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Lake & Island Notes                                  March 2016

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Recent Media Attention

Bayfield couple travels to Cuba on agricultural research visas

Featured Title

For a Little While 
by Rick Bass

Another volume of short stories (does this say something about our attention span these days?) comes from that master commentator of the Anthropocene, Rick Bass. These are powerful and poignant stories both vintage and new that secure Bass’s place in the pantheon of environmental literature. His deep connection both to the wild and to humanity anchors this collection and shows how both are sacred. With so few words Bass says so much and draws an everyman character of each of his neighbors in the Yaak Valley of  northwestern Montana who populate these tales. This book will not disappoint.

Featured Title

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 
by Ransom Riggs 

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

The story is told through a combination of narrative and vernacular photographs from the personal archives of collectors listed by the author. This spine-tingling fantasy will soon be hitting the big screen with director Tim Burton at the helm; we'd suggest reading the book first! 

Featured Title

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larkson

NOW IN PAPERBACK! In May of 1915, a torpedo fired from a German submarine struck the RMS Lusitania, a British passenger ship with nearly 200 Americans aboard. She sunk off the coast of Ireland in less than 20 minutes, killing 1,200 passengers and crew, fully half of whose remains were never recovered. Common knowledge has it that this event drove the United States to enter a European war that would become World War I, but, in fact, while the Lusitania's fate played some role in that decision, it took two full years and the secret German Zimmerman telegram for the U.S. to enter the war in 1917. The Lusitania's story is in itself moving, and carries great historical significance, but these events positively glitter with life in Larson's engaging, quick-paced and captivating prose. Though it incorporates well-documented history, Larson's writing still contains elements of suspense for all but the most expert readers. Dead Wake is a masterpiece of gripping narrative nonfiction, arguably the most riveting of Larson's works.
Other Links of Interest
Apostle Islands Booksellers
Bayfield, Wisconsin

Last year half of all Wisconsin counties lost population. Those losses occurred in the rural parts of the state, not the cities. Population grew there. Not surprisingly, the number of rural, small businesses has diminished as well. Is it the chicken or the egg? This is a crisis for rural Wisconsin in general and for us here in the Chequamegon Region in particular. Critical mass is essential for the viability of any community. Critical mass is what we’re losing. Causation is a tricky business, but we think we see one element as noted in our recent letter to the editor:

Wisconsin State Journal
1901 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison, WI 53713
Madison, Wisconsin 

Dear Editor:

          Much as I appreciate and support Wisconsin Public Radio, I am categorically opposed to its policy of taking funds from and promoting the predatory business model of, Inc. That model has been catastrophic for local businesses and, as a consequence, ruinous to local communities especially in the rural parts of our state. While WPR boasts of its alignment with and support of such communities in Wisconsin its partnership with Amazon enables their demise.

          First the big-box stores drove commerce from our rural downtowns to the fringes of our communities. The profits accrued to distant corporate interests. Amazon is administering the coup de grace by driving commerce out of our communities entirely. Despite its enormous revenues Amazon has consistently operated at a loss. It has concentrated its energies and resources on destroying its competition in local communities by predatory pricing practices. Small businesses cannot absorb the losses incident to that kind of price war. They take the immediate hit, but the community takes the deeper, long-term hit. Not a dime of the sale stays in the local community. Not a job is created in the local community. No rent is paid. No services are employed. This is monopoly, not competition!

          Look, I understand the dynamics of disruptive capitalism as well as the next person. That does not mean that its supposed positive consequences should simply be endorsed and lived with. The economies of scale, efficiencies and perceived consumer benefits are only part of the equation. The collateral damage to our communities also needs to be considered, evaluated and responded to accordingly.  

