Monday, October 17, 2016

Event watch: Tula Connell on 1950s Milwaukee, Jennifer Weiner with Jim Higgins, Jack Bishop on cooking secrets, Jacqueline Woodson's coming-of-age novel, Antoine Laurain's new French novel, and more

The first thing we need to tell you about our upcoming events is that our morning with Patricia Polacco, scheduled for Saturday, October 22, 11 am, has been postponed due to illness. We do not have a new date for Polacco, who was visiting to talk about her new book, Because of Thursday, but if we're able to get one, we'll be sure to let you know.

Monday, October 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Tula A. Connell, author of Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee

In the 1950s, Milwaukee's strong labor movement and socialist mayor seemed to embody a dominant liberal consensus that sought to expand the New Deal. Tula A. Connell explores how business interests and political conservatives arose to undo that consensus, and how the resulting clash both shaped a city and helped redefine postwar American politics.

Labor writer and historian Connell focuses on Frank Zeidler, the city's socialist mayor. Zeidler's broad concept of the public interest at times defied even liberal expectations. At the same time, a resurgence of conservatism with roots presaging twentieth-century politics challenged his initiatives in public housing, integration, and other areas. As Connell shows, conservatives created an anti-progressive game plan that undermined notions of the common good essential to the New Deal order. It also sowed the seeds for grassroots conservatism's more extreme and far-reaching future success.

As one critic noted, this never came up in Happy Days!

Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A ticketed evening with Jennifer Weiner, author of Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, in conversation with the Journal Sentinel's Jim Higgins.

Tickets are $28 and include admission, all taxes and fees, and a copy of Hungry Heart. Tickets are still available. On the evening of the event, a $20 Boswell gift card is available in lieu of the book.

You know Jennifer Weiner as many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and per The New Yorker, an unlikely feminist enforcer. She’s also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current runner; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. Here, in her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins it into a collection of essays on womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron.

From Michelle Ruiz's profile in Vogue Magazine, on Good in Bed being slapped with a "chick lit" label: "That was very disheartening. I just thought I was writing a coming-of-age novel. At first, as I say in the book, there wasn’t a lot of stigma attached to that kind of book. When Melissa Bank and Helen Fielding published their novels, it was sort of like, “fun, breezy, very relatable, very authentic.” It wasn’t like you were the necrotizing, flesh-eating virus that was going to take literature down. But by the time Good in Bed came out, the market was inundated with all of these books, some of which were terrific and some were a little more disposable than others. And that’s when chick lit came to mean disposable, beach-blanket fluff, with no depth or insight or meaning."

From Jim Higgins's profile in the Journal Sentinel: "Weiner classifies her own popular novels, including Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, as romances, and has become a prominent scourge of media that she and many others believe fall short of fair coverage of books by women and for female readers. But a hypothetical syllabus for the Jennifer Weiner School of Writing would draw from every part of the literary ecosystem: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, "for pacing and for plot, for when in a story you do your big reveal"; Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, "for all the tricks he uses to bring hell to life"; Eloisa James, "for how to write a sex scene — what you say and what you don’t say and how sometimes what you don’t say is just as powerful as what you do."

Revisit this blog post with more Weiner details.

Alas, our event with Ann Patchett in conversation with Jane Hamilton on Wedensday, October 19, 7 pm, is sold out. That said, if you'd like to see Jane Hamilton, the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books has a ticketed keynote event in Waukesha on Friday, November 4, 7 pm.

We'll have signed copies of Commonwealth for sale after the event.

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Jack Bishop, Chief Creative Officer of America's Test Kitchen, presenting a talk on Cook's Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Our Favorite Ingredients

From the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, and the best-selling The Science of Good Cooking, comes an all-new companion book. Each chapter explains the science behind one of the 50 ingredients in a short, informative essays. Topics range from pork shoulder to apples to quinoa to dark chocolate, before moving onto an original (and sometimes quirky) experiment, performed in our test kitchen and designed to show how the science works.

From Kristine M. Kierzek's column in the Journal Sentinel: "Jack Bishop is a curious and detailed cook, but he’ll be the first to admit he’s not a professional chef. In fact, he uses that to his advantage in his role at America’s Test Kitchen, where he regularly asks, “But would a home cook be able to do that?” Bishop, the chief creative officer at America’s Test Kitchen, has been with the company since 1992. Along with the magazines, television programming and online content, the company has published nearly 100 cookbooks over the past decade. This year alone, they’ll be releasing 13 new titles.

"The latest, Cook’s Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Your Favorite Ingredients is the first in a new series from America’s Test Kitchen ( It features more than 300 recipes aimed at curious cooks who want to know the whys and hows of cooking, with detailed explanations that go straight to the science behind kitchen success."

As always for free events, we will close to additional attendees if we reach capacity.

Friday, October 21, 6:30 pm, at Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St:
Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn.

The Young People's Poet Laureate and winner of the National Book Award for Young People for Brown Girl Dreaming presents her first novel for adults in 20 years. Another Brooklyn is a national bestseller, the #1 Indie Bound pick for August, and short-listed for the National Book Award (this time in the category of fiction for older people)

This event is cosponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library and YWCA Southeast Wisconsin. The Executive Director, Paula Penebaker, will introduce Woodson at the event.

