Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Big Thank You to Michigan

A big "thank you" to all my new friends in Michigan. Six lectures, six cities, seven days. All were a great success. The halls were mostly packed to capacity, with lots of extra happenings.

The state library at Lansing was a spectacular venue for the kickoff. That first glimpse of the stately building blew my breath away. Dinner afterwards at the Italian restaurant where the waiter spotted me immediately from the advance publicity. He turned out to be a budding poet. There was a Polish dinner, door prizes, a packed house and a post-talk party in Hamtramck.

Grand Rapids
has a splendid library too, filled with a lively lunchtime audience.

I stayed at the historic Landmark hotel in Marquette, where I tasted the local whitefish, a delicacy, at the Spanish restaurant. My hosts were the organizers who had arranged my afternoon talk at the lovely Peter White Library opposite the hotel.

Next day we meandered down the coast road to Traverse City, true Hemingway country, where I luxuriated at the Resort and Spa. One of the board members donated the accommodation. The evening at the newly renovated Traverse City Opera House was elegant and well attended. Ernest's nephew James Sanford came with his Marian and several friends from Walloon Lake. They enjoyed themselves immensely.

The crowning glory was the final night of my tour in Saginaw. Dr. Sam Shaheen and his lovely wife Patricia, were my hosts at the Ramada Inn. Patty was the grand organizer of the Hemingway evening held at the Shaheen's newly restored Temple Theatre. After my talk, I presented the essay and short story finalists their prizes on stage. In a bar scene with live music playing 1950s hits, 26 Hemingway "look-alikes" competed for the coveted title. The winner, # 18, is off to Key West in July to further his career. A reception followed while I signed my book till my hand ached. I signed an average of seventy-five books at each venue, along with cards, posters, coasters, tee shirts and whatever else was presented.

What a fine time! What great people! Michigan is certainly a reading place. And Ernest Hemingway is one of their favorite authors.

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