Fred Carlisle has been writing about identity and place for years and has lived in Michigan for twenty years, raising a young family and teaching at Michigan State University. He enjoyed a long academic career as a professor of English and then as a university provost at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Carlisle has written literary criticism—studies of Walt Whitman and Loren Eiseley—and three memoirs. His most recent book is “The Lake Effect: A Lake Michigan Mosaic”.
On your nightstand now:
- Anne-Marie Oomen, As Long As I Known You
- Emily St, John Mandel, Sea of Tranquility
- Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant
- Will Bunch, After the Ivory Tower Falls
- Charles Wright, Chickamauga (and his other books)
- Gary Snyder, Mountains and River Without End
- And (always) Leaves of Grass
Favorite book when you were a child: The Hardy Boys books
Your top five authors: Walt Whitman, Theodore Roethke, Louise Gluck, Jim Harrison, Raymond Chandler.
Book you’ve faked reading: Finnegan’s Wake (not really). I didn’t fake reading actually—most friends and students would have called me on it.
Book you’ve bought for the cover: The Library of America Series (The black covers are so dignified and literary!). Or, when I was a young teenager, those awful Frank Yerby books—well-endowed men and women, torn blouses, and so on.
Book you hid from your parents: Only my friends had such books!!
Book that changed your life: Leaves of Grass; several Henry James novels. Returning to Earth.
Favorite line from a book: Several, if I may:
- “Call Me Ishmael.”
- “I sound my barbaric wawp over the roofs of the world,”
- “Do I contradict myself? /Very well then, I contradict Myself, / I am large, I contain multitudes.”
- “The thin whine of telephone wires in the wind of a Michigan winter,”
Five books you’ll never part with: Leaves of Grass, The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, The Odyssey, Returning to Earth (Jim Harrison), Walden (and so many others I haven’t yet left behind).
New Book Release from Carlisle
About The Lake Effect
“I stood ankle deep in Lake Michigan for the first time when I was two years old,” Fred Carlisle writes. His fascination with the lake began then and has continued throughout his life.
The Lake Effect is grounded in the author’s personal experiences but moves to wider considerations that include the aesthetic, emotional, historic, economic, and social effects of Lake Michigan.
The book captures the lake’s mesmerizing beauty in summer and winter. It also examines the way Lake Michigan sustains the economies and societies of every place along its shores. It speaks of the ways human intervention and carelessness have polluted, damaged, and degraded the lake. The book also describes the lake’s power-in both water and ice forms-to drown swimmers, wreck ships, destroy beaches, and consume houses.
The Lake Effect explores as well the functions and power of water broadly. Water can be magical and make us healthier, happier, and more peaceful. It can also be an adversary that damages and destroys. Water is equally a comfort and a threat: a mosaic of multiplicity and contradiction.