Monday, September 29, 2014

Coming this Week: J.F. RIordan at the Loos Room at MPL's Centennial Hall Tonight, Simon Van Booy on Tuesday, Scott Westerfeld a tthe Shorewood Library Wednesday plus Charles Eigen at Boswell, Larry Widen's Rock and Roll on Thrusday, Plus Garth "Art of Racing in the Rain" on Saturday at Boswell with His New Novel.

Monday, September 29, 6:30 pm, at the Loos Room at Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall, 733 N. Eighth St. 53233: J.F. Riordan, author of North of the Tension Line.

Riordan was born in New Jersey and moved to Wisconsin as a child. She has been a professional singer and high school English teacher, and now is a program officer for a local foundation.

Fiona Campbell is a newcomer to tiny Ephraim, Wisconsin. Populated with artists and summer tourists, Ephraim has just enough going on to satisfy Fiona’s city tastes, but she is fascinated and repelled by what lies at the furthest tip of the Door County peninsula: Washington Island, a place utterly removed from the hubbub of modern life. Fiona’s foray into the vicious politics of small town life, her encounters with a ruthless neighbor and the captain of a haunted ferry, leads her to eventually discovery the peculiar spiritual renewal of life as it is “north of the tension line.” At turns comic, romantic, and thought provoking, this book is equal parts romance and comedy of manners.

Tuesday, September 30, 7 pm, at Boswell: Simon Van Booy, author of The Illusion of Separateness.Yes, it's really finally here!

As recommended by Boswellian Sharon Nagel: "An act of mercy that takes place on a field in France during World War II is the nucleus of this book. All the other characters and events are connected in a gorgeous tapestry that is slowly and masterfully revealed to the reader. This novel is based on a true story and is a lovely illustration that separateness is indeed an illusion, and that we are all connected. Rilke said something along the lines of 'Words can only point at emotions.' This is quite accurate as I read this most amazing of novels almost a month ago and have only lately been able to talk about it in full sentences. Seriously, I have rarely been so affected by a book in recent memory."

I can't be prouder of the booksellers who have recommended The Illusion of Separateness over the past year. It's rare that we can see the impact that our recommendations take, but this book has true word-of-mouth appeal. Even one of our friends who works at an area chain store said the book was selling very strongly for them. (Photo credit: Renaud Monfourny)

Wednesday, October 1, 6:30 pm, at the Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Ave., 53211:
Scott Westerfeld, author of Afterworlds and the Uglies series.

Scott Westerfeld is the author of the Leviathan Series, the first book of which was the winner of the 2010 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. His other novels include The Uglies Series (which has over 4 million books in print and has been translated into 28 languages), The Last Days, Peeps, So Yesterday, and the Midnighters Trilogy.

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love. Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

Wednesday, October 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Charles Eigen, editor of Inner Dialogue in Daily Life: Contemporary Approaches to Personal and Professional Development in Psychotherapy

Charles Eigen is a Milwaukee-based psychotherapist and bodywork/movement practitioner. Each chapter of Inner Dialogue in Daily Life is written by an expert in their field, some of whom were invited to contribute by the founder of the approach. The authors include personal stories of how they have used the approach in their own lives and work as therapists, giving a deeper insight into each method. As well as developing a connection to the mind, several of the approaches focus on deepening an awareness of the body and listening to its voice. Approaches covered include the Jungian approach, Gestalt therapy, Focusing, internal family systems therapy, and Hakomi. Drawing on both Eastern and Western traditions and methods, this fascinating book will be of interest to psychotherapists, counselors and students, as well as anyone with an interest in inner dialogue, healing and personal development.

Thursday, October 2, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Larry Widen, author of Milwaukee Rock and Roll.

Larry Widen is a Milwaukee-based journalist and entrepreneur who has interviewed Alice Cooper, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, B.B. King, Joan Jett, and many other musicians. When he owned a Milwaukee cinema, he booked Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, Canned Heat, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards.

In Milwaukee Rock and Roll, Widen recollects the rock and pop acts that came through the Milwaukee music scene from the 1950s to the 1990s in Milwaukee Rock and Roll. With a foreword by Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and more than160 images—some of which have never been published and some of which are from the author’s personal collection—readers will take a wild trip down memory lane. In Milwaukee Rock and Roll, readers are able to see the venues and festivals that hosted various rock powerhouses, from the Arena, Summerfest, Eagles Club, as well as two dozen bars and clubs that no longer exist.

