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Monday, Aug. 9, 2010

‘Freshwater Boys’ Explores Life Along Lake Michigan

Schuitema to discuss short-story collection at Boswell

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Twelve million people live along the shores of Lake Michigan, a body of water that plays a vital role for residents of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Michigan, the state with the farthest-reaching freshwater coastline, is likewise the backdrop for a newly issued short-story collection, Freshwater Boys, by Adam Schuitema.

This modern, captivating compendium balances nature and the human spirit through a series of poignant coming-of-age experiences set in and around the shores of Lake Michigan. Wisconsinites will be able to envision the dunes and rocky shores described therein as each narrator happens upon Lake Michigan in a myriad of styles, sometimes tranquil and oftentimes chaotic.

The 11 chronicles of Freshwater Boys range from a harrowing search for a missing child to a forlorn hermit’s death and its startling imprint on an adolescent, but each is intertwined by the virtues of Lake Michigan. Every anecdote captures the quintessence of the Midwest as the storytellers wander forests, amble atop sand drifts and endure our formidable seasons.

In this set of crisp and effective narratives, central characters are chiefly male figures progressing and maturing from childhood to manhood, struggling to handle society’s ideal image of masculinity and sophistication. Each passage is an intimate portrayal of boys and men who are submerged in bewilderment and doubt, attempting to recognize and appreciate a life that behaves like water: mysterious and dark while at the same time refreshing and peaceful.

Schuitema has been published in numerous magazines, including North American Review, TriQuarterly and Crazyhorse. A Midwestern native, Schuitema earned his MFA and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University and currently teaches English at Kendall College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Schuitema will discuss Freshwater Boys at Boswell Book Co. on Thursday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m.