Metro Detroit Book and Author luncheon May 20

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News
Actor Harold Peary's "The Great Gildersleeve" starred in Faygo commercials in the 1960s and 70s.

Four authors, including Elizabeth George, the New York Times bestselling creator of "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries," will highlight the Metro Detroit Book and Author Society Luncheon May 20. 

Founded in 1972, this will be the society's 94th twice-yearly literary luncheon. 

Other authors include Joe Grimm, a Michigan State University journalism professor and author of "The Faygo Book," published last year by Wayne State University Press. 

"It's a fun book," he said, "meant to make you feel good about this company that's been very loyal to a small neighborhood on the northeast side of Detroit."

Elaine Weiss will talk about her new work, "The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote." Cecile Richards, one-time president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the late Gov. Ann Richards of Texas, will discuss her bestselling book "Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead."

And finally George, an American whose Inspector Lynley mysteries are set in Britain -- the BBC turned them into a hugely popular TV series -- will speak on writing "The Punishment She Deserves." It's her 20th book about a fictional Scotland Yard inspector who also happens to be the eighth Earl of Asherton. 

The luncheon typically draws up to 1,000, and offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn how books come into being, as writers share insights about the peaks and valleys in their creative process. 

For Grimm, who was the recruiting editor at the Detroit Free Press until 2008, the process turned into something of a sprint, in which he had to do all the research, write the entire text and track down 120 illustrations in six action-packed months. 

For metro Detroiters, "The Faygo Book" offers a wealth of history as we guzzle our Rock & Rye or Red Pop and answers a number of persistent questions. For example, where'd that name come from? 

The company was founded by Ben and Perry Feigenson, Russian immigrants who launched their business in 1907. 

Eventually, Grimm said, "They shortened their name -- it fit better on the little, 7-ounce bottles pop came in at the time." 

Kelly Golden and Jordan Zielke recreate a vandalized mural on Faygo's Gratiot Avenue factory, its home since 1935.

As anyone who read Grimm's 2012 "Coney Detroit" knows, the author favors what he called books that are "colorful and kind of bouncy." But with Faygo, there's also a deeper purpose. 

"Through the Faygo story I wanted to talk about Detroit," Grimm said. "It's this spoonful of sugar to help people learn their Detroit history" -- whether the Faygo founders' story, or the challenges sugar rationing posed for a soda pop company during World War II.

All four authors will be available to sign their books.

In addition to the four keynote speakers, the society will present two grants once the main program gets going after lunch at 1 p.m. 

The James C. Dance Award for the Performing Arts honors a local public or academic library with collections or programs celebrating the arts. The Mary J. Ritter Literacy Award, named for one of the society's founders, always goes to a Detroit-area literacy organization.

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy


94th Metro Detroit Book and Author Society Luncheon

May 20

Burton Manor, 27777 Schoolcraft, Livonia

11 a.m. - Book sales begin

Noon - Lunch

1 p.m. - Main program begins

Tickets: $40 a head

(586) 685-5750