Posts Tagged 'Fisherman’s Beach'

cbr 19 / summer 2012


cbr 19 / summer 2012

The Pale King
David Foster Wallace
Reviewed by Dwight Allen

the eelgrass meadow
Robin Chapman
Reviewed by Gay Davidson-Zielske

Unexpected Shiny Things
Bruce Dethlefsen
Reviewed by Gay Davidson-Zielske

Make it Stay
Joan Frank
Reviewed by Bob Wake

Ann Prayer
A short story
Elli Hazit

Men without Meaning
A short story
Gerald Fosdal & Jack Lehman

Fisherman’s Beach
An excerpt from the novel
George Vukelich


Fisherman’s Beach publicity tour

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Two great opportunities to read excerpts from our CBR Press 50th Anniversary ebook edition of George Vukelich’s Wisconsin novel, Fisherman’s Beach. First, you can read an excerpt from Chapter Eight in the Spring 2012 issue of Rosebud, available in bookstores or for purchase online. It’s one of our favorite chapters from the novel: 12-year-old Reuben LeMere receives a .22 caliber rifle for his birthday and quickly graduates from tin-can target practice to irresponsibly shooting at seagulls on the Lake Michigan beach. He earns the wrath of an irate lighthouse keeper and, worse, a stern lesson from his father, the book’s central moral force, Old Man LeMere.

Next, you can check out the May 2012 issue of Madison Magazine, now on newsstands and online. In addition to Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Moe’s Foreword to Fisherman’s Beach, you’ll also find (exclusive to Madison Magazine online) a lengthy excerpt from Chapter Ten. It’s another one of the novel’s highlights: 34-year-old Germaine LeMere, home from the Second World War, joins three of his brothers on the family’s fishing tug for a day of harvesting lake trout. Sibling tensions mount between Germaine and his brother Roger over hot-button topics like who’s better suited to run the ailing Old Man’s fishing business and, perhaps the hottest hot-button topic of all: Germaine’s former sweetheart, Ginny Dussault, who’s now dating Roger.

Fisherman’s Beach ebook goes live

Cover: Dan Parent. Photo: Thomas J. King.

CBR Press is proud to present this 50th Anniversary ebook edition of Fisherman’s Beach, the masterful debut novel by the late Wisconsin author and long-time Madison newspaper columnist and radio-host George Vukelich (1927-1995). Originally published in 1962 by St. Martin’s Press, Fisherman’s Beach charts the postwar struggles of a Catholic fishing clan in Two Rivers, Wisconsin headed by a dying patriarch, Old Man LeMere. Often at odds with his Irish wife, his five sons, not to mention his doctor and his priest, LeMere represents a tradition and moral force that seem to be breaking down around him. The enhanced 2012 ebook edition features a Foreword by Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Moe and photos of Two Rivers by photographer Thomas J. King. Bonus ebook supplements include biographical and critical essays on George Vukelich and Fisherman’s Beach by August Derleth and James P. Roberts. There are also discussion questions for book clubs and classrooms.

“I couldn’t be happier that on this, the 50th anniversary of the original publication of Fisherman’s Beach, Cambridge Book Review Press is bringing it to a new generation of readers.”—From the Foreword by Doug Moe, columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal, and author of Lords of the Ring: The Triumph and Tragedy of College Boxing’s Greatest Team.

“One of the best family novels of our time—not the family novel that moves from one generation to another … but the novel that is the portrait of the family seen at a time of crisis.”—August Derleth.

“This impressive first novel by George Vukelich has all the turbulence, surge, ebb and, sometimes, serenity of the great body of water which is its setting—Lake Michigan … Every character is as true as life.”—The Milwaukee Journal.

The Beach at Two Rivers, Wisconsin

“Without the wind, he thought, the sun would burn out a man’s brain on the open beach. But the fresh, constant breeze off the lake washed over them like cool water.”—from Fisherman’s Beach by George Vukelich. Lake Michigan beach at Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Photo: Thomas J. King.

Fisherman’s Beach: The E-Book Cover

Cover design: Dan Parent. Photo: Thomas J. King.

Here’s Dan Parent’s sharp cover design for Fisherman’s Beach, an ebook coming this spring from CBR Press. Originally published by St. Martin’s Press in 1962, the new ebook edition will mark the 50th anniversary of George Vukelich’s potent novel about a struggling Two Rivers, Wisconsin fishing family. The Milwaukee Journal said at the time, “This impressive first novel by George Vukelich has all the turbulence, surge, ebb and, sometimes, serenity of the great body of water which is its setting—Lake Michigan … Every character is as true as life.” The ebook edition features a new Foreword by Doug Moe, columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal and colleague and friend of Vukelich’s. Also included are photos of Two Rivers by photographer Thomas J. King. Watch for excerpts from Fisherman’s Beach forthcoming in Rosebud #52 (March 2012) and Madison Magazine (May 2012).

