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

U.P. Colony

SKU 978-1-61599-606-3
$11.95
The Story of Resource Exploitation in Upper Michigan -- Focus on Sault Sainte Marie Industries
In stock
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Product Details

In the 1980s, Phil Bellfy pondered the question: Why does Sault,Ontario, appear to be so prosperous, while the "Sault" on the American side has fallen into such a deplorable state? Could the answer be that the "American side" was little more than a "resource colony"-or to use the academic jargon of "Conflict and Change" Sociology-an "Internal Colony." In UP Colony, Bellfy revisits his graduate research to update us the state of the Sault.

The ultimate question: why has the U.P.'s vast wealth, nearly unrivaled in the whole of the United States, left the area with poverty nearly unrivaled in the whole of the United States? None of the conventional explanations from "distance to markets," to "too many people," to "disadvantageous production costs," have any credibility. Simply put: "Where did the $1.5 billion earned from copper mining, $1 billion from logging, and nearly $4 billion in iron ore go?"

To get to the bottom of these thorny questions, Bellfy looks at the possible economic pressures imposed by "external colonial powers." The pressure-points examined in this book include presence of a complimentary economy, lopsided investment in one sector, monopoly style management, disparity of living standards, a repressive conflict-resolution system, and the progressive growth of inequality over time.

In UP Colony, Dr. Bellfy has revisited his MA Thesis and brought this analysis up-to-date in conjunction with the Sault's Semisepticentennial-the 350th anniversary of its French founding in 1668.

From Ziibi press www.ZiibiPress.com

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