Monday, February 19, 2018

André Aciman with Suzanne Jurva, Tom Miller's Philosopher's Flight, a daytime event with Charles Finch of the Charles Lenox mysteries, and an early peek at next week's event with Joseph Cassara for his acclaimed debut, at Outwords

Here's the Boswell event calendar for this week (and an early preview for next Tuesday).

Monday, February 19, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name and Enigma Variations

We are thrilled to present André Aciman, the author of Call Me by Your Name, as well as the just-released paperback edition of Enigma Variations. This event is cosponsored by Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance as well as the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival. Our event will feature a conversation between Aciman and Suzanne Jurva, discussing Call Me by Your Name’s long journey (ten years) from page to screen.

Here's Aciman talking about the film in Vanity Fair: "It had taken me two whole days and five pages to capture the diffident dialogue between the two would-be lovers. But Guadagnino had distilled it in just a few minutes. They shot it three to four more times. For me, the message was clear: film cuts and trims with savage brevity, where a shrug or an intercepted glance or a nervous pause between two words can lay bare the heart in ways written prose is far more nuanced and needs more time and space on the page. But the thing is, I couldn’t write silence. I couldn’t measure pauses and breaths and the most elusive yet expressive body language." Read the whole article here.

The film version of Call Me by Your Name just won a BAFTA Award for best adapted screenplay, which was written by legendary screenwriter James Ivory. It is also nominated for three Academy Awards, for adapted screenwriter, best actor, and best picture.

André Aciman teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is the author of multiple novels, the memoir Out of Egypt, and is editor of The Proust Project. Suzanne Jurva is Director of Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance. She is also a documentary director and producer and was formerly creator of the research department at Dreamworks SKG.

Tuesday, February 20, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Tom Miller, author of The Philosopher’s Flight

From a Wauwatosa native turned Madison ER doctor and now debut novelist, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art.

18-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy - an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service, a team of flying medics, Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. He hones his abilities and wins the respect of his classmates. Then he falls for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers - and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

From Boswell's Olivia Schmitz, a review of The Philosopher's Flight: "In a re-imagined World War I era America, the arcane science of empirical philosophy allows those skilled at it to control certain aspects of the physical world. It's thought that only women possess the natural power and prowess for philosophy, but Robert Weekes is determined to join the all-female Elite Corps of Rescue Flyers. Miller's timely story and stunning feat of world building will get you hooked, and you'll stay as Robert and his friends (incredible philosopher ladies) encounter adventure and adversity in a war-torn, challenging world. I LOVE this book!"

Tom Miller grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He graduated from Harvard University and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and an MD from the University of Pittsburgh. While writing The Philosopher’s Flight, he worked as a travel guidebook writer, EMT, and college English instructor. He's now an emergency room doctor in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, February 21, 2:00 pm, at Boswell:
Charles Finch, author of The Woman in the Water

Enjoy a special afternoon with Charles Finch, who takes readers back to Charles Lenox’s very first case and the ruthless serial killer who would set him on the course to become one of London’s most brilliant detectives. In the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, Finch pits the young detective against a maniacal murderer who would give Professor Moriarty a run for his money.

London, 1850: A young Charles Lenox struggles to make a name for himself as a detective…without a single case. Scotland Yard refuses to take him seriously and his friends deride him for attempting a profession at all. But when an anonymous writer sends a letter to the paper claiming to have committed the perfect crime, and promising to kill again, Lenox is convinced that this is his chance to prove himself. You can only imagine that Lenox tries to solve the crime, only to find the stakes raised, trapping our detective hero in a desperate game of cat and mouse. Marilyn Stasio reviews The Woman in The Water in The New York Times Book Review.

Chicago-based Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including The Inheritance and A Beautiful Blue Death, which was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of the year. The National Book Critics Circle just named Finch 2017 winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing for his work at the Chicago Tribune.

Tuesday, February 27, 7:00 pm, at Outwords Books, Gifts, and Coffee, 2710 N Murray Ave:
Joseph Cassara, author of The House of Impossible Beauties

Boswell is pleased to cosponsor a special evening with Iowa Writers Workshop grad and debut novelist Joseph Cassara, in conjunction with Outwords Books, Gifts, and Coffee. The House of Impossible Beauties is a gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and ’90s. The story is inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza, made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning.

It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.

As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences. Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness, and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit.

It is a mark of the times that The House of Impossible Beauties has been reviewed in both The Economist and The Financial Times, and excerpted in The Wall Street Journal's website. Boyd Tonkin at Financial Times wrote: "For all his immersion in the ball scene of the 1980s, Cassara never overdoes the period costumery of sequins, glitter and gold lamé. Indeed, sartorial spangles have far less appeal for Angel and her homegirls than sheer classic elegance. They come from poor immigrant homes in the Bronx. Hence 'her goal was to look like a wealthy woman with purpose.'"

