Monday, July 16, 2012

What's Happening at Boswell This Week? Video Teasers of Chris Cleave, Donald Ray Pollock, and David Maraniss. Plus a Journal Sentinel Cue Section Recap.

Monday, June 16, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Chris Cleave, author of Gold and Little Bee, a fundraiser for The Pablove Foundation.
$5 tickets. We'll donate ticket proceeds to this organization that supports kids with cancer and their caregivers. Web ticket sales shut down at 3 pm CDT, but after that, you'll be able to buy tickets at the door.

What more can one say? Here's the Chris Cleave video where he discusses what he was trying to do in Gold. A sad book? No, more like joyful, per Cleave. I'll let him tell it.

Tuesday, June 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time, and Knockemstiff.

In this video below, Pollock talks about the new novel, a coming-of-age story living in the midst of two serial killers. Is there hope? If there is, it's through Arvin. Pollock's book has come out in France, and it's been fun poking through the reviews. Here's one that notes: "Le Diable, tout le temps est un livre « White Trash »." Well, I learn something all the time, having never seen that French uses a different notation for quotes.

In the editing of this video, they removed all the questions and play mood music. Actually, I think this is true of both interviews, only the music is different.

Wednesday, June 18, 7 pm, at Centennial Hall, 733 North Eighth Street:
David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story.

Since this has turned out to be video day, I certainly need to find an interesting interview that will whet your appetite, and in this case, it's not too hard. Here's Maraniss on CNN with Wolf Blitzer.

We've had several calls worrying about capacity. Centennial Hall holds 700 people. Based on my experience, I do not think we will sell out. If you are concerned, I might get there at 6:30, when the doors open. Doors will close if we reach capacity. Parking tends to be pretty easy at that time a block south, on Michigan. There are also some parking garages east of the library, and more at the Public Museum and court house.

If you missed the Journal Sentinel yesterday (we held our paper but still bought a copy when we arrived back in Milwaukee), there were a lot of interesting book-related articles in the Cue section.

1. Jim Higgins has been talking up Brian Castner's The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows (Doubleday) since the summer book preview and yesterday offered a front page review/interview . This new memoir from a Marquette alum chronicles life as an Air Force explosive ordnance disposal officer and its effect on his life back in the United States. Just to put this memoir in perspective, the publishers compare The Long Walk to Michael Herr's Dispatches, and Castner got advance quotes from Jon Krakauer, Anthony Swofford, and Larry Heinemann. Right now Castner is confining his press to the Empire State (he launches at the Main Street branch of Talking Leaves this Wednesday, July 18) but it sounds like there might be relatives on his wife's side of the family in the area, so it's possible he might do an event in the Milwaukee area later on.

2. Another review in the Journal Sentinel from Higgins tackles The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, by Ted Gioia (Oxford). I can almost imagine organizing a night at the bar for readers to argue out Gioia's choices for what is the definitive version of 250 classic songs. As noted, the canon doesn't always include the very best songs, at least according to Gioia, but the ones most commonly played by jazz musicians. And yes, a Willie Nelson rendition is on the list. Fight among yourselves.

Now here's our issues about The Jazz Standards. For some reason, Oxford, which has really lost interest in retail stores, made the book textbook discount. From our usual source at Ingram, we're actually purchasing the book for close to"suggested retail price" quoted by Higgins in the paper. We'll be taking a shorter margin on the book, but we simply can't stock this title at the suggested list price. Our price will be closer to $48. It's that or don't carry the book at all.

This is endemic of what the business has become--ten years ago, Oxford would have thought there was enough business in retail to support a retail margin, but now they have basically figured that our web competitor takes no margin anyway, so if most of the books are going to be sold that way, why not cut the retailers out of the equation? They could accomplish the same thing with a $49.95 book with regular trade terms, but that will apparently send too many copies out into the field, which might come back as returns. Or maybe there's a different reason? I'd love to hear from someone about this.

3. There are two wire service reviews, from Dean Bakopoulos, who reviewed Scott Lasser's "ambitious, accomplished" Say Nice Things About Detroit (Norton) and I Survived the Attacks of Sepetember 11, 2001 (Scholastic). Susan Carpenter in the Los Angeles Times looks at the series itself, and how it champions resilience. It was particularly hard to do this entry for Tarshis (other entries were on the Titanic) as she worked just about a mile from the attacks.

4. And yes, I'm not including Higgins' profile of Maraniss in the numbering, and I grouped the two wire service reviews together, but there is still Carole E. Barrowman's mystery column. Featured this week were:

The Prisoner of Heaven, by Carlos Ruiz Zafron (Harper), perhaps "his darkest and wittiest book to date," set in 1950s Barcelona under the early days of the Franco regime. Beth at the wedding told me she'll buy three copies--the hardcover, the paperback, and the ebook.

Broken Harbor, by Tana French (Viking), which she says is the book to read after Gone Girl. Amusingly enough, our original pitch on Gone Girl before it came out was that this was what you needed to read after Tana French. How did the tables turn so quickly? There's nothing like a #1 bestseller.

Suzy's Case, by Andy Siegel (Scribner), which Barrowman notes is comparable to The Lincoln Lawyer, and definitely her legal thriller pick for the month.

Innocent Victims, by Minette Walters (Mysterious Press) is a collection of two novellas, an interesting genre for mystery/thrillers. Barrowman calls them fascinating, and my suspicion is at this length, your chills per page ratio goes way up.

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