Monday, February 16, 2015

Boswell Events for This Week: Paul Fischer Tonight, Quan Barry with Opening Reader Tuesday, Brittany Cavallaro Thursday, Stephen Wade Friday Afternoon, David Treuer Friday Evening, Plus Three Staff Recs

Today our email newsletter went out. It turns out I can cut and paste it into a blog. It seems hard to believe but the code moves.

Happy President's Day to you!  Let's begin by sharing some of our favorite new releases. Next week brings Home, the first picture book written and illustrated by Carson Ellis, and it's already causing a stir among picture book fans. At Winter Institute, a recent bookseller conference, Ellis had the longest signing lines at the author reception, besting folks like T.C. Boyle and Wendell Berry. And we're so excited to be hosting Ellis for a signing, but not until March 25th (at 7 pm), when Ellis travels along to several dates on the tour for The Decembrists, fronted by her husband Colin Meloy.

We have many numerous enthusiastic bookseller recommendations, but let's hear from Boswellian Barbara Katz: "Readers can anticipate a treat coming when they view the striking cover of Home and see its bright red endpapers. The large pages feature many homes, such as the artist's home on the front and pack pages, a bus home, and even a shoe home! Bold illustrations done in gouache and ink feature muted colors accented with bright red and yellow. Small details in each picture create a story for the reader to imagine. Fun touches include a bird appearing throughout the book, and surprises in the artist's studio. This beautiful book invites readers to interact with it, as they think about other homes and also answer 'Where is your home?  Where are you?'" Here's hoping Barbara convinces you to have us hold you a copy on the February 24 release date.

Another beautifully designed book is the new release, H is for Hawk.Here's a recommendation from Boswellian Mel Morrow: "When Cambridge Professor Helen Macdonald's heart is ripped from her chest by her father's untimely death, she finds solace in a goshawk named Mabel. Their training summons the spirit of T. H. White, best known for The Once and Future King, but behind that fame, a tortured man who sought redemption in manning Gos, the bitter trial captured in his lesser-known work, The Goshawk. The sleepless weeks with Mabel on her fist divide Helen's many selves until she is able to distinguish her childhood dreams from her adult desires, her father from T. H. White and falconers past, and ultimately, wilderness from civilization. H is for Hawk is a shocking, brilliant jewel of a memoir about loss and determination, as well as touching tribute to the healing power of connecting with animals. Blurring the lines between autobiography, literary criticism, and eco-poetry, this book is unlike any book you'll ever read."  H is for Hawk is the winner of the Samuel Johnson prize, named the Costa Book of the Year, and was a best of 2014 pick from The Economist and The Guardian
And finally, a reminder that A Spool of Blue Thread, the new novel from Anne Tyler, is here, and it's up to her high standards. Boswellian Sharon Nagel writes: "Starting an Anne Tyler novel always feels like coming home to Baltimore to visit your family. Never mind that I've only been to Baltimore once. This twentieth offering is no exception. It tells the history of the Whitshank family, Abby and Red, their children and grandchildren. Abby has become somewhat forgetful, and her son, Stem, and his wife, have moved back into the familial home to keep an eye on his parents. Reminiscences and flashbacks tell the tale of how Abby and Red met and fell in love. Old and new fans of Anne Tyler will relish A Spool of Blue Thread." 

Now you've got a reading list going. Here's hoping we can now help you mark your event calendar.

Documentary Filmmaker Paul Fischer Chronicles a Strange Moment in Film History Tonight, Monday, February 16, 7 pm, with North Korea at the Center. 

Boswell is excited to welcome award-winning film producer, Paul Fischer, for a talk and signing of his debut nonfiction thriller, A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power , the extraordinary true story of Kim Jong-Il's 1978 kidnapping of the noted South Korean film director and his star actress (and ex-wife), the movies they made, and their escape, being billed as The Orphan Master's Son meets Argo.