Of Puerto Rican and Italian lineage, Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Photo credits!
André Aciman: Sigrid Estrada
Charles Finch: Timothy Greenfield-Sande
Joseph Cassara: Amanda Kellis

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"One dollar bid, now two, now two, will you give me two? Sold!" The report on Boswell sales for the week ending February 17.

"One dollar bid, now two, now two, will you give me two? Sold!" The report on Boswell sales for the week ending February 17.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Light It Up, by Nick Petrie
2. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
3. The Glass Forest, by Cynthia Swanson
4. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
7. The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
8. The Philosopher's Flight, by Tom Miller (event Tue 2/20, 7 pm)
9. Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday
10. The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

Though Putnam still takes the top two, this is Simon and Schuster's week for fiction. We have three books in our top ten from the Simon division and two more from Scribner (Touchstone is under Scribner). One highlight that should have a higher placement next week is Tom Miller's The Philosopher's Flight. Miller's debut novel has gotten great reads from current bookseller Olivia S. and former bookseller Kelli. And here's a great review from Liz Bourke on the Tor website (which is not part of Simon and Schuster): "This is a measured, compelling, and well-paced novel, full of character and incident. Miller has written a very accomplished debut, and I seriously look forward to seeing what he does next."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Promise Me, Dad, by Joe Biden
2. Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker
3. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris
4. Everything Happens for a Reason, by Kate Bowler
5. We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. I Am I Am I Am, by Maggie O'Farrell
7. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
8. Obama, by Pete Souza
9. Schlitz: Brewing Art, by Paul Bialas
10. Grant, by Ron Chernow

I heard some interesting interviews this week with this week's top ten and I'm guessing that our customers heard them too, which is why they are in the top ten. Steven Pinker's had a lot of press on Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Here's Andrew Anthony in The Guardian: "It’s safe to say that few of us stop and marvel at the extraordinary progress that humankind has made in the past couple of hundred years – a mere blink of the eye in evolutionary terms. Instead we’re more likely to lament the state of the world, deplore the ravenous nature of humanity, rage at the political and financial elites and despair at the empty materialism of consumer society. What we do to combat poverty: that’s far more important than reducing inequality. But for Pinker, that’s an indulgence we can no longer afford. His book is a sustained, data-packed argument in favour of the principles promoted by the Enlightenment." I heard him talking, but now I can't find the interview I heard.

No such problem with Maggie O'Farrell, who might be known to Boswell customers by recommendations from Jane at Boswell. Terry Gross spoke to Maggie O'Farrell on Fresh Air about her memoir I Am I Am I Am: 17 Brushes with Death: "The book was inspired, in part, by O'Farrell's daughter, who was born with severe eczema and life-threatening allergies. O'Farrell says she wanted to understand what happens to people when they come back from the brink. 'These experiences always take up residence inside us,' she says. 'We're different people afterwards. We're wiser, we're a little bit sadder — but also we value what we have.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. American Dervish, Ayad Akhtar
2. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
3. American War, by Omar El Akkad
4. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
5. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman (event Mon 2/19, 7 pm, at Boswell. Come early!)
6. Tying the Scot, by Jennifer Trethewey
7. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
8. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie (mass and trade combined)
9. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck
10. Ru, by Kim Thúy (event Thu 2/8 7 pm, at Boswell, with Alliance Française)

When you add up the pre-event, post-event, and book club sales, you're left with...no other books to talk about in this top ten. We had a great time with Omar El Akkad, and it was very exciting to learn that we actually set up his first high school talk for American War (signed copies available, both hardcover and paperback). In January, we similarly set up Benjamin Ludwig's first high school talk for Ginny Moon, but in that case, we have to exclude his local school. If you are a high school teacher, librarian, or principal and you'd like to get on our pitch list for school events, you should contact Jenny.

The Financial Times profiled Omar El Akkad in November. When asked what book would you give your own child to introduce them to literature, he mentioned Robert Munsch's Love You Forever. "It’s the only story I’ve ever read that I can honestly describe as timeless." Read the interview here.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Species of Species and Other Pieces, by Georges Perec
2. Mexicans in Wisconsin, by Sergio González
3. Just Kids, by Patti Smith
4. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
5. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
6. Waking Up White, by Debby Irving
7. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilklerson
8. The Devil's Bargain by Joshua Green
9. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
10. The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, by Fabrice Midal

If you're wondering why The Species of Species has been making regular appearances on our bestseller list, a class is reading it and well, students are still picking it up. We really don't do textbook sales, but we have a few professors and lecturers who have students read trade books and send them to Boswell to pick them up. Thank you! More about the book and author: "Georges Perec, author of the highly acclaimed Life: A User's Manual, was only forty-six when he died in 1982. Despite a tragic childhood, during which his mother was deported to Auschwitz, Perec produced some of the most entertaining essays of the age. His literary output was deliberately varied in form and style and this generous selection of Perec's non-fictional work, the first to appear in English, demonstrates his characteristic lightness of touch, wry humor, and accessibility."

