Author and Delaware native Fred Carlisle’s newest title is now available for purchase, and the book offers deep insight into the heavy impact Lake Michigan has had on his life, as well as those whose lives are impacted by it daily.
The book, titled “The Lake Effect: A Lake Michigan Mosaic,” offers Carlisle’s “personal experiences but moves to wider considerations that include the aesthetic, emotional, historic, economic, and social effects of Lake Michigan,” according to a press release announcing its release.
Carlisle was born and raised in Delaware, eventually graduating from Willis High School before attending Ohio Wesleyan University. His grandparents owned property on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, and it was a place he visited virtually every summer from the time he was 2 years old through his mid-teenage years. Carlisle later moved to Michigan while working professionally at Michigan State University, and he continued to spend as much time as he could muster around the lake during those years.
While Lake Michigan has always been a source of deep significance for Carlisle, writing a book that could encompass, as well as define the lake’s impact, wasn’t necessarily his intention as he began writing what would ultimately serve as the lead into the book.
“I think I wrote the first piece in the book, the Ogden Dunes part of the two origin chapters, a number of years ago, and I didn’t really have a sense that I was going to write a book about Lake Michigan,” Carlisle told The Gazette. “And then things simply accumulated. I’d write this and that, and then at a certain point, I guess I said, ‘Well, I can make this into a book.’”
With friends reading the early drafts and offering their observations and suggestions, the book continued to evolve into its final form, Carlisle said.
He added, “The lake, as the book indicates, has, in a sense, always been there for me. But only two, three, or four years ago did I focus on all that becoming a book.”
Carlisle described Lake Michigan — and water in general — as a mosaic of multiplicity and contradiction, lending itself to a range of emotions and purposes depending on the ways in which an individual may interact with it.
“The lake is, as I say at some point in the book, compelling, mesmerizing, and beautiful,” he said. “But the lake has also been polluted over time by the agriculture industry and development along its shores. It has been invaded by non-native species … so there’s that balance that I’m trying to explore in this book. Both its great appeal and beauty, and yet the realities of how it has been compromised. It’s not destroyed yet, but certainly compromised.”
Through the writing process, Carlisle said he began to develop a deeper understanding of what Lake Michigan represents both to himself and everyone who interacts with it in one way or another. As a result, the book also explores how the lake affects the economies around it, as well as its role in transportation for the massive Great Lakes shipping industry.
“It’s that whole complexity, really, of what the lake is. To me, to other people, to societies, to economies, and to cultures,” Carlisle said.
Expanding on those complexities and what he came to learn, he added, “It’s meaning for me and my sense of dependence we have on water in so many ways. The sense that water is simply, in a personal or emotional sense, very calming and relaxing for us. We’re always drawn to water in some form or another because of that appeal.
“But then, of course, as you begin to think about it, water on the Great Lakes can also be very destructive in the sense that it can sink ships, drown swimmers, and when the water is high in the lakes, it can erode dunes and houses fall into the lake. So, there’s that whole dimension that as I learned, sure, I understand its appeal and its power.”
Although it was not by design while writing the book, Carlisle said that, through a friend’s observation, he came to realize the book is also a representation of water in general and its appeal, power, importance, and the difficulties of trying to describe “all that it is” and how it “permeates our lives in almost every possible way.”
“The Lake Effect” is available for purchase through Amazon as well as on the Mission Point Press, which can be accessed by visiting www.missionpointpress.com.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.