New at Peter White Public Library

The Michigan Notable Book list is released annually at www.michigan.gov featuring “works of fiction and non-fiction published during the previous calendar year that are about, or set in Michigan; or are written by a Michigan author.” There are 20 books on the 2021 list; eight of which are reviewed here. Watch our shelves during February for the remaining 12 and sample them all.

“BLACK BOTTOM SAINTS” by Alice Randall defines the Black Bottom region of Detroit geographically, as being in the south of the city, and culturally, as the center of entertainment for the black community from 1937-1967. Randall deems the actors and musicians from the Black Bottom to be saints and gives each a short biography, organized as a seasonal calendar of their “saint’s days.” The lives and artistic accomplishments of 56 Black Bottom entertainers, such as Della Reese, Nat King Cole, and Sammy Davis, Jr., are covered in this creative and conversational volume of historical fiction.

“CITY OF CHAMPIONS: A History of Triumph and Defeat in Detroit” by Stefan Szymanski and Silke-Maria Weineck (796.0977 SZ) is actually a history in reverse of Michigan’s most notable city, starting with its newest (remodeled) sports center, Little Caesars Arena, finished in 2017. The authors peel back the years through the highs and lows of Red Wings hockey, Lions football, Tigers baseball, Pistons basketball, and professional boxing, which coincide with the economic wealth of Detroit all the way back to 1763, when a game of lacrosse came to symbolize the Native American resistance to European colonizers.

“THE DEAD ARE ARISING: The Life of Malcolm X” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Les Payne, (921 X) is a detailed history of Malcolm Little’s life. Born in Nebraska in 1925, Malcolm grew up in Lansing and later moved to New York, where he became an outspoken advocate of civil rights, until his assassination in 1965. Payne’s extensive research and personal interviews reveal new, significant details of Malcolm X’s life.

“LAKEWOOD” by Megan Giddings is a science fiction story featuring Lena, whose grandmother just died, leaving her to care for her mentally fragile mother. In need of money to pay mounting bills, Lena interviews for a high-paying job at a mysterious government facility in Lakewood, Michigan, where she undergoes a week of memory and morality questions by a staff of scientists. Presented with an even bigger contract, Lena consents to the next round of situational experiments and ends up fearing for her life. What are they putting into her body and what are they taking from her?

“THE MASON HOUSE” by Marie Bertineau is a story about a Copper Country family whose ties to their Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mills house in Mason, Michigan, spanned four generations. Theresa’s story begins with the death of her Ojibwe grandmother, a few short years after her father died. Her mother, left with more children than she could handle, married again and led the family around the country in search of the perfect place to settle. After so many years on the move, Theresa eventually returned to the Lake Linden area where she could re-connect with her Native roots and mining heritage.

“WOLF ISLAND: Discovering the Secrets of a Mythic Animal” by L. David Mech (599.773 ME) was written with the assistance of outdoor writer, Greg Breining, and includes a foreword by Rolf O. Peterson, Michigan Technological University professor who has worked on the Isle Royale National Park wolf study since the 1970’s. Mech’s memoir chronicles his three years on Isle Royale from 1958 to 1961, including the initial stages of his graduate fieldwork in this unique wilderness laboratory. Enjoy 15 pages of color photographs from Mech’s time on Isle Royale, and use the introductory map to locate landmarks along the way.

“RESPECT: The Poetry of Detroit Music” edited by Jim Daniels and M.L. Liebler is a hefty collection of poetry featuring 126 works by almost as many poets. The music of words highlights the history of Detroit Jazz, Detroit Blues, and Northern Soul (which surrounds the era of Motown musicians), Detroit Rocks, and Hip Hop into Techno. The rich history of Detroit’s music scene will charm readers through diverse poetic expression.

“WORDS LIKE THUNDER: New and Used Anishinaabe Prayers” by Lois Beardslee (811.6 BE) is an emotionally moving testament to the ingenuity of Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes. These poems are divided into four sections that celebrate the strength and intelligence of Native Americans who have been persecuted by government policies and reshaped over time. “Geographic Analysis of Hearts and Lungs of Holocaust Survivors” walks readers through a history of genocide and relocation resulting from a clash of cultures and centuries of foreign domination. Readers will enjoy Beardslee’s mastery of words and phrasing, while being challenged to think about societal biases.


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