Books for Kids:
1. Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, by John August
2. Strongheart, by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
3. The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds
4. Love, by Matt de la Peña with illustrations by Loren Long
5. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
6. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
8. Little House in Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (hardcover)
9. All We Can Do Is Wait, by Richard Lawson
10. The Valensteins, by Ethan Long

It's our last hurrah for Valentine's Day books but some books will certainly live on through the rest of the year, like Matt de la Peña and Loren Long's Love. From the signed Kirkus review: " Love is at the core of family and at the back of sorrow and in the very bones of this book. If it’s possible to shout quietly, then de la Peña has mastered the technique. His lyrical prose roars with gentle (and deceptive) simplicity to uncover the everyday and unexpected places where love and sometimes pain reside, giving rise to resilience."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Barrowman's back! Here are her latest mystery picks.

Tango Down (available by special order), by Chris Knopf, which features a PI and cabinet maker. From Barrowman: "Knopf ‘s writing crackles with energy, but one of the elements I appreciate most about this series is that Knopf isn’t afraid to slow down and linger on small emotional moments. For Sam “life is an intricate waltz you have with other human beings.” Sometimes you get trampled, sometimes you don’t. Sam may be a cynic and a skeptic, but he’s not a pessimist. He keeps dancing."

A Dangerous Crossing, by Ausma Zehanat Khan, whose series protagonist is a Canadian police inspector who is also an observant Muslim. Barrowman: "The novel presents a highly personal and heartbreakingly profound view of the Syrian refugee crisis. But the dangers of the crossing and the details of life in the camps are not just backdrops for this story, they are the story, and what struck me most when I finished reading was that the shocking conspiracy Khattack and Getty uncover really is fiction."

The Innocents (available by special order) by David Putnam, starring Los Angeles Sheriff Bruno Johnson. Barrowman: "Crafted from the clay of Putnam’s own experiences in law enforcement, this series’ authenticity is undeniable. In his author’s note, Putnam describes how he went from idealizing men and women wearing the badge to experiencing a 'slow decline of that high moral expectation.'"

From USA Today, Jocelyn McClurg reviews Amy Bloom's White Houses: "Historical fiction about “forgotten women’s lives” has become a comfortably familiar, if not always scintillating, literary form. Leave it to Amy Bloom to give the genre a swift kick in the knickers with White Houses, her irresistibly audacious re-creation of the love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena 'Hick' Hickok." On sale Tuesday - also has a great review from Boswell's Jen.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Presenting the Boswell Book-tastic Author Time Hour, featuring Omar El Akkad, Cynthia Swanson, John August, romance with Wisconsin RWA's Jennifer Trethewey, Sonali Dev, and Lori Handeland, plus André Aciman next Monday and co-stars Meg Jones, Bonnie North, Bobbi Dumas, and Suzanne Jurva


Presenting the Boswell Book-tastic Author Time Hour*. The special guests for this week's episodes are...

Monday, February 12, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
The Wisconsin chapter of the Romance Writers of America present an evening of romance, with Sonali Dev, author of A Distant Heart; Lori Handeland (Austin), author of Beauty and the Bounty Hunter; Jennifer Rupp, writing as Jennifer Trethewey, author of Tying the Scot; and reviewer and Read-a-Romance founder Bobbi Dumas


Meet great Midwest writers and learn the latest about America’s favorite reading genre, just in time for Valentine’s Day. And here's a swag alert - we'll have totes from Sourcebooks and car chargers from Engtangled for giveaway at this event. Alas, due to illness, Ann Voss Peterson will not be able to attend.

Founded in 1984, the Wisconsin chapter of the Romance Writers of America is a professional organization of romance authors, supporting both published and aspiring writers. They offer a chance to network with other writers, meet with agents and publishers, improve writing skills, and learn the tools to build a successful romance writing career.

Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. Dev’s novels have been featured on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post, and Kirkus best books lists. She won the American Library Association’s award for best romance in 2014, is a RITA Finalist and RT Reviewer Choice Award Nominee, and is a winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family.

Bobbi Dumas reads, reviews, blogs and advocates for romance and women’s fiction in a variety of places, including NPR, Kirkus and her own pro-Romance event, ReadARomanceMonth.com. She believes that romance novels are (mostly) by women, for women, about women and of interest to women, and offer more hope, female agency, and positive change than any other literary genre.

