Three Michigan books to read this fall

Oct 7, 2013

We've welcomed autumn here in Michigan, many of us with open arms. It is a beautiful season in our state.

And one of the pleasures of changing seasons is being able to talk with poet and writer Keith Taylor.

Keith joined us today with his picks for our autumn reading, books set-in Michigan written by Michigan authors. This time, he focused on writing from the Upper Peninsula.

Let It Burn by Steve Hamilton

This book is the latest installment in a murder mystery series which follows the story of a former Detroit cop named Alex McKnight.

“He’s got great dialogue. Our crime writers in Michigan, I think it’s the tradition of late Elmore Leonard now, they all have to have a great ear for dialogue, and Steve has that ear for dialogue,” Taylor said. “Most of them keep the physical description to a minimum, and Hamilton paints the physical description of the Upper Peninsula really quickly, but he can often do it very well. And he can get that sense of both beauty and the ominous nature of it all.”

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

This novel takes place on the shores of Lake Superior in a town based on Grand Barriet. The main character, Madeline Stone, has returned to the town to come to terms with her troubled upbringing.

“We've got a little motif here of people going to the U.P. to get psychologically or spiritually healed. It’s probably a variation on this American thing about we go to the woods to be cleansed,” said Taylor. “Of course, the U.P., there’s some nasty things that go on there. It’s not always a positive place, and the truth will have to be told about that, or is told about that, but none the less they go there.”

The Way North, edited by Ron Riekki

This is an anthology of Upper Peninsula writing, filled with short stories and poems. A short poem by Taylor even made its way into this collection.

“[Ron Riekki] doesn’t hide the fact that there are lots of troubles in the U.P., ones that reflect American society in general. Rural poverty, drugs, racism,” Taylor said. “But all the way through it he has the sense that there are stories to be told there, and maybe they’re just a little bit different because of the location.”

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.