Before I chronicle this week's events, I wanted to let you know about two upcoming events whose books received major attention in The New York Times. Yesterday's New York Times Book Review had three books on the front page under the category "Man and Beast." One of the books reviewed ws Matthew Gavin Frank's Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Great Squid and its First Photographer. Jon Mooallem notes that "Frank's slyly charming book-length essay explores (amateur photographer Matthew) Harvey's compulsion to understand the mystery of the giant squid and also Frank's compulsion to understand compulsions like Harvey's." He also notes "there is some stunning writing and perversely wonderful research" though he's not crazy about Frank's eagerness to "yank meaning from the fuzziness of facts."
On Friday, July 11, Michio Kakutani reviewed The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez, who will be appearing at Boswell on Wednesday, August 6, together with Rebecca Makkai. The novel is at its most powerful when "chronicling the lives of its two central characters, a beautiful Mexican teenager named Maribel Rivera and her admiring friend and neighbor, Mayor Toro. It is Maribel and Mayor's star-crossed loved that lends this novel an emotional urgency, and its the story of their families that gives us a visceral sense of the magnetic allure of America, and the gaps so many immigrants find her between expectations and reality."
But those events are week's away. Here's what's coming up in the here and now.
Monday, July 14, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Mair, author of Kaiten: Japan’s Secret Manned Suicide Submarine and the First American Ship It Sank in WWII.
In November 1944, the U.S. Navy fleet lay at anchor in Ulithi Harbor, deep in the Pacific Ocean, when the oiler USS Mississinewa erupted in a ball of flames. Japan’s secret weapon, the Kaiten—a manned suicide submarine—had succeeded in its first mission. Please join us for a talk and signing with Michael Mair, son of a USS Mississinewa survivor, and co-author of Kaiten.
Tuesday, July 15, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Paul Salsini, author of A Piazza for Sant'Antonio.
People often tell Salsini that they learn a lot about Italian history by reading his fiction. His reply is that he learns a lot about Italian history by writing his fiction. While researching his newest collection of stories set in Tuscany, he came across the horrendous account of the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who targeted young couples at lover's lanes on Saturday nights. No person was ever convicted of these crimes.
This true story inspired Salsini's "Monster." In another story, one recurring character's wife becomes the Julia Child of Italy. In another, Dino, whose life was at the forefront of Salsini's 1960s novel, goes looking for his roots and uncoverst the real Vagli de Sotto, now buried under a lake and rumored to be the home to ghosts.
Paul Salsini was a longtime writer and editor at The Milwaukee Journal and has more recently taught journalism at Marquette University. His previous books are The Cielo, Sparrow's Revenge, Dino's Story, The Temptation of Father Lorenzo, and Stefano and the Christmas Miracle.
Wednesday, July 16, 7 pm, at Boswell
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as The Minimalists, authors of Everything That Remains.
And yes, this event is indeed minimalist. The Minimalists print their books on demand, and my reorder missed the estimated date of the event by two days. It's said that the authors also pack extra books in their car, so we'll hope for the best.
Here's Boswellian Mel Morrow's recommendation: "I feel compelled to say very little about The Minimalists' latest memoir, Everything That Remains: it is, after all, a book on minimalism. Yet there is more to this memoir than a dry minimalist manifesto. More than a self-help manual or the story of another young, white, heterosexual, middle-class dude's journey from a six-figure job into the great-self-employed-beyond, Everything That Remains is a book that urges the reader toward positive change. The heart of the memoir is Joshua Field Millburn's slow transformation from exhausted, married, over-worked, well-paid, toy-buying (miserable!), debt-riddled sales executive to the healthy, single, self-employed, free and clear, happy writer. Along the way, readers see what led him to value and ultimately reject his obsessive consumerism, and hear from the best friend that watched from the sidelines of every triumph and tragedy--Ryan Nicodemus, another dude engaged in his own quest toward happiness via minimalism. It's a strange thing to finish a book and immediately want to give the book to someone else, but this book is just that powerful and inspiring."
Thursday, July 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Lynn Wiese Sneyd, co-author of The Horse Lover: A Cowboy's Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs.
He already owned and managed two ranches and needed a third about as much as he needed a permanent migraine. That’s what Alan Day said every time his realtor pestered him to take a look at an old ranch in South Dakota. Finally, Day relented and in short order, became the proud owner of that 35,000-acre “sea of grass.” But how to make the ranch profitable?
An unusual opportunity soon dropped in Day’s lap. If he could wrangle the support of the Bureau of Land Management and get approval from Congress, he could establish the country’s first government-sponsored wild horse sanctuary. Day’s lobbying proved successful, and those pristine acres became Mustang Meadows Ranch, home to 1500 wild horses.
H. Alan Day's story was so powerful that Lynn Wiese Sneyd couldn't turn down the opportunity to help put it on paper to share with the world. Former Milwaukeean Sneyd now runs Tucson's LWS Literary Servies, which specializes in book publishing support for writers.
Friday, July 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Andrew Mozina, author of Quality Snacks: Stories.
Quality Snacks satisfies an appetite for high-stakes, and sometimes tragic, performances that allow
characters to unveil their best selves, or new selves, with unexpected consequences. Often inspired by bits and
pieces of real experiences, Mozina’s stories speak to a need for love and mutual support during the darkest
Former Milwaukeean Andrew Mozina’s debut collection The Women Were Leaving the Men won the Great Lakes Colleges Association
New Writers Award for Fiction, and he has won numerous awards for his fiction. His work has appeared in Tin
House, The Southern Review, and Missouri Review, among other publications.
Here's Boswellian Carly Lenz's recommendation: "A collection of fifteen short stories taking place for the most part in Milwaukee and Chicago, Quality Snacks covers a spectrum of complex characters struggling with their middling lifestyles; some disdainfully resisting the realism of their failed marriages and relationships, others striving to procure some semblance of true identity. The stories and situations that the collection conveys take place within myriad American households, families, and eras, making them all highly unique and creative. Mozina's narration is full of detail, his language is refreshing and at times hilarious, and the problems his characters face range from heartbreaking, to humorous, to absolutely bizarre. Quality Snacks is simultaneously poignant and sharp and will leave you wanting to read more from Midwesterner Andy Mozina."
Saturday, July 19, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Andrew Zummo, author of D'mok Revival: Retribution.
Milwaukee-based developer and programmer Michael Zummo takes a departure from his present world of interactive storytelling and web-based game creation for that of classic science fiction.
Millenia ago, the Nukari eradicated the ancient space-exploring D’mar race. In spite of his immense efforts and superhuman abilities, not even D’mok, the greatest of the D’mar warriors, could stop the annihilation of his people. Now, the Nukari’s attack on the fledgling human coalition leaves a space station destroyed and one lone survivor. Haunted by grief for his murdered family even as unexpected D’mok-like powers awaken within him, Rhysus Mencari finds himself thrust into alien territory.
Don't forget about our event with June Melby, author of My Family and Other Hazards, next Tuesday, July 22, 7 pm.
Giving the Gift of Reading
3 days ago