Lori Handeland is The New York Times bestselling author of The Nightcreature novels, The Phoenix Chronicles, and The Luchettis. A two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award, she has also written the western historical romance series Once Upon a Time in the West under the name Lori Austin. Lori lives in southern Wisconsin.

Jennifer Rupp, writing as Jennifer Trethewey, is an actor-turned-writer who has moved her performances (Renaissance Theaterworks, Comedysportz) from the stage to the page. In 2013 she traveled to Scotland for the first time, where she instantly fell for the language, humor, intense sense of pride, and breathtaking landscape. Her love for Scotland was translated into her first series of historical romance novels, the Highlanders of Balforss. The sexy, adventurous first book of the series, Tying the Scot, is now available.

Wednesday, February 14, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Omar El Akkad, author of American War , in conversation with the Journal Sentinel's Meg Jones

Boswell presents a conversation between Omar El-Akkad, the journalist and acclaimed author of American War, and Meg Jones, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter who concentrates on military and veterans’ issues. This event is free and is in conjunction with the paperback release of American War.

In a disturbingly believable near future, the need for sustainable energy has torn the United States apart. The South wants to maintain the use of fossil fuels, even though the government in The North has outlawed them. Now unmanned drones patrol the skies, and future martyrs walk the markets. For the first time in three hundred years, America is caught up in a civil war. Out of this turmoil comes Sarat Chestnut, a southern girl born into the ongoing conflict. At a displaced persons camp, a mysterious older man takes her under his wing, and while her family tries to survive, Sarat is made into a deadly instrument of war, with consequences for the entire nation.

As Michiko Kakutani wrote in The New York Times: “Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent. From these incongruous ingredients, El Akkad has fashioned a surprisingly powerful novel - one that creates as haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in The Road, and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America.”

Omar El Akkad was born in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in Doha, Qatar until he moved to Canada with his family. He is an award-winning reporter for the Globe and Mail, and has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade, including dispatches from Afghanistan, Guantànamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Missouri. He is a recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, February 15, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Cynthia Swanson, author of The Glass Forest, in conversation with Bonnie North of Milwaukee Public Radio’s Lake Effect

Cynthia Swanson - author of The Bookseller, a New York Times bestseller and Indie Next Pick - returns with The Glass Forest, a literary suspense novel in which three very different women in the 1960s confront a mysterious death and disappearance. This thoughtful, tightly-wound page-turner deeply mines the turbulent decades following WWII, perfect for readers of Garth Hallberg and Emma Cline. This event is free and open to the public.

In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her hometown in Door County, Wisconsin. At 21, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever. She learns that her father-in-law Henry has committed suicide and his wife Siljia is missing. Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to a small town in upstate New York. Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic 17-year-old who resists Angie’s attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja’s eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage.

Publishers Weekly writes that “Swanson uses exquisitely rendered characters and an intricately woven plot to explore the cultural and political fallout of WWII, as well as the changing role and limited rights of women in the mid-20th century. This intoxicating slow burn builds to a conclusion rife with a shocking reveal.”

Cynthia Swanson is bestselling author of The Bookseller, translated into a dozen languages and winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction. Cynthia has published short fiction in numerous journals and been a Pushcart Prize nominee. Though she has Wisconsin roots, she now lives in Denver.

Friday, February 16, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
John August, author of Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire

Screenwriter and long-time-Tim-Burton collaborator John August's debut novel about a 12-year-old boy who joins a special scout team to learn how to survive in both the wilds of the forest and the magical world that lies within it. This event is cosponsored by Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance. It’s a great evening for creatives and their families.

When Arlo Finch moves to Pine Mountain, Colorado, he has no idea what's in store for him in this tiny town full of mystery and magic. When he joins the Rangers, Pine Mountain's version of the Boy Scouts, it leads him into adventures he never thought possible. Wilderness and magical powers collide throughout the beautiful, dense forest surrounding his new home, and as Arlo begins to learn the way of the Rangers, he also discovers courage, strength, and a destiny he never knew he possessed.

Boswell’s Jenny Chou is a fan. She writes: “Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire has everything middle grade readers’ love, from magic to outdoor adventure to eccentric grownups and laughs. Highly recommended for anyone who wishes they lived a bit closer to a magical forest!”

About the Author: Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, John August earned a degree in journalism from Drake University and an MFA in film from USC. As a screenwriter, his credits include Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie. In addition to his film career, he hosts a popular weekly podcast, Scriptnotes, with Craig Mazin. He also created the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling tool that was distributed to over 2,000 classrooms in partnership with non-profit literacy groups like 826LA and NaNoWriMo. John and his family live in Los Angeles.

