Friday, June 30, 2006

Summer Reading List

It's almost the 4th of July weekend. That means lots and lots of holiday trips to the beach and so on. Since I am a published author, it seemed only appropriate for me to mention a few books (other than my own) that I think would be great to take to the beach or on vaction with you.

With that in mind, here is Frank's Summer Reading List for 2006.

My first pick is The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst. This novel is set in the late 1930s is about a journalist who fights the Mussolini regime by working for an underground newspaper. When his editor is killed by the Italian secret police, he tries to keep the newspaper going while also trying to stay alive as the secret police turn their attention to him.

Alan Furst is, without a doubt, one of the best novelists writing today. If you haven't picked up any of his work before, this a great one to start with.

My second pick is Lost & Found by Carolyn Parkhurst. This modern tale focuses on a series of characters who are competing in a reality TV show. At first glance, the very idea of using a reality TV show as the setting for a novel made me want to gag, but the fact of the matter is that it's so well written that I couldn't help but fall in love with it.

Her characters seem very real and it's those characters, more than anything that would happen within this fictional TV show, that drive her story.

Telegraph Days is the latest novel from Larry McMurthy, who also wrote Lonesome Dove as well as co-writting the Academy Award-winning screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. I was never a fan of westerns growing up, but McMurthy writes them so well - with characters that are believable as well as dialogue and a plot that is compelling - that it makes me want to read more and more them.

John Updike's latest novel, Terrorist, is my fourth pick. It's about a teenager - the product of an Egyptian father who left him when he was 3 and an Irish-American mother - who grows up in a New Jersey mill town and becomes entralled with an Iman who preaches against all that is "corrupt" about American culture. The teenager - Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy - becomes the homegrown terrorist that many have quietly feared ever since 9/11.

Updike's writing is tight, gripping and - above-all-else - believable. It's definately worth a read.

We Are All Welcome Here is my fifth recomendation. A polio victim and her 13-year old daughter are the focus of this novel by Elizabeth Berg that is set in Tupelo, Mississippi during the summer of 1964. All of angst and frustration that one could expect between a single mother and her teenage daughter play out in the midst of the unrest that was the civil rights movement.

Well worth the read!

Last, but certainly not least, the final spot on my list of recommended summer reads is reserved for Killing Molly by Eric C. Novack. His book comes from a small, independent press so you won't find it on However, one look at all of the glaring reviews this book has received should be enough to persuade anyone as why this book is so worth your time.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Book Is Back!!!

It has finally happened. The redevelopment of the Book-Cadillac Hotel - that landmark subject of my documentary - is finally moving forward again.

I was at the announcement yesterday at the Detroit Athletic Club and I was impressed by every aspect of it. I was shooting pictures from behind the TV camera men and newspaper photographers. Still, it was great to see Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Governor Jennifer Granholm take the stage and praise this project.

George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, took a swipe at some of the preservation groups around town when he said, "The folks standing on this stage are the real preservationists."

Yeah, well - as long as he's doing what I want him to do and is redeveloping historic properties instead of knocking them down for another vacant lot (*cough, cough* - Madison-Lenox and Statler Hotels) - he can talk as much trash about me at the other members of the FoBC as he darn well wants to.

It was also great to here Governor Granholm say that Michigan as a whole cannot be a success with a vibrant and redeveloped Detroit. Believe it or not - for a governor say that in Michigan is pretty much a major milestone.

The Book-Cadillac Hotel will re-open in mid-2008 as a 4 star hotel. There will even be 60+ condominiums available for purchase in the hotel. I'm totally looking forward to being "Booked at the Book."

4th Friday Film Festival

Last Friday, was the first 4th Friday Film Festival. I hosted it in conjunction with the 4th Fridays project that the Detroit Metro Visitors & Convention Bureau is doing.

The turnout for the films was a bit lower than I was hoping for (a concert with the Chicago Blues Reunion in Campus Martius Park ran over) but it was still an amazing event. Of course, the real star of the event was the films. (Yes, I'm biased and possibly deluding myself. Everyone needs a hobby.)

The folks from Model D were there to celebrate their one-year anniversay.

I went on the air with WWJ-AM to talk about my documentary on the Book-Cadillac Hotel as well as the other three films that I showed that evening. It was a mildly nerve-wracking experience to go on the air.

Actually, that's not entirely true. Being on the air was a blast. The nerve-wracking part was the moments leading up to my interview, where I was waiting for them to get ready.

The only down-side to the whole thing really was the parking ticket that I got. Urgh!

Topless Monday?

I was driving along Ford Road the other day, when I noticed a sign that really grabbed my attention. It was at the Toy Chest (a topless bar near where I live) and it advertised "Topless Mondays".
I can't help but wonder: how are "Topless Mondays" different from every other day of the week?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Screening at the DFC

I screened my documentary, Checking In: The Story of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, at the Detroit Film Center on Saturday evening.

There was a moment where I was a little worried about what attendance was going to be like, because a rather nasty thunderstorm rolled through the area about an hour or so beforehand. There were reports of some sections of the freeways being flooded and I saw one rather nasty traffic accident on my way to the DFC. (No fatalities, thankfully, but one of the cars started to hydroplane and got knocked up pretty bad).

Anyway, in spite of it all, the screening had a rather impressive crowd after all. It was near capacity, in fact. I think the DFC only had a handful of vacant seats, which was great to see.

My next screening is tomorrow (June 6) at the Historic Trinity Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. (Hey, what better way to spend 6/6/06 than in a church?). The Church is at 1345 Gratiot Avenue in Detroit (on-line at

Anyway, if you haven't seen it already, there's a preview of my film on the web at or