          WPR claims that “strengthening Wisconsin's communities” is essential to its mission. To “strengthen” is to have agency and take an active stance. To take $20,000 from Amazon and to direct its listeners to the Amazon sales website is to actively “weaken” Wisconsin’s communities. I have been unable to persuade WPR of this contradiction. I would expect better of this otherwise worthy organization. 
                        Theron O’Connor

Sometimes our friends can unwittingly be among our worst enemies. Wisconsin Public Radio is a great, long-term institution in our state. We understand their financial pressures as more and more “public” funds are withdrawn. But, the damage done to rural Wisconsin communities by its partnership with, Inc. is unacceptable. We ask that you support us in our effort to get their attention and revisit their mission of “strengthening Wisconsin’s communities.”

On the brighter side – literally – we are part of the movement here to create Community Solar Farms and Gardens. Both of our local utilities – Bayfield Electric and Xcel – are on board and are offering shares to their respective customers. The idea is that the utility would construct the large scale infrastructure and solar arrays and the customers would buy-in and receive credit for the power production from the panels they have invested in. To our minds it is the right thing to do for both the utility and the consumers, but interestingly it is a terrific investment for the user and a money-maker for the utility as well. It’s a win-win-win-win for climate change, the community, the utility and the consumer.

For more information on this movement, check out the book Power From the Sun: Achieving Energy Independence by Can Chiras. We also encourage you to visit the Bayfield Electric Cooperative's Community Solar Farm website or the Chequamegon Bay Renewables website.

Remember, if you’ve lost yours,
we are your local bookstore!

All of us at AIB

What we're reading...

The Ancient Minstrel  
by Jim Harrison 

Here comes another iteration of Harrison’s collections of “novellas” – short novels or long short stories or something in between. This time there are three in the typical voice of this often randy and profane scribe of the northwoods male – whether in Montana or the UP. The Case of the Howling Buddhas features Harrison’s aging Detective Sunderson on a huntin’ and fishin’ outdoor romp in pursuit of the leader of a cult whose devotees imitate howler monkeys. Eggs explores the life of Catherine a Montana farmer with an unenviable life – both as a child and as an adult – and who favors the Chinese thought “that the most fortunate life was one in which nothing much happened.” Yet something noble inhabits her solitary life.  The Ancient Minstrel is a thinly-veiled autobiographical ramble of an aging writer/poet reaching the end of his powers. He raises pigs; he goes to France; he comes back to Montana; he reconciles (sort of) with his wife; and cooks for and eats with his friends. The minstrels of literature and of his childhood terrify him. But, make no mistake, his is a deeply savored life.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours 
by Helen Oyeyemi

A year or so ago we review Oyeyemi’s novel Snow, Boy, Bird which we liked a lot, but did not get much response to. Now comes her first collection of short stories. We like it just as much and hope that it gets some traction. Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria, grew up in South London and currently lives in Prague. From this cosmopolitan perch she writes stories often rooted in fairy tale right down to the “Once upon a time…” opening. In Snow, Boy, Bird we had Snow White and here we have echoes of Pinocchio and Little Red Riding Hood among others. Oyeyemi’s universe slides back and forth between fantasy and reality and alternates between playful and painful. Her titles are captivating in themselves: eg. If A Book Is Locked There’s Probably A Good Reason For That Don’t You Think or ’Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea.

Final Thoughts...

Two years ago we were honored to be selected as one of the "Best of the Lake" by the readers of Lake Superior Magazine. For more than two decades, readers of Lake Superior Magazine have shared their favorite spots, sights, restaurants, lodgings and recreation for the Best of the Lake awards. We would be honored if our loyal customers would take a couple of minutes to fill out this survey. Let them know about your favorite lodging, parks, restaurants, beaches, and of course your favorite retailers - Apostle Islands Booksellers! 

Take Survey Here
AIB Book Club Meeting

March 31st at 4:00pm
- Join us for the next AIB Book Club meeting as we discuss the book, White Collar Girl, written by Renee Rosen. We will meet at Big Water Coffee Roasters.
We will determine our final book club title for the season at this meeting as well. Remember you get 20% off with the book club discount. All are welcome!

Save 20% Off One Book!

Just mention this newsletter and use this month's passphrase:
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This coupon may not be combined with any other promotions or discounts.
Limited to one use and one coupon per customer.

Offer expires April 20th, 2016
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