Monday, August 17, 2015

What's Happening at Boswell This Week? Richard Kadrey, Marian Freund, Aleksandar Hemon/Rebecca Makkai, Tom Witosky, Bonnie Leick.

Monday, August 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Richard Kadrey, author of Killing Pretty, the 7th Sandman Slim novel.

From the publisher: Sandman Slim investigates Death's death in this hip, propulsive urban fantasy through a phantasmagoric LA rife with murder, mayhem, and magic. James Stark has met his share of demons and angels, on earth and beyond. Now, he's come face to face with the one entity few care to meet: Death. Someone has tried to kill Death--ripping the heart right out of him--or rather the body he's inhabiting. Death needs Sandman Slim's help: he believes anyone who can beat Lucifer and the old gods at their own game is the only one who can solve his murder."

Booklist not only offers a review but an important observation to readers: "Kadrey appears to have wrapped up the epic-size story arc of James Stark, also known as Sandman Slim, who's spent the past six books protecting the world from all manner of supernatural evil. But that doesn't mean we've seen the last of Stark; you just never know with urban fantasy. The new novel reads like a stand-alone, more of a noir mystery with supernatural elements than a pure fantasy."

And Cory Doctorow in Boingboing writes: "Kadrey's done amazing work keeping one of literature's great anti-heroes in adventures this long, and Killing Pretty proves that he isn't slowing down." And William Gibson praised one of Gibson's books, I think it's this one, as "“An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece.”

Wednesday, August 19, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Marian L. Freund, author of Our Final Melody: Teaching My Dying Father How to Love Me.

Even though we know it will happen, no one wants to talk about what really goes on when a a parent is dying. Do you know how to live in the face of death? Do you know where to draw strength during times of powerlessness? Do you know how to emotionally support your loved one without imposing your own agenda? Do you know how to create closeness that will sustain you forever? Written in touching diary format, Our Final Melody brings to life the art of navigating a parent’s dying process with dignity and integrity.

Marian L. Freund received her master's degree in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California. For the past fifteen years, she has been a licensed psychotherapist based in Waukesha. Affectionately known as the "Grief Lady," Marian offers workshops and coaching on topics such as moving through the dying process, creating a family legacy, and using effective communication skills.

Thursday, August 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Aleksandar Hemon, author of The Making of Zombie Wars,
Rebecca Makkai, author of Music for Wartime: Stories.

Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Book of My Lives, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and three works of fiction, including Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

Rebecca Makkai is the author of the acclaimed novels The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine Fall Reading selection, a Booklist Top Ten Debut, and one of Chicago Magazine’s choices for best fiction of 2011. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories (2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008), Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper’s, and McSweeney’s,  and has aired on “This American Life.”

Of The Making of Zombie Wars, the publisher writes: "Josh Levin is an aspiring screenwriter teaching ESL classes in Chicago. His laptop is full of ideas, but the only one to really take root is Zombie Wars. When Josh comes home to discover his landlord, an unhinged army vet, rifling through his dirty laundry, he decides to move in with his girlfriend, Kimmy. It's domestic bliss for a moment, but Josh becomes entangled with a student, a Bosnian woman named Ana, whose husband is jealous and violent. Disaster ensues, and as Josh's choices move from silly to profoundly absurd, The Making of Zombie Wars takes on real consequence."

Of Music for Wartime, her publisher writes: "A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, even as her own relationship falls apart. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a young boy has a revelation about his father s past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. When the prized elephant of a traveling circus keels over dead, the small-town minister tasked with burying its remains comes to question his own faith. In an unnamed country, a composer records the folk songs of two women from a village on the brink of destruction. These transporting, deeply moving stories some inspired by her own family history amply demonstrate Makkai s extraordinary range as a storyteller, and confirm her as a master of the short story form."

Lydia Kiesling in The Guardian, writes: "Rebecca Makkai writes about truly odd women – not hackneyed good-girls-gone-bad, but women who turn out to be surprisingly hard-assed, or unexpectedly breakdown-adjacent, or a little bit mean. They do not classify easily as either likable or unlikable. They operate outside that too-simple, and much debated dichotomy. Sometimes they operate outside of morality too...Makkai’s more recent work has to do with artists – writers and painters and sculptors and musicians – and she makes these collide in interesting and unusual ways with historicity and domestic dramas. It’s a serious and scary thing to situate yourself in a tradition. But with Music for Wartime, Makkai takes her place – one she deserves – among the artists with aplomb."

Here's Michael Christie, from The Globe and Mail (Canada), on Hemon's latest: "The Making of Zombie Wars is a violent, sexually astute, culturally exacting, zany and weirdly observant feat of writing. One of huge ideas and microscopic morality, where soaring, noble ideals crash-land into depressing, filthy reality. A fictional riff on consumerism, death, sex, violence and American culture."

This is our third event each with Hemon and Makkai, and their first together. They share an agent (one of the best, Nicole Aragi), and themes, the overlap is much more noticeable if your read Makkai's stories. For more, read my earlier blog, which discusses both books and our upcoming event.

Friday, August 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Tom Witosky, co-author of Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality.

The publisher writes: "The court s decision in 'Varnum v. Brien' made Iowa only the third state in the nation to permit same-sex couples to wed in moderate, midwestern Iowa, years before such left-leaning coastal states as California and New York. And unlike the earlier decisions in Massachusetts and Connecticut, 'Varnum v. Brien' was unanimous and unequivocal. It catalyzed the unprecedented and rapid shift in law and public opinion that continues today."

Kevin Lynch calls in his Journal Sentinel profile, noted a Wisconsin connection to the case: "An old Wisconsin case also figured prominently in deliberations, Zablocki vs. Redhail (1978), when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a state law denying so-called deadbeat dads the 'fundamental right' to marry."

Now I'm confused! Does one put cases in quotes or does one just list the year after in parentheses? That's what happens when you quote two sources and don't have a law degree. Hopefully Witosky will straighten this out. As you know, he's a longtime journalist for the Des Moines Register who grew up in Hartland and went to Marquette University High School.

Saturday, August 22, 2 pm, at Boswell:
Bonnie Leick, author of Go to School, Little Monster

From the publisher: "Little Monster is going to school for the very first time. That means he ll be meeting all the other little monsters, including one who has really big teeth and draws scary pictures. Who will ride the ogres and dragons with Little Monster at recess, and listen with him during story time? And what happens when "gulp" Little Monster realizes he forgot his lunch? It s a good thing Mr. Drool is there to guide Little Monster the whole day through."

Bonnie Leick is a Milwaukee-based illustrator who grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Her previous books include Goodnight, Little Monster, Alien Invaders, and Beautiful Moon. Her work appears in Highlights and Highlights High Five. She's also worked for companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Creative Capers.

Karen Sandstrom at the Cleveland Plain Dealer rated back to school books and gave Go to School, Little Monster an A. She writes: "There's no twist in this rhyming story, but Bonnie Leick's detail-packed watercolor illustrations are infectiously fun. You'll be giggling all the way – and rereading this one." Don''t forget to link to the Plain Dealer and find out Sandstrom's other back-to-school picks.

Next week, we don't have an event on Monday, August 24 but Tuesday, August 25th is our event with Obie Yadgar reading from and discussing Will's Music.

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