Here's what's going on this week!
Monday, June 6, at 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Paul Goldberg, author of The Yid, in conversation with Joel Berkowitz
This event is cosponsored by the UWM Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies
It's a tricky thing to host events with first novelists with no ties to Milwaukee. For one thing, most tours are done right at publication date, leaving the store little time to get the word out about the author and their work. But we've had a couple of great reads on The Yid to champion his event and we're really excited that when Paul Goldberg came to the Midwest for his day job (he edits a cancer newsletter), we were able to put this program together.
The story is set in 1953 Soviet Union, during the last days of Stalin, as he planned out a final pogrom which would address the Jewish question. For yes, despite fighting against the Nazis, Stalin was convinced there was a Jewish conspiracy, spreading the word that Jewish doctors were killing Soviet higher ups and keeping the notion going that the Jews used Christian blood at Easter.
The story begins with an attempt to round of Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, a fifty-something Jewish actor in the acclaimed but now disbanded Moscow Jewish Theater, or GOSET, in the middle of the night. Three soldiers come to his door, and not understanding that he is in much better shape, and is much smarter than they think, they let their guard down, and well, he kills them. There's a lot of problems here -they are sure to come after him, and also someone needs to dispose of the bodies.
As we like to say, a ragtag group of folks are slowly brought together to scheme this out, most notably Kogan, a doctor friend of Levinson, Lewis, an idealistic black American who is helping create a Gary in the Soviet Union, and Kima, the orphaned daughter of the Comitern head. I like to say the story is Quarantino-esque, which gives you the idea that there's a good amount of violence here, but the other thing to note is that Goldberg creates a stage out of the story, playing with artificiality, and turning many of the scenes into, well, scenes.
It's a sometimes funny, a bit graphic, over the top historical novel with a little philosophy and a lot of genius. Janet Maslin probably enjoyed the thriller-ish aspects of the story, writing positively about the book in The New York Times: "Mr. Goldberg has written a book that revolves about Stalin’s final blow against the country’s remaining Jews. There is evidence for this, but The Yid is a novel, not a heavily researched historical document. More important, Mr. Goldberg comes up with a team of Yiddish-speaking jokester-superheroes who are at the heart of his story, and who make it their mission to avenge countless acts of anti-Semitism, both real and anticipated."
One of the reasons we sold The Yid so well was a rave review from Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel: "To call The Yida black comedy is as understated as saying Usain Bolt moves along at a good clip.It is an intense revenge fantasy starring underdogs who've decided they have nothing left to lose, but who don't mind arguing with each other on their way to their doom.Picador shrewdly describes the novel as having echoes of the films Inglourious Basterds and Seven Samurai; for a sense of Goldberg's acid tone, imagine a Solzhenitsyn tale set in the lethal Soviet world, but restyled by Larry David."
We're very excited to be doing this event with the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at UWM. Joel Berkowitz will be interviewing Goldberg at 7 pm. And please note, we'll be taping. And one other thing, we're discussing The Yid in our in-store lit group at 6, and Goldberg will be stopping by to answer spoiler questions. We ask folks not to attend this unless they have finished the novel.
Tuesday, June 7, at 3:30 pm, at the Cudahy Family Library, 3500 Library Drive
A story and photo opportunity with Arnie the Doughnut, star of Arnie the Doughnut and other adventures
There's no question that the experience at Disney World or Universal Studios is enhanced by meeting your favorite costumed characters. And publishers have taken that to heart with costumes for many popular picture book characters. In the past we've hosted the Grinch and Llama Llama, but this time we decided to make a full day of it. Arnie the Doughnut will be traveling to two elementary schools, where they'll be a storytime and a chance to meet Arnie himself. If you are an educator who wants to be on our outreach list for programs like these, let alone ones with authors and illustrators, please contact Todd.
But if the chance to get a picture with Arnie and have some doughnut themed fun sounds enticing to you, we'll be at the Cudahy Family Library at 3:30 pm for storytime, activities, and plenty of opportunities for your little ones to take a photo with Arnie. We'll have books for sale and Arnie will even stamp your book with a strawberry donut, which is unofficially his signature.