Here's Boswellian Daniel Goldin's recommendation: "In the 1970s, it was not unusual for a South Korean or Japanese person to be plucked off the beach and abducted to Pyongyang, North Korea. And while there were various reasons for these kidnappings, none are quite so strange as the case of Choi Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-Ok, two South Koreans who were acclaimed for their work together as director and actress, but had since divorced and fallen on hard times. Could they, once re-educated, bring the North Korean film industry to a level of acclaim heretofore unknown? Drawing on the couple's unpublished-in-English memoir, interviews with various defectors and the cooperation of Madame Choi herself, in addition to what was likely to be completely contradictory news reports, Fischer has constructed a fascinating account, at once horrifying and absurd, one of the strangest incidents in a particularly strange country's history, which is also surprisingly timely, for political junkies, film buffs, or anyone who wants a great read."

Duane Dudek recently profiled Paul Fischer in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here's a taste: "The kidnapping of South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee and her former husband, director Shin Sang-ok, is the event around which Fischer's book A Kim Jong-Il Production is organized. But it occurs in the context of a backstory that in cinematic terms could also be considered a foreshadowing of recent North Korean threats of reprisal over The Interview, a film which portrays the assassination of current leader Kim Jong Un."

Paul Fischer is a film producer who studied social sciences at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and film at the University of Southern California and the New York Film Academy. Paul's first feature film, the documentary Radioman, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Doc NYC festival and was released to critical and commercial acclaim. Our event with Paul Fischer is tonight at Boswell, Monday, February 16, 7 pm.
UW-Madison Professor Quan Barry at Boswell on Tuesday, February 17, 7 pm, for Her First Novel.
Boswell Book Company is proud to welcome award-winning author and professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Quan Barry, appearing for her debut novel, She Weeps Each Time You're Born, the tumultuous history of modern Vietnam as experienced by a young girl born under mysterious circumstances a few years before reunification-and with the otherworldly ability to hear the voices of the dead. Our opening reader for this event is local author Steph Kilen, winner of the journal Phoebe's 2014 Fiction Contest, who will read from her award-winning story, "Pie Girl." 

At the peak of the war in Vietnam, a baby girl is born on the night of the full moon along the Song Ma River. This is Rabbit, who will journey away from her destroyed village with a makeshift family thrown together by war. Here is a Vietnam we've never encountered before: through Rabbit's inexplicable but radiant intuition, we are privy to an intimate version of history, from the days of French Indochina and the World War II rubber plantations through the chaos of postwar reunification. With its use of magical realism-Rabbit's ability to "hear" the dead - the novel reconstructs a turbulent historical period through a painterly human lens. This luminous fiction debut is the moving story of one woman's struggle to unearth the true history of Vietnam while simultaneously carving out a place for herself within it.

Here's what Boswellian Todd Wellman had to say about She Weeps Each Time You're Born: "Barry reveals a Vietnamese people who are easy to imagine as characters in a post-apocalyptic novel a la The Road - except the sting is that these are images of people from our past, those who survived war and being carted about their country. Spanning 30 years, the novel features an artful narrator who poetically reveals the landscape while unwinding the life of Rabbit: daughter, friend, lover, ghost-whisperer, and more to those around her. It's easy to revel in Barry's language and story-lingering on description like it was dessert, attending scenes that coalesce as footage of a life of endless searching for what calls."

In addition to her novel, Saigon-born Quan Barry (you may also know her as Amy Quan Barry) is also author of four poetry books; her third book, Water Puppets, won the AWP Donald Hall Poetry Prize and was a PEN/Open Book finalist. She has received two NEA Fellowships in both fiction and poetry, and her work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Ms., and The New Yorker. Read more in this Boston Globe profile from Kate Tuttle. And mark your calendar for Tuesday, February 17, 7 pm, at Boswell. 
An Evening of Poetry with Brittany Cavallaro, Thursday, February 19, 7 pm, at Boswell. 

It's not often that a PhD candidate has her poetry published by a prestigious literary press, but that's the case with Brittany Cavallaro, who will read from and sign copies of her latest collection of poems, Girl-King,  which explore themes of femininity, power, sexuality, and marginalia throughout history.

