Happy post-Thanksgiving weekend to all our fellow booksellers. It's great to have a few days to retool. Based on our experiences, our business in the few days leading up to Christmas are about double the volume of this first weekend, and most bookstores need that business to make up for the rest of the year.
We've got two events this week and both come highly recommended.
Tuesday, November 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Ron McCrea, author of Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright's Home of Love and Loss
Based on our experience, folks really are fascinated by the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and I admit to be one of them. I've done the Wright tour in Oak Park and visited the studio. I've been to Fallingwater twice, and visited several other historic buildings, including the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. And I've read my share of biographies and novels that explored the life of Wright.
So I was working at the front desk last week when one of our good customers came in and told me that she'd just heard a wonderful lecture about Frank Lloyd Wright at Arcadia Books in Spring Green. I immediately thought that this must be Ron McCrea, and sure enough, it was, appearing for his new book, Building Taliesin. A little bit later I walked to the back room and took a call from John, who manages that very store. "Oh it was a great event!" he told me, and then we chatted about their upcoming event with Jennifer Chiaverini.
Building Taliesin is featured on the Journal Sentinel holiday gift guide, for which we are building a nice display which we might have ready by tomorrow. Here's what Mary Louise Schumacher had to say in her "Design Ideas" column:
"With so many books devoted to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, it is hard to believe there’s much new to say. And yet, the new book Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home of
Love and Loss, by Ron McCrea
combines available, little known and new material to tell a story even
Wrightophiles will think they know but perhaps do not." Read the rest of the story here.
So that's three recommendations for Ron McCrea's event. We'll see you there.
Friday, November 30, 6 pm, at UWM's Curtin Hall, Room 175:
Scott Hutchins, author of A Working Theory of Love.
How about that amazing review in yesterday's New York Times Book Review for A Working Theory of Love? James Hynes praises this "clever, funny and very entertaining first novel" that explores in fiction a computer start-up working to create artificial intelligence. He particularly loves the interaction with Dr. Bassett, which Hynes compares to HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Later on there are more very positive adjectives, including "charming, warm-hearted, and thought-provoking." I have always found that three adjectives are just the right amount for a recommendation--less and you're feeling incomplete, but more and it seems too much. Read the review here.
Hutchins is this fall's visiting writer, and coordinator Valerie Laken (whose advice is always spot on) has been trying to get me to read the book for months, as she's a huge fan. Alas, I got bogged down in other books (the list is long!) because it does seem like something I'd like. I am reminded it a bit of Hence, by Brad Leithauser, which I read over twenty years ago!
And here's Christopher Bollen in Interview: "I'm still trying to figure out how first-time novelist Scott Hutchins
made a story about an accidental computer programmer who communicates
with his dead father through a pseudo-sentient mainframe into one of the
most humane (not to mention moving and hilarious) stories I've read in a
long time." More here.
And here is Hutchins talking to Carly Schwartz about how San Francisco plays into the novel in the Huffington Post: "San Francisco plays such an important role in your book. Did you do this on purpose?
Kind of like my main character, this is the scene of my adult life. I
was interested in looking at what life is like here, the little daily
observations I was making, and finding a way to weave that into
something. San Francisco is the most abstract, aspirational place that I
can think of. I definitely wrote about it on purpose; I didn't just
stumble into the setting." Continue here.
So where is Curtin Hall? It's north of us on Downer Avenue, a seventies-era building. And don't worry, it appears to be quite safe, according to these specs.