U.P. Reader — Volume #5: Bringing Upper Michigan Literature to the World
Mikel Classen and Deborah K Frontiera
Modern History Press
9781615995714, $17.95 paperback, $28.95 hardcover, 308 pages
B09253976L, $5.95 Kindle
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is also known as Upper Michigan or the UP, with people native to the area known as Yoopers. Hear it? Yooper and UP? Michigan has two peninsulas. The authors of this anthology are from the upper peninsula (don’t confuse it with the lower one with the Trolls, that won’t do). The area has a rich local culture, rough terrain, and myths. Lake Superior shipwrecks are still being discovered. Historical photos were shared by many of the writers.
Stories, poems, and interviews in this volume revolve around hunting, fishing, mining, boats, long stretches of rural roads, pasties, writing obituaries, long winters are described with humor or sad details. One story says, “mosquitoes back here could flay the flesh and the deer flies circle[d] nearby with fork and knife ready to finish off the scraps.”
I read this laughing out loud at parts that caused my husband to ask what was so funny. I had to buy him a book to finish mine in peace.
Writers, listen up! Advice for writing and a story about one author’s book currently in production to become a movie are included. People young and old alike who have lived in the U.P. learn how to enter the contests for inclusion in the next anthology.
*Note: Only ten stories were selected as I try to keep discussion limited to ten questions. However, book groups will probably have no problem finding much to discuss in all the stories. people will probably want to discuss the interview about a book being made as a movie.
- “Your Orbit” by Barbara Bartel – the author is working through writing an obituary and manages to make it humorous. Did you like this writing piece? Could you apprentice yourself to write a similar story? What would you say?
- “How to Hunt Fox Squirrels” by Don Bodey — is another humorous story. What struck you as funny? How do mother squirrels put their children to sleep at night? How does the author suggest a person should go about getting a good squirrel recipe?
- “A.S.S. for State Slug” by Larry Buege – is really about what topic? How does Officer Koski end the last protest?
- “Matter of Time” by Tricia Carr – seems to be about a senile old woman. Who is scheming against her? How does she get back at the schemers?
- “The Lunch Kit” by Deborah K. Frontiera – instead of being snowbirds with their friends in Arizona, a couple begins to care for a child they knew nothing about. How did this happen? How does counseling help? What do they decide to do about schooling?
- Pictures throughout the book – which pictures remind you of living in, visiting, or understanding the Upper Peninsula? Have you ever gone smelting? Eaten a pasty? Seen a mine? Watched deer in the woods? What other observations regarding the images would you like to share?
- “The Rescue of the L. C. Waldo” by Robert Grede – this story is almost an odyssey as there are so many problems faced by the seaman and those on shore. How did people help? Would telephones have been helpful? Why did some people try to help and not others?
- “A Night to Remember” by Charles Hand – have you ever had car trouble on a remote stretch of road? What did the students think was going to happen to them? Gitche Gumee and Big-Sea Waters refer to what? What did you think of the plowing? The resolution? The jailer’s office night policeman forgot to do what?
- “Right Judgment” by Tamara Lauder – what did the flowers represent?
- “Requiem for Ernie” by Hilton Moore – did you realize people thought polio was catchy? Do you remember anything about the time before polio vaccines? Even now people are being told they maybe had it when they were young. Compare and contrast polio and the coronavirus.
Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
Wise Owl Factory LLC