Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

July 28, 2013

Area woods, 2-tracks are setting for new book

BELLAIRE — Gary Griffith’s newly published book, “A House of Stone is Forever Stories” (iUniverse, $14.95), starts in 1922 in a northern Michigan town called Blackwood, a village similar in some ways to his hometown, Bellaire.

It ends some 500 to 1,000 years later in the final story — "A House of Stone is Forever Part Two: The Woman Who Fell from the Sky" — as a glacier called Michigan creeps steadily through Canada, the Upper Peninsula and down into the Lower Peninsula toward Blackwood.

A lot happens in between.

Griffith, a 1967 Bellaire High School graduate who now teaches literature and writing in Prescott, Ariz., published his 196-page book of 13 short stories and two novellas in February. It tells a multi-generational story about family survival and blends it with fantasy in northern Michigan.

There are some parallels between Blackwood and Bellaire, but not many, he said.

The paperback's cover shows the actual family stone house in Bellaire and an old red Mustang that Griffith used to drive around town. Griffith’s older brother, Bill, lives there now.

“Some parts reminded me of home, but a lot is fiction,” said Bill Griffith, who was born in the stone house in 1938, left Bellaire in 1957, served in the Army, worked downstate and returned to his hometown in 1989 after retiring.

“He’s the youngest and the only one in the family who graduated from college,” Bill said of his brother.

Gary Griffith's stories chronicle the family of John Dee, a Welsh man, “star gazer and stone gatherer.” who builds a house made from stones he digs up from his own property. His youngest son, also named John Dee, is the narrator in many of the stories.

“The characters were poor but they don't lament it,” Griffith said. “They show the culture of what I call the indigenous Michiganders, the people who migrated into the state at the end of the 19th century.”

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