Saturday, October 4, 7 pm, at Boswell
Garth Stein, author of A Sudden Light and The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Garth Stein is the author of the bestselling novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain (and its tween adaptation, Racing in the Rain), a picture book, Enzo Races in the Rain, and several other books. Before turning to writing full-time, he was a documentary filmmaker, directing, editing, and/or producing several award-winning films, including The Lunch Date, winner of the Academy award for live action short in 1990, and The Last Party, starring Robert Downey, Jr. He is the cofounder of Seattle7Writers.org, a nonprofit collective of sixty-two Northwest authors dedicated to fostering a passion for the written word

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after. But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future. (Photo credit: Susan Doubé)

Sneak Peek of Monday, October 6, 6:30 pm, at the Shorewood Community Room at the Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Ave., 53211:
Genevieve G. McBride and Stephen R. Byers, author of Dear Mrs. Griggs’: Women Pour Out Their Hearts from the Heartland. 

The Shorewood Historical Society presents a biography of the woman behind the long-running advice column in the Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet. For those not old enough, one section of Milwaukee's afternoon newspaper came on green paper and was quite popular.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hamsters, Dreams, Quests, China, and Post-Apocalyptic Shakespeare Rules in This Week's Roundup of Boswell's Bestsellers, Plus the Journal Sentinel Reviews.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
2. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
3. All the Lights We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. Perfidia, by James Ellroy
5. The Secret Place, by Tana French
6. The Children Act, by Ian McEwan
7. North of the Tension Line, by J.F. Riordan (event 9/29 at MPL's Loos Room)
8. The Edge of Eternity, by Ken Follet
9. To Dwell in Darkness, by Deborah Crombie (event 10/15 at Boswell)
10. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

Ian McEwan has been on the bestseller lists for several weeks, but I think it fell through the cracks regarding our new and noteworthy roundups. The Children Act is about a judge who must rule on whether a teenage boy from the Jehovah's Witness faith can have a blood transfusion when his parents choose against it, while at the same time, she herself is dealing with a crisis in her own family. But as McEwan notes in his interview with Scott Simon on Weekend Edition, according to the 1989 Children Act, children don't belong to parents, they belong to the world. 

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau
2. The Burglary, by Betty Medsger
3. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
4. This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein
5. The Grumpy Cat Guide to Life
6. Tennessee Williams, by John Lahr
7. Plenty, by Yottam Ottolenghi
8. How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
9. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
10. In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides

Betty Medsger visited the Milwaukee Film Festival for two screenings of 1971. Her book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI was part of the discussion following Saturday's screening, sponsored by the ACLU-Wisconsin. Boswell's other sponsored film is the 20th anniversary airing of Crumb, the documentary from 1994 We've got a nice selection of R. Crumb books at Boswell right now.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Anatomy of Dreams, by Chloe Benjamin
2. This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
3. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
4. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
5. Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline
6. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy (event 9/30 at Boswell)
7. This Day, by Wendell Berry
8. Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger
9. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
10. Infatuations, by Javier Marias

Just out in paperback is This Day, Wendell Berry's collection of Sabbathday poems. Berry has written these poems about his solitary Sabbath walks for 35 years. The collection was recently included in a list of ten books to read this fall for deeper faith in Relevant magazine. 

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Once Upon a Time in China, by Christine Merritt
2. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
4. Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
5. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon

The Journal Sentinel reports here on Michelle Alexander's visit to MATC for The New Jim Crow. "Here in the state of Wisconsin, more than half of young black men from Milwaukee County have been incarcerated in state correctional facilities and then stripped of their civil rights — rights supposedly won during the civil rights movement," Gina Barton reported.

