“How to Speak Midwestern” on WGN Radio

On Thursday, June 8, I joined Justin Kaufmann, host of WGN’s “The Download,” for a feature called “You Know What I’m Saying?” I tried to guess where callers were from by asking probing questions such as “What do you call a store where you buy alcohol?” or “What do you call athletic footwear?” I was able to identify the home states of most callers; the ones who stumped me won a free pass to Sycamore Speedway in Sycamore, Illinois. Listen here.




Publication Day for “How to Speak Midwestern”

December 1 was Publication Day for “How to Speak Midwestern.” It started off with an interview on the “Morning Shift” program at WBEZ in Chicago. Listen here. Crain’s Chicago Business ran an excerpt from the book. Chicagoist weighed in with a nice feature, as did Third Coast Review. In the evening, I did a book reading at the Book Cellar, where we sold 29 books, a one-day record for me.

“Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology” Coming Out June 1

Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology is Flint at its funniest, its weirdest, and its saddest. A collection of essays and personal narratives, the book, edited by Flint writer and Belt contributor Scott Atkinson, captures an almost impossible-to-capture city. Flint is far more than the common narrative of an industrial town picking itself up after the big company that fed it left, or the victim of a horrendous public health crisis.

Happy Anyway delves into the lives and stories within the city—what it’s like growing up on the eastside or witnessing your first murder; why a certain strange hot dog could bring an entire city so much pride; what it means to finally leave a city that you love—and what it means to stay, even when bikes or jewelry or love keep disappearing.

Including work from Gordon Young, Jan Worth-Nelson, Connor Coyne, Layla Meillier, Andrew Morton, and yours truly. You can pre-order the book here.

The Flint Anthology

My story on Moose and Suzie Fitch, and their struggle to give away their house in Flint, will appear in The Flint Anthology, coming out this year from Belt Publishing. Here’s the announcement: http://beltmag.com/flint-call-for-submissions/.

About Moose and Suzie

Moose and Suzie now live in New Mexico, where Suzie works at Hobby Lobby, and Moose is trying to find a job in something other than construction. Moose is glad to be out of Michigan, especially now that it’s been confirmed that Flint’s drinking water has been poisoned with lead, but he worries about the young family who took the house.

“How to Talk Midwestern” Book Coming in November

The Pittsburgh toilet. Squeaky cheese. City chicken. Shampoo Banana. Chevy in the Hole. These are all phrases that are familiar to Midwesterners, but foreign to anyone living outside the region. Find out what they mean in author Edward McClelland’s upcoming book on Midwestern speech and sayings. McClelland will not only explain what Midwesterners say, but how and why they say it. His book will examine the causes of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, one of the most significant changes in English pronunciation in a thousand years. It will explain why the accents in Fargo miss the nasality that’s a hallmark of Minnesota speech. And why Chicagoans talk more like people from Buffalo than their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin. For outsiders, McClelland will include helpful chapters such as “How to Talk Through Your Nose,” “How to Hold a Conversation Without Using a Complete Sentence,” and “‘Well, That’s Different’: How to Passive-Aggressively Criticize People, Places and Things.” If you’re from the Midwest, you’ll have a better understanding of why you talk the way you do. If you’re not, well, you’ll know exactly what to say the next time someone ends a sentence with “eh?”