Monday, October 31, 2016

Event Watch: Jeff Pearlman on Brett Favre, Glen Jeansonne on Herbert Hoover, Brenda DeVita on Shakespeare, Pete Fromm on the wilds, two events (one each) with acclaimed poets Susan Firer and Sarah Rosenblatt, Murder and Mayhem at the Irish Cultural Center (and a bonus Noir at the Bar), Jon Meacham and Mitch Teich discuss George H.W. Bush, and Jeanette Hurt at Great Lakes Distillery. Please check dates, times, and locations, as there is a lot of details!

Here's what's going on this week!

Tuesday, November 1, 6:30 pm, at Elm Grove Library, 13600 Juneau Blvd:
Jeff Pearlman, author of Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre

This event is cosponsored by the Elm Grove Public Library and OnMilwaukee.

You probably noted in yesterday's bestseller roundup the strong advance sales for Jeff Pearlman's Gunslinger. From Brookfield/Elm Grove Now: "Gunslinger tells Brett Favre’s story for the first time, drawing on more than 500 interviews, including many from the people closest to Favre. Pearlman charts Favre’s unparalleled journey, from his rough rural childhood and lackluster high school football career, to his prominent role in the restoration of greatness in Green Bay. The book presents a fascinating portrait of the man with the rocket arm whose life has been one of triumph, fame, tragedy, embarrassment, and — ultimately — redemption."

Sports Illustrated ran an excerpt, which you can read here.

Here's what Boswellian Todd Wellman has to say: "Brett Favre's life flows like light beer in this accessible biography that presents a man with many identities: alcoholic, recovering alcoholic, philanderer, football star, abused son, Wisconsin hero, patient ear for those with disabilities. While not pausing for too long in any era, Pearlman makes the case for varying frames of mind by tallying actions to show the identities exist. I had many "Oh, that's what was going on" moments as I read about The Packers organization maintaining the public persona of Favre, namely how they massaged his alcohol and drug use for the public. Complete with (incomplete) portrayals of Aaron Rodgers as artless antagonist and Deanne Favre as stand-by-your-man-through-prayer wife, Gunslinger brings up many questions, and the answers could fill a companion book, if not a book discussion. Namely, beyond the unexplored reasons Deanna stayed with Brett, what in the NFL and other football organizations abets the poor treatment of spouses, and how did it influence Favre?"

The Elm Grove Library is located just outside the Village. From Bluemound Road, take Elm Grove Road north to Juneau Blvd (though you have to zig zag a bit when you get to Watertown Plank). It's in the same complex as the police department and Village Hall. Doors will likely open at 6 pm. We're guessing that we might hit the library capacity on this one, so I suggest you arrive on the early side.

Tuesday, November 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Glen Jeansonne, author of Herbert Hoover: A Life.

David Luhrssen, Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Shepherd Express, will introduce Jeansonne.

Jeansonne, UWM Professor of History Emeritus, offers a take on the Herbert Hoover presidency that redeems him in history. The book draws upon a previous academic work of Jeansonne's, The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker, 1928-1933, which covered only the presidential years. In that book, as reviewed in The Washington Times by Joseph S. Goulden, Jeansonne blamed "a vigorous Democratic propaganda machine, funded by financier John J. Raskob, the party’s national chairman, and crafted by hatchet-man journalist Charles S. Michelson, the publicity manager. Lacking a program of their own, the Democrats set about demonizing Hoover as responsible for the country’s economic woes."

As Jim Higgins wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jeansonne reminds readers who only remember Hoover as the president swept out of office by the Great Depression and FDR of his accomplishments, including leading the relief effort to feed starving Belgians during World War I, and of his impact as Secretary of Commerce under President Coolidge.

"The historian believes the Great Depression would have sunk any sitting president. Only 59 when he left the White House, Hoover had an active post-presidential public life. Jeansonne notes that, over time, Hoover gravitated further right in opposition to the swelling federal bureaucracy. During those elder-statesmen years, the historian writes, Hoover "was the single most important bearer of the torch of American conservatism between his own administration and that of Ronald Reagan."

Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Brenda DeVita, Artistic Director of the American Players Theatre, presenting her talk, "Why Shakespeare"

This event is sponsored by American Players Theatre and the University of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

Brenda DeVita discusses why Shakespeare's work has endured through four centuries and how it thrives specifically at American Players Theatre. She'll also discuss the question that she and the American Players Theatre artists struggle with continually: what makes a classic a classic? A practical, visceral, artist's eye view of how to produce Shakespeare for a 21st- century audience, and why it's so important.

This talk is part of the Shakespeare in Wisconsin yearlong schedule of programming, in conjunction with the Shakespeare's First Folio exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison. The First Folio, published in 1623, is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, many of which were not published during his lifetime. Two of Shakespeare's fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays to preserve them for future generations. Without their efforts, the world may have never known 18 of these plays, including Macbeth and Hamlet. The exhibit runs from November 3 through December 11.

