Monday, July 20, 2015

What to Do Bookish in Milwaukee This Week: Cynthia Swanson's "The Bookseller" Tonight, Science Fiction Writer Wesley Chu Tomorrow (Tuesday), Eileen Flanagan on Thursday, Susan Holding at Boelter Saturday, and Bill Hillmann at Boswell Next Monday.

Welcome to this week's lineup of events!

Monday, July 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Cynthia Swanson, author of The Bookseller.

What a year for bookseller heroes! On the national bestseller lists is The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, following a nice run for The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, and the year before that, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. At Boswell, it's rare to see a top ten without The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain, and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Bookshop also hit our top ten last week, due to a reissue and a solid recommendation from Jane.

Add to that list Cynthia Swanson's The Bookseller. Earlier this year it was an Indie Next Pick for March, accompanied by a recommendation from Susan Tunis of Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco, who noted that "Swanson’s enjoyable debut really gets interesting when the lines between waking and dreaming, fantasy and reality, begin to blur."

And what a blur it is! Allow Boswellian Sharon Nagel to say a bit more about The Bookseller: "Kitty Miller is enjoying her life as a single woman, co-owner of a bookstore with her best friend Frieda, and able to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. That's kind of a big deal for a woman in 1962. One day, she starts to have extremely vivid dreams of a different life. She is married and has three children. She lives in a beautiful home and spends most of her time caring for her family. The dreams are quite detailed - she is known as Katharyn, which is her real name, and the year is 1963. As the story goes on, Kitty's two lives become blurred, and she becomes confused. Which life is real, and which one is a fantasy? The Bookseller is a fascinating read for anyone who has wondered about the road not taken."

While Cynthia Swanson (photo credit Glenda Cebrian), who has previously published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodical, lists her home as Denver, she is most definitely originally from Milwaukee. We're thrilled to welcome her back to town for the publication of her first novel.

Tuesday, July 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Wesley Chu, author of Time Salvager and The Lives of Tao.

I think the best thing to do here is hand the floor over to our buyer Jason Kennedy: "Wesley Chu has been on my radar for a couple of years. I had heard that The Lives of Tao was roller coaster ride of a read. Being in the book business, occasionally you let authors earlier works slip by, and in sci-fi it makes it hard to go back and pick them up as the one book becomes a series. When I learned of Wesley Chu coming for an event on July 21st, I decided this was my time to make up some ground. To find out that the book was the beginning of a new series made it so much easier to jump in feet first."

"In Time Salvager, Wesley Chu has built a pretty bleak existence in the 26th Century. There was a golden age at some point between where we are and where Time Salvager goes, and something went horrible wrong. Humanity is running out of resources, energy, food--the Earth's oceans have a solid layer of dead brown muck on top of it and most cities are vast wastelands of abandoned and crumbling buildings. At times, this book reminded me of some of the best of the dreariest sci-fi ever, something akin to a Philip K. Dick or Paola Bacigalupi story. Having a lack of resources and with the world tumbling ever downward, the only hope humanity has is to look to the past."

"Enter James Griffin-Mars, a chronman. His job is to pillage the past and bring back resources for the present. It is not an easy job. There are laws governing time travel and what can be taken from out of the past. ChronoCom controls all time jumps and sets up where and when a chronman will go and take his target. The target can be an energy source, a valuable item that was destroyed, or something else that is about to leave existence as to ensure that the time line does not become compromised. This reminded me a bit of the sci-fi b-movie Millennium, where the time travelers would replace airplane passengers with dead bodies just before a plane crash was to happen."

Jason goes on to discuss some of the classic science fiction dilemmas that Chu tackles. And he notes that he read two Chus in the month, calling The Lives of Tao "a brilliant amount of kick butt fun." Read the rest of The Boswellians post here and then, if you've been chomping at the bit for a brand new sf writer to fall in love with, come meet Chu on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 22, 7 pm. We regret to announce that our event with Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Of Noble Family and other Glamourist Histories, had to be cancelled, due to family medical issues. We hope to have the author back for a future appearance.

Thursday, July 23, 7 pm, at Boswell: Eileen Flanagan, author of Renewable: One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope.

This is Eileen Flanagan's Second visit to Boswell, her first being back in 2009 for The Wisdom to Know the Difference. Can you believe we can say that we hosted an author six years ago? I can't.

At age forty-nine, Eileen Flanagan had an aching feeling that she wasn’t living up to her potential - or her youthful ideals. A former Peace Corps volunteer who’d once loved the simplicity of living in a mud hut in Botswana, she now had too many e-mails in her inbox and a basement full of stuff she didn’t need. Increasingly worried about her children’s future, she felt unable to make a difference - until she joined a band of singing Quaker activists who helped her find her voice and her power. Renewable the story of a spiritual writer and mother of two who, while trying to change the world, unexpectedly finds the courage to change her life. With wit and wisdom, Eileen Flanagan shares the engaging journey that brings her from midlife spiritual crisis to fulfillment and hope—and, briefly, to jail.

There are some strong recommendations here. From Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth and Deep Economy: "Drawing on her Irish family history, Eileen Flanagan shares a poignant, human story that illustrates the courage we need to create a more just future for our children and children everywhere."

And from Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace and author of The Story of Stuff: "If you’ve ever felt despair about the state of the world or wondered, ‘What can I do?’ I recommend reading Renewable. Eileen Flanagan’s insightful memoir shows a deep understanding of complex global problems while showing us how one person can change their life while working to change the world we all share."

Saturday, July 25, 12 Noon, at Boelter SuperStore:
Susan Holding, author of The Little French Bakery Cookbook: Sweet and Savory Recipes and Tales from a Pastry Chef and Her Cooking School.

Straight from her bakery in North Freedom, Wisconsin, Susan Holding offers stories and sweets at Boelter SuperStore, 4200 N. Port Washington Road, between Capitol Drive and Hampton Avenue.

And don't forget about: Monday, July 27, 5:30 pm (note time), at Boswell:
Bill Hillmann, author of Mozos: A Decade of Running with the Bulls of Spain.

It looks like we will not make the numbers for the screening of Chasing Red, the film that features Bill Hillmann running with the bulls - we'll know for sure tomorrow. The deadline is today, so if a whole bunch of you were putting off buying tickets until the last minute, please commit to purchasing them now on Tugg. But that said, we're still excited to be hosting Mr. Hillmann for a talk/reading for his latest memoir, Mozos. 

In Mozos: A Decade of Running with the Bulls of Spain, “Buffalo” Bill Hillmann narrates his decade-long journey of self-discovery. From wasted ex-Golden Gloves champ to one of the elite mozos, or masters in the art of running with the bulls, his first-hand account culminates in an infamous goring by a bull named “Bravito” last summer.

Bill Hillmann's first novel The Old Neighborhood was declared best novel of 2014 by Chicago Sun-Times and and selected by Library Journal as one of the top indie fiction titles for spring 2014. The book also received rave reviews from Booklist, and the Chicago Tribune. Hillmann’s journalism has appeared in The Washington Post,The Globe and Mail, and He's been running with the bulls in Spain for a decade now, covering the event for Esquire and Outside magazine.

And remember, our Bill Hillmann event for Mozos takes place even without the screening.

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