Michigan in Books reviews “Off the Hook” by Nancy Besonen

Off the Hook: Off-Beat Reporter’s Tales from Michigan’s U.P. by Nancy Besonen

Off the hook by nancy besson.It takes a special person to write a weekly humor column year after year and decade after decade. There has to be times when life is not funny, you’re just not in the mood to be humorous, or you simply can’t think of a damn thing to satirize, or poke fun at. So hats off to Nancy Besonen because judging by this collection of her weekly columns in the L’Anse Sentinel she has a genuine talent for finding humor in everyday life. But then she does live in the U.P. where a well-honed sense of humor is a necessity.

The author is a keen observer, has a fine sense of the absurd, a talent for satire, and is just plain funny. In the “Mrs. U. P. Pageant,” she is dismayed that there is no talent or swimsuit components. Meaning she can’t impress the judges by field dressing a deer on stage, and was sure her three-year-old swimsuit purchased at Fleet Farm, “would have wowed the judges.” She believes if Alfred, Lord Tennyson lived in the U.P. his famous poem’s first line would have read, “It’s Spring, when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of getting stuck in mud.” My favorite is a column about area school districts inviting parents to take a MEAP test. She explains MEAP stands for Michigan Educational Assessment Program and writes: “The MEAP tests covers variations of the three Rs, and is administered to unsuspecting children whose parents callously decided to settle in Michigan.”

Besonen’s collection of weekly columns is a perceptive, wise, and an unfailingly funny reality check on the Yooper world. Her columns alone make it worth subscribing to the L’Anse Sentinel.

Off the Hook: Off-Beat Reporter’s Tales  from Michigan’s U.P. by Nancy Besonen. Modern History Press, 2023, 165p., $21.95.

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