Books for Kids:
1. Einstein the Class Hamster and the Very Real Game Show, by Janet Tashjian
2. Einstein the Class Hamster, by Janet Tashjian
3. My Life as a Book, by Janet Tashjian
4. My Life as a Cartoonist, by Janet Tashjian
5. My Life as a Joke, by Janet Tashjian
6. Afterworlds, by Scot Westerfeld (event 10/1 at Shorewood Public Library)
7. Positive, by Paige Rawl
8. My Life as a Stuntboy, by Janet Tashjian
9. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
10. Pretties, by Scott Westerfeld

Guess who was in Milwaukee this week? We still have signed copies of Einstein the Class Hamster, the sequel set at "a very real game show," and many of Janet Tashjian's other books. Paige Rawl and Scott Westerfeld sales are also event related, though Westerfeld is not here until this coming Wednesday, October 1, 6:30, at Shorewood Public Library, sales at our school events have already begun. Our bestselling book that is not event or class related? Its A Halloween Scare in Wisconsin, all the way down at #16.

This week's featured profile in the Journal Sentinel is Paige Rawl, who was in town this week for her memoir, Positive. Higgins notes: "Education and prevention are the most important things schools can do about bullying."

Also featured is a review of The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis, originally from the Los Angeles Times. David L. Ulin discusses how setting his book in Crimea made the story particularly timely, but it was unintentional.Ulin had some issues with the story, but it certainly led him to ponder the issues raised. As you may know, The Betrayers was just longlisted for the Giller prize; you should also know that Bezmozgis will be at Boswell on Monday, November 17, in an event co-sponsored by the Stahl Center for Jewish Studies.

And finally, the Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce is featured in the print edition in the Journal Sentinel, an semi-autobiographical novel about a self-loathing novelist that "hurts herself as a way of life." Chris Vognar's review is from the Dallas Morning News. There's also a profile from Joyce Sáenz Harris of this Dallas writer, a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and now executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund.

Oh, and I've never posted Jim Higgins' video review of the Milwaukee County Zoo book from Arcadia Publishing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Where Did I See or Hear That Again? Your Weekly Guide to Book-Related Stories in the Local Media, Featuring Several Hits for "Station Eleven" and "The Anatomy of Dreams" and Chloe Benjamin is at Boswell Tonight, So We're Just in Time.

It's time to recap what's being featured in the Milwaukee media. Let's start this week with WTMJ's Morning Blend. On Thursday, Paige Rawl appeared to discuss her memoir Positive. She talks about the stereotypes that people continue to hold about people who are HIV+ and the terrible effects of destructive bullying.

In the Shepherd Express, Dave Luhrssen reviews Fanon for Beginners, by Deborah Wyrick. He writes: "Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) had a short but influential life as a psychoanalyst-philosopher who applied Freudian insights to the problems of racism and colonialism. In Fanon for Beginners, Deborah Wyrick draws—literally in this illustrated book—a heroic if not entirely uncritical portrait."

Another review is for Night Train to Shanghai, by Gerald Nicosia. Grizzly Peak Press does not distribute to bookstores through our main distributors. My guess that is that they might be at Small Press Distribution, which we only use for events. Maybe Woodland Pattern will stock it. Reviewer Michael Schumacher calls this collection of poetry "a wonderful artifact of a fascinating mental landscape—a deeply personal examination of an American in a land so often viewed to be mysterious and somehow troubling, if not menacing."

Believe it or not, we're stocking Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century, by Steve Conn. It may be pricey, but at least it comes from Oxford, and was on their trade/text list, and not on their full on net-priced assortment. His take is that suburban pressure came from both the left and the right, and grew from distrust of government. From reviewer Michael Carriere: "The businessmen of the Sunbelt saw market forces, not government intervention, as the best way to grow livable communities. This distrust in governmental action was shared by the countercultural actors who fled the cities to rural communes throughout the late 1960s and early ’70s. For such individuals, the city had come to represent all that had gone wrong with American society." Buying a copy from us will ensure that we have a strong urban studies section to browse.

Thanks to the Shepherd Express for highlighting Saturday's event with Chloe Benjamin, author of The Anatomy of Dreams. From Jenni Herrick's Book Preview: "This stirring coming-of-age story explores the murky landscape of the human psyche and forces readers to question the fine line that defines our moral limits. A subtle yet startling debut, The Anatomy of Dreams is both a psychological thriller as well as a love story that will transfix readers all the way to its portentous conclusion."

From the Dial/Urban Milwaukee arts site, Will Stotts, Jr. features Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel in his "booked up" column. He's on board for our previously shared enthusiasm and writes: "Station Eleven is a masterful novel that works on many levels. We are drawn into the mystery of what makes our lives livable and then forced to confront what they would be like without our creature comforts. We leave this work of fiction changed and braced for action, should the worst befall us."