And don't forget, The American Players Theatre schedule for 2017 is now up. Their Shakespeare productions are A Midsummer Night's Dream and Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and other performed plays will include Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge and Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov. While you're in Spring Green, don't forget to visit our friends at Arcadia Books.

Registration requested but not required for this event.

Thursday, November 3, 6:30 pm, at the Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave: Pete Fromm, author of The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds.

Former Shorewoodian Pete Fromm is a five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for his novels If Not For This, As Cool as I Am, and How All This Started, his story collections including Dry Rain, and the memoir, Indian Creek Chronicles. The film of As Cool as I Am was released in 2013. Fromm has also published over 200 stories in magazines and journals.

At twenty years old, Pete Fromm accepted a job babysitting salmon eggs for seven winter months alone in a tent in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Leaping at this chance to be a mountain man, with no experience in the wilds, he left the world. 25 years later, he was asked to return to the wilderness to babysit more fish eggs. No longer a footloose twenty-year old, at 45, he was the father of two young sons. He left again, alone, straight into the heart of Montana’s Bob Marshall wilderness, walking a daily ten-mile loop to his fish eggs through deer and elk and the highest density of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states.

The Names of the Stars is not only a story of wilderness and bears but also a trek through a life lived at its edges, showing how an impulsive kid transformed into a father without losing his love for the wilds. From loon calls echoing across Northwood lakes to the grim realities of life-guarding in the Nevada desert, through the isolation of Indian Creek, and years spent running the Snake and Rio Grande as a river ranger, Pete seeks out the source of this passion for wildness, and explores fatherhood, and mortality, and the costs, risks, and rewards of life lived on its own terms.

From Cory Walsh in The Montana Standard: "The self-professed Hemingway fan writes in a conversational voice with artful fragments of sentences. He loves a three-beat rhythm and uses it well: 'The windowpane is a blank, the sky socked in, though I can't hear rain. I click the faint green glow of my watch. Four a.m. Six hours of sleep. In a row. Practically record setting.' In scenes of tension or meditation, he stretches that voice out into long, flowing sentences, a flash of technique that's more effective because he knows when to use it and does so sparingly. (Fromm's the author of several novels, short-story collections and has won a few Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Awards.)"

Thursday, November 3, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Susan Firer, author of The Transit of Venus: Poems

We are pleased to welcome former Milwaukee Poet Larueate Susan Firer to Boswell for her first collection since 2007's Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People. Here's Jim Higgins in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussing the book:

"Firer may not have been born under a rhyming planet, but in recent years she has bathed in the emanations of the Oort Cloud. Stimulated by Jean Creighton's lectures at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Manfred Olson Planetarium, Firer draws stars, planets and astronomical language into The Transit of Venus, the former Milwaukee poet laureate's sixth collection. The Summer Triangle of Vega, Altair and Deneb, Trans-Neptunian objects and Magellanic clouds glide through her viewfinder.

"Much rarer than an eclipse, a transit of Venus refers to that planet passing across the face of the sun, becoming visible to us as a black dot against the broiling solar magnificence. In Firer's book, that title phrase also evokes her life with her husband James Hazard, a well-known poet and writer who died in 2012."

Susan Firer grew up in Milwaukee, where she continues to live, write, and work.. She is the author of six books of poetry, including The Transit of Venus, Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People: New and Selected Poems 1979–2007, and The Laugh We Make When We Fall, which won the Backwaters Prize. Billy Collins has said, “To read the poetry of Susan Firer is to enter a unique building constructed by the imagination, like Kubla Khan’s pleasure-dome, out of the shimmering material of words.”

Friday, November 4, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Sarah Rosenblatt, author of Where Are We in This Story?

By day, Sarah Rosenblatt is a child and family therapist in Milwaukee, and by night, she is a poet whose previous works are On the Waterbed They Sank to Their Own Levels and One Season Behind. Now she returns with Where Are We in This Story?, her first collection since 2007, once again with illustrations with her mother, Suzanne Rosenblatt.

Sarah Rosenblatt laments, celebrates and questions the meaning of the ongoing story of time. Seasons speak but don’t recognize us. Time creeps through the windows in the same way it did with our ancestors. Light shines through and touches hope and sweetness but this is only fleeting, leaving us to a vast sky that doesn’t name us or our troubles. Leaves on the trees watch, hold and rot. The collection challenges the guts and touches the heart and soul of being alive in a story in which we are challenged to find meaning.

From Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel: "Her succinct poems read calmly, even when addressing unpleasantries. In 'Human Nurture' she writes, 'Our fellow human beings / are not even-tempered,/ each new discussion is another opportunity / for us to misunderstand each other.' Writing about a caterpillar (but inevitable suggesting creatures. Her succinct poems read calmly, even when addressing unpleasantries. In 'Human Nurture' she writes, 'Our fellow human beings / are not even-tempered,/ each new discussion is another opportunity / for us to misunderstand each other.' Writing about a caterpillar (but inevitable suggesting creatures in 'Disorderly Conduct,' Rosenblatt sounds like a gentler Lennie Briscoe quipping before the cut to a commercial: 'We could see / from the onset / that a mother / so taken with order / was bound to create disorder / in the life of her child.'"

