Q&A With Raymond Luczak on “Compassion Michigan”

Raymond Luczak, author of Compassion, Michigan

What was the first story with which this book started? When was that story written and what inspired it?

I suddenly remembered the fact that I’d truly loved the taste of orange sherbet at an ice cream parlor across the street from Carlson’s Supermarket in Ironwood, Michigan; I must’ve been seven or eight at the time. That place felt magical, and I think I was in there maybe two or three times if that, and how peculiar that I couldn’t remember anyone serving those magnificent scoops of sherbet. At the same time I began to think about the neighborhood a few blocks south of where I grew up, so imagining a 33-year-old woman who ran the ice cream parlor living in that part of the neighborhood flowed together fairly quickly. After finishing “Stella, Gone” in late March 2017, I realized that if I did some historical research about actual locations around Ironwood, I could put together a new book of short stories that would be somewhat inspired by Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, which had been published in 1919.

How many of these stories are inspired from real-life events/experiences?

Aside from the fact that all of these stories take place in actual locations that I knew around Ironwood while following the general history of mining and/or downtown developments around the city, the book is truly fictional with a few exceptions. The experience of growing up Deaf in a large hearing family is definitely there in the book’s first and last stories, and there is a story somewhat inspired by an aunt who had a child born out of wedlock (but there was a happy ending unlike in the book), but that’s about it. “The Ways of Men” was directly inspired by reading in a memoir somewhere a very brief description of a trans man who regularly rode the streetcar in Ironwood during the 1920s. Everyone knew that he was trans but it didn’t seem to be an issue. No one knew his name, and his mere existence on the streetcar was all the information available that the author had about him, but I was immediately struck by the notion of a trans man living rather openly back in those glory days of Ironwood. Whoa! I couldn’t resist imagining everything else about him.

Most of these stories are about women/female-led characters. Any particular reasons for this focus on the female gender?

My previous collection The Kinda Fella I Am had focused solely on the disabled gay male experience, so I thought it was time to try something else different. Women have always fascinated me in the sense of their unfortunate second-class citizenship in our male-dominated society because as a Deaf person, I too have been treated very much like a second-class citizen by hearing people. My communication needs do not matter. The entire burden of communication rests on me: I must learn how to speak clearly and lipread while hearing people don’t feel obligated to change their behavior to accommodate my accessibility needs. Women have had to deal with an incredibly misogynistic society for centuries, so I believe I can appreciate a little bit of that fury against a system that still continues to reward hearing able-bodied straight white men.

Superior Tapestry

SKU 978-1-61599-588-2
$24.95
Weaving the Threads of Upper Michigan History
In stock
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Product Details

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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