Vanishing Point A Bookand Websiteby Ander Monson




The city is only rarely mythologized, anthologized, represented in fictions, if by city we are referring to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For a city of its size (197,800 as of the 2000 census, with over a million in the metro and outlying areas within 45 miles or so; as many visitors and residents are told, and as we were constantly reminded when I took a job in Grand Rapids, it is the second largest city in Michigan) and history (an old and rather beautiful city with its plethora of Victorian homes, it was called the Furniture City because of its primacy in furniture, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) Grand Rapids is surprisingly underrepresented in literature.

Don't get me wrong, there are stories set there (the Grand Rapids Public Library wiki for Grand Rapids Lit only lists two murder mysteries (Murder on Sacred Ground by Christopher H. Meehan and Death Goes Dutch by Albert A,. Bell Jr.), but there aren't many.

Bich Minh Nguyen's recentish memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner, is about/takes place in Grand Rapids.

Lloyd Kropp's novel Greencastle (1986) might well be about Grand Rapids, though I haven't yet read it. It's apparently autobiographical, about growing up in a religious, repressive town (this might read as Grand Rapids, though in the novel it is set in New Jersey).

A great Max Apple story in Not Normal, Illinois (2009).

Laura Kasischke's

And that is about it.

Grand Rapids appears to be lacking a literature. I'm not entirely sure why. Is it its midwesternness? Sure, the midwest is usually overlooked when it comes to a literature, lacking the literary density of a New York or a San Francisco. Aside from Iowa City where so many writers have worked and lived, the flyover country doesn't often stand up and ask for attention. But this is old news.

Let's be more specific: Grand Rapids, a city with enough history of (Dutch, mostly) aristocracy: you'd think people would have written more about it.

It's like it's not a city at all but a cipher.

Well, I am excluding the Christian fiction published by Eerdmans or Zondervan publishing, both set in Grand Rapids.