Monday, August 5, 2013

Events for Week of August 5--ReShonda Tate Billingsley at MPL Tonight at 7, Eugene Schulz on Tuesday, Nick Turse Wednesday, and Susan Nussbaum Thursday.

It's a strong slate of events this week, considering it's August!

Monday, August 5, 7 pm, at the Milwaukee Public Library Loos Room at Centennial Hall, 733 North Eighth Street, 53233:
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, author of A Family Affair.
Co-Sponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library and WKKV.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s #1 bestselling novels include the NAACP Image Award winner Say Amen, Again, and Let the Church Say Amen, soon to be a BET original movie.

In the new novel, Billingsley, whose bestselling fiction "tackles some of life's toughest situations" (The Florida Times-Union), unravels the secrets in a mother's past that turn her daughter's life upside down—by revealing the family she never knew existed.

Her dream of studying dance at Juilliard is within reach, but Olivia Dawson turns down the opportunity, choosing instead to stay with her ailing mother in the Houston projects where they barely make ends meet. Lorraine Dawson is Olivia's whole world, and now Olivia insists on being there for her. But when Lorraine learns Olivia is sacrificing college for her sake, she reveals a secret: Olivia’s father, Bernard, isn’t dead, but alive and doing very well for himself in Los Angeles where he lives with a wife and son. When Olivia’s mother succumbs to her ailments, she sees no other choice but to track down the man that might be her father, and confront him about the lifelong deception. Opening up the past, however, is more complicated than Olivia—or Bernard—expected, and the pain of yesterday's sins must be confronted before true healing and a bright tomorrow can begin.

Here's a sweet interview with Billingsley on a local television show from Columbia, South Carolina.

Tuesday, August 6, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Eugene Schulz, author of The Ghost in General Patton's Third Army: The Memoirs of Eugene G. Schulz during his service in the United States Army in World War II.
Co-sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio.

A Stars and Stripes Honors Flight speaker, Schulz has mesmerized classrooms nationwide with his WWII stories. Now he’s put them to ink, for all to read, in his memoir, The Ghost in General Patton’s Third Army. The “ghost” soldiers were members of the XX Corps, which earned the title “Ghost Corps” when, during combat, it confounded the German High Command in France and Germany by showing up where it was least expected. The Ghost in General Patton’s Third Army is Schulz’s poignant memoir of his life and service with the XX Corps during the war.

Born in Clintonville, Wisconsin, 1923, Schulz worked on the family farm and then at a truck manufacturing plant until being drafted. In 1944, after basic training, Schulz sailed to England on the Queen Mary troopship with 16,000 soldiers on board. After completing their training in England, the XX Corps landed on Utah Beach in Normandy.

His unit was attached to General Patton’s Third Army and spearheaded the drive across France, through Germany and into Austria where they met the Russian Army on V-E Day. Schulz was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and continued to serve in the Army of Occupation in Germany before returning to the United States where he was discharged on December 1, 1945.

Schulz's story was brought to our attention by Wisconsin Public Radio's Kathleen Dunn. Listen to his interview on the Kathleen Dunn show last month.

Wednesday, August 7, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.
This event is co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace Milwaukee.

“Explosive, groundbreaking reporting.” is what Vanity Fair calls Kill Anything That Moves—the result of a decade-long investigation, informed by everything from secret Pentagon reports and transcripts to interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors. Other authors and reviewers, some of whom are veterans themselves, call it “painful,” “a tour de force,” “essential reading, a powerful and moving account,” and “an important piece of history,” while further extensive praise includes Parade, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, and The New York Review of Books.

In June 2001, Nick Turse was a graduate student researching post-traumatic stress disorder among Vietnam veterans at the U.S. National Archives when an archivist asked whether witnessing war crimes could cause PTSD. And would he like to see some papers? The papers Turse was given access to were from the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group, assembled by the Pentagon in the wake of the My Lai massacre. But these were just the beginning. His book has exposed fully, for the first time, the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded—what one soldier called “a My Lai a month.”

Here's Turse discussing the book on Moyers and Company.

Thursday, August 8, 6 pm (note time), at Boswell:
Susan Nussbaum, author of Good Kings, Bad Kings.
This event is co-sponsored by Disability Rights Wisconsin, Pathfinders Milwaukee, and sign language interpretation is provided by Professional Interpreting Enterprises (PIE).

Good Kings Bad Kings is the 2012 winner of Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Told in alternating perspectives by a varied and vocal cast of characters, Nussbaum’s novel pulls back the curtain to reveal the complicated and punishing life inside the walls of an institution for juveniles with disabilities.

From YessenĂ­a Lopez, who dreams of her next boyfriend and of one day living outside those walls; to Teddy Dobbs, a kid who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie; to Mia Oviedo, who guards a terrifying secret; to Joanne Madsen, the new data-entry clerk who suddenly finds herself worrying about her own complicity in an ugly system, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hid­den from most of us. In this isolated human warehouse on Chicago’s South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, love affairs are kindled, and resistance begins.

Here's a Boswell recommendation:
"Set in a privatized nursing home and told through an ensemble of young voices, Good Kings Bad Kings explores the lives of youth with disabilities and their caretakers: their imperfections, personalities, and their love. By taking the stigma out of the disability, and putting humanity back in, it also becomes a rallying cry to pay close attention to the businesses that provide care for this vulnerable section of society. A magnificent read (inducing anger, tears, and laughter), it's no wonder Nussbaum's important novel won the PEN/Bellwether Prize, which is awarded for socially-engaged fiction, as it deserves--even needs--a wide readership. I absolutely loved this book."
--Hannah Johnson-Breimeier

Nussbaum was named by the Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World." While she is best known as a playwright, her novel has been winning raves nationwide.

Rachel Simon, best known for her memoir, Riding the Bus with My Sister, interviewed Nussbaum for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Simon: "Your critique about the inauthenticity of most literary characters with disabilities is well-known in disability circles. In it, you describe how, when you became a wheelchair user in the late 1970s, the portrayals you’d grown up with, from Tiny Tim to Quasimodo to Lenny to Ahab, came to grate on you. Did your reevaluation of such portrayals help you set goals for your own characters?"

Nussbaum: "I’m on the fence about Quasimodo. But yes, it did help. Mostly I tried to channel the disabled people in and around my life, so it wasn’t hard to avoid the usual stereotypes. And of course my own experience as a disabled person was key. This is a time when it’s important for disabled characters to be written by people who are disabled themselves. Not to say that non-disabled people can’t use disabled characters in their work. But disabled people have always been represented in the dominant culture by non-disabled writers. The tide has to turn."

Read the rest of the interview here.

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