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The First Annual Mike Savage

A Welshman named Stan Barstow, who wrote 11 pretty good books, said "The world may be full of fourth-rate writers, but it's also full of fourth-rate readers." With this in mind, I hereby announce the first annual Mike Savage (Fourth Rate) Wiscons...

A Welshman named Stan Barstow, who wrote 11 pretty good books, said "The world may be full of fourth-rate writers, but it's also full of fourth-rate readers." With this in mind, I hereby announce the first annual Mike Savage (Fourth Rate) Wisconsin Book Awards.

The old saying, "Everyone has a book in them," was never truer than today when desktop publishing and Internet publishing make it easy to get a book (be it a good book or a bad book) published. This plethora of publications makes the pretty good, fourth rate book award a positively pregnant possibility. So, here we go...

The No. 1 best nonfiction book of 2007 that I read was "The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting" by John Plaster. This big bazooka of a book is in the "big" category because it weighs about 11 pounds and was published by a big-time outfit from Boulder, Colo. This monster of a tome, is, literally, huge.

The trophy for best nonfiction book of the year will not be sent to Mr. Plaster as there is no budget yet. But in the coming years, as the Mike Savage Fourth Rate Wisconsin Book Award becomes immensely popular and well funded, a plaque or trophy may well become a possibility... if there's any cash left over from the luxury book cruise to the Caribbean.

BTW, the autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant was a very close second and could have won first place easily, but I deferred to a local writer for the top slot. If you have any interest in reading a true anti-war book, read Grant's autobiography. For the sheer magnificent scope of mayhem, carnage and bloodletting on a colossal scale, Grant's descriptions of his Civil War experiences are impossible to forget.

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The No. 1 best local nonfiction book of the year, as read by me, was Patrick Dorin's "Great Lakes Ore Docks and Ore Cars." It's a genius little book that is quirky enough to be truly unique, but straightforward enough to be educational and entertaining simultaneously.

Ellen Baker's "keeping the house" clearly has to be the winner for best fiction. I call this the "Big Fiction" award, because it is a big book, written by a big-time writer and published by a big-time New York publisher, Random House.

The best "small fiction" award goes to Joe Reasbeck for his "Nearfall." I had some quibbles with the book, but all in all, it was the best "local" fiction by a smaller press and a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time author who knows how to spin a dang good yarn.

Second place in small-time fiction goes to Enkay D. Durand for her book "Moonstruck." Again, I had some issues with the quality of publication, but, all in all, it deserves a "pretty good book" award.

The clear winner in the Children's book category is "Storm Codes" by Tracy Nelson Maurer. Illustrated by Christina Rodriquez, I call this succulent work of art "the-little-ore-boat-book-that-could" because it manages to convey both emotion and information equally powerfully.

The Best Picture Book Award goes to Lonnie Dupre for his stunning "Greenland Expedition, Where Ice Is Born" book. Ya can't get better than stunning, so, 'nuff said.

The best book as yet unpublished award goes to Mark Hobson of Madison, a writer of staggering virtuosity whose book "Fire Team" about the misadventures of a bunch of drugged out Vietnam soldiers gone AWOL in the jungle to get rich quick is one of the best wartime adventure novels I've ever read. Hobson's other two books, "The Marksman" and "L5," are simply delicious too. Hobson is as good as any writer on the planet.

That's it folks. The short happy life of the First Annual Fourth Rate Wisconsin Book Awards is over. If you know of any Hemingway wannabes out there who want to submit their tomes to the rigors of the 2008 competition, send them to me in care of the Daily Telegram and I'll be sure to at least open the envelope please.

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Life is good. Books are important. I'm Mike Savage, and I'm done.

For reasons of full disclosure, readers should know that Mike Savage owns and operates a book publishing firm. When he reviews books published by other companies and authors, his views are not necessarily those of The Daily Telegram, although we love him like a third cousin who just inherited a bundle. When not dining at church suppers, he can be reached at mail@savpress.com or see his Web page, www.savpress.com .

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