From OnMilwaukee.com, editor Bobby Tanzilo's pick is The Teacher Wars, a new release from Dana Goldstein. Allow me to quote one sentence that encapsulates his take: "This extremely engaging and readable history of teaching in America could've been called 'What Comes Around Goes Around,' because as she traces the vicissitudes of teaching across 200 years in the United States, following the changes from a male-dominated to a female-dominated profession to unionization and innovation, she links the changing trends to current trends, helping to show that while we think the approaches of Teach for America, Harlem's Children's Zone and others are new and fresh, most have been tried at least once – and sometimes more – in our history"

Over at Wisconsin Gazette, Lisa Neff celebrates Banned Books Week. They also featured the Associated Press review for Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests. Kim Curtis writes that Waters' newest is "filled with romance and sex, suspense and deceit. Her prose is as strong as ever. She brings her characters and her settings to remarkable life and it's easy to disappear into her version of London's Champion Hill neighborhood — dirt and grime and all." Congrats to Waters and Riverhead for hitting #12 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Over on Lake Effect, Monday's broadcast featured an interview with Rebecca Makkai, author of The Hundred-Year House. From the author: ""It's a story that is in some ways a ghost story, and in some ways not. No ghost is going to pop out at you, but there's always the question of ghosts, who's haunting the place. One of the answers to that question is that we are the ghosts, the readers. We are the ones who have witnessed all of this history. We are the only ones who can put it together. And we're uniquely unable to convey that information to the people who need to know it, and that's the position a ghost is in," But my favorite part is still that it reads backwards.

On Tuesday, Lake Effect featured the already-touted-in-this-post Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven. “Even if we lost everything that we take for granted, if all trappings of civilization were to fall away, I think we would be left with everything that matters," St. John Mandel says. "You know, family, friendship, love, these things that would hopefully survive."

Wednesday brings Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky, his history of the passenger prison.

Over on Wisconsin Public Radio, Thursday's guest on Kathleen Dunn was Karen Abbott, author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. From their site: "We look back at the Civil War this hour as one author introduces us to four women who lied, spied, and defied social conventions hoping to help their side to victory. Plus, we’ll learn about the role Wisconsin soldiers played in the historic 1864 Battle of Shy’s Hill."

On Joy Cardin, I caught part of her Monday interview with Liza Long, author of The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness. Long discussed the problems of diagnosis and treatment of the mental health today, which was inspired by her own experience getting help for her bipolar son.

Tuesday's guest was Laurence Steinberg, author of Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence. The take away? "While adolescence may be longer than we used to think, but that it might also be an opportunity for greater learning and development than previously thought."

On Wednesday, Cardin spoke with Zachary Karabell, who recently wrote a Slate magazine piece on the comeback of Indie Bookstores, which I think was inspired by Book Culture opening a branch on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I guess another bookstore (Bank Street) moving instead of closing, to me, is not necessarily a triumph. To me, that lesson is that much of indie bookstore survival is based on real estate.

It's a bookish week for Joy Cardin indeed. Friday she spoke with Emilio De Torre, Director of Youth and Programs at Wisconsin ACLU about Banned Books Week. He discusses why he thinks certain becomes targets and what you can do about this.

On Larry Meiller's show, he spoke on Monday to Chloe Benjamin, author of The Anatomy of Dreams, who appears at Boswell tonight. They talk about dreams, sleep studies.

Over on Central Time, Rob Ferrett and Veronica Rueckert talk to Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood. The thesis is that as the LGBT community finds acceptance, the need for discrete neighborhoods fades. A lot of them also succumb to real estate pressure (just like independent bookstores, above). So Boys Town (the old nickname for Lakeview) goes the way of Bronzeville. He says the question is more complicated than simply yes or no. Alas, the publisher has definitively decided that the book is super-short discount and doesn't see it belonging in bookstores. We can order it in for you, but being that our net price is also the list price, at least through our wholesaler, the cost will be higher than list. Don't blame us--blame the publisher and wholesaler, and the declining need to include bookstores in the distribution equation (which of course leads back to another player).

