Monday, July 11, 2011

What's Going on This Week at Boswell? An Epistolary Novel of Faith, a Novel that Goes Inside the Head of a Woman with Alzheimer's, and a Photographic Journey Through a Devastating Flood.

Who would think we'd have three such interesting events in the middle of July?  But this is the case, starting with Lisa-Marie Calderone-Stewart.  Calderone-Stewarts is visiting for her novel, Made to Write, on Tuesday, July 12, at 7 pm.  Nellie Massa is a 51-year-old widow who must reflect on her life when she seeks to join a religious community.  Her story is told through letters with Sister Agnes, as well as family and friends.

But Ms. Calderone-Stewart's novel of reflection and community and mission is reflected in her own story.  She's the author of over twenty books, seven leadership manuals, and over 100 articles.  A former columnist for several Catholic magazines and websites, she also helped start a youth leadership program that is now based at Cardinal Stritch. In 2009, she was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live; she has since defied the odds, writing and mentoring to the leadership program she conceived.

Made to Write is the Shepherd Express's Book Preview event of the week.  Read more here.

On Wednesday, July 13, it's finally time for Alice LaPlante and her powerful debut novel, Turn of Mind. This story, told completely through the mind of a retired surgeon with Alzheimers, has touching readers and critics alike.  Using snippets, coherent flashbacks from a clearer mind, and confused conversations with family members, LaPlante places the reader directly into the disintegrating mind of Dr. White, offering a terrifying first-person perspective of what it might be like to find you are slowly slipping away into another realm.

Mike Fischer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was a bit on the fence, praising the writing, but unconvinced that LaPlante answered the questions she raised (read the review here), but Steven Amidon had no such quibbles at the Washington Post. Praising this "gripping" novel, he has praise for both the mystery and the character portrait of Dr. White:

"Set alongside this adroitly handled murder mystery is a second narrative, one that proves every bit as compelling as the whodunit. It involves a different sort of assault, this one on the surgeon’s once formidable brain. In Jennifer White, LaPlante has created an unforgettable portrait of the process of forgetting."

More on the Washington Post website.

And for you budding writeres, here's a reminder that Alice LaPlante teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University and Stanford University, where she is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow.

Don't come to me this Thursday and tell me you stayed home because there was nothing interesting to do in town on Wednesday.  In addition to LaPlante's talk/reading, there's Jonathan Lippincott at the Lyden Sculpture Garden.  He's appearing in conjunction with the book, Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s.  The talk begins at 6:30 pm (Wednesday, June 13) and its free to members, or with admission to the Garden.  More on their website.

Heading further north, Bonnie Jo Campbell will be appearing at Mequon's Next Chapter (also Wednesday, also at 7.  I'm disappointed too).  Author of American Salvage, Q Road, and the new novel, Once Upon a River, Campbell is also getting great reviews from critics nationwide.  Here's Mike Fischer's take in the Journal Sentinel.

And finally on Thursday, July 14, at 7 pm, we've got the homecoming/launch event for Jennifer Shaw, author of the breathtaking Hurricane Story, a staged photographic memoir of a family evacuated during a devastating storm.

This is a true launch event--it's Monday morning and the books aren't here yet!  They are being rushed from the bindery.  But I've seen an advance and the package is just spectacular. And the price is amazine--$18. Now I'm worried we don't have enough.  Isn't it always the case--too much, too few.  I didn't catch at the booking and purchase that the author is a Riverside High School graduate!

Jim Higgins at the Journal Sentinel is also a fan.  Here's a short excerpt from his story on Sunday:

"While other survivors have written about their Katrina ordeals, no one has documented such harrowing experiences quite the way Shaw has in Hurricane Story. Using toys and dolls, some altered and hand-painted, Shaw staged 46 scenes from her family’s evacuation, exile and return, then photographed them with a plastic Holga camera with a magnifying lens glued onto it, pairing the often eerie images with simple lines of text. The result is a compelling graphic novel that feels like an art exhibit tucked inside a lovely, clothbound board book."

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