And don't forget about next week's show, when our special guests include...
Monday, February 19, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name and The Enigma Variations

We are thrilled to present André Aciman, the author of Call Me by Your Name, as well as the just-released paperback edition of The Enigma Variations. This event is cosponsored by Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance as well as the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival. Our event will feature a conversation between Aciman and Suzanne Jurva, discussing Call Me by Your Name’s long journey (ten years) from page to screen. This event is going to be big so arrive early. And please note, the doors will close if we reach capacity.

Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. During the restless summer weeks, unrelenting but buried currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them and verge toward the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. André Aciman's critically acclaimed debut novel is a frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion.

The film version of Call Me by Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, has been nominated for four Oscars including best picture, best actor (Chalamet), best adapted screenplay (James Ivory) and best original song (Sufian Stevens). The film has been also nominated for three Golden Globes, four BAFTA awards, and a SAG award. It is currently playing (as of February 12) at the Downer Theatre.

André Aciman is the author of The Enigma Variations, Eight White Nights, Harvard Square, and the memoir Out of Egypt, and is the editor of The Proust Project. He teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and lives with his wife in Manhattan.

Suzanne Jurva is Director of Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance. The creator of the research department at Dreamworks SKG, Jurva has been a feature film development executive on many Academy Award nominated and winning films, including Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, and The Prince of Egypt. She is also an award-winning documentary director and producer.

*Alas, our house dancers, The Boswell Bookmarks, are on tour this week in Eastern Europe.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Behold! The Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 10, 2018

Behold! The Boswell bestsellers awaiteth.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Undertaker's Daughter, by Sara Blædel
2. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Blake Smith
3. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
4. American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
5. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
6. Munich, by Robert Harris
7. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
8. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
9. The Power, by Naomi Alderman
10. Light It Up, by Nick Petrie

What do American Marriage, The Great Alone, and Little Fires Everywhere have in common, besides being both Boswell and likely national bestsellers? All three authors came to Boswell for their last novels. Both American Marriage and The Great Alone were released to great buzz, with Tayari Jones being the next Oprah Book Club pick. Both books also had recommendations from Boswell Bookseller, Jones touted by Sharon and Hannah receiving a recommendation from Kay.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris
2. Battle Hardened, by Craig S. Chapman
3. Automating Inequality, by Virginia Eubanks
4. Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff
5. Everything Happens for a Reason, by Kate Bowler
6. 12 Rules for Life, by Jordan Peterson
7. Obama, by Pete Souza
8. Feel Free, by Zadie Smith
9. The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair
10. Chasing Light, by Amanda Lucidon

When Penguin Random House started importing their own titles from Canada, it was really a question of rights, as the books were already being shipped out of the Maryland warehouse. But we've had a few successes, and now Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, hits our top ten. Camille Paglia wrote: "Jordan Peterson is the most important and influential Canadian thinker since Marshall McLuhan." Hey Paglia, why the qualifier? We also have a Canadian import event in March with Kim Thuy. Visit our upcoming events page for more info.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Arrow The Dark Archer, by John Barrowman and Carol E. Barrowman
2. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (In-Store Lit Group, Mon 4/2, 7 pm)
4. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman (event Mon 2/19, 7 pm, at Boswell)
5. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck (In-Store Lit Group, Mon 3/5, 7 pm)
6. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
7. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
8. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
9. History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund
10. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur

Big release for Lincoln in the Bardo, one of the most acclaimed books of last year. Kind of cool that the college newspaper The Trinity Tripod came up second in the search engine for news about the book. But I like this quote from senior Trip Slaymaker (and congratulations to Trip if that's not a made-up name. Thank your parents!): "The best novels defy categorization. It is difficult to completely grasp George Saunders’ Booker Prize winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo because it contains ideas and experimental ways of writing that have never been placed together before. Saunders tricks his readers into believing in a perfectly realized world by placing his experimentally written, conceptually blinding story into a fascinating, empathetically recreated moment in real-world history."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey
2. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, by Georges Perec
3. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
4. French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, by Fabrice Midal
5. Martin's Dream, by Clayborne Carson
6. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
7. Bad Feminist, Olive Edition, by Roxane Gay
8. Wisconsin and the Civil War, by Ronald Paul Larson
9. Genius of Place, by Justin Martin
10. Digital Dead End, by Virginia Eubanks

As my fellow booksellers have told me regarding sock selection, adding a cuss word can spur sales. I can see it's also a growth category in greeting cards. And while sorry fans, but I leave the cussing socks and cards for other retailers, when it comes to books, we don't restrict. So of course The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t: Cut the Crap and Live Your Life is in our top this week. The publisher notes: "An international bestseller (now in English for the first time), The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t by Fabrice Midal explains why the key to true mindfulness is freeing ourselves from social and often self-imposed stresses--and highlights how we can embrace life more fully by giving ourselves a break."

