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Wednesday, February 29,2012

African-American history isn't what it used to be

Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Freedman shares surprising stories in 'Presidents and Black America'

by Bill Castanier
Eric Freedman, co author of “Presidents and Black America: A Documentary History,” said the history of the presidency is one of “oversimplification and gentrification.” Freedman is an associate professor of journalism at Michigan State University and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his investigative reporting at The Detroit News in 1994.
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Wednesday, February 22,2012

Stamped out?

Advances in technology may have sealed the fate of the art of letter writing

by Bill Castanier
Think about how our lives have been enriched by the letters of Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, the Apostle Paul, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, C.S.
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Wednesday, February 22,2012

In publishing, money makes the words go around

Blogs and newspaper columns can sometimes turn into profitable books — if they manage to survive

by Bill Castanier
The literary world is full of books that began as diaries, journals or caches of letters. "Marley & Me," the best-selling memoir by former newspaper columnist John Grogan, comes immediately to mind. Grogan told me in a 2005 interview that it took him a couple of weeks to turn his weekly columns and journal entries about his dog Marley into a book.
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Wednesday, February 8,2012

'Our stories are not being told'

Lolita Hernandez writes about living and working in the Rust Belt

by Bill Castanier
If the Rust Belt had a capital city, it would be Detroit, where people have been making cars for more than 100 years. That may sound like a Clint Eastwood Super Bowl half-time ad, but Lolita Hernandez, author of “Autopsy of an Engine and Other Stories from the Cadillac Plant,” insists, “The factory is the city.”
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Wednesday, January 25,2012

Takin' it to the streets

Poetry in Motion program rolls out on CATA buses

by Bill Castanier
Capital Area Transportation Authority buses traversing mostly along campus routes and down Michigan Avenue will host a moveable feast of poetry, with each bus showcasing interior placards with lines of poetry from 13 poets, including Michigan State University Professors Anita Skeen and Diane Wakoski.
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Wednesday, January 18,2012

Write to work

Author Jim Daniels' job is telling the stories of other people's jobs

by Bill Castanier
It’s tough being Jim Daniels. He’s often confused with another Daniels: Jeff, the actor and filmmaker who writes scatological comedies involving flatulence. Jim Daniels’ writing can be dark, but it’s never stinky especially when he weaves his favorite theme — working in the Motor City — into his short stories and poems.
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Wednesday, January 11,2012

'Every dress has a story'

Becker’s Bridal in Fowler has been making wedding dreams come true for more than 75 years

by Bill Castanier
All those dresses can be a bit unsettling — "a white blindness nightmare" is what Alyssa Becker, the daughter's owner, sometimes calls it — but "dream" is an apt description, since the dreams of tens of thousands of brides have started right here in this unimposing store in downtown Fowler.
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Wednesday, January 11,2012

Honoring X

The late activist's life is remembered in a series of events at Capital Area District Library

by Bill Castanier
When Lansing resident Doug Warren was making the case in front of Lansing City Council last year for renaming Main Street in honor of Malcolm X, he said that if there was a Mount Rushmore for African-Americans, Malcolm X would be on it, along with Martin Luther King.
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Wednesday, January 4,2012

Take note

Michigan Notable Books encompass a wide range of topics and genres

by Bill Castanier
Make room on your bookshelf or e-reader: The Library of Michigan has named the top 20 Michigan Notable Books of the year, and the list represents established and debut authors, books covering topics and people that may have been lost to time and books that will take you places you’ve never been.
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Wednesday, December 28,2011

Book 'em!

A harvest of Hemingway, plus first-rate reads from contemporary authors

by Bill Castanier
When it comes to books, 2011 was the YOH — Year of Hemingway — complete with a masterful collection of letters, a new coffee table book, a book on his first wife and a book on his boat, the Pilar, joining a Woody Allen movie that pays tribute to the Lost Generation of the “Moveable Feast.” This seems fitting since 2011 was the 50th anniversary of Papa’s death.
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