I’m lucky to live close to one of the Greatest American Cities for Writers as named by Flavorwire: Ann Arbor, MI. Home of the University of Michigan, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and birthplace of Borders, this city is super book friendly. A2 (what we Michiganders call it) was never somewhere I visited when I was younger. It was an hour drive and full of college hippies from a school I didn’t want to attend. But now, in my literary phase, I’m there a few times a month.
My librarian friend Amy asked me if I wanted to go to a book crawl that was a part of the Ann Arbor Book Festival. How many ways could I say yes? The day that worked best for us was a Thursday evening so I drove over after work and met Amy for dinner downtown. She told me about her new job at a library in a wealthy suburb and all the types of people who came to that. She told me about a program she hopes to run that’s similar to a community read, but it focuses on taking action around an environmental issue. The book she’d chosen was Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn. The book touches on water pollution among many other topics and she thought it would be a great program. I hope to participate when it comes about.
After dinner we went to the first location, Nicola’s Books. I could live forever in this bookstore and it made me really happy. There were three non-fiction writers there: Daryl Hafter (Woman and Work in Eighteenth Century France), Scott Ellsworth (The Secret Game), and Juan Cole (The New Arabs). Personally, I was most interested in Ellsworth book which focuses on racial integration in basketball. He was a very engaging speaker. We left after the event, stealing a few cookies on our way out.
The second stop was Seva, a local restaurant chain. We had three authors at this location: E.D.E. Bell (Spireseeker), Donovan Hohn, and Ava Chin (Eating Wildly). So if you were paying attention, you’ll notice that Hohn is the author of the Moby-Duck book Amy and I were talking about at dinner. Yeah, didn’t know that was going to happen! It was a really cool surprise. It turns out he teaches creative writing at Wayne State University (GO WARRIORS!) in Detroit. I bought a copy of his book and had it signed. It seemed like a signal from the book shelves that I needed to read this book.
He also had plastic turtles (relatives of the Moby Duck) that he’d collected during his research. All the authors did a reading from their book. Chin’s memoir intrigued me and if it ever comes up again, I think I would read it. She has a really cool hobby of urban foraging that blows my mind.
The final destination was at the Quarter Bistro. Amy and I got there late after talking to Hohn and seeing if he would speak at Amy’s library (a very firm probably). I was standing in the back and a woman at a table in front of me offered me the last seat at her table. It seemed like a family so reluctantly I accepted. The writers at this location were Susan Hutton, Michael Byers, and Callie McKee. Hutton is a poet which is not my forte and I can’t comment on. Byers writes short stories and I really enjoyed the selection he read. McKee is an actress and performed some performance pieces. Oh, and she was sitting right next to me! She’d invited me to sit at the table with her family who were all there to support her. It felt like sitting at the head table after crashing a wedding. I enjoyed her pieces and it reminded me of the poetry slam I went to a while ago. I thanked her for the seat after her performance.
All in all, it was a great night. I enjoyed every minute of it. I hope to participate in more days of the festival next year when my schedule will (hopefully) be more open to it. I hope you have the opportunity to participate in literary festivals and all things books near you. I love the opportunities I have.
Until next time, write on.