Posts Tagged ‘Ann Arbor’

Kerrytown BookFest sets schedule of authors, exhibitors and book artists for 2013

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013


Kerrytown 2012 Scene

Detroit may be on the brink of bankruptcy, but the city is rich with authors writing new books about the city’s economy, the auto industry and its music.

The 11th Kerrytown BookFest will celebrate Detroit and its writers with three panel discussions featuring celebrated auto executive Bob Lutz, rock ‘n’ roll writers Steve Miller (“Detroit Rock City”) and Peter Benjaminson (“Mary Wells”) and urban observers Edward McClelland (“Nothing But Blue Skies: The Heydey”, Gordon Young (“Teardown”), June Thomas (“Redevlopment and Race”) and John Gallagher (“Revolution Detroit”) of the Detroit Free Press. The BookFest is set for 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday September 8 at the Farmers Market in downtown Ann Arbor. The BookFest is free.

As always the Kerrytown BookFest will be an eclectic mix of authors, book artists, used book sellers and fun and crafts for children said Robin Agnew, president of the Kerrytown BookFest Board.

“Each year we ask ourselves how we are going to top the year before and each year we do,” she said.

Agnew said each of the authors featured at the BookFest have recently published books or books which will be unveiled at the BookFest.

As an example, she pointed to the Automobiles and the Industry panel featuring Bob Lutz with his new book “Icons and Idiots”. He will be joined by Steve Lehto who has written a new book “The Great American Jet Pack” along with Bryce Hoffman who recently wrote one of the definitive books on the Ford Motor turn-around (“American Icon”) and Larry Webster of Road & Track Magazine.

Once again, the BookFest will feature several superior mystery writers including Julia Keller (“A Killing in the Hills”, William Kent Krueger (“Ordinary Grace”), Cara Black (“Murder Below Montparnasse”), Erin Hart (“The Book of Killowen”), Libby Fischer Hellman (“A Bitter Veil”) and Alyse Carlson (“The Begonia Bride”).

A special session will feature the quirky and hot authors Matt Bell (“In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods”) and Ben Percy (“Red Moon”) who will enter into a discussion with University of Michigan writing instructor Jeremiah Chamberlin.

There also will be numerous hands on activities for both adults and children where they can produce their own accordion and Meander books.

Agnew, co-owner of Aunt Agatha’s mystery bookshop in Kerrytown, said children and budding children’s book writers and illustrators will be enthralled and entertained by the lineup of authors at this year’s BookFest.

Children’s book authors Ruth McNally Barshaw (“Ellie McDoodle”), Nancy Shaw (“Elena’s Story”) and Shutta Crum (“Dozens of Cousins”)  will join with award-winning illustrator David Catrow (“Max Spaniel”, “Dozens of Cousins” and author or illustrator of 70 books) to discuss picture books from their inception to publication. In addition, Barshaw will conduct a drawing session for young illustrators and Deborah Diesen (“Pout Pout Fish”) will read from her books and conduct sing-a-longs. Critter fish from Diesen’s popular books are being sold at Kohl’s Department Store as part of a national promotion.

Since one of the goals of the BookFest is to celebrate book arts, three panels will focus on Michigan book artists, experimental typography, the changing face of book content and the Detroit letterpress printing scene.

Agnew said by popular demand the panel “Cherchez la Femme” will feature writers Bonnie Jo Campbell, (“Once Upon a River”) Natalie Bakopoulos (“The Green Shore”), and poets Francine Harris (“Allegiance”) and Susan Ramsey (“A Mind Like This”) discussing the women’s point of view.

“Each year we mix new authors, veteran authors from a variety of genres along with notable experts in the printing arts to create the best small book festival in the country,” Agnew said.

Agnew said  “the BookFest is sponsored by many-many small donors along with the Michigan Humanities Council and is planned, organized and run by an all volunteer Board.

It is something we are very proud of,” she said.

The BookFest also will recognize Jay Platt, owner of Westside Books, for his service to the book community with the Community Book Award and will announce the winners of the Sixth Annual Book Cover design contest.

For a complete schedule, a list of authors and presenters visit

Also, potential exhibitors including book sellers, artists and photographers are encouraged to visit the website  and register online.

Jay Platt named Kerrytown BookFest Community Book Award winner

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Jay Platt proprietor of West Side Books in Ann Arbor is the quintessential antiquarian book store owner. He can trace his interests in owning a book store back to at least 1970 when he visited Book Row, the legendary New York Bookstores on 4th Avenue.

“It turned on a lightbulb in my head,” Platt said.

“In the back of my mind I always wanted to own a bookshop,” he said.

Platt had graduated from the University of Michigan with an engineering degree in naval architecture and ship design, but knew “he never wanted to do that.”

His interest in boats however did help spur his own collecting interests including nautical books and books on polar exploration along with books by Jack Kerouac. Before opening West Side Books Platt worked at SBS Books on South University, Neds in Ypsilanti and at David’s Book Emporium where he was in charge of the rare books.

When he was ready to take the leap into the book store business in 1975 he used his house as collateral to borrow $3000 to open the store and it’s been at the same location ever since on 113 West Liberty Street in an historic building dating to 1888. Coincidentally, the location was once the home to a German bookseller.

 In 1976, he took another leap and by sponsoring the Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair held annually in the spring at the Michigan Union. He said in the 1970s he was riding the crest of a wave of what he now calls the “slow book movement.” He said since that time (pre-internet) he’s seen the romance driven from the book business.

He recalls at the time that catalogs and the ABE Weekly were the two primary mechanisms for buying and selling book across the country. He distinctly remembers one mimeographed catalog from which he purchased a first edition of Kerouac’s “Town and the City” for $1.50.

