June Sawyers, Chicago Tribune

Ted McClelland, who hails from Michigan, makes no bones about it. He doesn’t particularly care about state, provincial or, for that matter, national boundaries. To him, the North is a state of mind, and it is the Great Lakes region that fuels his imagination. In spring 2005 he began his almost 10,000-mile journey around the Great Lakes, traveling as far west as Duluth, as far east as Kingston, Ontario, and as far north as an Ojibwa reserve but never, he emphasizes, losing sight of the lakes themselves. In this picaresque, shaggy-dog homage to the North, McClelland meets all kinds of people (his very long subtitle—too long to print—indicates just who some of them are). He visits “the drunkest city in America” (that would be Milwaukee, in his estimation), participates in a fish boil in Door County, listens to Sycamore Smith, the “North Country’s Other Great Folk Singer” (take that, Mr. Dylan) and chats up some folk in Prince Edward County, deep in the heart of loyalist Ontario. Along the way, there are stops in Buffalo; Windsor, Ontario; Erie, Pa.; and Cleveland as he makes one last detour in Indiana, watching the incongruous sight of surfers riding the Lake Michigan waves in the shadow of the steel mills of Gary, before ending his journey where it all began, in Chicago.