Have you read the Arnie stories? They are delightful. We'll have copies of Arnie the Doughnut, a picture book about waiting in a bakery to be chosen by a customer. And we'll also have copies of his early readers, including Invasion of the Ufonaughts and Bowling Alley Bandit. Please note that author/illustrator Laurie Keller will not be at this event.
How to visit Arnie at the Cudahy Family Library: From either I-43/I-94 or 794, take the Layton Ave exit east to Packard Ave. Go south on Packard to the library. Easy, right?
Tuesday, June 7, at 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Peter Geye, author of Wintering, as well as Safe From the Sea and The Lighthouse Road
It's launch day for Peter Geye and his soon-to-be critically acclaimed novel about a man who recounts the mysterious journey undertaken with his father thirty years earlier. Mike Fischer in the Journal Sentinel praise the "taut and muscular prose." A little more: "In the autumn of 1963, a man and his son set out from their small town on Minnesota's Lake Superior shore, heading north by northwest into the desolate lakes and rivers straddling the Canadian border. Why would they do it, canoeing into unfamiliar territory even as winter approaches?That's one of the questions in Wintering, Peter Geye's gripping new novel. But to steal a line from Harry Eide, the father who undertakes this expedition with 18-year-old Gus, it's just the tip of the iceberg — one that stretches forward to 1996 and back to 1896, in a masterfully crafted, deftly connected collection of stories involving the history of the Eide clan and the fictional town of Gunflint since Gus' great-grandmother's arrival there from Norway."
And Christine Brunkhorst in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune notes "There's a lot to love" about this book: "If Jack London’s Yukon tales married William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County’s blood battles, their thematic and geographic offspring would be Peter Geye’s Wintering. Returning to the wilderness of Gunflint, a fictional town up Minnesota’s North Shore, Geye’s third novel explores the unmapped borderlands between Minnesota and Canada as well as the uncharted territories of the human heart."
Expect to see a lot more attention for Wintering, but it will likely be after our event. So why not hedge your bets and come out and get a signed copy?
Thursday, June 9, at 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Dave Hill, author of Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore, in conversation with Matt Wild of Milwaukee Record
And yes, this event is cosponsored by Milwaukee Record.
Dave Hill may be a big-time comedian, writer, podcast star, and musician (his rock band, Valley Lodge, wrote and perform the theme for John Oliver's Last Week Tonight) but there was a time when he was living back in Cleveland when he was finding his way. He moved to New York and never left, but then Dave's mom died and Dad started looking to move into a retirement community.
It was during this process that, the publisher notes: "Dave and his dad bonded over the things in life that really matter: scorching-hot rock jams, the gluten allergy craze, eighteen-wheelers, Italian food (pizza and spaghetti), and whatever else could possibly be left after that. Meanwhile, Dave discovered his late-blooming manhood via experiences as disparate and dangerous as a visit to a remote Mexican prison, where he learned that people everywhere love the Eagles, and a martial arts class that pushed his resolve and his groin to their limit."
The Cleveland Scene interviewed Hill, wondering: "Many of the stories in the book are about your father. If I remember correctly, he fell asleep during a standup performance at the Happy Dog. What was his reaction to the stories in this book? How did feel about having his sleep apnea and his glutton allergy revealed in one fell swoop?" to which Hill replied: "I don’t think my dad has read it yet. When he does, I imagine I’ll be grounded for a while on my next visit home, but he probably won’t freak out too much beyond that or maybe hiding the television remote from me. I had my siblings read the book ahead of time to make sure I didn’t say anything that would get me removed from the will or anything. They said it looked fine but it’s just occurring to me now that they were just saying that to trick me."
