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Wednesday, March 4,2015

Break on through

MSU neuroscience researcher tells her story of trauma, science and recovery

by Bill Castanier
As a neuroscience researcher, Apryl Pooley has dedicated her life to the rigors of scientific exploration. But it wasn’t until she turned that knowledge inward that she was able to overcome her personal demons. Pooley’s dramatic story of turning personal trauma into a fulfilling life is told in her debut memoir, “Shadow Brain:
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Wednesday, February 25,2015

A house divided

The movement in East Lansing to open housing for blacks

by Bill Castanier
Two years of smolder built to a roar. Then it cooled down but the fire was just under the surface. It started with the only visit to Michigan State University by the young pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr. on Feb. 11, 1965. Civil law prevented blacks from owning homes or renting in Eas...
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Wednesday, February 25,2015

From Paris to post-apocalypse

Photographer of ‘Lost Detroit’ comes to Lansing

by Bill Castanier
Despite the efforts of Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services (aka Quicken Loans), which has invested $1.6 billion in 70 Detroit buildings, it’s impossible to drive through downtown without noticing the decaying landmarks of the city. Landmarks to its former glory, now defa...
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Wednesday, February 18,2015

How Malcolm became X

New young adult novel tells the story of Malcolm X’s formative years

by Bill Castanier
“It is so important for you and me to spend time today learning something about the past so that we can better understand the present, analyze it and then do something about it.” This is not a quote from a famous historian, it’s from the firebrand civil rights activist Malcolm X. Those who have read about his transformation from petty street criminal to formidable civil rights activist will not be surprised by his passion for history.
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Wednesday, February 11,2015

Drawing on experience

Scott McCloud puts theory into practice in his first graphic novel

by Bill Castanier
Many comic book collectors, scholars and aficionados call Scott McCloud the “grandfather of comics,” but it may be more accurate to call him the “Yoda of comics” because of his singular ability to describe comics in terms of meaning, form and function. The reason for these platitudes is McCloud’s 1993 book “Understanding Comics,” the first book to explain the theory of comics and how words and pictures work together to tell a story. He followed that with “ Reinventing Comics” (2000) and “Making Comics” (2006), creating a triptych that is used in virtually every comic book class taught in the world.
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Wednesday, February 4,2015

Take a back road

´Ride Michigan’ offers motorcycle tours off the beaten path

by Bill Castanier
About this time of year, as the snow piles up outside their windows, motorcyclists start to get antsy. Bill Murphy, who has written five books on motorcycle excursions, is already planning his next road trip on his Harley-Davidson Road King. In his most recent book, “Ride Michigan,” Murphy takes motorcycle enthusiasts on a tour of Michigan’s back roads, weaving through small towns and skirting the Great Lakes. The book is divided into four sections: the north woods, the lakeshores, the southern farmlands and the Great Lakes, and offers more than 30 tour suggestions. These tours range from excursions that only take a few hours to tours that require several days.
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Wednesday, January 28,2015

Crowned with glory

Photographer Michael Cunningham discusses his book ´Crowns´

by Bill Castanier
If Michael Cunningham has his way, the downtown branch of the Capital Area District Library will be, for one afternoon, transformed into an aviary of fancy church hats. Cunningham visits the library Sunday to discuss his photography book, “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats,” and invites attendees to wear their finest church hats to the presentation. If you plan to attend, however, you need to know a few things first. Peggy Knox, a subject in “Crowns,” lays out the three church hat rules:
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Thursday, January 22,2015

A stranger Hmong us

New book explores the history of Michigan’s Hmong immigrants

by Bill Castanier
The Hmong are one of Michigan’s most overlooked immigrant groups, often lumped together with the Vietnamese and Cambodian peoples who fled to the U.S. following the Vietnam War. Martha Aladjem Bloomfield’s new book, “Hmong Americans in Michigan,” is an attempt to put a spotlight on this community. The Hmong are, in fact, a distinct ethnic group found in Laos, China, Thailand and Vietnam. In Michigan, the Hmong are mostly known for their community gardens, their vibrant tapestries, a cultural exhibit in Frankenmuth and a supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s 2008 movie “Gran Torino.”
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Wednesday, January 7,2015

The perpetual optimist

Lansing sci fi author pays Z homage to ‘Dr. Who,’ ‘Peanuts’

by Bill Castanier
Much like a professional athlete, Lansing-based science fiction writer Jim C. Hines has felt the buzz of performing at the highest possible levels in his profession. Hines, 40, has just published his 10th science fiction novel, “Unbound,” the third in his “Magic Ex Libris” series. “It’s almost like nothing else when you are writing and everything comes together,” Hines said. “You say, ‘Now I’ve got it. I’ve created something really good.’”
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Tuesday, December 23,2014

Michigan stories

Gift suggestions for books from and about the Great Lake State

by Bill Castanier
Adventurous chipmunks, as featured in City Pulse´s cover story this week, aren’t the only Michigan characters that made their way onto the page this year. If you’re still looking for a last-minute gift for that bookworm on your list, consider one of these selections with local connections. Dennis O. Cawthorne’s “Mackinac Island: Inside, Up Close, and Personal” and Michael Federspiel’s “Little Traverse Bay” are both delightful looks at the history of Michigan’s cottage life.
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