Fisherman’s Beach: The Ad

Here’s a first look at our print ad for Fisherman’s Beach, the 1962 novel by Wisconsin author George Vukelich that Cambridge Book Review Press is bringing out in an ebook edition in the spring of 2012. Big thanks to graphic designer Dan Parent for creating the ad, and to photographer Thomas J. King for the photo of the lighthouse tower at Two Rivers, Wisconsin (the setting for Fisherman’s Beach). More of King’s striking Two Rivers photos will be included in the ebook. The ad will be appearing in the next issue of Rosebud, due out in March, along with an excerpt from the novel.

Ad designed by Dan Parent.

1962 edition of Fisherman’s Beach

St. Martin’s Press edition (1962). Design: Tom O’Brien.

Pictured here is the cover to the 1962 St. Martin’s Press edition of Fisherman’s Beach by Wisconsin writer George Vukelich (1927-1995). Vukelich reprinted the novel in 1990 under his own North Country Press imprint, with a new cover, but using what appear to have been either the original printer’s plates of the inside pages or, more likely, newly shot photo-offset reproductions from the earlier edition. Cambridge Book Review Press is currently preparing an ebook edition of Fisherman’s Beach for release in spring 2012. The ebook will include a new introduction (by a Madison notable and Vukelich friend who we’re keeping a surprise for a while longer). Also included will be photos of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, where the novel is set, by fine arts photographer Thomas J. King. There’ll be additional supplemental material in the ebook, as well, such as a biographical sketch of George Vukelich by James P. Roberts, and a study guide that should make Fisherman’s Beach perfect for reading groups and classrooms.

Here’s the inside jacket copy from the 1962 edition:

Old Man LeMere was dying upstairs. He was a tough old gull, but nobody lives forever. Downstairs, Roger, his second son, was waiting to inherit the fisherman’s beach. He could not afford to wait long. The lamprey eels from the ocean were destroying the trout of Lake Michigan, and the fishermen were powerless to stop them. Also he was afraid of Germaine.

Germaine was the eldest son. He had left the family and the Church. He was a major, stationed in Europe, who had come home for the first time in many years when he heard of his father’s illness. The Old Man wanted Germaine to take over the beach. Roger—ambitious, brutal, suspicious—knew it and would not believe that Germaine wanted no part of the inheritance. Nor would Roger believe that Germaine had not come home to reclaim Ginny Dussault, Germaine’s high school sweetheart who, despairing of Gemaine’s return, had allowed Roger to become her lover.

From these elements George Vukelich has woven a first novel of astonishing power. He is a poet and his descriptions of the changing seasons on the lake shore of his native Wisconsin are woven with a lyricism too seldom found in contemporary writing. He is also a keen student of humanity—its frailties and its strengths. Fisherman’s Beach gives an unforgettable picture of a family of strong characters, closely united yet at war among themselves.

And here’s the back cover author’s photo and bio:

Author photo of George Vukelich from 1962. No photographer credited.

Mr. Vukelich is best known in Wisconsin as “Papa Hambone,” a disc jockey with the top rated night-time program in the Madison area. He writes “I’ve become a split personality to further a writing career. ‘Papa Hambone’ buys the groceries, meets the mortgage payments and maintains the menage; George Vukelich simply tries to write the best first novel of which he is capable.” George Vukelich also spent a year as a creative writing instructor at the University of Wisconsin, and another as a merchant seaman. His poetry and short stories have been published in many magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly and Botteghe Oscure.

Title page: North Country Press 1990.

Title Page: St. Martin Press 1962.

“Fisherman’s Beach” comes alive

Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Photo: Thomas J. King.

Photographer Thomas J. King has captured some spectacular images from his visit last week to Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the setting for George Vukelich’s 1962 novel, Fisherman’s Beach. King’s work will grace an ebook edition of Vukelich’s novel that CBR Press is publishing next spring.

The Two Rivers, Wisconsin lighthouse tower was built in 1886 and stood at the end of a pier on Lake Michigan. It was decommissioned in 1969 and rests today at the Rogers Street Fishing Village & Museum in Two Rivers.

George Vukelich novel coming to CBR Press

Cover to the 1990 reprint edition published by Vukelich’s North Country Press.

