Diane R. Wiener reviews Compassion, Michigan: The Ironwood Stories

cover of Compassion, Michigan by Raymond LuczakOne of the most prolific writers and editors of his generation, Raymond Luczak’s Compassion, Michigan is the latest collection of stories and it does not disappoint. As many people in the world today discuss the meanings, import, and relevance of intersectional identities and politics—and, especially as we consider the fact that experiences of marginalization and disenfranchisement can co-exist with privilege, in some cases—disability literature and the arts offer a broad range of readers and engages many and varied opportunities to address our individualized and collective ways forward. Luczak’s Compassion, Michigan: The Ironwood Stories is an understated tour de force, in these and other respects.

A tale may begin with a Carson McCullers-style injury, or even a Truman Capote-esque disappointment, and, by the story’s end, the protagonist’s queerness, disablement, and family dynamics have coalesced into learnings and transformation, inasmuch as their affective inner landscapes may have unraveled—at least at first.

A good story must of course sustain one’s attention; surely, if a story is too polemical, there is a risk of losing one’s audience. In these stories, as with his other work, Luczak engages astutely with an unwavering CripLit sensibility, throughout, while readers who are not necessarily interested in disability poetics (let alone attuned to them) are offered a nuanced and subtle education.

There are many lines among these stories’ inter-weavings that are as specific as they are unforgettable; these lines are often also full of surprises. Playfulness co-mingles with reserve and risk, as well, as if teasing elders are passing down cherished and complicated familial histories. Nearly everyone—even the outsiders, usually—gets the in-jokes, on the back porch, after dinner.

Raymond Luczak, author of Compassion, Michigan

These are stories crafted by a poet, to be sure. One of my favorite examples—full of realism and metaphor, simultaneously—is in “Yoopers”: “I feel as if my bangs will catch fire as I lean down and lift the sheet of pasties out of the oven” (69), says the narrator, young Molly, who tells the reader these thoughts in private, rather than via the ongoing dialogue with her grandmother in the kitchen. The character is relatable; we come to know her.

Read the full review on Wordgathering

Superior Tapestry

SKU 978-1-61599-588-2
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Weaving the Threads of Upper Michigan History
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Like any tapestry, the threads of history cross over and under each other in different points of view and places in time. Award-winning author Deborah K. Frontiera mixes natural science and geology into history where those aspects intersect with the lives of people or are the reason Michigan's Upper Peninsula developed the way it did. Enjoy this work's unique perspective, the point of view of trees, rocks, rivers and artifacts--among them a ship's bell, a lighthouse, a cross-cut saw, beads and rings given in trade, a bent propeller and many more. Students, adults and families will enjoy experiencing history in this unique way.

"Deborah K. Frontiera takes U.P. history and turns it into a fun story, told by its least appreciated players. Here, we have the perspective of the St. Mary's River, the bell on the Edmund Fitzgerald, an early iron forge, a sauna, the Bishop Baraga statue and many, many more. Together, they make Superior Tapestry a diverse and refreshing alternative to more straightforward historical narratives, while educating us in entertaining ways and, once again, displaying the creativity of Yooper culture." -- Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. in literature and award-winning author of Haunted Marquette and Kawbawgam: The Chief, The Legend, The Man

"Frontiera has a knack for bringing inanimate objects to life and imbuing them with observational skills that let the reader see the world around the objects through their eyes. Human time is dwarfed when compared to the span of time experienced by some of the objects Frontiera describes. This book is such an interesting read; I'll be using it as my guide when exploring the nooks and crannies of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan." -- Linda Martin-Rust, Ph.D.

"What a fun way to learn about our Upper Peninsula history; a great book for all ages. Superior Tapestry will become one of your favorite UP books." --Tony Bausano, president of Copper World Gift Shop, Calumet, Michigan.

Learn more at www.SuperiorTapestry.com

From Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com

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