On Wednesday, Central Time spoke to Alec MacGinnis, who wrote an ebook only called The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell. I thought that ebooks were available on our website for the Kobo program, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find it on our website.

How's that for a roundup? Of course it may turn out that you saw the book in the Financial Times or heard it on Fresh Air. I'll have to leave it to someone else to do a national roundup.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The New Basic Boswell Tee Shirt Colors Are In and Available for You to Browse (or Order Online).

It was long past time for us to reorder our basic Boswell tee shirts. Last year we went super bright, but this year we decided to go a little more neutral. Our new colors in the unisex style are dark heather (a charcoal gray with white thread* mixed in), military green, and cardinal red. OK, that may be bright, but it is completely outshone by last year's assortment of helliconia (a deep pink), sapphire (a deep turquoise), lime, rust, and a forest green in the unisex cut.

Our new fitted colors (also known as woman's or ladies cut) are dark heather and cherry red. And as always, the first complaint out of the box was why we didn't have the cardinal red in the fitted cut, but I'm at the mercy of Gildan's color chart, especially when the preference is for the softer styles, which come in a smaller assortment of colors.

We've got an assortment of colors from past printings in some sizes, though the sizes that sell through the quickest only have the newest colors. And of course we had a decent inventory of existing unisex small shirts,  so I only bought one cardinal red and that sold out in about an hour to FOB Aaron (who is picture talking up an ostrich).  Don't worry, there are plenty of other great colors in unisex small.

I've also created a link to purchase the shirts. In the past, we created a sku for every size and color, but we realized that it would make much more sense to sku for size and have the customer put the color in the order comments. Honestly, we don't get that many tee shirt orders online, so this is a lot of jumping through hoops for very little business, but you don't know if you don't try, and it's a nice tee.

unisex:
small
medium
large
extra-large
double-extra-large (2xl)
triple-extra-large (3xl)

fitted:
small
medium
large
extra-large 

Thanks to Brew City Promotions for printing our tee shirts.

*Thanks to Patty for catching the very amusing typo, bragging about the "white threat" in the heathered tee shirt. I meant "thread."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Paige Rawl at Shorewood High (and Boswell Tonight), Emily St. John Mandel and the Soulstice Theatre, Deb Diesen and Dan Hanna and the Pout-Pout Hat.

The last minute blog post is something I try to avoid. I feel obligated to put tonight's event on a Monday post, but nowadays, my rule of thumb is that said event should also be featured the week before. And we try the same for the email newsletter, which is one of the reasons why we list out the events another couple of weeks, whenever possible. This way when the email newsletter runs late, and we're cutting an event close, at least we know that the event had at least a listing in a previous newsletter.

So that's why I feel a bit off touting Paige Rawl's event tonight at the store for her memoir, Positive. But for one thing, I just heard her presentation at Shorewood High School and it was very powerful. And for another, Gina forwarded the Morning Blend interview with Paige this morning, and I can similarly offer you the link. Our event is Thursday, September 25, 7 pm, co-sponsored by the ARCW. Don't forget that AIDS Walk Wisconsin is Sunday, October 12.

Speaking of events, we had a really great one with Emily St. John Mandel and the Soulstice Theatre on Monday. I spoke to FOB Jenny on Wednesday, at Chris Guillebeau's event for The Happiness of Pursuit (also great, but without actors) and she was completely absorbed in Station Eleven.I mentioned to her that I was trying to talk down the dystopian element (like her American publisher, Knopf) but Jenny countered with "I love dystopian!" so she is more in line with the marketing plan for UK Publisher, Panmacmillan, which does still categorize the book as literary fiction, but the copy definitely leans more genre.

Thank you to Margaret Casey, Bo Johnson, Josh Perkins, Stephan Roselin, and Mark Flagg, who together put together a wonderful staged reading. My favorite comment of the night was Ms. Mandel, who said it gave her chills to hear actors reciting her words. My second favorite? The person who wondered whose idea it was to start with the scene from King Lear, and not in a good way. The fault, dear reader, was mine.

And finally, while best production goes to Emily St. John Mandel and the Soulstice Theatre, best costume goes to Dan Hanna, illustrator of The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School. I can't get enough of that Pout-Pout Fish hat. "Glub, glub, glub" is all I can say.

