New and Notable Books by Local Authors to Add to Your Reading List

Plus, what our staff is reading right now


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The Search for the Lost Prophecy
Michigan native William Meyer recalls the moment his grandfather, a Cadillac Motor engineer, opened a door to history. “He came and spoke to my first-grade class about his trip to Egypt and ended with a picture of a mummy,” Meyer says. “I was instantly hooked.” On Oct. 28, Meyer, who now teaches high school history in New York City, will promote his new book, The Search for the Lost Prophecy (Sleeping Bear Press, $17) in Detroit at the Scarab Club — an integral location to the book’s plot. The story is Book 2 of the Horace J. Edwards and the Time Keepers series (Book 1 is called The Secret of the Scarab Beetle), and this time, Horace struggles to learn more about his role in his grandfather’s secret order, the Time Keepers. The portal to the past accidentally sends Horace and his friends not to Ancient Egypt, but to the Order’s headquarters in Detroit — the popular Scarab Club. “I love connecting to the history of a place and especially the history of Michigan and Detroit, which both have so many strange and unsuspecting connections to Ancient Egypt,” he says. Meyer, a Detroit Country Day School graduate, also created the artwork for his chapter headings. — Megan Swoyer

Pewabic Pottery: A History Handcrafted in Detroit
Shortly after its founding in 1903, a quaint pottery studio outgrew its rented stable in Brush Park and relocated to an English Tudor building on East Jefferson Avenue. That little shop began to turn out what author Cara Catallo calls a “familiar calling card of Detroit craftsmanship.” A century-plus history of the shop started by Horace J. Caulkins and Mary Chase Perry is told in Catallo’s book, Pewabic Pottery: A History Handcrafted in Detroit (Arcadia Publishing, $22). Over the years, Pewabic’s signature iridescent glaze has graced everything from churches, libraries, and universities to breweries, bathrooms, and baseball stadiums. More recently, it’s been used to enhance the look of the QLine stations. Catallo chronicles Perry’s life from her upbringing in an Upper Peninsula mining town to her camaraderie with landscape artist Col. Charles M. Lum, whom she met while he was recuperating from Civil War wounds at what became Detroit’s Harper Hospital. She went on to the Cincinnati Arts Academy and developed a passion for china painting, which she eventually taught in Asheville, N.C. After moving back to Detroit and experimenting with glazes, she teamed up with businessman and then neighbor Caulkins to launch a small pottery in Brush Park. The rest, as they say, is history. — Steve Wilke

Leading Tones
Is it OK to clap in between movements of a symphony? What’s it like behind the scenes at an audition? And what happens when professional wrestlers get on a flight with a symphonic conductor? Those answers and more can be found in Leonard Slatkin’s Leading Tones: Reflections on Music, Musicians, and the Music Industry (Amadeus Press, $28). This October marks Slatkin’s 10th anniversary with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and his final season as music director (after which he will take on the title of music director laureate). Slatkin writes about outstanding artists he’s worked with, including Eugene Ormandy, Isaac Stern, John Williams, and Nathan Milstein. He also provides a Top-10 list of his favorite compositions to conduct, and discusses the fiscal concerns and labor negotiations that impact the contemporary music industry. In one section, he recounts a 2012 fundraiser in Detroit put on with Kid Rock. “This came about because of a six-month work stoppage, and it was critical to raise some big bucks fast,” he writes. Slatkin says the project raised more than $1 million. It also gave him the opportunity to say to the orchestra, without fear of reprisal, he notes: “Okay, let’s move on to the next song, ‘You Never Met a Mother****er Like Me.’” Now that might deserve an encore. — Steve Wilke

