Peninsular pages

Nov 8, 2006 at 12:00 am

Timothy and James Christopher Monger are usually described as writing "literate" pop songs, and Great Lakes Myth Society is probably one of the few bands where that's actually accurate. Here, the brotherly core of GLMS walks the walk with a list of their top eight favorite regional books. Welcome to your handmade autumn-into-winter reading list. Plus, the Mongers get in a shout-out to Marquette's "kazoo-blowing meld of Jonathan Richman and Elvis Costello," who also happens to have started the original, nonpubescent Muldoons.


Other Electricities: Stories by Ander Monson
Sarabande Books

A brilliant collection of loosely knit short stories, lists, obituaries and radio schematics that chronicle the murky depths of a small Upper Peninsula town in the wake of the death of its prom queen. Think Twin Peaks meets The Sweet Hereafter.

The Crooked Tree by Robert Charles Wilson
University of Michigan Press

The best book ever written about tourist-eating black bears inhabited by the soul of an evil Native American spirit called "Shawonabe."

Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook: Discover Their Culinary Legends by P.K. McKenna
Creative Characters Publishing Group

Informative, entertaining and nostalgic, this thick slice of maritime bacon reads like a Sunday hangover at "Old People Buffet." Learn to make "Figgy Duff," "Grandma's Crunchy Jumble Cookies" and "Captain Bob Gallagher's Renowned Charbroiled Pork Loin" (the latter sounds like the name of a prize-winning AKC show dog).

Cold: A Novel by John Smolens
Three Rivers Press

An escaped convict, a widow with a rifle, two sets of snowshoes and a long walk in a roaring blizzard to the closest gas station sets the scene for this bleak, gory and totally engrossing adult snow globe of a book.

The Narrows by Alexander C. Irvine
Del Rey

A World War II fantasy novel in which Ford's River Rouge Plant secretly manufactures golems to aid in the war effort while the mythical Nain Rouge (aka red dwarf) haunts our hero. A fascinating portrait of wartime Detroit.

Final Season by Tom Stanton
St. Martin's Griffin

Michigan writer Tom Stanton attending every single home game of the Tigers' 1999 season, their last at Tiger Stadium. It's a great concept for a memoir.

The Lake, The River and the Other Lake by Steve Amick

This is a humorous, eccentric and sometimes disturbing novel about a fictional Northern Michigan town written by a humorous, eccentric and disturbing Ann Arbor author.

True North by Jim Harrison
Atlantic Monthly Press

A typically brutal and expansive Harrison novel about the scion of a wealthy Upper Penisula lumber family. If it doesn't make you want to drink, you should move to another state.

& one songwriter you should know about:

Sycamore Smith

Marquette's Sycamore Smith is truly our state's bard and court jester in one. A boot-stomping, kazoo-blowing meld of Jonathan Richman and Elvis Costello on absinthe, he also formed the original Muldoons, the leading light of the U.P. punk scene of the '80s and '90s, and not the more recent Detroit group of the same name. (See

Johnny Loftus is music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]