Our event with Ann Patchet, author of Bel Canto, Run, and her new novel, State of Wonder, is this Wednesday, June 22. It's the kind of event you panic about for months. Imagine my conversation with Jane, her seasoned publicist, which I already paraphrased in our email newsletter last week.
But what I forgot to say in last newsletter (though I did note it previously) was that the event is co-sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio.
During our brainstorming session, I had this idea to have the Florentine Opera Studio Singers open the show with some South American arias. After all, they had just performed Rio de Sangre and still probably had the music in their repertoire. (Note that our dates for the 2011-2012 Florentine Opera Insights will be coming out soon.)
We wound up not doing this, but when I finally read State of Wonder, there was a key scene set in the Manaus Opera House. Bel Canto is not a fluke; Patchett likes her opera. I once sat at a dinner and listened enrapt as she and Russell (a publishing friend) opined on various divas.
So how did Milwaukee make it onto the State of Wonder national tour? Well, yes, maybe we're developing a good reputation with publishers. And it's true that the media in town is receptive to traveling literary authors (Thanks Jim, Mike, and Mitch!) But the real reason is probably Patchett's unwavering love for Beans and Barley. Truly, it's come up in every interview. And it's not that she's wrong; especially for vegetarians, it's a godsend. Ex-Boswellian and still bookstore proofreader Jocelyn told us it's what she'd miss most about leaving Milwaukee. Milwaukee happens to be a great town for eating vegetarian and vegan.
We're the closest bookstore to Beans. Whatever it takes.
Here's a quote from Charles: "As gripping as it is thoughtful, it burns with the low-level fever of “Heart of Darkness,” but its most febrile moments soar into the creepiness of “The Island of Doctor Moreau.”
I've been fascinated by all the literary references that have been coming up, in regards to Patchett's novel. Here are some: Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
The Ambassadors, by Henry James
Robinson Crusoe, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Pinocchio, by Carl Collodi
The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H. G. Wells
The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles
assorted novels of Charles Dickens
And I was reminded a bit of Peter Cameron's City of Your Final Destination, one of my favorite novels.
Patchett says she was also influenced by the films of Werner Herzog, particularly "Aguirre, or The Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo." Herzog is in the news of late, as he is reading the book, Go the F**k to Sleepfor the New York Public Library. Who knew he was available? And yes, to bring it all home, Herzog has also directed operas.
Come this Wednesday at 7. Don't forget to tell your friends!
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