Friday, June 28, 2013

Books for the Porkies

If you live within 500 miles of the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you are invited—nay, commanded—to come to one of the two presentations and signings I'll be doing for Hang Fire at the Visitor Center in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on July 3 and July 6.

Attendance is mandatory. No excuses. Violators will be persecuted.

Not because I want you to buy my book and lift me out of poverty, but because you must support the Friends of the Porkies. This is a superb organization devoted to aiding the park's mission. It sponsors a Folk School open to all (I just learned how to build a wooden Shaker bench there) and a wildly successful annual Music Festival as well as a program for artists-in-residence who live and work in a rustic cabin the Friends built for the purpose. And more.

All proceeds from sales of books ($20 each) benefit the Friends, of course.

That's 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, and 3 p.m. Saturday, July 6, Visitor Center, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on Highway M-107 three miles west of Silver City, Michigan.

If you live in or around Chicago, that's an easy, relaxed eight-hour, 400-plus-mile drive.

Now get cracking. Don't be late. If you're a no-show, Porcupine County Sheriff Steve Martinez has already prepared a warrant for your extradition.

JULY 7: We raised more than $1,000 for the Friends of the Porkies. Thanks to all who came, even if it was under duress.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

R.I.P. Chicago Sun-Times Books

Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times, infamous these last few weeks for sacking its entire photography department, did the same to my old stamping ground, the Sunday Show section and its book pages. On July 14 the entertainment stories will be folded into the paper's gaudy Splash! celeb-and-style section, and regular coverage of the literary world will end.

I can't say I was surprised. In fact, I'm amazed that authors and books lasted as long in the city's struggling No. 2 paper as they did. (I'm also amazed that the Sun-Times—now, to reflect its increasing presence on the Web—has managed to survive the ongoing collapse of American daily newspaper journalism as long as it has.)

I feel lucky to have retired from the paper's book editorship in 2006, at the beginning of the disaster. As a working author, however, I don't feel so fortunate at the loss of the Sun-Times book section. Getting a new book reviewed by competent critics anywhere is nigh unto impossible now. Crowdsourcing outlets such as are all very well, but  their mini-notices often are idiosyncratic and uninformed.

Thank goodness for the struggling New York Times Book Review, thin and anemic as it has become, and for the brave but probably doomed Chicago Tribune Printers Row Journal. I hope they outlast me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Yesterday's presentation for "Hang Fire" at the Ironwood Carnegie Library drew a standing-room-only crowd and a sellout of all copies—the first such boffo event for me in years.

Of course, the room was small, just big enough for 20 people, and they bought about the same number of books. But the audience was exceptionally curious and attentive, the best kind, and I must offer a hearty thanks to the library and to Walt Lessun of Gogebic Community College, sponsor of the book sale—and the pop and pizza that followed the presentation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Presentation and signing Saturday

If, this coming weekend, you happen to be in my neck of the woods—that would be western Upper Michigan—you are invited to drop by the Ironwood Carnegie Library, 235 E. Aurora, Ironwood, Michigan, at 11 a.m. Saturday. That's Central Time. (Much of the U.P. is on Eastern Time.)

I'll deliver a spiel about Hang Fire, answer questions and autograph books. Afterward we'll all have pizza, courtesy of Gogebic Community College.

As they say, what's not to like?