Good Reads: Reviews

New and Notable Books

Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You

Patricia Anstett, former medical writer for the Detroit Free Press, has not gone gently into retirement. Rather, she plunged into mountains of research to create an all-encompassing response to breast cancer and its aftermath.  In Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You (Rowman & Littlefield, $35) Anstett personalizes facts and stats through case studies. The subjects are captured poignantly by photographer Kathleen Galligan, who was diagnosed with breast cancer herself while working on the book.  Since 1 out of 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, this book should be required reading. Anstett reinforces the notion that there is no wrong option. Every woman must decide the path that’s best for her; the key is knowledge. This book soars beyond such common terms as mastectomy and lumpectomy to explore delayed robotic reconstruction and “previvors”— women at high risk who elect to have a radical double mastectomy and their ovaries removed. Amid the torrent of information, there are showers of inspiration as well. — Jim McFarlin


Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology

Flint’s turn in the spotlight is mostly negative. Countless media reports chronicle the impact of the auto industry’s implosion and water pipes filled with lead on its beleaguered citizens. In Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology (Belt Publishing, $19.99), editor Scott Atkinson (who also writes about Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha on page 86) puts together a collection of essays that go beyond the headlines to find, if not happy endings, at least stories of “a happiness that carries an asterisk. …” There’s a stepdad who steals a bike back from thieves rather than letting his young charge “feel like the police can never help you.” Another points out how Flint’s residents are “… not subprime” despite the mortgage bubble bursting. A graduate school candidate ruminates on implied “Hyphen Flint” prejudice: “Although teachers assured me that U of M-Flint was a great school, I couldn’t help sensing that a few of them had somehow expected better of me.” His final take: “Despite what setbacks befall us, our renaissance has begun. … I am meant to be here. I do not want out.” — Steve Wilke


The Last Hobo

Protests, Deadheads, acid: We’re talking the ’60s, right? Not quite. Dan Grajeck’s laregely autobiographical The Last Hobo: A Clueless Detroit Kid Hitchhikes Across America the Summer the Seventies Ran Out of Gas (Round Barn Media, $15.99) is set in 1979, the time of Jimmy Carter and the “disco sucks” movement. Like any good road trip, the tale of San Francisco-bound “Ted” (the author) is set to music. There’s a Woodstock-like hippie compound; a drug quest fueled by the Beatles’ trippy “Tomorrow Never Knows;” and a Jackson Browne anti-nuke concert. Does he get to California? Presumably, yes, but the book ends after a bungled train-hopping attempt in Wyoming. Why stop there? Apparently, along with wanderlust, Grajeck has come down with a compulsion to produce trilogies. At the risk of sounding like a ’70s sitcom whiner (“It’s always ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!’ ”), why, why, why does everyone write sets of three (or more) books? Harry Potter, most likely. Still, I look forward to the next book, when “Ted” seeks spirituality in San Francisco. Are we sure this isn’t the ’60s? — Steve Wilke