Join us for an evening with Michigan author John Smolens to celebrate the re-release of three of his early novels, Cold, Fire Point and Invisible World by Michigan State University Press. Smolens has been described as “…that rare and gifted writer who can capture both our exterior and interior worlds with equal dexterity, grace, and power” by Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog. If you have not read him yet, here is a wonderful opportunity to visit some of his best writing.
John was a professor in the English Department at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan where he started in 1996. He taught a variety of writing fiction workshops at the graduate and undergraduate level; he has also taught Good Books, Composition, and writing workshops devoted to Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, and Travel Writing. Smolens has published ten works of fiction, including Quarantine, The Schoolmaster's Daughter, and Wolf's Mouth.
Internationally acclaimed, Cold takes us deep into a harsh, frozen world, where love, greed, and the promise of a second chance compel six people toward a chilling and inevitable reckoning. In the frozen reaches of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, fierce winter storms hit without warning. The white opacity of one such blizzard allows Norman Haas to walk away from his prison work detail. Dangerously close to freezing to death, Norman is given shelter by Liesl Tiomenen, a middle-aged woman who lives in a house she and her late husband built in the woods. Armed with a rifle, she tries to turn him in, but when they set out on snowshoes, she suffers a fall, allowing him to flee again. Thus begins Norman's journey back to his past, back to the woman he loved who betrayed him, back to the brother who helped put him away, back to a dangerous web of family allegiances, deceptions, and intrigue. After finding Liesl injured and abandoned in the woods, Yellow Dog Township's sole full-time law enforcement officer Del Maki pursues Norman through a storm of mythic proportions.
At nineteen, Hannah LeClaire already has a reputation in the village of Whitefish Harbor, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is given to solitary walks along the shore of Lake Superior, and on a cold April day she meets Martin Reed, who has just moved north from Chicago to renovate a dilapidated house he has inherited. Hannah immediately realizes that Martin, who is ten years her senior, is also an outcast and quite unlike anyone she has ever met. A story of love, vengeance, and renewal, Fire Point depicts the young couple's attempt to rebuild their lives. But when Hannah's former boyfriend Sean Colby returns home after a mysterious early discharge from the army, he cannot accept the fact that she has a new lover and commits a series of increasingly violent acts against Hannah, Martin, and the house that has come to represent their future.
The Invisible World portrays how a remarkable family is indelibly marred by one of the darkest conspiracy theories in American history: the gunman on the grassy knoll. Boston journalist Sam Adams suspects that his father may have been the unidentified gunman in the JFK assassination. True or not, Sam is certain that his father, the elusive John Adams, is responsible for his sister Abigail's tortured life of drugs, prostitution, and the conviction that she is a descendant of Salem witches, as well as the strange circumstances that surround his mother's final hours. After Sam's mother dies and is cremated, her ashes are stolen. Believing that his father is responsible, Sam pursues the man he has not seen in years. He discovers that he is not the only one searching for his father--federal agents, a disgraced politician, a retired Boston cop, and several journalists join the chase. "The Invisible World is more than a first-rate political thriller," says The Boston Globe. "It's an absorbing tale of alienation and loss, and the ramifications of a rootless, troubled family." What Sam Adams ultimately discovers is that the shadowy realm of conspiracies conjures a world of hidden truths and intrigue in which the familiar is the most mysterious force of all.