I should mention that signed copies of all books mentioned are available at Boswell. And my apologies to the young guest who posed with Deb and Danny. I didn't do you justice in my artistic rendition.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Milwaukee Film Festival Starts Tomorrow--Boswell Community Sponsorship of "1971" and "Crumb" and So Forth.

The Milwaukee Film Festival starts tomorrow. We're a community partner, sponsoring screenings of both Crumb and 1971. Crumb's work as a graphic novelist (or as he was called when I grew up, an underground cartoonist) is chronicled in this 1994 documentary, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It's playing at the Downer Theatre on Sunday, October 5, 7 pm. Tickets available here.

As for 1971, it airs twice at the Oriental Theatre, on Thursday, September 25 and Saturday, September 27. The first screening is part of the grand opening, while the second ties into an ACLU panel discussion and reception, which features Betty Medsger, the author of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI. Tickets to the screening are here, while info about Saturday's film/panel discussion/reception package, which costs $40 and benefits the Wisconsin chapter of the ACLU, is here. Here's the Journal Sentinel writeup about the film festival's offerings.

Just announced is John Ridley, the director and screenwriter of Jimi: All is By My Side, who is appearing for the film's Milwaukee premiere. Ridley, who was awarded an Oscar for Twelve Years a Slave, hasn't written traditional novels in some years, but between 1998 and 2004, he published with Knopf and Aspect, the old science fiction imprint of Warner (now Grand Central, a division of Hachette), and appeared at Harry W. Schwartz several times, being that his family is from Mequon.

As we've done for the last several years, many of the Downer Theatre screenings are followed by discussions at Boswell. Most of them are being held at the discussion tables in the magazine area. The complete schedule is at our front desk.

And finally, don't forget to say hi to ex-Boswellian Hannah, who will be introducing several films.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Releases from Matt Richtel, Walter Mischel, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Dennis McNally, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg with Alan Eagle, and Effectively Matt Groening, Who Stands in for a Cast of Thousands.

I thought I was going to chronicle some new fiction this week, but the nonfiction once again caught my eye. Having watched a number of episodes on the recent marathon, I was drawn to The Simpsons: A Family History (Abrams). Now needless to say, I've had various episode guides (which of course now are generally online and free) and I read The Simpsons and Philosophy, but I've yet to conquer Simon Sigh's The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (coming in paperback in October). The book tries to take 25 years of Simpsons family history and put them in chronological order, coping as best it can with the fact that the characters always live in the present and never age.

Google is probably one big reason why those Simpsons episode books stopped working, and you can probably learn more about how they upended numerous old technologies in How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, with Alan Eagle (Grand Central). This is a pretty straightforward business book, unlike The Everything Store, which was warts and all, and probably was originally set to publish in the now-defunct Business Plus Imprint. They stress that companies need to focus more on innovation and less on market research: "market research can't tell you about solving problems that customers can't conceive are solvable." Here's an interview in Fortune magazine.

You can see a model for cover design in another business-targeted book, but one from the human potential side, in The Marshmallow Test (Little, Brown), by Walter Mischel, a psychology professor at Columbia. A plain color (often Gladwell white, but the Heath Brothers have done well with color) with an iconic image that doesn't overwhelm the test. Another example is Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness, or Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, who called Mischel's book "brilliant", but most noticeable is the change in treatment on Dan Ariely's books. Predictably Irrational used two colors on the cover, but ever since that breakout book, the design has gotten simpler.

So Walter Mischel is the man behind the famous Stanford Marshallow Experiment, where a child is offered the option of eating a marshmallow now or waiting until later. He draws on decades of studies and life examples to explore the nature of willpower, covering parenting, education, public policy, and self-care. Here's The Wall Street Journal review from Michael Shermer.

Transitioning from the information highway, A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention (William Morrow), by Matt Richtel, seems to be making a different pitch with its jacket, even though it is also a book about cutting-edge technology meets psychology. The laser-like images signal technology, there's clearly a road, but this is clearly a story, and an ominous one at that. It's a book that follows one of the higher profile cases of texting while driving leading to an accident, when a college student fatally struck two rocket scientists. Interestingly enough, the quotes do include Charles Duhigg, who offers that it "makes cutting-edge scientific research feel relevant to the choices we make", but the top quotes are from Douglas Preston and Robert Kurson, and that readership seems to be where the book is more positioned, at least by the jacket. A Deadly Warning likely grew out of the articles Mr. Richtel won that also led to a 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Here's one of Richtel's articles on distracted driving and I'm also noting that the Simpsons is among other things, a warning about the accidents that can come from distracted driving.