Books for Kids:
1. Broken Pride V1, by Erin Hunter/Gillian Philip
2. Code of Honor V2, by Erin Hunter/Gillian Philip
3. Bone Quill V2, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
4. Hollow Earth V1, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
5. Book of Beasts V3, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
6. Strongheart, by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
7. Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
8. Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, by John August (event Fri 2/16, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. Writing Radar, by Jack Gantos
10. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, by Karina Yan Glaser

Our top 10 is packed with current school visits. While some authors add on a public event (like John August for Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire), some authors do schools only, like Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann for Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen. From the publisher: "For fans of Balto and other real-life dog stories, here's a heavily illustrated middle-grade novel about a canine movie star of the 1920s, dramatically told in both words and pictures by an acclaimed author and a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator." Kirkus called it "A touching, playful, and satisfying tale of a silver-screen wonder dog." We'll have signed copies after they visit on February 27.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins offers 10 books from 1968 still worth reading today. You can read what Higgins has to say about these titles:
--A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin
--Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick
--The Double Helix, by Jams D. Watson
--Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
--House Made of Dawn, by M. Scott Momaday
--Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer, by Dick Schaap
--Slouching Toward Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
--Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, by James Baldwin
--To Be a Slave, by Julius Lester
--True Grit, by Charles Portis.

Also on the JS TapBooks page, Mike Fischer reviews The Château, the second novel from Paul Goldberg. He opens: "Once upon a time, Melsor Katzenelenbogen was a celebrated Moscow poet and Soviet-Jewish refusenik. Now he’s a right-wing octogenarian living in Florida on the proceeds of a Medicare scam, while proudly proclaiming that 'Trump reminds me of me.'" Fischer notes that "Goldberg’s mordant satire – invoking and channeling a distinguished Russian literary tradition extending back to Gogol – hits home and bites hard."

And on the website, a review of Mark Whitaker's Smoketown, reviewed by Gene Seymour, originally from USA Today. It is the story of Pittsburgh's black Renaissance.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sara Blaedel, Gillian Phillip/Erin Hunter, Jack Gantos, Gregory Blake Smith, Craig S. Chapman, Virginia Eubanks plus next Monday's WisRWA panel. These events are full: Jessica Lahey, Nadine Burke Harris and info to come on Virginia Eubanks

The Boswell Events-a-Plenty Blog Post

Monday, February 5, 6:30 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library’s Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room, 814 W Wisconsin Ave:
Virginia Eubanks, author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, cosponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute

Registration has closed for this event. This event has reached capacity.

Tuesday, February 6, 6:30 pm, at Racine Public Library, 75 Seventh St, 53403:
Sara Blædel, author of The Undertaker’s Daughter

Boswell is pleased to be cosponsor of an event with award-winning Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel, author of the Louise Rick series. Her first novel set in the United States will be launched at the Racine Public Library, being that Racine is the setting for her new series featuring undertaker Ilka Nichols Jensen.

Already widowed by the age of forty Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen. Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: Her father, who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on the family more than three decades ago, has died. And he's left her something in his will: his funeral home. In Racine, Wisconsin.

Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn't heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin. Desperate for a connection to the parent she never really knew, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father's things--hoping for some insight into his new life in America - before preparing the business for a quick sale.

Sara Blaedel was voted Denmark's most popular novelist four times, and is also recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark's most prestigious literary award. This event is free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be available. For more information, contact the Racine Public Library at (262) 636-9217.

Tuesday, February 6, 3:45 pm, at University School of Milwaukee, 2100 W Fairy Chasm Rd, 53217:
Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

Alas, this event, sponsored by REDgen and University School of Milwaukee, has sold out. We are not able to accomodate any more attendees in the evening session. An afternoon session for teachers is still open. Register here

What's the best way to motivate students to own their education and develop resilience? Research has shown that the key to all these things is intrinsic motivation, or motivation that comes from within. Lahey summarizes the current research on autonomy-supportive parenting and teaching, competence, rewards, desirable difficulties, praise, and failure. At this teacher session, bestselling author Jessica Lahey will discuss all of this and her book The Gift of Failure.

Wednesday, February 7, 4:30 pm, at Boswell:
Gillian Philip, author of Bravelands #2: Code of Honor

Heed the call of the wild with the second book in a new action-packed animal fantasy, best for kids eight and up. Set in the African savannah, and told from three different animals’ points of view, Bravelands will thrill readers who love Spirit Animals and Wings of Fire, as well as the legion of dedicated fans who’ve made Erin Hunter, the name behind Warriors, a bestselling phenomenon.

