I recently finished a book called God Lives in St. Petersburg by Tom Bissell. For someone of my age (early fifties) it can be a little annoying to encounter members of the younger generation (thirty-something generation X, Y or whatever) with superior insight. At the same time it’s great to know that the younger folks, with all their tacky gadgetry, are still interested in good writing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Bissell is from Escanaba, Michigan, which is on Big Bay De Noc, the north shore of Lake Michigan, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Much of the UP’s economy has to do with tourism and recreation, but I’ve always found something forlorn about it. There are good times to be had, and beautiful country, but it’s also harsh and will hurt you if you’re not careful. The winters are too long, too cold with too much snow. Summers are hot, short, and buggy. Spring is non-existant, and autumn is wonderful. It’s a place where life is lived more in boots than shoes. Escanaba can stay under leaden cloud cover for weeks, easily sustaining the chronic drink-soaked depression of the likes of a Dylan Thomas.
And Escanaba has produced an important young writer in Tom Bissell. A former Peace Corp volunteer assigned to Uzbekistan, Bissell writes about south Asia and the former Soviet Union. He has a new book out called The Father of All Things. Bissell’s father is a Marine and Viet Nam veteran, and the son grew up with ghosts from his dad’s war. They went back to Viet Nam together.
I’m looking forward to reading the book.
Cross-posted from Sustainable Middle Class Blog