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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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Wednesday, May 11,2011

War and remembrance

It took Karl Marlantes decades to finish his novel 'Matterhorn,' but the time was well spent

by Bill Castanier
Karl Marlantes follows a string of many other notable authors who have contributed to the genre, including Philip Caputo (“A Rumor of War”, “Indian Country”), Tim O’Brien (“The Things They Carried”) and Denis Johnson (“Tree of Smoke”).
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Wednesday, May 4,2011

Doctor, you've got to be kidding

Plastic surgeon Anthony Youn leaves ’em ’In Stitches’

by Bill Castanier
His new memoir “In Stitches” is a hilarious look at growing up as a teen in the small town of Greenville, surviving some serious clumsy teenage moments as one of a few Koreans in a virtually all-white community and finally dragging his butt out of bed for four years of medical school.
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Wednesday, April 27,2011

Debate still rages over Malcolm X

A new biography reignites old controversies surrounding the African-American leader

by Bill Castanier
The book, by noted African-American author and historian Manning Marable, fprofessor of history and public affairs at Columbia and director of Columbia’ Center for Contemporary Black History, comes 46 years after Grove Press posthumously published “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” co-written by Alex Haley.
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Wednesday, April 13,2011

The Secret Service shares secrets

The men who guarded JFK talk about their experiences on Nov. 22, 1963

by Bill Castanier
For Doug Roberts, director of the Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and a former state treasurer, Nov. 22, 1963, is etched in memory. He was a 16-year-old in the 11th grade at a suburban Maryland school, and he remembers the day vividly.
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Wednesday, April 6,2011

30 days of verse

April is the time to cherish; Poetry — let it never perish!

by Bill Castanier
Allen Ginsberg would be howling over poetry’s evolution from coffee houses and the dank corridors of ivy-covered halls to highway billboards proclaiming “I geek poetry.” He would also be pleased that poetry is still being used to extort social causes..
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Thursday, March 24,2011

1920s Michigan: Klan country?

Indeed, according to an eye-opening new book from a British historian

by Bill Castanier
"Mask," the current exhibit at the MSU Museum, stands as proof. Some of the several hundred masks on display are scary, but none is scarier than the robed and hooded mannequin of a KKK member Maybe it takes a Brit to step away from the inherent...
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