2021 Book Selections
Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie
An irresistible literary feast of the Midwest's gustatory pleasures and peculiarities, created by thirty midwestern writers. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes us on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of paté. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe. Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie serves up generous helpings of laughter, culinary confession, and food memories. It was named the Foreword Book of the Year 2013 Gold winner for anthologies and finalist for essays. The awards are for the best of independent presses, judged by librarians and booksellers.
Teacher/Pizza Guy is a collection of autobiographical poems chronicling Jeff Kass’s experience of teaching, directing, feeding people, and treading the delicate balance of holding himself accountable to his wife and kids, his students, his customers, and his own mental and physical health while working three jobs in contemporary America. The journey as an Ann Arbor high school teacher and delivery driver was draining, at times daunting, at times satisfying, but always surprising. Many of the ideas for these poems were initially scribbled onto the backs of pizza receipts or scratched out during precious free moments amidst the chaos of the school day.
A 2021 Michigan Notable Book Award Winner.
About the Authors
Peggy Wolff, Editor
Peggy Wolff’s feature articles on farmers and outdoor markets, chefs, foodstuffs, and Jewish holiday food rituals have appeared over the past seventeen years in the Chicago Tribune and many other newspapers. She has also written features on art, photography, design, and ultra-sports for the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Chicago Magazine, ArtNews, The Week, Outdoor Photographer, and more.
She attributes her love of food to a pink metal oven that her parents bought for her at age eight. Although they quickly banned the plug-in child’s oven to the garage along with the mess Wolff created, a lifelong interest in cooking was born. During her school years she was a short-order cook at Woolworth’s lunch counter and at a high mountain lodge in the Cascades.
Years later, standing over the stove led to a writerly obsession with food.. Project by project, it’s usually hard to say who you are as a writer or what your long-term subject is. But Wolff started to see themes. By the tenth newspaper or magazine feature she realized that she was always gravitating back to food.
Praise, Awards, Distinctions
Wolff’s first book Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food was named the 2013 IndieFab GOLD winner for Anthologies by Foreword Magazine. The jury included readers, booksellers, and librarians in America; reviews appeared in over 50 journals including the New York Times Sunday Book Review and the Times Literary Supplement (London.)
Wolff’s second title—and debut cookbook—Not Since Sliced Bread (seeking publication) is one of four titles in a series of single ingredient cookbooks on the Midwest—Pie, Vegetables, Barbecue, and Bread—assigned by the late New York Times food columnist and best-selling author Molly O’Neill. Each bread recipe has a lengthy hednote; collectively the bread bakers tell their stories of migration into the heartland: the Amish, Germans, Bohemians, Polish, Scandinavians, Lebanese, Italians, and others who left their countries seeking better lives.
Jeff Kass, Author
Jeff Kass teaches tenth-grade English and creative writing at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the founder of the Literary Arts Program at Ann Arbor’s teen center, The Neutral Zone, where he was program director for twenty years. He is also the author of the award-winning short story collection Knuckleheads, the poetry collection My Beautiful Hook-Nosed Beauty Queen Strut Wave, and the thriller Takedown. He lives in Ann Arbor with the author Karen Smyte and their children, Sam and Julius.
EVENTS FOR 2021 BOOK SELECTIONS
Teacher/Pizza Guy – poems by Jeff Kass
Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food – edited by Peggy Wolff
September 2 – September 21
Battle of the Recipe Box Submissions. Submit your favorite recipe with a paragraph or two as to why it is special. The Top 5 will be voted on and winners announced at a Covid-safe Taste Off event for the public on October 16 in Munising. Enter your recipe by September 21. Enter Here.
September 7 onward
Cooking video by Pam Roose of Inspiring Roots of Anne Dimock’s Rhubarb Kuchen with Almond Meringue. Watch!
Sunday, September 19, 6 p.m.
Jeff Kass, Teacher/Pizza Guy poetry reading at East Channel Brewery in Munising with The Cooking Carberry’s Wood Fired Pizza.
Monday, September 20, 7 p.m.
Jeff Kass, Teacher/Pizza Guy poetry reading, Peter White Public Library Shiras Room, Marquette. Masks are required for all library visitors at this time.
Wednesday, September 29, 7 p.m.
Open Mouth Open Mic. Share your writings, songs and thoughts about food. Ore Dock Brewing Company, Marquette.
Wednesday, October 6, 7 p.m.
Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie author readings and panel discussion with featured writers Bonnie Jo Campbell, Anne Dimock and Peggy Wolff.
Saturday, October 16, 11 a.m.
Battle of the Recipe Box Taste Off and Awards, at the Munising School Public Library.
All events are free and open to everyone!
How to Access the Books
Copies are available for purchase at the NMU bookstore, at Snowbound Books, Falling Rock Books and Cafe in Munising and other bookstores in Marquette County. You may also order the novel from your local bookstore, online retailer or check out a copy at your library.
Or download the free Libby or Overdrive app from Google Play, App Store, or Microsoft, and you can access a free ebook version, if you have a library card.
Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie is available as a talking book to National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled Patrons. Find out more and access the talking book at greatlakestalkingbooks.org.