Cambridge Book Review Press is delighted to announce that digital rights have been secured to publish a Kindle ebook edition of Fisherman’s Beach, the masterful novel by the late Wisconsin author and long-time Madison newspaper columnist and radio-host George Vukelich (1927-1995). Originally published in 1962 by St. Martin’s Press, Fisherman’s Beach is a remarkably assured debut novel charting the postwar struggles of a Catholic fishing clan in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The family is headed by a dying patriarch, Old Man LeMere. Often at odds with his Irish wife, his five sons, not to mention his doctor and his priest, LeMere represents a tradition and moral force that seem to be breaking down around him. Writer August Derleth, with whom Vukelich studied following a stint in the Merchant Marine during the Second World War, said that Fisherman’s Beach is “one of the best family novels of our time—not the family novel that moves from one generation to another … but the novel that is the portrait of the family seen at a time of crisis.” Vukelich’s sturdy naturalism has kept the novel’s style timeless and fresh. And in its depiction of a family business battling state politicians over fishing rights, Fisherman’s Beach touches on an all-too-contemporary Wisconsin theme: political power and its abuse.

Watch for Fisherman’s Beach in ebook format coming in spring 2012 from Cambridge Book Review Press.

[Update 10/9/11: Read Doug Moe’s Wisconsin State Journal column about CBR Press and the origins of the Fisherman’s Beach ebook project.]

[Update 4/10/12: Fisherman’s Beach ebook now available!]

Fisherman’s Beach

Talk about a catch of the day. How about netting 175 remaindered copies of George Vukelich’s masterful 1962 Wisconsin novel, Fisherman’s Beach, selling for ninety-eight cents each on the bargain table at the UW Bookstore at Hilldale in Madison. Originally published by St. Martin’s Press, the novel was reprinted in 1990 under Vukelich’s own North Country Press imprint, which is the edition UW Bookstore is selling.

It seems likely that Vukelich, who died in 1995 at 67, had access to St. Martin’s original printer’s plates. There’s a striking use of pen and ink seagull silhouettes on the cover, title page and chapter headings, as well as a small fish icon beside each page number. It’s the kind of elegant layout and textual design that was common enough in 1962 when publishers had in-house graphic designers, but seems like a classical lost art form today.

The story of a struggling Catholic fishing clan—Old Man LeMere, his wife, and five sons—on the shores of Lake Michigan, Fisherman’s Beach manages vivid characters across generations and is written in an assured naturalistic style that hasn’t aged and probably never will:

They spent half an hour getting the tug ready for the run out to the fish grounds. Out of the shanty gear shack came the empty fish boxes they hoped to fill by noon. Raphael and Gabriel lugged these aboard while Roger gassed up the tug and Germaine carried out the foul-weather gear. They moved quickly, quietly, anxious to have the joework over with and be underway. Once they cleared the dock, they could relax and smoke during the seven-mile run back up the coast to the nets. Now there were hundreds of pounds of ice to be put aboard and steel oil drums into which they could fling the trout guts when they cleaned them on the way back. The offal would be sold to the area farmers. It wasn’t much but every little penny helped now.

The plot is set in motion when the oldest son, 35-year-old Germaine, returns home to Wisconsin from living abroad after the Second World War. Unbeknownst to his family, Germaine is a widower with a 5-year-old daughter. Old sibling rivalries resurface. A former girlfriend—currently dating Germaine’s brother Roger—enters the picture. The family business is threatened by politicians in Madison considering legislative limitations on commercial fishing.

Nestled within the larger narrative of Fisherman’s Beach is a beautifully evoked coming of age tale of ten-year-old Reuben LeMere. It’s a chilling moment when Reuben receives a 22-calibre rifle for his eleventh birthday, and, tiring of target practice with tin cans, begins “to want to kill something.” In the grip of bloodlust, he recklessly fires at seagulls overhead.

Then he jerked the trigger and the rifle moved a little and the wind carried away the noise of the shot so it sounded almost flat. The gull he had aimed at was still flying and starting to sweep away and he knew he had missed. He pulled back the bolt and the empty smoking shell spun out, end over end: he could smell the smell of burnt powder. The shot didn’t seem to scare the gulls away although most of them had risen now and were twisting over the rocks like pieces of paper caught in an air current. He had loaded up and was aiming again when he heard the shout. He lowered the rifle. It was a big dark man in a blue shirt leaning out of a window in the lighthouse and hollering at him. The wind was blowing away most of what the man was saying but Reuben could hear two words very clearly. “Goddamn you!” the man was yelling. “Goddamn you!”

Fisherman’s Beach is George Vukelich’s only novel. He had a long career as a journalist and essayist and radio host in Madison. He published two strong collections of his essays, North Country Notebook, Vol. I (1987) and Vol. II (1992). There’s a useful biographical sketch of Vukelich in James Roberts’ 2002 book, Famous Wisconsin Authors (online at Google Books).


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