Saturday, November 5, 9 am to 5:30 pm, at the Irish Cultural Center, 2133 W Wisconsin Ave: Murder and Mayhem Milwaukee, sponsored by Crimespree Magazine

Doors open at 8:30 am for this all day festival. Tickets are $40 and are available on Brown Paper Tickerts. Boswell will of course be selling books.

Here's the schedule. First up is "First Blood", the 9 am roundtable featuring Kristi Belcamino, Alex Grecian, Tim Hallinan, Brad Parks (moderator), Nicholas Petrie, and Johnny Shaw. At 10, the "Murder as a Fine Art" is moderated by Janet Reid and features Lou Berney, Cara Black, Jess Lourney, Marucs Sakey, and Alex Segura. "Lessons of a Lifetime" is an 11 am discussion between Heather Graham and David Morrell, followed by lunch, which is being served upstairs.

The afternoon commences with Kate Malmon moderating "The League of Night and Fog (Thunderdome)," featuring Dana Cameron, Matthew Clemens, Ed Kurtz (attending in place of Steve Blackmoore), Lisa Lutz, Brad Parks, Bryon Quertermous, Todd Robinson, and Tom Schreck. This is followed by the "Creepers" panel at 2 pm, moderated by Bryan Van Meter and featuring Blake Crouch, Shaun Harris, Chris Holm, Lisa Lutz, and Daniel Palmer. A conversation between Sara Paretsky and Meg Gardiner ("Blood Oath") is at 3, while Joe R. Lansdale is interviewed at 4.

Here's a list of recommended hotels. And don't forget, several of the writers will also be at Noir at the Bar, at Mobcraft Brewery, 505 S Fifth St, on Thursday, November 3, 7 pm. They will be featuring a special Chocolate cherry moon beer brewed especially for Crimespree and Murder and Mayhem. 

Sunday, November 6, 7 pm, at Boswell: A ticketed event with Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, in conversation with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich

This event is cosponsored by WUWM 89.7, Milwaukee Public Radio.

Tickets are $20, including admission for one, a paperback copy of Destiny and Power, and all taxes and fees. On the night of the event, a $13 gift card is available in place of the book. You can purchase your ticket at Brown Paper Tickets.

Destiny and Power, now in paperback, is the intimate and detailed life story of George H.W. Bush, a man known only through his politics or from a distance. From interviews and unprecedented access to Bush's presidential diaries, Meacham brings Bush and the great American family vividly to life, beginning in the Midwest in the late 1800s and moving on to George H. W. Bush's childhood, his heroic service in World War II, Texas, and his political rise. With Meacham's trademark compelling narration, historic depth, and contemporary insight, this stunning biography reveals the unusual self-reflections and distinctive American life of a man from the Greatest Generation who pursued a life of service as a guardian of America in the way of Eisenhower, and was one of the last gentleman in our political world.

Here's a roundup of reviews of Destiny and Power:
--Jim Kelly in The New York Times Book Review
--David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times
--Carlos Lozada in The Washington Post.

Our event with Jon Meacham in conversation with Mitch Teich is only two days before the general election: the perfect respite from Campaign 2016!

Monday, November 7, 7 pm, at the Great Lakes Distillery, 616 W Virginia St, which is sponsoring this event:
Jeanette Hurt, author of Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat

Hurt's talk will be "Women Behind Bars: The Surprisingly Illicit History of Female Bartenders." There is no admission charge for this event. The bar will be making and selling four drinks from Hurt's new Drink Like a Woman.

Take one-part feminist history, two parts fresh cocktail recipes, and add a splash of veteran barkeep advice. Shake until chilled. Garnish with charming illustrations and share with friends! Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat. is a treat for anyone looking for a glass of something strong after a long day of smashing the patriarchy. Featuring more than 70 amazing women from history, literature, and pop culture, and honors each with her own cocktail. It’s time we acknowledged that women’s taste in cocktails, just like our contribution to history, is anything but predictable.

Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. As full-time journalist, Hurt has written about spirits, wine, and food for, Four Seasons Magazine, and Wine Enthusiast. When she’s not writing, traveling, cooking or shaking up some concoction, she can usually be found walking along Milwaukee’s lakefront with her family.

Please note that this event is for folks 21 and older. And speaking of Jeanette Hurt...

And one last event, that we're not selling books at but we support. It's the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, on Friday, November 4 and all day, Saturday, November 5, at the UW-Waukesha campus. With the theme Roots and Branches, the folks at SEWIBOOKFEST offers a fabulous opening ticketed talk and reception with Jane Hamilton (many folks are saying that her recent conversation with Ann Patchett was one of our best events of the year, and Hamilton was a big part of that), followed by a day of talks, panels, and conversations with fine authors, including Kathie Giorgio, Jeanette Hurt (see above), Ron Faiola, Liam Callanan, Patricia Skalka (at Boswell later in November), Mark Speltz, Brenda Cardenas, and Dan Chaon, whose new 2017 novel has a ton of buzz.

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