A few other standouts do capture an indelible geographical essence, including Taylor's own "The Man at the Edge," a story addressing race and mostly set in Detroit. The race it addresses isn't blackness but whiteness--especially in a startling scene, set in the DIA, that addresses whiteness, not in relief against blackness, but through the contemplation of a Brueghel painting. A tough, sinewy tale of hard work and hard marriage ("Bitchathane," by Ann-Marie Oomen) deserves a permanent spot in the UP canon. In "Bones on Bois Blanc," Laura Hulthen Thomas tells a wonderfully classic ghost story, with plenty of spooky multigenerational family dysfunction, but she also hilariously evokes the trapped feeling of going insane in a marriage, with a husband who begins nearly every sentence with the teeth-knashingly predictable, "Looking at it rationally ..."
But the "Only in Michigan" prize goes to Steve Amick's "Not Even Lions and Tigers," a work of brilliant historical fiction. A bizarre corner of local history inspired this story, and it's so weird that it's incomprehensible without some external factual orientation. I read it with one hand on the book and the other on the Wikipedia entry for Harry Bennett, a real-life creep show I had never heard of.
Amick and several other contributors to Ghost Stories read from their stories at the U-M Residential College on September 29.
[Originally published in September, 2011.]