Monday, April 29, 2013

This Week's Events--Rebecca Kanner, Joshua Henkin, Maria Semple, Ron Faiola, Jerry Pohlen, Michael Pollan (tonight) and Six Hand-Picked Undergraduate Creative Writing Wunderkinds from Marquette, Alverno, and Cardinal Stritch.

So much to do today! Here is Stacie's upcoming event listings for this week, plus a sneak preview at Jess Walter's event next Monday. More about that in a post later this week.

Monday April 29, 7:30 pm, at the Oriental Theatre.
Michael Pollan, author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, at the Oriental Theater

The Oriental Theater is located at 2230 N. Farwell Ave. Doors open at 7 pm. This event is $30 and includes a copy of Cooked, or on the night of the event only, a $20 Boswell gift card.  This event may sell out. Tickets are still available at the time of posting.

From the bestselling author of The Omnivore's Dilemma comes a kitchen-focused exploration of the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture.

Starting with the theory that “Cooking, above all, connects us,” Pollan ventures into the kitchens of others: a North Carolina barbecue pit master; a Chez Panisse-trained cook; a celebrated baker; and finally, several mad-genius "fermentos" (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers). Arguing that by giving over this practice to corporations means we weaken not only the sustainability of our communities, but also our most social relationships—the ones we have with family and friends. By reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, and learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, we can open the door to a more nourishing life.

About the Author: Michael Pollan’s books include The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, all New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to The New York Times Magazine, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

Tuesday April 30, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You
Appearing with Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea.

Labeled “A keenly observed and compassionate novel” by Entertainment Weekly and “Insightful… Poignant… Elegant,” by The New York Times Book Review, Henkin’s newest novel, The World Without You, is a moving, mesmerizing new novel about love, loss, and the aftermath of a family tragedy.

It's July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe —Leo's widow and mother of their three-year-old son—has come from California bearing her own secret.

About the Author: Joshua Henkin is the author of the novels Swimming Across the Hudson (a Los Angeles Times Notable Book) and Matrimony (a New York Times Notable Book). His stories have been published widely, cited for distinction in Best American Short Stories, and broadcast on NPR's “Selected Shorts.” He directs the MFA Program in Fiction Writing at Brooklyn College.

Daniel's rec: "On one July 4th weekend in the Berkshires, a family gathers together to remember the youngest sibling, Leo Frankel, a journalist killed in the line of duty. What they don’t know is that the parents are separating, the eldest daughter is having trouble conceiving, the widowed daughter-in-law is dating, and the two younger children, one proudly agnostic and childless, the other an Orthodox Jew in Israel with four sons, have a pile of resentment issues. The result is spirited family dysfunction writ large, albeit gentler than a Franzen, and served with a half sour pickle spear."

Tuesday April 30, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah’s Wife
Appearing with Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You.

The Bible neglects to give her a name, but in Sinners and the Sea, Rebecca Kanner gives her a voice. The woman is the wife of Noah, a woman who struggles to define herself in a drowning world as she seeks purpose and identity. Kanner weaves a tale that breathes an intricate and dynamic life into one of the Bible’s voiceless characters. Through Noah’s wife’s eyes we view a complex world where the lines between right and wrong, righteousness and wickedness blur. And we are left wondering would I have been considered virtuous enough to save?

Desperate to keep her safe, her father gives his virtuous daughter to the ancient and righteous Noah who weds her and takes her to the town of Sorum, a land of out outcasts and pariahs. The 600-year old Noah prospers in Sorum; his wife gives him three sons, and, as he is the most righteous person in the land, has a town full of sinners in which to preach. Alone in her new life, Noah’s wife is faced with the hardships of living with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than with her, trying to make friends with the violent and sexual sinners of Sourm, and raising three sons who despite their righteous upbringing have developed some sinful tendencies themselves. When God tells Noah he will destroy the world by flood and to build an ark so that he, his wife, three sons, and their three wives can repopulate the earth, Noah’s wife’s trials only multiply.

About the Author: Rebecca Kanner holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. Her writing has won an Associated Writing Programs Award and a Loft Mentorship Award. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including The Kenyon Review and the Cincinnati Review. Her personal essay, “Safety,” is listed as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2011. She is a freelance-writer and teaches writing at The Loft in Minneapolis.

Wednesday May 1, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
This event is being co-sponsored by Local First Milwaukee

A fast-paced, clever, erudite, laugh-out-loud hilarious, yet affectionate look at what it means to really find a home– with your city, your family, and yourself, this debut novel from T.V. comedy writer Semple, whose work includes Arrested Development, has more holds on it at the Seattle Public Library than Fifty Shades of Grey. “Think The Royal Tenebaums in Seattle.” —Time, Lev Grossman

Who is Bernadette? Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect; and to fifteen-year-old Bee, she’s simply Mom. When our story opens, Bernadette has disappeared and Bee begins a quest to find her.

Named a Best Book of 2012 by over a dozen magazines and newspapers including People, Time, Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times and with feature film rights secured, this novel has had the greatest authors on the contemporary literary scene raving. We’ll simply leave you with this quote:

“The characters in Where’d You Go, Bernadette may be in real emotional pain, but Semple has the wit and perspective and imagination to make their story hilarious. I tore through this book with heedless pleasure.” —Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom

About the Author: Maria Semple is the author of This One Is Mine. Before turning to fiction, she wrote for Mad About You, Ellen, and Arrested Development. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker. Semple lives in Seattle, where she teaches fiction, studies poetry, and tries to stay off the Internet.