Hill was also in Boston, and the Boston Globe's Kate Tuttle covered the event with this profile: "Neither writing books nor performing comedy was in Hill’s plans as a kid. Growing up on classic rock radio stations in his native Cleveland, Hill said he was 'just hellbent on rocking” once adolescence hit. His taste spans half a century of guitar-driven music. 'Led Zeppelin’s like my favorite. But then the Smiths are also my favorite,' Hill said. I have like 10 absolute favorite bands.'" It is very exciting that as a media groupie, I just met Kate Tuttle at a party, where I also geeked out on the Washington Post's Ron Charles. Is it a little weird that journalists are now my rock stars?
Our event is in conversation with Matt Wild, former city editor of A.V. Club Milwaukee and now cofounder of Milwaukee Record. This is our first collaboration with them and it's on the staid side, compared to our event with Steven Hyden at Cactus Club on Friday, June 24, which is an interview, a book club, a podcast taping, and a hard cider sampling. Is this not on your calendar yet? Perhaps you have to go back to our upcoming events page and make sure you've got all the rocking events programmed into your phone, or however you keep track of your life nowadays.
This is Hill's second book of essays, following Tasteful Nudes...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation. We'll have both books available for sale at Boswell, of course.
Friday, June 10, at 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Tom Stanton, author of Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society That Shocked Depression-Era Detroit
If you're planning on coming to our event with Tom Stanton, and you weren't planning on buying Terror in the City of Champions from us, you may have noticed that the book is out of stock at our online competitor. The book has exploded in sales, but don't worry, we've got a good amount of copies, though if I were you, I'd buy my book ahead of time, or at least before the event started.
Longtime journalist Tom Stanton (a regular speaker at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops for his baseball tales such as Ty and the Babe and The Final Season) tells for the first time the riveting, intersecting tales of the frightening rise and fall of the Black Legion and the magnificent athletic ascension of Detroit. In the mid-1930s, the city reigned as the City of Champions. Within a six-month span, the Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings won a World Series, NFL title, and Stanley Cup -- a major-sports trifecta achieved by no other American city before or since -- and it happened as undefeated local boxer Joe Louis was becoming a national sensation. As the successes mounted, the national media made heroes of the city's sports stars, and Detroit grew almost delirious, the string of victories providing a sweet diversion from the Great Depression.
But beneath the jubilance, a nefarious plague was spreading unchecked. A wave of mysterious crimes had police baffled: bodies dumped along roadsides, suspicious suicides, bombings of homes and halls, flogging victims who refused to speak, assassination plots. All were the work of the Black Legion, a secret terrorist organization that flourished in Detroit until the summer of 1936, when one murder (and the loose lips of a gunman) led to its unraveling.
Detroit books have been hot for a while. We had two bestsellers in Detroit City Is the Place to Be and Detroit: An American Autopsy. We just had a great sale on David Maraniss's Once in a Great City. I think it's got two interesting stories, one a cautionary tale and the other an inspirational one of rebuilding. Right now we're crazy about Angela Flournoy's The Turner House, and we just booked Christoper Hebert to read at Boswell for his forthcoming novel, Angels of Detroit (on September 27). In fact, there was so much that we put up a Detroit table.
Here's another interesting little backstory. You should be aware that covers change all the time. That's why sometimes the cover we are using in our promotions doesn't always match what's actually on the book, though most of the time, we catch it. So when Terror in the City of Champions came in with a black time on white jacket, we didn't think much of it, but then noticed that the spine had the original graphics on it. We contacted Stanton (who had a friend buy a copy) and learned it was a printing error (the photo got deleted from the proof) and got replacement jackets.
Stanton might look like he's riding a wave, but he's been writing about the Motor City for years. Congratulations to him for writing an ambitious, Erik Larsonesque tale that is resonating with readers. You can read an excerpt of the book in the Detroit News.
Saturday, June 11, at 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Christopher Buehlman, author of The Suicide Motor Club
If you are a regular at Boswell, you're well aware that our buyer Jason is not just an avid reader, but a voracious one. One of his talents is that he is equally adept at home in a myriad of genres. He's devours serious history, hand-selling buckets of Yale's history of the Middle Ages last year, but he's also an expert bar none in the genre of horror fiction. And really, there's a lot of call for this knowledge base. You know how popular horror films are and authors are continuing to break out. Look at the #1 showing for Joe Hill and The Fireman.