The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook
How do you follow up a book called How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass? Aaron Foley, who went on to helm B.L.A.C. magazine and was recently appointed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to be the city’s first chief storyteller, now adds editor of a new book The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook (Belt Publishing, $20) to his resumé. It’s a collection of essays from various Detroit voices and neighborhoods. In his introduction, Foley writes, “[This book is] a dedication to all the streets, all the hoods, all the blocks, all the sides, and Hamtramck and Highland Park, too.” Residents weigh in about the better and about the worse of different neighborhoods. Take the intro to Michelle Martinez’ piece about the annual Cinco de Mayo tourist invasion of Southwest Detroit, featuring “droves of drunk settlers descending on my backyard, leaving urine, vomit, and trash in their wake.” Or Joel Fluent Greene’s conclusion in an ode to the Cass Corridor: “Hop on the gentri-train, Pop in the new pop ups, But respect the bumpy road, Underneath the bike lane.” Former Hour Detroit associate editor Jeff Waraniak weighs in about solitude and Rivertown. And Marsha Music provides a segment on Highland Park. All the “big name” neighborhoods like Poletown, Sherwood Forest, and Palmer Park are here, but so are the Minock Parks, Russell Woods, Warrendales, and Green Acres. The grounds are covered. — Steve Wilke


Web Extra: What Our Staff is Reading Right Now

Lincoln in the Bardo
“Right now, I'm itching to get back to George Saunders’ newish book Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House, $17), a surrealist story centering on the loss of President Lincoln's 11-year-old son. That was an actual historical event, but the purgatory-like world of spirits welcoming Willie to the other side is something that could only come out of the head of George Saunders. Support your local bookstore: I picked up my copy at Pages Bookshop in Northwest Detroit.” – Lou Blouin, Associate Editor

The Dark Dark 
On her bookshelf: “I recently won a copy of The Dark Dark (FSG Originals, $11) from Belletrist, a book club co-founded by actress Emma Roberts. I love winning things almost as much as I love new books, so it seemed like a win-win. So far, the collection of short stories by Samantha Hunt that features strange characters and suspenseful twists, has turned out to be a really good read. Apparently, when written with care, anecdotes about murderous rage, infidelity, and teenage pregnancy pacts can even be poetic.” – Emma Klug, Associate Editor

The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem and The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse 
“I just started reading The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem (Back Bay Books, $19), by Stacy Schiff. It’s an incredibly detailed, compulsively readable account of the Salem witch trials, and it’s the perfect book to read on a crisp fall day with Halloween right around the corner. I also love sharing books with my son, and right now we are obsessed with The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse (Candlewick Press, $18) by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. They are my favorite children’s book duo, and like all of their work, this book is witty with a surreal, slightly dark tone.” – Rebecca Voigt, Style Editor

The Sellout
“The first line of this 2016 Man Booker Prize award winner sets the tone early, when the narrator states: ‘This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I’ve never stolen anything.’ The ensuing satire wickedly skewers any who believe we’re a ‘post-racial’ society just because America elected an African-American president. From cover art depicting images of lawn jockeys to send-ups of old “Little Rascals” TV show plots, the punch lines (‘40 acres and a fool’) and funny asides pepper what doubles as a blatantly honest discussion of race and class.” – Steve Wilke, Editor

The Hate U Give, My Story, The Goldfinch, Letters from Mrs. Grundy, and Nappy-Headed Negro Syndrome 
“Currently, I’ve got five books on rotation. Angie Thomas’ New York Times best-seller The Hate U Give (Balzer + Bray, $14), Rosa Parks’ autobiography, My Story (Puffin Books, $6), and the Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction The Goldfinch (Little, Brown and Company, $16). But among these heralded reads are two poignant collections of short stories by Detroit luminary Oneita Jackson that have consumed me: Letters from Mrs. Grundy ($13) and Nappy-Headed Negro Syndrome (Dakota Avenue West Publishing, $9). Embracing my own frizzy ‘fro these days, I gravitated toward the latter expecting a deep read on the stigmas associated with natural African-American hair, yet, I was instead greeted by other all too relatable experiences as a Black woman — like being mistaken for the hired talent at an exclusive black-tie dinner. Jackson’s satirical account of her observations elicits eye-rolls, deep sighs, and hearty laughs. Jumping into Letters from Mrs. Grundy, I’m already gaining an understanding and appreciation for Jackson’s brilliance and unique outlook on society. Like her childhood takeaway from her father’s explanation for the meaning of Easter: ‘Daddy, how can a rabbit lay a chicken egg?’” – Lyndsay Green, Managing Editor

 

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