Another road appears in A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity (Knopf), but it's a dirt path with a sunny sky, with inserted photos of folks around the world, including an odd one of a guy posing in front of the library stacks. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn found great success with Half the Sky, and this follow-up looks at global initiatives that are transforming people's lives. The writers profile Gary Slutkin and his Cure Violence program and Lester Strong, who runs a tutoring program that recruits older Americans, plus Jessica Posner and Kennedy Odede, who are expanding educational opportunities for girls in Kenya. No scientists for them--the quotes on the back of the book are from Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Bono and Bill Gates. I'm a little confused by the inclusion of Anne Rice, but after all, it's important to highlight the house authors.

Finally, with some irony I must note that there's no highway pictured on On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom (Counterpoint), from Dennis McNally, who among other things, has been the authorized biographer of The Grateful Dead. This time out, McNally, as per the publisher, "explores the significance of African American music in the evolution of cultural freedom by examining the historical context and deeper roots of mainstream America's cultural and musical progression." Covered in the book are minstrels, Delta blues, jazz, swing, folk, and rock and roll, covering the lives of everyone from Mark Twain to Muddy Waters. My suspicion is that this book will find its reviews in music magazines, most of which don't link on websites. The Kirkus review found the book a little Dylan heavy, which might be good news for potential readers who are Dylan fans.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Events this Week: Emily St. John Mandel with the Soulstice Theatre Tonight, Chris Guillebeau Wednesday, Paige Rawl Thursday, Christine Merritt Friday, Chloe Benjamin Saturday, All at 7, All at Boswell.

Monday, September 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Emily St. John (photo credit Dese'rae Stage), author of Station Eleven, with the Soulstice Theatre.

Yes, it’s a staged reading! We’re so grateful for Mark Flagg, Margaret Casey, Bo Johnson, Josh Perkins, and Stephan Roselin , plus the rest of the Solstice Theatre for taking this on. You can read more about tonight’s actors in our Station Eleven blog post, but I did absolutely promise that I would plug the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy staged reading at Soulstice central in Bay View. Part two is this coming Saturday and Sunday, September 27 and 28. To my knowledge, tickets are still available.

Meanwhile you probably want more reasons to get out of your house tonight and come to our event. More than Sharon and my recs. More than Mike Fischer’s rec in the Journal Sentinel or the Shepherd Express book preview. How about Laurie Hertzel’s write-up in the Minneapolis Star Tribune? The A rating from Entertainment Weekly and the longlist nomination for the National Book Award are getting you closer, right?

I worried when I saw that Nancy Hightower was including Station Eleven in a round-up of science fiction titles in the Washington Post. Oy, I’m not sure how well it fares competing with purer genre. But Hightower calls the book “a gorgeous retelling of (King) Lear” and “a surprisingly beautiful story of human relationships amid such devastation.”

In the end, you’re just going to have to trust us. Hope to see you this evening.

Wednesday, September 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Chris Guillebeau (photo credit Stephanie D. Zito), author of The Happiness of Pursuit.

For those who have connected with Susan Cain’s Quiet and felt empowered by Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, who’ve been drawn to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, this book is for you. In fact, all these writers have praised Guillebeau’s tale of finding fulfillment through quests. Guillebeau himself made it his goal to visit all 193 countries in the world before his 35th birthday and he did it. I’ll bet he’s now got another project up his sleeve, for the idea of this book is that the fulfillment is in the action.

Call it what you will; I imagine it as a high-energy version of mindfulness, but being that your curiosity is stoked, and that you are not celebrating Rosh Hashanah (yes, I’m well aware of the date), The Happiness of Pursuit might have the power to change your life.

While Guillebeau’s latest is not as directly business connected as his previous title, The $100 Startup, which by the way, hit our bestseller list last week, I suspect this will resonate with folks looking at business and finance as being an integrated part of life. Tim Maurer wrote about how questing resonated with him, and led his family to leave their longtime home in Maryland for South Carolina. And apparently questing leads to more questing. Who doesn’t need a jump start?