The code of the wild has been broken. The elephant leader known as Great Mother has been murdered. Now a young baboon, elephant, and lion must come together to discover the truth, before the fragile balance of Bravelands is destroyed forever.

Gillian Philip, one of the Erin Hunters, was born in Glasgow, lived for twelve years in Barbados, and now lives in the north of Scotland with her husband, twin children, three dogs, two sociopathic cats, a slayer hamster, three chickens, and a lot of nervous fish.

Wednesday, February 7, 7:00 pm, at Boswell, in conversation with Ruth Jordan of Crimespree magazine:
Sara Blaedel, author of The Undertaker's Daughter

Crimespree magazine is one of the preeminent publications devoted to mysteries and thrillers, and it's based right here in Milwaukee. In addition, each fall Milwaukee hosts Murder + Mayhem, an action-packed, all-day mystery extravaganza at the Irish Cultural Center, filled with interviews, panel discussions, and signings with dozens of writers. For this, Ruth Jordan (at left), in partnership with her husband Jon, received the Mystery Writers of America Raven Award for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.

We’re excited to bring Murder + Mayhem to Boswell with a special appearance of Denmark crime writer sensation Sara Blaedel, author of the international bestselling Louise Rick series, in conversation with Ruth. Blaedel’s novel is the first to feature Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school photographer turned undertaker when she inherits a funeral home from her estranged father in Racine, Wisconsin. One of her first charges is to ready the victim of an unsolved murder begging to be solved, but it turns out there’s bigger funny business afoot at the Home – why is everyone involved so desperate to sell the business to a competitor?

Thursday, February 8, 4:30 pm, at Boswell:
Jack Gantos, author of Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories

From Newbery Medal winner and National Book Award finalist Jack Gantos comes advice on how to be the best brilliant writer in this funny and practical writing guide for children ages 9 and up. With the signature wit and humor that have garnered him legions of fans, award-winning author Jack Gantos instructs young writers on using their writing radar to find story ideas in their own lives. Charting his own misadventures as an adolescent writer, Gantos inspires readers to build confidence and establish good writing habits as they create, revise, and perfect their stories.

Pop-out text boxes highlight key tips, alongside dozens of Gantos's own hilarious illustrations and original stories. More than just a how-to guide, Writing Radar is a celebration of the power of storytelling and an ode to the characters who, many unwittingly, inspired Gantos's own writing career.

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages. His works include Hole in My Life, a Michael L. Printz Honor memoir; Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist; and Dead End in Norvelt, a Newbery Award winner. The seeds for Jack’s writing career were planted in sixth grade, when he read his sister’s diary and decided he could write better than she could. He began to collect anecdotes he overheard, mostly from eavesdropping outside the teachers’ lounge, later including many of these anecdotes in his books.

This event is free and open to the public. Signing restrictions may be put in place, depending on the size of the crowd.

Thursday, February 8, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Gregory Blake Smith, author of The Maze at Windermere, in conversation with novelist Jane Hamilton

In The Maze at Windermere, which Ron Charles in The Washington Post called a “staggeringly brilliant novel,” Gregory Blake Smith weaves intersecting worlds into a brilliant tapestry, charting a voyage across the ages into the maze of the human heart. This event is cosponsored by the Milwaukee Carleton Club.

A reckless wager between a tennis pro with a fading career and a drunken party guest - the stakes are an antique motorcycle and an heiress’s diamond necklace—launches a narrative odyssey set in Newport, Rhode Island, that braids together three centuries of aspiration and adversity. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune; a young writer soon to make his mark turns himself to his craft with harrowing social consequences; an aristocratic British officer during the American Revolution carries on a courtship that leads to murder; and, in Newport’s earliest days, a tragically orphaned Quaker girl imagines a way forward for herself and the slave girl she has inherited.

Here’s Jane Hamilton’s enthusiastic recommendation: “The Maze at Windermere is thrilling. This novel restored my faith and made me laugh out loud. It's rare that a novel comes along that is broad ranging, so very funny, profound, provocative, literary, and page-turning, and also word perfect. I went right back to the beginning when I'd finished, marveling again at the radiant mind of Gregory Blake Smith.”

Gregory Blake Smith is the award-winning author of three previous novels, including The Divine Comedy of John Venner, a New York Times Notable Book. His short story collection, The Law of Miracles, won the Juniper Prize and the Minnesota Book Award. Smith is currently the Lloyd P. Johnson-Norwest Professor of English and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College.