The poems in Brittany Cavallaro's Girl-King are whispered from behind a series of masks, those of victim and aggressor, nineteenth-century madam and reluctant magician's girl, of truck-stop Persephone and frustrated Tudor scholar. This "expanse of girls, expanding still" chase each other through history, disappearing in an Illinois cornfield only to reemerge on the dissection table of a Scottish artist-anatomist. But these poems are not just interested in historical narrative: they peer, too, at the past's marginalia, at its blank pages as well as its scrawls and dashes. Always, they return to the dark, indelicate question of power and sexuality, of who can rule the city where no one is from. These girls search for the connection between "alive and will stay that way," between each dying star and the emptiness that can collapse everything.

Brittany Cavallaro's poems have appeared in the Gettysburg ReviewTin House, and the Best New Poets anthology. She received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the Milofsky Prize in Creative Writing. Recently, she is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference as well as fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she is currently a PhD student. And yes, her first young adult novel, A Study in Charlotte, has already been acquired by the Kathereine Tegen imprint at HarperCollins. Celebrate with us on Thursday, February 19, 7 pm.
Preview the Milwaukee Rep's One-Man Show with Stephen Wade on Friday, February 20, at a Special Time of 3 pm.

Please join us for a talk and some music by Stephen Wade, the Grammy-nominated star of the one-man show The Beautiful Music All Around Us. A perfect piece for the 
heartland, lovers of folk music, bluegrass, history, long-lost melodies, and true Americana will revel in Stephen Wade's show, based on the book The Beautiful Music All Around Us. Wade showcases nearly two decades of research in which he tracked down the communities, families, and performers connected with early Library of Congress field recordings across the American South, including the Southern Appalachians, Mississippi Delta, and the Great Plains. This iconic, enduring music, recorded in the '30s and '40s, brings to life those everyday people-prisoners, cowboys, farmers, and housewives-who poignantly captured the American experience.

Musician and author Stephen Wade has spent nearly his entire life studying American folk-life, uniting the twin strands of scholarship and the creative arts. Growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s, Wade was exposed to a number of vernacular musicians who had moved north to the city from the Mississippi Delta and the Southern Appalachians. By the late 1970s, he developed Banjo Dancing, a theatrical performance combining storytelling, traditional music, and percussive dance, one of the longest-running, off-Broadway shows in the nation. A recipient of the Helen Hayes/Charles MacArthur award, Wade has also received the Joseph Jefferson award for his work. Wade's folksong commentaries have aired on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He is also the author of Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition on Smithsonian Folkways, which was nominated for a Grammy.

The Beautiful Music All Around Us runs at the Stackner Cabaret through March 15. For more information and to buy tickets, visit theMilwaukee Rep website
David Treuer Returns to Milwaukee for His Newest Novel, Friday, February 20, 7 pm, co-sponsored by UWM American Indian Student Services.

Frankie Washburn returns to his family's rustic Minnesota resort for one last visit before he joins World War II as a bombardier, headed for the darkened skies over Europe. Awaiting him at the Pines are those he's about to leave behind: his hovering mother; the distant father to whom he's been a disappointment; the Indian caretaker who's been more of a father to him than his own; and Billy, the childhood friend who over the years has become something much more intimate. But before the homecoming can be celebrated, the search for a German soldier, escaped from the POW camp across the river, explodes in a shocking act of violence, with consequences that will reverberate years into the future for all of them and that will shape how each of them makes sense of their lives.

Here's what Boswellian Daniel Goldin has to say about Prudence: "This is a world of lost opportunities and missed connections, where the chances for happiness cannot just be tripped up by who one loves, but by who one is. Treuer's 1940s remote landscape mirrors the characters souls, where the only two options are desolation or delusion. Beautifully written, artfully told."

  Jim Higgins at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is also a fan. He writes: "Treuer returns late in the novel to the Germans, introducing a POW who has remained in Minnesota, married an Ojibwe woman and carved out a new life through his cleverness, dexterity and moonshine still. A confrontation with a surprise visitor exposes some of the same questions as the stories of Prudence, Frankie and Billy: How truly does one know the person one loves? What do new revelations about a beloved's past mean? What does one need to know?"


David Treuer is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. The author of three previous novels and two books of nonfiction, he has also written for The New York TimesLos Angeles Times, and Slate. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. David Treuer's first teaching job was at UWM in the 1990s and wrote much of The Hiawatha while living in Milwaukee. Celebrate the publication of Prudence on Friday, February 20, 7 pm, at Boswell. 

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