Monday, May 2, 2011

What's Going on This Week at Boswell? Mo Willems and Nathaniel Philbrick and Casten Jensen and Not One, but Two Alexes.

Tonight (May 2, 7 pm) is book club discussion with People of the Book, readying us for our Geraldine Brooks event on May 12. And here's a little more news about Caleb's Crossing. If you buy a ticket to the event, you get the book at the Boswell's Best 20% off price, which is $21.56. That means you get more than $5 off your purchase of the book, getting your ticket price back and then some.

Tuesday, May 3 at 7 pm is our UWM undergraduate student reading night. We've got a good crowd of readers for this event. This evening we're hosting Matt Hart, Rachel Gomez, Carla Fay Wycklendt, Joshua Vogt, Rachel Niemann, and Bethany Price.  I've got complete biographies at the end of this entry...because hey, you might know them and you're definitely going to want to cheer them on.  Yes, they will be getting their first official Boswell author water, which has become ritualized. More on a separate post.

On Wednesday, May 4 at 7 pm, we're hosting acclaimed writers Alexander MacLeod and Clark Blaise to Boswell at 7 pm. Alexander MacLeod’s celebrated first collection, Light Lifting, offers us a suite of darkly urban and unflinching elegies that explore the depths of the psyche and channel the divide between Canada and the United States. In The Meagre Tarmac, Blaise offers up an Indo-American Canterbury Tales, a suite of intimately linked stories about the trials and tribulations of several generations of Indo-Americans, grappling with the changing nature of race relations in post 9-11 America and the spectre (and reality) of terrorism. MacLeod, shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and Blaise, shortlisted for everything else, are what we call writer's writers.  So that means if you don't show up, you're not really a writer...which could be troubling to your psyche.

What are you doing at 4 pm on Thursday, May 5? If you're a kid or a kid's book lover, you might be coming to Boswell to see Mo Willems. He'll be reading from his new books, Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator and I Broke my Trunk, the new Elephant and Piggie book.

And yes, there are some restrictions:
1. Mr. Willems cannot sign board books or plush or anything else that might go into a kid's mouth.
2. Due to time restrictions, Mr. Willems will not be able to sign memorabilia or posters.
3. You must get a line letter to get your books signed. Priority is given to folks who purchase books from us. Mr. Willems will be able to personalize one book from home.
Rules subject to the size of the crowd.  If we get a larger-than-expected turnout, there may be more of them, like a limit to the number of books per family.  If there are fewer people, who knows?  You can ask me, but if this happens, I will be in the back room crying.

Willems will be signing until 6 pm, after which we clean up for Carsten Jensen, author of the Danish masterpiece, We the Drowned, appearing Thursday, May 5 at 7 pm. This is Jason's favorite book of 2011, and it's an honor to be hosting the author of, as we like to say in Danish, Vi, de Druknede.

We the Drowned  is the story of the port town of Marstal, whose inhabitants have sailed the world's oceans aboard freight ships for centuries. Despite the countless dangers, the sea continues to lure generations of Marstal men away from home and into terror and violence. Left behind are the women: strong and resilient, they must raise large families alone and sometimes take history into their own hands. There are cannibals here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, cowards, heroes, devastating tragedies, and miraculous survivals--everything that a town like Marstal has actually experienced.  My apologies for the use of paraphrased copy on the blog.  It's either that or a wait for a spectacularly original essay on the book to shoot from brain to keyboard, and in that case, we talk up the book next July.  But it's Thursday, May 5, at 7 pm. 

Stacie has put a video together of two fans of the book in a heated book discussion. You may recognize these guys from "skinny vanilla latte" and "where's the bathroom?"

On Friday, May 6 at 7 pm, we're hosting Nathaniel Philbrick, acclaimed historian and author of Mayflower and In the Heart of the Sea. His new book, The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. We're hosting this event with Reclaiming Our Heritage, organizers of the Civil War Reenactment going on at VA Medical Center on June 4 and 5. More information here.

Little Bighorn and Custer are names synonymous in the American imagination with unmatched bravery and spectacular defeat. Mythologized as Custer's Last Stand, the June 1876 battle has been equated with other famous last stands, from the Spartans' defeat at Thermopylae to Davy Crockett at the Alamo. In his tightly structured narrative, Nathaniel Philbrick brilliantly sketches the two larger-than-life antagonists: Sitting Bull, whose charisma and political savvy earned him the position of leader of the Plains Indians, and George Armstrong Custer, one of the Union's greatest cavalry officers, and a man with a reputation for fearless and often reckless courage. (Note: I am using copy here too--my brain cells are wiped out!)

And on Saturday, May 7, at 2 pm, we're joined by Alex Bledsoe, author of Dark Jenny, a genre hybrid that's been receiving glowing praise for an innovative mix of high fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction. In this new installment, wisecracking sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse finds himself the prime suspect in a shocking political crime—with the fate of an entire kingdom in his hands. The author is from Tennessee but now makes his home in Madison. Let's give him a warm Milwaukee sf/fantasy welcome.

Hope there's something that tickles your fancy here.  And now to work on our Shepherd ad and the email newsletter, which I'm hoping goes out tomorrow.  And instead of linking every book on this blog post, know that you can find everything on our website, and can order a signed copy. It's easy!

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