Friday, February 9, 7:00 pm, at Boswell: Craig S. Chapman, author of Battle Hardened: An Infantry Officer's Harrowing Journey from D-Day to V-E Day

Craig S. Chapman tells the story of an American soldier's growth from a Second Lieutenant eager to prove his worth in battle to a skilled and resolute commander over the course of the Northern European Campaign. Chapman delves deep into the personal recollections and mental state of his father Bill as he fought against the Nazis, enduring frontline combat and witnessing horror on a massive scale. Lieutenant Chapman maintains his sanity by isolating his emotions from the chaos of the battlefield, and the young officer turns into a hard-edged warrior who dispassionately orders men to risk their lives yet still manages to hold onto his humanity.

As a devoted son, Craig Chapman pressured his father to write down his war experiences in his own voice but he resisted the idea. Bill Chapman, who went on to be a senior executive at Milwaukee’s Johnson Controls and the volunteer executive director at Discovery World, could talk openly about what he went through but he did not want to dwell on that part of his life. Eventually, Bill brushed off Craig's efforts with a curt remark that Craig should write his war stories, given that he had heard them so many times. Bill died a few years later.

Craig S. Chapman retired after 34 years as an Account Executive, Network Data Specialist and IT Project Manager for GE, AT&T and Lightwave Consulting Group. He also had a secondary career as an officer in the North Carolina National Guard.

Saturday, February 10, 3:00 pm, at Marquette University Campus. Varsity Theatre at Capacity - Overflow Seating at Weasler Auditorium:
Nadine Burke Harris, MD, author of The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity

REDgen, Marquette University, and Boswell Book Company present an afternoon with pioneering physician Nadine Burke Harris. This event is conjunction with the publication of The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, which reveals how childhood stress leads to lifelong health problems and what we can do to break the cycle. Varsity Theatre seating sold out. Overflow seating available at Weasler Auditorium. Registration is required for this event. Please register here. 

Nadine Burke Harris, MD, is founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco's Bayview-Hunters Point. She is the subject of a New Yorker profile and was the recent recipient of a prestigious Heinz Award in 2016, among many other honors. Her TED talk, "I Was Thinking Too Small," previewed the subject of The Deepest Well, her first book.

Monday, February 12, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
The Wisconsin chapter of the Romance Writers of America present an evening of romance, with Sonali Dev, author of A Distant Heart; Lori Handeland (Austin), author of Beauty and the Bounty Hunter; Ann Voss Peterson, author of Dead Too Soon; Jennifer Rupp, writing as Jennifer Trethewey, author of Tying the Scot; and reviewer and Read-a-Romance founder Bobbi Dumas

Meet great Midwest writers and learn the latest about America’s favorite reading genre, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Founded in 1984, the Wisconsin chapter of the Romance Writers of America is a professional organization of romance authors, supporting both published and aspiring writers. They offer a chance to network with other writers, meet with agents and publishers, improve writing skills, and learn the tools to build a successful romance writing career.

Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. Dev’s novels have been featured on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post, and Kirkus best books lists. She won the American Library Association’s award for best romance in 2014, is a RITA Finalist and RT Reviewer Choice Award Nominee, and is a winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family.

Bobbi Dumas reads, reviews, blogs and advocates for romance and women’s fiction in a variety of places, including NPR, Kirkus and her own pro-Romance event, ReadARomanceMonth.com. She believes that romance novels are (mostly) by women, for women, about women and of interest to women, and offer more hope, female agency, and positive change than any other literary genre.

Lori Handeland is The New York Times bestselling author of The Nightcreature novels, The Phoenix Chronicles, and The Luchettis. A two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award, she has also written the western historical romance series Once Upon a Time in the West under the name Lori Austin. Lori lives in southern Wisconsin.

Ann Voss Peterson is the author of over thirty novels and has millions of books in print all over the globe. Winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award and a Rita finalist, Ann is known for her adrenaline-fueled thrillers and romantic suspense novels, including the Codename: Chandler spy thrillers she writes with J.A. Konrath and her own thriller series featuring small-town Wisconsin police chief Val Ryker.

Jennifer Rupp, writing as Jennifer Trethewey, is an actor-turned-writer who has moved her performances (Renaissance Theaterworks, Comedysportz) from the stage to the page. In 2013 she traveled to Scotland for the first time, where she instantly fell for the language, humor, intense sense of pride, and breathtaking landscape. Her love for Scotland was translated into her first series of historical romance novels, the Highlanders of Balforss. The sexy, adventurous first book of the series, Tying the Scot, is now available.


Don't forget that Boswell will also be at the Riverside Theater event with Vice President Joseph Biden on Sunday, February 11, 7:30 pm. Tickets still available for this event, which has Bidden in conversation with Governor Jim Doyle. Visit their website for more info.