Thursday, September 25, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Paige Rawl (photo credit Paulina Osherov on Facebook link), author of Positive: A Memoir, co-sponsored by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Paige Rawl was given her HIV+ diagnosis when she was a toddler, but it was a fateful day in middle school when the author told one of her friends about her situation. Within weeks the whole school new, and the result was that she was relentlessly bullied. The school was not supportive.

As Here and Now notes: “Through counseling, a more supportive high school, and the friendships of others in the HIV-AIDS community, Rawl eventually found the strength not only to bring a lawsuit against her former school, but to become an AIDS educator and an anti-bulling activist.”

Here is the staff rec from Jannis Mindel: “Paige Rawl spent the early years of her childhood unaware of her HIV positive status. Her daily doses of medicine were as much a part of life as cheerleading and playing on the soccer team. After her mother finally tells her about her disease, Paige reveals her status to her best friend. Her life thereafter would never be the same. The bullying started almost immediately and with ferocity.The school did nothing to help Paige or her mother but rather told her she was causing too much drama. The stress became so severe she suffered from frequent seizures and eventually found herself attempting suicide. But with the help of her mother, close friends, and a camp for HIV/AIDS children, she was able to move forward and forgive. This is a moving, personal, and very powerful story of the effects of bullying.”

The timing of our event couldn’t be better. AIDS Walk Wisconsin is Sunday, October 12, with Tim Gunn as the honorary captain, and the ARCW will be there, distributing information and getting folks to sign up. If you want to join Team Boswell, Todd will be signing folks up for that. More about AIDS Walk Wisconsin here.

Friday, September 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Christine Merritt, author of Once Upon a Time in China.

When Christine Merritt, a parasitologist, was given the opportunity to teach at Soochow University in Suzhou Province, she jumped at the chance, in all spending two years there as the only foreign faculty member.

Here experience was one of modern eco-museums and ancient ruins, and she had a rare chance to experience first-hand daily life for Chinese students, their hopes and dreams, and thoughts on everything from family life to the Communist party. Merritt lived, shopped and ate with Chinese, and she brought back a lot of stories.

Saturday, September 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Chloe Benjamin, author of The Anatomy of Dreams.

It’s 1998 in Northern California, and two students, Sylvie and Dave, fall under the spell of the charismatic Dr. Adrian Keller. He is a strong believer in lucid dreaming, the ability to make conscious decisions while asleep. They wind up following Keller throughout the country, but it’s only when they wind up in the Midwest that this curious relationship begins to unravel.

Perhaps it is not always a great thing to have an awareness of your deepest self. Here’s a profile of Benamin in the Isthmus by Jessica Steinhoff, which chronicles how Benjamin came to Madison for her MFA and wound up staying, setting her first novel there. The story quotes: "Being a transplant, I found myself fascinated by Madison, its physical beauty, its really unique populace, and special things that happen here in terms of collaboration and scholarship and community."

Here's a review of The Anatomy of Dreams in the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. Erika Janik writes: "Benjamin’s tale raises interesting psychological questions that flirt with science fiction and fantasy. But the novel stops just short of full explorations of or divergences into either of these themes, which makes it more of a thriller than a philosophical treatise on dreaming. The Anatomy of Dreams is rooted in reality and the real quest for answers about one of the most elusive and inexplicable of human experiences."

Monday, September 29, 6:30 pm, at the Milwaukee Public Library Loos Room, 733 N. 8th Street, 53203:
J. F. Riordan, author of North of the Tension Line.

There's a fine literary tradition of an outsider venturing into a new place, finding the residents a bit crazy, but learning to fit in, and accepting that this new life in this generally small town or equivalent, perhaps an apartment building in a big city, is better than the sterile sameness left behind.

While Ms. Riordan's heroine starts out in Ephraim*, Wisconsin, a popular and lovely town in Door County, she is drawn to Washington Island, where she accepts a dare to spend a winter in a small house there. Armed with a bottle of single-malt scotch and a copy of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, she sets out to win the dare and finds that life in this community is not as dull as it seemed.

*The hands are faster than the brain, and thus, a typo is corrected.