So for all of you who love Stephen King, classic Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and Ramsey Campbell, you need to discover Christopher Buehlman. Or to put it another way, welcome to Christopher Moore's far more gruesome cousin. Buehlman's got the chops. He's been nominated for a World Fantasy award and The Lesser Dead was Selected as a best horror novel of the year by the American Library Association.
Her'es the setup for the new book. "What do you need to know about The Suicide Motor Club? Only that they know no boundaries. These vicious vampires ride in a caravan of death that covers America’s roads from the icy north to the arid south, with nothing and no one to slow them down. Only the wild allure of open road and the hot thrum of blood calling to them; only burned-out wrecks and dried-out corpses left in their wake. Except, two years ago, they left a witness in the mangled wreck of her family car, her husband dead, her son taken. She remembers their awful faces, despite their tricks and glamours. And she’s coming for them—her thirst for vengeance even more powerful than their hunger for blood. And did we mention she’s also a psychic? The hunter is about to become the hunted…"
We're very lucky to semi-regularly host Buehlman, mostly because he's built his reputation in the area as Cristophe the Insultor at Bristol Reaniassance Faire. He's also got another persona as an Irish storyteller (did I mention he's got a theater background, which means he also does great event, as we say) and he's also one a major poetry prize. One day Buehlman is going to explode. What more can you want from genre than someone who is out-of-the-box creative while captivating fans and can write fast enough to feed demand?
Need more incentive? Read this interview with Buehlman in My Bookish Ways for The Lesser Dead. Scott Harrell raves in Creative Loafing Tampa: "With his fifth novel, The Suicide Motor Club, St. Pete’s own Christopher Buehlman — a World Fantasy Award-nominated wordsmith whose first foray into vampire territory, 2014’s The Lesser Dead, earned a Shirley Jackson Award nom — breathes new, er, undeath into one of horror’s oldest bogeys. It’s a book as thrilling and dangerous as the classic muscle cars that form the central motif of its story, their amoral power and potential for mayhem an apt reflection of Buehlman’s monsters." And here's the starred Publishers Weekly: "Buehlman confirms his talent with this ambitiously structured rendering of the havoc and mayhem wrought by a sadistic pack of muscle car–obsessed vampires as they cut a homicidal path across 1960s America’s highways."
And don't forget next week...
Monday, June 13, at 6:00 pm,at the Milwaukee Public Library Richard E. and Lucile Rare Books Room, 814 W Wisconsin Ave, 2nd floor.
Alison Flowers, author of Exonoree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity
Through intimate portraits of four exonerated prisoners, award-winning investigative journalist Alison Flowers explores what happens to innocent people when the state flings open the jailhouse door and tosses them back, empty-handed, into the unknown. Flowers depicts the collateral damage of wrongful convictions on families and communities, challenging the deeper problem of mass incarceration in the United States. Based on Chicago Public Media WBEZ's yearlong multimedia series, a finalist for a national Online Journalism Award, this narrative piece of investigative journalism tells profoundly human stories of reclaiming one's life, overcoming adversity, and searching for purpose-at times with devastating consequences and courageous breakthroughs.
Flowers works at the Invisible Institute, a production company on the South Side of Chicago, where she was part of a team win for the December 2015 Sidney Award by the Hillman Foundation. The Invisible Institute also won the Knight News Challenge on Data in January 2016, for its Citizens Police Data Project. Flowers is also a fellow with the Social Justice News Nexus, an investigative journalism project supported by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Her work has appeared on CNN, CBS, PBS, The Huffington Post, and UTNE Reader.
And don't forget to head west for our book club night with J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest, on Tuesday, June 14, 6:30 pm, at the Elm Grove Library.
Also please note that our dinner with Meathead Goldwyn at Atlas BBQ on Wednesday, June 10 is sold out. We should have some signed copies of Meathead on Thursday.