Literary Fiction Author Panel
Michael Ferro, Kelly Fordon & Laura Hulthen Thomas
Join us for a panel presentation featuring accomplished authors from the state of Michigan! Detroit author Michael Ferro is celebrating the release of his debut novel Title 13, named a "Most Anticipated Small Press Book of 2018" by literary blog Big Other. Kelly Fordon is a former writer-in-residence at InsideOut LIterary arts in Detroit, whose collection of interconnected stories, Garden for the Blind, was named a Michigan Notable book. Joining them will be University of Michigan creative writing professor Laura Hulthen Thomas, speaking about her acclaimed short story collection States of Motion.
MICHAEL A. FERRO's fiction and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. He won the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award for Fiction, received an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train for their New Writers Award, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born and bred in Detroit, Michael has lived, worked, and written throughout the Midwest; he currently resides in rural Ann Arbor, Michigan. TITLE 13 is his first novel.
Prior to writing fiction and poetry, Kelly Fordon worked at the NPR member station in Detroit and for National Geographic magazine. Her fiction, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in The Boston Review, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Kenyon Review, and various other journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, On the Street Where We Live, which won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest, and Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt, which was published by Kattywompus Press in 2013. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Queens University of Charlotte and worked for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit as a writer-in-residence.
Laura Hulthen Thomas’s work has appeared in The Cimarron Review, Nimrod International Journal, Epiphany and Witness. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College. She currently heads the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan’s Residential College, where she teaches fiction and creative nonfiction.
Praise for Title 13
"Affecting and inventively funny... Ferro's work is an eclectic mélange." --Kirkus Reviews
"A wonderful experience and a terribly compelling character study... sometimes fun, sometimes dark. For a first-time novelist, (Ferro is) very knowing about the emotional territory of life. A very, very ambitious book." --Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune and host of "After Hours with Rick Kogan"
"TITLE 13 is a darkly comic story for our time, a mélange of 'Barton Fink,' 'Office Space,' and Kafka, a novel that examines our alienation from one another and increasingly, our own country. Michael A. Ferro is a young writer on the rise." --Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs, Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men
“Readers who enjoy stories of political and individual blundering and irony should run, not walk, to TITLE 13: it's a hard-hitting story wrapped in a unique voice that makes it nearly impossible to put down." --Midwest Book Review
About Title 13
A timely investigation into the heart of a despotic faction within the government, TITLE 13 deftly blends satirical comedy aimed at the hot-button issues of modern culture with the gut-wrenching reality of an intensely personal descent into addiction.
Heald Brown might be responsible for the loss of highly classified TITLE 13 government documents--and may have hopelessly lost himself as well. Since leaving his home in Detroit for Chicago during the recession, Heald teeters anxiously between despondency and bombastic sarcasm, striving to understand a country gone mad while clinging to his quixotic roots.
Trying to deny the frightening course of his alcoholism, Heald struggles with his mounting paranoia, and his relationships with his concerned family and dying grandmother, all while juggling a budding office romance at the US government's Chicago Regional Census Center. Heald's reality soon digresses into farcical absurdity, fevered isolation, and arcane psychological revelation, hilarious though redoubtable in nature. Meanwhile the TITLE 13 secrets remain at large, haunting each character and tangling the interwoven threads of Heald's life, as the real question looms: Is it the TITLE 13 information that Heald has lost, or his sanity?
Praise for Garden for the Blind
“Garden for the Blind is one of the most intricately and beautifully constructed works of fictions I’ve read…. Kelly Fordon is a writer to admire, and to keep an eye on, and this work is one I’m never going to forget.” – Laura Kasischke, author of Mind of Winter and Eden Springs
In Garden for the Blind, Kelly Fordon has situated her stories such that they dazzle with the immediacy of deeply felt life even as together they awe with the epic sweep of a life lived…. An unforgettable first collection.” – Daniel Mueller, author of Nights I Dreamed of Hubert Humphrey and How Animals Mate
About Garden for the Blind
In Garden for the Blind, trouble lurks just outside the door for Kelly Fordon's diverse yet interdependent characters. As a young girl growing up in an affluent suburb bordering Detroit, Alice Townley witnesses a tragic accident at her parents' lavish party. In the years that follow, Alice is left mostly in the care of the household staff, free to forge friendships with other pampered and damaged teens. When she and her friend Mike decide to pin a crime on another student at their exclusive high school, the consequences will reverberate for years to come.
Set between 1974 and 2012, Fordon's intricately woven stories follow Alice and Mike through high school, college, and into middle age, but also skillfully incorporate stories of their friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who are touched by the same themes of privilege, folly, neglect, and resilience. A WWII veteran sleepwalks out of his home at night, led by vivid flashbacks. A Buddhist monk is assaulted by a robber while seated in meditation. A teenaged girl is shot walking home from the corner store with a friend. A lifelong teacher of blind children is targeted by vandals at the school she founded.
Garden for the Blind visits suburban and working-class homes, hidden sanctuaries and dangerous neighborhoods, illustrating the connections between settings and relationships (whether close or distant) and the strange motivations that keep us moving forward. All readers of fiction will enjoy the nimble unfolding of Fordon's narrative in this collection.
Praise for States of Motion
"Thomas generously gives us the whole messy life. This is deeply satisfying, but you have to pay attention. [ . . . ] Her many Michigan settings are varied, detailed, and familiar to us. She is adept at giving us a character in a few words. They feel like people we have all known. Their thoughts have often been our thoughts, and their secrets are not far from our own." - Gloria Whelan, Michigan Bookmark via Stateside with Cynthia Canty on Michigan Public Radio
"Laura Hulthen Thomas ruminates on the harried and heartbreaking minutiae of everyday people in her riveting short-story collection, States of Motion. These eight tales take the seemingly familiar and subvert it, revealing the discord that aggression and sexual trauma can cause. Set in a series of small Michigan towns, each of Thomas's stories brims with emotional nuance and a sense of grief.” - Foreward Review
About States of Motion
Newton's Laws of Motion describe the relationship between a body and its response to the forces acting upon it. For the men and women in States of Motion, imbalance is a way of life. Set in Michigan small towns both real and fictional, the stories in Laura Hulthen Thomas's collection take place against a backdrop of economic turmoil and the domestic cost of the war on terror. As familiar places, privilege, and faith disappear, what remains leaves these broken characters wondering what hope is left for them. These stories follow blue collars and white, cops and immigrants, and mothers and sons as they defend a world that is quickly vanishing.
The eight stories in States of Motion follow tough, quixotic characters struggling to reinvent themselves even as they cling to what they've lost. A grieving father embraces his town's suspicions of him as the sole suspect in his daughter's disappearance. A driving instructor struggles to care for his abusive mother between training lessons with two flirtatious teens. A behavioral researcher studying the fear response must face her own fears when her childhood attacker returns to ask for her forgiveness. Conditioned by their traumatic pasts to be both sympathetic and numb to suffering, the characters in these stories clutch at a chance to find peace on the other side of terror. From the isolated roadways of Michigan's countryside to the research labs of a major university, the way forward is both one last hope and a deep-seated fear.
The profoundly emotional stories in States of Motion will interest any reader of contemporary literary fiction.