Artpod: Making a (book) list, checking it twice

Dec 15, 2010

Need help finding the perfect holiday gift for the bibliophile in your life?

The folks at the Library of Michigan have come up with their annual "Michigan Notable Books" list: 20 books about Michigan or by Michigan authors.

We interview Randy Riley on this week's Artpod. Riley is in charge of special collections at the Library of Michigan, and he says "there’s something for everybody on this list."

His top 3 books on the list?

      1.    Apparition & Late Fiction: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch (W. W. Norton & Co.)

Set against the harsh and frigid winter of Russia, this west Michigan soldier's memoir details his experiences as a member of the 337th Field Hospital Unit during the ill-fated "Polar Bear Expedition" against the Soviet Bolsheviks in 1918-1919. Michigan soldiers comprised a large number of the total U.S. forces in Russia, and have been honored with the Polar Bear Monument at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy.

     2.   Eden Springs: A Novella by Laura Kasischke (Wayne State University Press)

Eden Springs is set at the House of David colony in Benton Harbor in 1923. When a suspicious death is discovered at the colony, King Benjamin and his closest followers attempt to cover it up. Kasischke’s historical fiction beautifully documents the decline of the colony and the dangers associated with the cult of personality. Using actual newspaper clippings, legal documents and accounts of former colonists Kasischke unravels the mystery.

     3.   A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir by Godfrey J. Anderson, Gordon Olson (editor) (William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.)

Set against the harsh and frigid winter of Russia, this west Michigan soldier's memoir details his experiences as a member of the 337th Field Hospital Unit during the ill-fated "Polar Bear Expedition" against the Soviet Bolsheviks in 1918-1919. Michigan soldiers comprised a large number of the total U.S. forces in Russia, and have been honored with the Polar Bear Monument at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy.

The 20 Notable Books list also includes Andrew Moore's Detroit Disassembled, a photo book filled with picture after picture of abandoned buildings, vacant factories, and tree-covered empty houses. Some call it ruin porn, others liken it to "kicking the city when it's already down." But Moore has a different view:

"I don't think it's kicking it when it's down. I think [the book] has brought a lot of attention to Detroit that can't help but push the process along to maybe revitalize it, get people interested in it, make people aware of how important a city Detroit is and how strong its needs are."

You can listen to more of the interview on this week's Artpod, the arts and culture podcast on Michigan Radio. Send comments to artpodradio@umich.edu