Platt also believes that people aren’t as literate as they used to be.

“We’re just less broadly educated,” he said.

“There was a whole generation in the 1970s which helped create the renaissance in the antiquarian book selling business.”

You can imagine that someone who has been in the bookselling business since 1975 has a lot of stories to tell, but one of his favorites was the day a women walked into his shop and asked “Do you have any books by Jack Kerouac?”

As it turned out the woman was “Frank” Edie Kerouac-Parker, Jack Kerouac’s first wife from Grosse Point, Michigan. In their ensuing conversation Platt learned that Kerouac had based the book “Town and the City” on Ann Arbor Michigan rather than his hometown which was commonly believed. Edie Parkerk would later do an event in the store which still ranks as one of his personal highpoints.

Platt was recently selected for the 2013 Kerrytown BookFest Community Book Award for his contributions to the literary life of Ann Arbor. Platt will receive the award at the Kerrytown BookFest which is set for Sunday, September 8 at the Farmers’ Market in Ann Arbor. The BookFest which is in its 11th year features more than 30 authors, book artists and more than 100 exhibitors selling books and book-related items. For more information

Robin Agnew proprietor of mystery bookstore Aunt Agatha’s Books and president of the BookFest said “Jay Platt is the quintessential antiquarian bookseller and has added so much to the literary fabric of the community.”

“He loves books, writing and authors and his zest for the bookselling business can be felt all across Ann Arbor,” she said.

Gene Alloway former Kerrytown BookFest president and owner of Motte and Bailey Books said “Jay goes beyond the call; especially for new booksellers.”

“He is generous with his advice and is an excellent mentor to collectors.”

Most days of the week you can usually catch Jay Platt sitting behind his desk just inside the door of West Side Books where he’s either sorting and pricing books or working the daily New York Times crossword puzzle in ink.

If you love a good mystery you’ll love our mystery writers

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Among other interesting tidbits, mystery lovers will learn about the punjab lasso (used in the Phantom of the Opera and now in a Michigan-based mystery) which will probably put them in seventh heaven (or wherever they go) at the 10th annual Kerrytown BookFest 11 a..m.-5 p.m. Sunday September 9 in Ann Arbor Michigan. The BookFest is free, is in a covered venue (the Ann Arbor’s Farmer’s Market on 4th and Kingsley) and is the largest book festival in Michigan.

At 1:00 p.m. a panel discussion with some of the best writers in America will get the mystery train on the track with “Three Awesome Mystery Babes & One Mysterious Dude” featuring moderator and author Bryan Gruley (his newest book is “Skeleton Box”, a Michigan based mystery). Gruley leads a discussion with Kelly Nichols (one half of P.J. Parish, the sisters write another series with a strong Michigan presence), Julie Kramer, author of the Riley Spartz mysteries, and Emmy Award winning Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of “The Other Woman” as well as the Charlotte McNally series. Between the authors they have been nominated for the Edgar, the Anthony, the Shamus, the Barry, the Agatha and the Macavity Awards – in short, every award the mystery community has to offer.
At 2 p.m., three other mystery writers: Doug Allyn, D.E. Johnson and Loren Estleman will be on a panel with author Larry D. Sweazy to discuss the various ways Loren D. Estleman’s mentorship has helped them in getting published. Allyn serves as moderator, and Estleman will respond to the comments and provide his point of view. Estleman’s newest Amos Walker mystery is “Burning Midnight” is the 22nd in the series set in Detroit. Just recently D. E. Johnson whose novels are also set in Detroit during the early age of the auto industry had his newest book “Detroit Breakdown”  
reviewed by Robin Agnew proprietor of Aunt Agatha’s mystery bookstore in Ann Arbor and president of the Kerrytown BookFest. Read the review at Johnson’s newest book takes place in 1912 in Detroit’s Eloise hospital  for the insane when an auto industry executive and amateur detective goes undercover to prove his beau’s brother is innocent of murder. Johnson craftily uses the punjab lasso to kill people in his third book in the series.
At 3 p.m. editor and writer Jeremiah Chamberlain, of The Fiction Writer’s Review and a professor at the University of Michgan, interviews Pulitzer prize winning journalist and novelist Julia Keller.  Keller’s new book is a crime novel, “A Killing in the Hills” which is getting a lot of attention nationally.
It’s quite a lineup for mystery authors once again at the Kerrytown BookFest.

Coney dog authors will go “one up” at the Kerrytown BookFest

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Say “one up” in Detroit and you’ll get a coney dog with everything. Everything includes mustard, a meaty coney sauce and a pretty good handful of onions. And all of this for under $2.00; sometimes 99 cents if you are patient and drive around enough. Coney dogs have been a part of Detroit’s and its suburbs’ food culture for so long that we’ve forgotten their origin.

Authors Joe Grimm, MSU journalism professor, and Katherine Yung, Detroit Free Press writer, have solved that problem in their new book “Coney Detroit” which is a coffee table sized book about the long- time Detroit tradition. The book which is published by the Wayne State University Press is more than a labor of love since any profits from the book and the photographer royalties are being donated to the Gleaners Community Foodbank of Southeastern Michigan.

Not only does the book trace the Coney Dog’s humble beginnings but it also answers significant questions like how the Flint Coney is different and how to eat a coney dog. Long time Detroit fans and residents will like the description of the battle between American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island which sit next to each other on Michigan Ave. in downtown Detroit.

Grimm and Katherine Yung will join Kerrytown BookFest Board Member Kate Kehoe at 4 p.m., Sunday September 9 at the Kerrytown BookFest which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary.