The Origins

From what I understand, Marquette, Michigan, was named after the French missionary Jacques Marquette, whom I know nothing about. There’s a statue around here somewhere at the Chamber of Commerce, and it’s photographed regularly by history enthusiasts and university art majors. The French influence in this fair town is limited—there are no French cuisines, no festivals, and no community outreach for noble wines. The favorite dressing among diners is Ranch, which may come in watery or mortar-like varieties. Marquette’s founded past, however, was trumped by industry and transformed into a rustic, yet natural setting that houses the mining culture we still celebrate today—many iron ore ships still draw crowds at Marquette’s two ports. However, French fragments remain. Little Presque Books is named after Little Presque Isle, about seven miles outside of town, where people have illegal bonfires on Friday nights. Its outline is recognized and favored and photographed as a tiny landmark that makes us desire to build a small house there, to live among trees and water. Its translation is “Little Almost Island.” And this is what we aim to publish—those manuscripts that almost got through to the big presses, the presque that would have been a certainty (French!) had the right person known your name. We don’t care about names here. We care about the work. We care about the writers who are humble and bold like the outline of this little piece of glacier rock that almost tastes the shoreline.


Timston Johnston was the managing editor of  Passages North from 2009 to 2014 and continues to work in the fiction side of it all. A seasoned layout editor, Johnston has designed four issues of PN and an autobiography What Shall We Build?. His work may be read in  Midwestern Gothic, Ghost Town, Cartagena, and Cheap Pop.

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