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Wednesday, December 17,2014

Ford focus

Pulitzer Prize-winning MSU grad back with new novella

by Bill Castanier
Author Richard Ford is on the road again promoting his newest book, “Let Me Be Frank With You.” Along for the ride is Frank Bascombe, the peripatetic protagonist in the book’s four novellas, as well as three of Ford’s other novels. In a phone conversation last week from a hotel in Oxford, Miss., Ford, 70, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the book’s popularity; a recent lecture in Pittsburgh attracted 1,000 readers. A commonly held belief by critics and reviewers that novelists sometimes turn to novellas or short story collections to fulfill contracts, but Ford bristles at that suggestion: “It’s not a knockoff by any means." Ford said he didn’t take on a novel because he “didn’t have the chops for it.”
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Wednesday, December 10,2014

Mario world

The voice of the Detroit Tigers reflects on 20 years in the big leagues

by Bill Castanier
In 1995, Mario Impemba had been calling play-by-play in minor league baseball for eight years and he was wondering how much longer he could last. Then he got a call from the Angels — that would be the major league baseball team based in Anaheim. Although his story does make it seem like someone was looking out for him.
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Wednesday, December 3,2014

Historic junk mail

Auction features vintage marketing pieces, personal correspondences

by Bill Castanier
Now that the ephemeral gewgaws of Black Friday are in the recycling bin, Craig Whitford, a local numismatic and philatelic auctioneer, is giving collectors a chance to purchase what he calls “historic junk mail.” The actual term is “cover envelopes,” but that doesn’t do justice to this collection of over 1,400 pieces of vintage advertising.
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Wednesday, November 19,2014

Tarzan and the Great Lakes State

Book recounts author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Michigan connections

by Bill Castanier
Generations have grown up reading the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, including his enduring “Tarzan” and “John Carter of Mars” fantasy series. They’ve pored over the countless movie, TV show and comic book adaptations, but few know about the love-hate relationship the Chicago native had for Michigan.
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Wednesday, November 12,2014

Love, Italian style

Longtime Roma Bakery owner finally dishes out recipes with new cookbook

by Bill Castanier
Like a fine stock, Mena Castriciano’s cookbook has been simmering on the back burner for a long time. But this week her lifetime of dishing recipes becomes reality with “Cooking with Mena,” a collection of her favorite Italian recipes. “It was my dream,” she said while holding court in the dining area of Roma Bakery Deli & Fine Foods, 428 N. Cedar St. in Lansing. She owns the longtime business with her husband, Sostine, where she’s frequently interrupted by friends and customers.
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Wednesday, November 5,2014

Armored vehicle of social criticism

Local author’s latest book examines the militarization of local police departments

by Bill Castanier
Local author and Michigan State University English Professor Lev Raphael believes that the term “officer-friendly” has been transformed into “mean, fighting machine,” thanks to military surplus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ending up in the hands of stateside police departments.
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Wednesday, October 22,2014

Wish you were here

Antique postcard book provides look back at MSU’s history

by Bill Castanier
When the postcard debuted in the U.S. in the late 19th century, it revolutionized shortform communication, sort of like a primitive Facebook or Twitter. But unlike messages on modern social media, the penny postcard has become a major hobby, attracting millions of collectors nationwide. It’s highly doubtful anyone’s collecting tweets for a future museum display.
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Wednesday, October 8,2014

Away from it all

Travel writer has new bucket-list items for second edition of ‘1,000 Places’

by Bill Castanier
Patricia Schultz’s first memory of travel was with her family to the Jersey Shore when she was 4. “It was very exotic for me,” said the author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” recalling the sand, surf and sun. “If it was August, we were packing the car for Jersey.” But it was what she calls her “first passport experience,” a trip to the Dominican Republic at 15, that changed her life.
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Wednesday, September 24,2014

Elf defense

Acclaimed fantasy author riding high as genre enjoys mainstream success

by Bill Castanier
Imagine the plight of fantasy writer R.A. Salvatore, who grew up with “six mothers” telling him what to do. That would be his actual mother and his five sisters. “My mother had a routine (that) I’ve fought against my whole adult life,” Salvatore said in a phone conversation from his home in Massachusetts. He stresses you have “to get out of routines” to make your imagination work.
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Wednesday, September 17,2014

The integration of Spartan Nation

‘Raye of Light’ explores the players and coaches who crossed racial lines in the ‘60s

by Bill Castanier
Hearing 76,000 Spartan football fans chanting “kill, Bubba, kill” was a bit disconcerting for opponents’ offensive ends as they lined up across from Michigan State University’s Charles “Bubba” Smith in the mid-1960s.
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