daniel Woodrell,...
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Wednesday, July 20,2011

First-time author McLravy goes on a 'Fool's Errand'

MSU alum cooks up a fine courtroom drama

by Bill Castanier
East Lansing author R. Charles McLravy knows exactly how many yellow legal pads it will take him to write his next mystery. Writing in longhand might be a lost art, but McLravy figures he filled about twice as many of the ubiquitous pads as he needed to for his first mystery, “The Fool’s Errand.
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Wednesday, July 13,2011

D.O.A. in A2

A psychotic killer stalks the streets of Ann Arbor in ‘Very Bad Men’

by Bill Castanier
In his second book, “Very Bad Men,” Dolan continues to write about the “mean” streets of Ann Arbor, but expands his mystery playground to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (The U.P. is also starring in two other mysteries this year in books by Jim Harrison and Steve Hamilton.
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Wednesday, July 6,2011

Everyone has something to 'Say'

Kristina Riggle’s latest novel examines a family in crisis from multiple viewpoints

by Bill Castanier
Author Kristina Riggle is something of a literary ventriloquist. In her most recent book, “Things We Didn’t Say,” Riggle tells a story from the point of view of six protagonists as they struggle to make it through an evolving family relationship that is brought to a climax by the disappearance of one of the children.
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Wednesday, June 29,2011

What should you take to the lake? Something old, something new

Here’s a few suggestions for summertime reading

by Bill Castanier
It’s hard to limit the "the books of summer" to 10 ' so instead I’m giving you 11."The Maltese Falcon," by Dashiell Hammett: The classic tough-guy/noir-detective novel that never loses its appeal. Since it was first published in 1930, it’s the book mystery and thriller writers dream of writing...
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Wednesday, June 15,2011

Minding Ps and Qs the LGBT way

Author tackles the questions Emily Post never faced

by Bill Castanier
Nearly 90 years after Emily Post wrote what at the time was the definitive guide to etiquette, Steven Petrow has added what he calls the definitive guide to LGBT life: “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners”. In the book, he answers new etiquette questions ...
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Wednesday, June 8,2011

'Silver Sparrow': Secret sisters

Tayari Jones’ new novel draws comparisons to Toni Morrison

by Bill Castanier
Tayari Jones has written one of the most original coming of age stories in modern times. Her newest book, “Silver Sparrow”, is about two families and two sisters ' one pretty, one plain ' connected but kept secret from one another by a bigamist father.
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Wednesday, June 1,2011

Alex McKnight fans: The wait is over

Author Steve Hamilton restarts the series with ’Misery Bay,’ which hits stores Tuesday

by Bill Castanier
But most fans of Hamilton don’t care about awards. They read him because of his Alex McKnight series, which is primarily set in what Hamilton calls “one of the loneliest places on earth,” the Michigan city of Paradise. Hamilton’s most recent McKnight book, “Misery Bay,” comes out Tuesday, and he described it as his darkest ever.
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Wednesday, May 25,2011

Let the discussion begin

East Lansing author and professor Thomas Foster’s “Twenty-Five Books That Shaped America” will be criticized as much for what’s in it as for what he left out — and that suits him fine.

by Bill Castanier
The book’s subtitle: “How White Whales, Green Lights and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity” gives hints about a few of the titles. (Just how many books are there about white whales?) It’s fun to guess what’s on the list, and almost as much fun to learn what didn’t make the cut.
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Wednesday, May 18,2011

Modifying the Motor City

Author John Gallagher says, when it comes to Detroit, bigger is not better

by Bill Castanier
In his 2011 Michigan Notable Book, “Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City,” Gallagher makes a case for a city that doesn’t pin its hopes on what he calls "fantastic visions,” but is based on a smaller footprint that has begin to work for other cities across the globe.
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