Friday, July 15, 2011

Following the Trail of the Bastille--From Picking up Bonnie Jo Campbell at Cathedral Square to Boswell's Paris Table to Tomorrow's Bicycle Race.

As this is Bastille Days weekend, I have to avoid different parts of downtown with a car than I do when there are other festivals. I had agreed to pick up Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River, and bring her to Boswell for a coffee/stock signing.

Campbell has won Milwaukee hearts wherever she's gone, from the AWP conference (where she met Stacie) to Winter Institute (where she met Jason).  The Journal Sentinel had a wonderful review of her new novel (read it here) from Mike Fischer, and perhaps there will be more publicity to come. Once Upon a River is a modern Huckleberry Finn (didn't I just say that about The Borrower), focusing on 16-year-old Margo Crane, who makes her way out of small-town Michigan after a series of tragedies.  One reader (shall not be named) called it a potential main selection for the NRA Book Club. 

Until now, I had only conversed with Campbell by email, but at coffee (along with Stacie), we had a good chance to talk about the new novel, men who say they are better writers than women, women who say they write like men, and teens who might read like adults.  Ideas were bouncing every which way--it was great fun.  Shane and Sharon have both finished the new novel, and I expect there will be more Boswellians to follow. In fact, we had one of Campbell's novels signed for ex-Boswellian Sarah.

I decided not to include any of Campbell's direct quotes, mostly because I would then want to show her the piece first and I really want to get today's blog out. Just one piece of advice to writers--stop cutting off the sex scenes before they start.  I told her if I wrote fiction, I would cut off the sex scene a day before it started.  No I didn't, but I thought it.

My mind is bouncing around from all the interesting things I heard, and I highly recommend you see Campbell as she makes her way around the country.  Here are few upcoming event dates:
July 16 - 17 Iowa Festival of the Book, Saturday reading and Sunday morning panel
July 19 - (Tuesday) 7:00 pm Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, MI, reading.
July 21 - (Thurs) - Great Lakes Books Reading 2-4pm, Big Rapids, MI
July 21 - 7 pm reading, Schuler Books & Music , 2660 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI
July 23 - (Saturday) 2-4pm, Literary Life Bookstore, Grand Rapids, MI, meet and greet
July 28 - 7:30 pm (Thursday) Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, reading
July 29 - 4-6 Bookworm meet and greet, Edwards, CO.
And on it goes!

After maneuvering the Bastille Days traffic to drive Campbell back downtown, I returned to Boswell where we have our own Bastille celebration, but one of a reading sort. It just seems that our Paris table can't sell down.  Here are some titles that are selling particularly well.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes, by Elizabeth Bard. In Paris for a weekend, Bard sat down for lunch with a Frenchmen and never went home again.  Speaking of which, did anyone hear Jean Feraca's interview with Elaine Sciolino for her book, La Seduction?

French Leave, by Anna Gavalda. More like a novella, three siblings flee a dull family wedding to visit their brother, pondering the bonds of memory and the pull of the past.

A House in France, by Gully Wells.  This memoir by the features editor of Conde Nast Traveler recalls her life in the early 1960s with her mother, a journalist and socialite.

French Lessons, by Ellen Sussman. A novel of three students who explore Paris with their tutor, learning a bit about life in the process. Jason said Melissa said this one was very, very sad, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Come to think of it, I think Melissa has read all these books.

And what else do you think of when you think of France?  Perhaps the Tour de France?  Well, we've got a lot of that too.  Downer bike race #2 is going on all day tomorrow, Saturday, July 16.  Park south and west of us.

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