Daniel's rec: "The craziness of a Los Angeles family moving to Seattle and taking over a girls’ reform school is not lost on the locals, who have lived in the Emerald City since, well, since it was called the Queen City. Bernadette, whose previous career as a talented architect self-destructed, writes in her shed, half-heartedly feuding with her neighbor Audrey, while her husband Elgin works on a secret Microsoft project that will out-Suri Apple, and his new admin, by the way, is friends with Audrey and everyone’s children go to the same school, which is getting ready to raise money to move out of their rather unglamorous industrial park setting. Bernadette and Elgin’s daughter Bee is soon headed for boarding school (very un-Seattle), but before she goes, there’s nothing she wants more than a family cruise to Antarctica. I’m not usually one for epistolary novels, but Where’d You Go, Bernadette is more of a mashup of traditional narrative with emails, newsletters, and diaries. Add to this set up some pent up anger, lots of misunderstandings, off-the-wall characters, a little lust, and Bernadette’s disappearance, and you have a spirited romp (with a bit of heart too) worthy of one of the writers of “Arrested Development,” which in fact is what Semple once did."

Thursday May 2, at 7:00 pm
Jerome Pohlen, author of Oddball Wisconsin, 2nd edition
Appearing with Ron Faiola, author of Wisconsin Supper Clubs.

With twice as many abnormal attractions than the first edition, Oddball Wisconsin: A Guide to 400 Really Strange Places boasts destinations for road trippers that are found off the beaten path. Including bizarre locations and events—such as Chainsaw Gordy’s Garden of Saws, the UFO festival in Elmwood, a confiscated submachine gun that once belonged to John Dillinger and the Partying Pink Elephant in DeForest—Oddball Wisconsin offers off-beat travel destinations and little-known historical tidbits to road trippers looking for a different sort of trip. Where was Liberace born? What is a hodag and how do you catch one? Where can you find Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin and hear of its bloody history? What’s the deal with the house they call “Top Secret?” This newly updated guide for readers and travelers to the real Wisconsin—the birthplace of the snowmobile, the ice cream sundae and Orson Welles—answers all of these questions and more.

About the Author: Jerome Pohlen is an editor and travel writer whose travel writing has appeared in the Chicago Reader, Readers Digest, and TimeOut Chicago. He is the author of the Oddball series and Progressive Nation. He has been a regular contributor on travel and culture for Eight Forty-Eight on WBEZ, Chicago's NPR affiliate. He lives in Chicago.

Thursday May 2, at 7:00 pm
Ron Faiola, author of Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience
Appearing with Jerome Pohlen, author of Oddball Wisconsin.

As more and more people seek out regional culinary experiences, Wisconsin Supper Clubs offers a celebration of this distinctly Midwestern tradition that also serves as a practical guide. Profiling more than 50 establishments that are found throughout the state, and threading throughout interviews with proprietors and loyal customers as well as color photographs, author Ron Faiola takes readers deep into the world of this authentic upper Midwestern experience.

Each chapter—organized geographically, which makes for easy browsing for those planning a trip—focuses on one supper club, detailing its history and the family or families involved in running it. Faiola describes the customs and traditions of each, details its particular culinary specialties, which include a variety of specialties, ranging from popovers in the northern part of the state to shrimp de Jonghe in the south. One supper club in the Northwoods even serves fry bread, a traditional Native American dish not often found on restaurant menus. With personal reflections of his own experiences capping each section, Faiola provides a broad, yet intimate, look at an establishment that strives to celebrate generations of home-style food and good company.

About the Author: Ron Faiola is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed numerous critically acclaimed documentaries, such as Wisconsin Supper Clubs and Fish Fry Night Milwaukee. He is the president and founder of Push Button Gadget, Inc., which has been specializing in audiovisual and business theater production for nearly 20 years.

Friday May 3, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Best of the Undergraduate Creative Writers, Part One: Marquette University, Alverno College, and Cardinal Stritch.

Join us for a lovely evening of promising student readers--the best from three great Milwaukee-area instutions. Next week we'll be featuring UWM, Mount Mary, and Carroll University.

Our Marquette readers are Bobby Elliott and Jahnavi Acharya.

Our Alverno readers are Kali Stevens and Terri Ward.

And from Cardinal Strich, our readers are Robyn White and Daniel Townsend.

Monday May 6, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins.

“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.”—Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award winning author Jess Walter returns with his funniest and most romantic novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers, Beautiful Ruins is at once an elegiac romance, a comedy of human foibles, and an incisive meditation on our contemporary obsession with celebrity culture. Spanning fifty years, Walter’s expertly orchestrated narrative takes readers to a tiny coastal village in Italy in 1962 and to modern-day Hollywood, to London, Edinburgh, and the Pacific Northwest—as an endearingly flawed parade of intertwined characters navigate the realities of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

Inspired by his wife’s Italian family and the small hillside villages in the Cinque Terre region, Walter imagined a village in its early 1960s La Dolce Vita glory, a place that “would make a great frame for a story about fame and how we all endeavor now to live our lives like movie stars, like celebrities, each of us an eager inner publicist managing our careers and our romances and our fragile self-images (our Facebook pages and Linked-In profiles)."

About the Author: Jess Walter is the author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets, the National Book Award finalist The Zero, the Edgar Award-winning Citizen Vince, Land of the Blind, and the New York Times Notable Book Over Tumbled Graves. He lives in Spokane, Washington, with his family.

Visit our website for more info, to purchase a signed copy, or to figure out why so many of our book jackets don't update correctly on the Indie Next module.

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