BOOK NOTES: Charley McKelvy's 'The Celebrant and Other Works': Good Writing From Michigan's Dunery Press

By David M. Kinchen
Charley McKelvy
Charley McKelvy

On Nov. 6 I wrote that I had received a letter from Natalie McKelvy informing me that The Dunery Press that she and her husband Charley McKelvy started in 1988 is still in business. It's in Harbert, Michigan, Berrien County, just down the highway from South Haven, Van Buren County, where I was born.


Why "Dunery"? Because Harbert is smack dab in the middle of the gigantic sand dunes that run across the bottom of Lake Michigan from east of Gary, Indiana all the up past the Michigan line all the way up to Allegan County. The Indiana dunes have been protected since 1966 by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, part of the National Park system. The dunes in Michigan are protected by state parks.

I met Natalie in Los Angeles in the 1980s when she was a free-lance business journalist. She had just written a technical real estate tome. Since real estate was my beat at the Los Angeles Times I reviewed it for the Real Estate section. It's called "Pension Fund Investments in Real Estate: A Guide for Plan Sponsors and Real Estate Professionals" (Quorum, 1983). You mean people can make money investing in real estate? Yes, back in the day, fortunes were made by people like Fred and Donald Trump and Sam Zell in commercial real estate. Real estate remains an area of investment for pension funds and insurance companies, although it's not as big a factor as it was when Natalie wrote her book.

Anyway, Natalie and Charley McKelvy, both born in 1950 in the Chicago area, are great writers. Check out for books published by Natalie and Charley or better yet, follow the information below: print out the order form, fill it in and order their latest books direct from them. In my Nov. 6 column and a followup piece on Nov. 19 (link: I reviewed Natalie McKelvy's tales of economic survival in "Friends and Other Works."

I've just finished reading Charley McKelvy's latest book, "The Celebrant and Other Works" and I recommend it for readers looking for a variety of fiction and nonfiction in one convenient $12 (postage included) volume. "The Celebrant" and "Catering Professionals" are the two novellas that are black comic examinations of two women -- Lucinda DeMorrow in the former and Susie Dunlop in the latter -- making their way through life in professions most people don't think about.

Lucinda is a professional funeral celebrant working for the only funeral home in a small southern Indiana town. She's the MC at funerals for people who are unchurched or even churchgoers who are between pastors and churches. She prompts funeral goers into delivering eulogies and reminiscences of the dearly departed. She learned her new trade in an "intense weekend" in Indianapolis and, as the story opens is about to preside over the funeral of a 19-year-old girl killed in traffic accident.

Susie works for Premiere Events, a catering firm in southwestern Michigan. In the course of her narrative she and her friend and partner Stacy meet a truck driver from Quebec asking for directions; FBI men who've arrested said supposedly French-Canadian trucker, who may or may not be a terrorist (he parked his rig next to a nuclear power plant). Think Laverne and Shirley working across Lake Michigan from their home in Milwaukee and you'll get a good idea of their adventures and misadventures in the world of catering funerals ("dead food"), weddings on the beach and an FBI gathering in Grand Rapids.

Charley McKelvy worked for the legendary City News Bureau in Chicago, so you know he's a skilled, entertaining journalist. Among those who worked for City News was the celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut. "The Celebrant and Other Works" offers up a good sampling of McKelvy's journalism, along with as several short stories and even a book review or two. You'll get your money's worth with McKelvy's writing and you may gain insights into the spiritual, because Charley writes about religion in a way that may make even the devout skeptic consider a change. For more about City News, which began in 1890 and lasted until 1999, click:

The Dunery Press


By that we mean the just-published books by The Dunery Press:

Friends and Other Works by Natalie McKelvy and

The Celebrant and Other Works by Charles McKelvy.

Remember Natalie and Charley McKelvy and their indomitable Dunery Press?

Sure you do, and you surely will be glad to know we have both been writing up a storm, and that we are defying convention by offering books in print for your perusal, enjoyment, entertainment, edification, and elation.

Well, we are quite elated to offer our new books at the same price as our last books—$12 each, including shipping, so you’re still eligible to reap the bargains you’ve come to expect since 1988 in dealing with the durableDUNERY PRESS. We may have slipped off the publishing world’s radar screen, but we are truly one of the last cottage presses left in America, and we would dearly love to send you our latest books for $12 a pop with no postage or handling.

So what’s in it for you?

Friends and Other Works is Natalie’s compilation of timely tales of life after the bubble. Take Doomer Chick, for example. Natalie takes us to Worth, Michigan where Delilah Murphy is obsessed with the end of the world. “She found it comforting: when the world ends, so do all your problems.” But your reading pleasure will continue all the way through Natalie’s tantalizing tales of life amidst the economic ruins of modern America. Comb-bound and richly illustrated with Charley’s sketches. $12 per copy, and absolutely no shipping charge.

The Celebrant and Other Works is a direct result of Charley’s coming out as a daily blogger in January 2011. Well, what we have here is a collection of two novellas that were based on Charley’s work experience in the land of “contract employees,” and a miscellany of essays, short stories, poetry, prayers, and journalism. You can find a whole lot of it on Charley’s blog, Vector Charley, but if you buy his book you will have it all right on your bookshelf for future reference and general page-flipping. $12 per copy, and absolutely no shipping charge.


Please order using this form, mailed to the address below. Include full payment and make checks or money orders payable to: THE DUNERY PRESS, P.O. Box 116, Harbert, MI 49115. Books are 8 ½” X 11”, photocopied, with black-and-white artwork and plastic coil bindings. All books are autographed and will be shipped by U.S. Postal Service. If you’re looking for one of our older titles, email us, and we’ll see if we can’t scrounge up a copy or two. Thank you!!!


Ship to:




Titles from which to choose:

Friends and Other Works

by Natalie McKelvy (90 pages) _______@$12

The Celebrant and Other Works

by Charles McKelvy (228 pages) _______@$12

Subtotal: $______________

6% sales tax (Michigan residents only): $______________

TOTAL: $______________

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