Dec. 15 2010 12:00 AM

Notable Books list honors the state's best

With the 2010 National Book Award Winner, a former National Book Award finalist and two Pulitzer Prize winning writers on the list, you could easily make a case that the Michigan Notable Books for 2011 would stand out in all 50 states.

The Library of Michigans annual awards (which were announced Monday) honored Jaimy Gordon’s “Lord of Misrule,” the 2010 National Book Award Winner; National Book Award finalist Thomas Lynch (“Apparitions & Late Fiction”); and two Pulitzer Prizewinning writers, Bryan Gruley (“The Hanging Tree”) and Philip Levine (“Detroit Disassembled”). Small presses, including the University of Michigan, Wayne State and Michigan State University, took home 15 awards.

Lansing area authors William C. Whitbeck, state Appeals Court judge (“To Account For Murder”), and Lawrence Glazer, a retired Ingham County judge (“Wounded Warrior”), were recognized, as was “The Sweetness of Freedom," from local historians Stephen Ostrander and Martha Bloomfield.

Several coffeetable books are on the list, including “Blues In Black and White,” “Detroit Disassembled” and “Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan.”

Three mysteries on the list look at the darker sides of Michigan. Whitbeck’s debut legal thriller, “To Account For Murder” tells of a time when political corruption was part and parcel Courtesy photo of getting a law passed.

Wall Street Journal editor Bryan Gruley, who has won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, takes you to Northern Michigan in “The Hanging Tree” for a mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end, and D.E Johnson’s “The Detroit Electric Scheme,” like Whitbeck’s book, is a historical mystery that plumbs the depths of evil and flawed men.

Steve Lehto was on the list for the third time with “Chryslers Turbine Car” and “Sixty to Zero,” by Alex Taylor III, examines the rise and fall of General Motors.

"For 10 years the Library of Michigan has honored books and authors promoting Michigan and Michigans literary heritage and its people," State Librarian Nancy Robertson said.

"The Michigan Notable Book program goes well beyond just this list of books. The program helps to promote the notion that bookstores, libraries and readers should spend time focusing on Michigans rich literary culture.”

Books must be published during the previous calendar year and must be about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or be written by a native or resident of Michigan.

2011 Michigan Notable Books

“Apparition & Late Fiction: A Novella and Stories” by Thomas Lynch (W. W. Norton & Co.) Lynch’s first collection of fiction focuses on the qualities that make us human.

in Black and White: The Landmark Ann Arbor Blues Festivals” by Michael
Erlewine, Stanley Livingston (photographer) and Tom Erlewine (designer)
(University of Michigan Press) Words and images document the early days of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival.

“Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation” by Steve Lehto (Chicago Review Press) In 1964, Chrysler built a fleet of turbine cars; Lehto’s book explores how the program went wrong.

“Detroit Disassembled” by Andrew Moore (Damiani/Akron Art Museum) Photographer Moore finds beauty in what many consider Detroit’s decay.

“The Detroit Electric Scheme: A Mystery” by D.E. Johnson (Minotaur
Books) A ride through early-1900s Detroit, involving murder, blackmail
and the history of Detroit’s early electric cars.

“Eden Springs: A Novella” by Laura Kasischke (Wayne State University Press) A suspicious death is discovered at the House of David colony in Benton Harbor in 1923.

“Freshwater Boys: Stories by Adam Schuitema” (Delphinium Books) Michigan native Schuitema’s debut collection contains 11 short stories set in and around the Great Lakes.

“The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery” by Bryan Gruley (Simon
& Schuster) When the "wild girl" that left town 18 years ago is
found dead after returning home, reporter Gus Carpenter sets out to
solve the mystery.

“Lord of Misrule” by Jaimy Gordon (McPherson)
Gordon’s novel, set at half-mile horse racing track in the early 1970s,
is the 2010 National Book Award winner for fiction.

“A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir” by Godfrey J. Anderson, Gordon Olson (editor) (William
B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.) A West Michigan soldier’s memoir details
his experiences as a member of the 337th Field Hospital Unit during the
illfated "Polar Bear Expedition" in 1918-1919.

“Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country” by Alison K. Hoagland (University of Minnesota Press) A history of the labor/management tensions in the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country mining towns.

“Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan” by Michael R. Federspiel (Wayne
State University Press) In this illustrated look into the writer’s time
at Walloon Lake, readers get a glimpse into Hemingway himself.

“Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City” by John Gallagher (Wayne State University Press) An analysis of a city faced with deindustrialization and population loss.

“Sawdusted: Notes from a Post-Boom Mill” by Raymond Goodwin (University of Wisconsin Press) A memoir of the author’s time spent work ing in a northern Michigan sawmill.

“Sixty to Zero: An Inside Look at the Collapse of General Motors and the Detroit Auto Industry” by Alex Taylor III (Yale University Press) Taylor shows how General Motors’ recent bankruptcy was 40 years in the making.

“The Sweetness of Freedom: Stories of Immigrants” by Stephen Ostrander and Martha Bloomfield (Michigan
State University Press) Testimonies and family stories of immigrants
who came to Michigan to make new lives for themselves.

“To Account for Murder” by William C. Whitbeck (Permanent Press) A fictional legal thriller about the Purple Gang, set in post-World War II Lansing.

“Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams,” edited by M.L. Liebler (Coffee
House Press) Anthology of poems, essays and short stories by prominent
poets, historians, rock stars and social activists.

“Wounded Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson” by Lawrence M. Glazer (Michigan
State University Press) A portrait of Michigan’s controversial 42nd
Governor (1961-1962) and Michigan Supreme Court Justice (1971-1975).

“You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face-Blindness and Forgiveness” by Heather Sellers (Riverhead)
Hope College professor discusses living with prosopagnosia, a
neurological disorder that makes it difficult to reliably recognize