I love Another Brooklyn! Here is my recommendation: "August is a girl in Brooklyn, living with her father and brother. She peers out the window at the life going on around her, seeing the other girls – Angela the dancer, Gigi the actress, Sylvia with the parents with big plans for her – who would one day be her friends. She tells her story to us in dream-like incidents, a free verse kaleidoscope of the hardscrabble Brooklyn neighborhood where her father, a Nation of Islam convert, tried to keep the family same, and the memories of SweetGrove, the place they were from, the kind of place where girls would be sent when they went too far with their boyfriends.

"Woodson vividly creates an urban neighborhood in the 1970s, a time of blackouts and white flight, of soldiers lost in Vietnam and mothers lost in random violence. Another Brooklyn is the story of a women looking back, trying to figure out the moment when she became who she is today, in a place that is as much a lost memory as Tennessee. It’s a dreamlike prose poem, the kind of book where your only response after finishing it is to start again from the beginning." (Daniel Goldin)

A signing will follow!

Saturday, October 22, 1-4 pm, on Downer Ave:
Haunted Halloweeen

Head on over to Historic Downer Avenue to trick-or-treat at our businesses, enjoy the amazing Halloween-themed artistry of over 10 chalk artists, buy your pumpkin at St. Mark's Church, and even drink New Belgium's Pumpkick, a pumpkin flavored beer that is tapped directly out of a pumpkin while being serenaded by our Dracula Accordion player!

Vote for your favorite pumpkin from our businesses as they compete to win our carving contest this year while you earn your chance to win great prizes. Kids can enjoy their own chalk drawing area plus Face Painting by Jess. This is a FREE event and fun for the entire family. Don't be scared- join us!

Sunday, October 23, 3 pm, at Boswell:
Antoine Laurain, author of French Rhapsody, The Red Notebook, and The President's Hat

This event is cosponsored by Alliance Fran├žaise de Milwaukee

First the bad news. We're almost out of Laurain's books in French and the distributor didn't have any more either.

Now the good news! Antoine Laurain is one of the most charming authors ever and if you've never read one of his novels, you're in for a treat.

Here's my take on French Rhapsody" "When Doctor Alain Massoulier gets the letter in the mail, telling him that Polygram Records would be interested in meeting with the Holograms to discuss a record contract, he doesn’t know what to think. After all, the letter arrived 28 years late. But his first thought is where is his copy of that tape? And his second thought is to find the group members. But the Holograms are no longer close – the drummer is now a contemporary artist, the bassist a populist politician, the lyricist an antiques dealer, and the producer a business tycoon. The keyboard player has abandoned France for Thailand. And the singer? There’s no trace of her. This wonderful novel has all the French charm we’ve come to expect from Antoine Laurain, but it’s also surprisingly timely, with the political climate of both France and the United States being reflected in the plotline. Like his previous novels The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook, French Rhapsody is about a quest, but this is not just a search for a music tape, it’s a search for the soul of France itself." (Daniel Goldin)

Clearly this is one of the greatest weeks in the history of Boswell for authors.

Monday, October 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Gavin Schmitt, author of Shallow Grave: The Unsolved Crime That Shook the Midwest

An upright citizen kidnapped in public and dumped in a shallow grave. A police chief’s wife arrested for murder. A mobster kidnapped and threatened by the FBI. And an ongoing corruption probe looking at everyone from the lowest bookie all the way up to judges and prosecutors. What is going on in small town America? This is what happens when you are caught between a rock and a hard place, or the Milwaukee Mafia and the Chicago Outfit. The Midwest’s two most powerful gangs are fighting over territory and no one is safe. Shallow Grave features a series of colorful characters and shines light on the gritty creatures who live under the rocks of even the most innocent of cities. Follow the exploits of the police, FBI and Bobby Kennedy himself as they try to put together the pieces and catch the bad guy if they can.

Gavin Schmitt is also the author of Milwaukee Mafia: Mobsters in the Heartland, as well as the Milwaukee Mafia entry in Arcadia's Images of America series. He also wrote the entry for Neenah.

Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm, at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center, 4800 S 60 St, just off Layton Ave:
Dav Pilkey, author of Dog Man and the Captain Underpants series.

Some of our best kids' events are at the Greenfield Public Library (thanks, Emily and Peter!) but when it came to Dav Pilkey, we worried that we'd not have enough space, since both our events with Lincoln Peirce and Lauren Tarshis were packed to the rafters. But fortunately, the Greenfield Library had another space up their sleeve, the Greenfield Performing Arts Center at Greenfield High School. Now we can fit 700 people, and you know what? We might still hit capacity. Pilkey's Dog Man is the first in a series and it's so good. Barb, Todd, and I all read it, as did Amie's daughter Eleanor. Her take? It's very funny. It's comic written by Pilkey favorites George and Harold. Dog Man has the head of a police dog and the body of a police man and will stop at nothing to foil the evil antics of his nemesis, Petey the Cat.

From Booklist, the publication of the American Library Association: " From the doodle-scratch art and jumbled panel borders to crossed-out words with simulated grammar and spelling lapses to the generous helpings of potty humor, the book feels like a frantic message of delirious imagination from one child to another. In truth, it's the work of Pilkey who, in the relentless style of his own Captain Underpants series, has again fired an arrow of joy straight at the fevered childhood psyche of millions of readers. And as with the good captain, this will prove a groaning burden for many adults and an utter, unfettered delight for kids."

This event is cosponsored by the Greenfield Public Library and the Greenfield School District. This event is free.

And after that? We don't have an event on Tuesday, October 25, giving us a little time to catch our breath.

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