Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Events--Greg Kot Tonight, Patrick Ness for Crane Wife on Wednesday (Lots More About that Below), Plus a Small Block of Tickets Opening Up for Malcolm Gladwell.

It's a rare thing when I've read every book being featured in a week's worth of events, but I am proud to say that this is the case. I'm going to break tradition and write about the events out of order, as I have already written at length about two of our featured authors.

Monday, January 27, 7 pm: Greg Kot at Boswell:
Six things to know about our event with Greg Kot, author of I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway.

 1. Our event with Greg Kot is on as scheduled. I've been looking around and saw that UWM did not cancel classes, and the nearby Wisconsin Conservatory of Music is hosting the Philomusica String Quartet as scheduled.By the way, it's at 7:30 pm and features Eli Kallman on piano.

2. Here's Jon Gilbertson's piece about I'll Take You There in the Journal Sentinel

3. Here's me yapping about the book at length on another blog post.

4. Here's NPR West's Arun Rath talking to Greg Kot on All Things Considered. Does anyone else understand why they differentiate between the DC and west coast studios?

5. Here's a satisfied customer who sent me a note about the book: "Thanks for suggesting the Greg Kot book. Bought it, read it, loved it. It’s one of the few pop music biographies I’ve read that is beautifully written."

6. Oh, and Mavis Staples is singing with the Robert Cray Band at Potawatomi's Northern Lights Theater on Monday, February 10. Here's the link for tickets.

Friday, January 31, 7 pm: Malcolm Gladwell at UWM for David and Goliath.

You may have tried to buy a ticket in the last few days, only to see that we were sold out. We have just opened another block of tickets, but don't delay, there are only 100 more. There will be no walk up tickets for this event, as we will most definitely be sold out. Visit Brown Paper Tickets for purchase.

 There are also some tickets reserved for UWM students, faculty, and staff at the UWM Bookstore. ID is required and it's one ticket per ID. Call (414) 229-4201 for more information.

After the event, we may have signed copies of David and Goliath available.

Wednesday, January 29, 7 pm:
Patrick Ness, author of his new novel, The Crane Wife, as well as A Monster Calls, More than This, and The Knife of Never Letting Go (photo credit Debbie Smith).

Last fall we were lucky enough to have a drop in stock signing for Patrick Ness, in between school visits for his new book for kids, More than This. We have some huge Patrick Ness fans on staff, and we also invited several area librarians. We had a great time, and hoped that someday we'd be able to host Ness for a public event.

That day came. Penguin Press was touring Ness for his adult novel, The Crane Wife, and Milwaukee was lucky enough to make the cut.

The story is of George, an American man, a long-time British resident, who runs a print shop in London. He's divorced with an adult daughter, who herself has a child, though he's only in his late forties. In his spare time, he creates this artwork out of old, discarded books.

One night he wakes up to find a crane in his yard, with her wing pierced by an arrow. Somehow he is able to break the arrow and free the crane. Coincidentally, the next day, a woman named Kumiko comes into the store to make a print of her own collage, this one made of feathers. They somehow realize that the two pieces of art actually fit together to form a beautiful image

And of course George falls in love.

The story is somewhat inspired by a Decembrists song of the same name, which is in turn is inspired by a Japanese legend called "Tsuro Nyobo." I'm not sure if it's better to know the folktale or not. I read the book without getting background info, and so I was less likely to know how the story went. (Jacket at left is for the UK edition.)

But of course the novel is more than the legend. George, his daughter Amanda, and her coworker Rachel (who turns out to be more involved than we first know) all struggle with possession, much like the Japanese husband of the folktale.

The story is a wonderful blend of contemporary storytelling with Japanese esthetic and is an interesting meditation on creativity and self-worth. Ness's writing reminded me a bit of Mark Haddon (the last two novels more than Curious Incident), graceful and sympathetic, but sometimes a bit cheeky. In regards to the Japanese influence, I was reminded a bit of reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog or perhaps Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor.

Here's our staff rec for The Crane Wife from Jen: "A story about a beautiful, loving crane and a violent, greedy volcano. Or a story about George, the crane he saves and Kumiko, the mysterious woman George falls in love with. Or a story that starts at the beginning of another story's ending. In his storytelling, Patrick Ness has taken a Japanese myth, mixed it with The Decemberists song "The Crane Wife 1 and 2" and created a beautiful tapestry. It’s an ancient story magically woven into a modern setting full of primal human emotions, a story that does not truly end."--Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company.

Here's Hannah's review of More than This."Seth remembers dying in America and yet here he is in his childhood home, alive, in England. Everything is dusty, the streets are empty, there is no electricity, and little food. Awake, he is focused on survival, asleep he dreams memories so clear and painful that he starts to dread the night. Days pass and it seems that nothing will change until the day he decides to take matters into his own hands. What he learns will throw everything he understands out of balance. In More than This, Patrick Ness returns to everything I loved about the Chaos Walking trilogy; he exhibits implicit trust in his readers by crafting an imaginative plot stocked with relatable characters in an unfamiliar reality." Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Boswell Book Company.

Here's Patrick Ness interviewed in The (UK) Telegraph for The Crane Wife. I'm having a little problem with the link, so I'm also including Patrick Ness interviewed in The Scotsman for A Monster Calls.

James Bradley writes in the Sydney Review of Books, "The Crane Wife manages the considerable feat not just of giving voice to this longing, but of understanding it, not as an emptiness or a failing, but as a necessary part of life."

Here's Colin Meloy singing their version of The Crane Wife.

Hope you can make our talk with Patrick Ness. It should be slightly warmer by Wednesday.

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