Monday, November 15, 2010

The Natural Nosiness of the Wisconsinite, a Blog for Ann Wertz Garvin, Appearing 12/2, 7 PM.

I've been beating myself up about not reading enough event books of late. Just when I say I try to read as many as I can, I get bogged down in one and nothing else gets done. Also, I find when I rent a car (on week's where we have a lot of offsites), I lose my bus reading time!

There are books we host where I'm not exactly the right reader for the book. Sometimes I worry that my read will hurt the book rather than help it. And we have had at least one academic book that I didn't understand, though the turnout was great, all people much smarter than me.

I decided to dig into Ann Wertz Garvin's On Maggie's Watch. Garvin is coming to Boswell on Thursday, December 2nd, at 7 PM. I had several good reasons:
a. set in Wisconsin
b. first novel--always can use a little extra help
c. funny and a little sad too

It's set in a small town called Elmwood, where Maggie and Martin have returned to where Maggie grew up and her mom still lives, after some years in a larger metro area, I think Minneapolis-St. Paul. They lost their first child, and that's been traumatic, both for Maggie and their relationship.

Maggie is again pregnant, and a bit paralyzed with fear over the whole thing, and of all the ways to get involved with the community, she decides to start a Neighborhood Watch. While she has a lot of ideas, her focus is on protecting the community against a sexual predator who she's found on the registry. Her childhood friend scoffs at this vigilante stance, and her husband Steven is even more skeptical. And Maggie's mother is not too thrilled either. Fortunately at the meeting, she discovers a new friend, a guy named David, who takes to both Maggie and Martin, and while not a partner in her pranks against the predator, takes her mind off her other problems.

I won't give away more, for fear of slipping in a plot point I shouldn't have. I thought of the following things while reading On Maggie's Watch:

1. How sad that I had a childhood friend with the name of the predator, which I won't name here, out of respect for my childhood friend.

2. We sure do a lot of snooping in Wisconsin. The book reminded me at times of Jane Hamilton's Laura Rider's Masterpiece, though that had more of a satirical edge to the humor. Wisconsinites are very, very, very nosy, or so are authors would have you believe.

3. I was also reminded a bit of Isabel Sharpe's Knit in Comfort, only without the knitting and North Carolina. I wonder if they are friends. Garvin teaches at UW Parkside, but I don't know where she lives.

4. I don't think that I, like one of the characters, could get away with calling someone "little lady" without the woman on the receiving end being insulted.

5. There's a bookendedness to Tom Perrotta's Little Children about On Maggie's Watch, not that I am comparing them in style or intent, but they are both about bucolic suburbs with non-bucolic people who are threatened by a sexual predator.

6. If I had a child, I would not name my boy after me. I would not want to be known as Big Daniel to my family.

Garvin has a lot of nice quotes, from Luanne Rice to Jacquelyn Mitchard, to Holly Kennedy to Patricia Wood. The book by these authors that we've sold best is Patrica Wood's The Lottery, so would you believe me if I told you it was most like that one?

Here's a sweet promotional video that Ann Wertz Garvin did for On Maggie's Watch:

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