Monday, June 12, 2017

Eventastic: Lilsa Ko, Margaret Rozga, Mark O'Connell, Don Lee with Will Johnson, Lous V. Clark

Monday, June 12, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers.

Lisa Ko's fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Apogee Journal, and The Asian Pacific American Journal. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and Blue Mountain Center.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It's a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

Boswellian Caroline Froh adores The Leavers and has this to offer, “Deming Guo’s first six years of life were spent with his immigrant mother in New York, then China with a grandfather he’s never met, and America again. After his mother disappears from her job at a nail salon, Deming is adopted by two professors and dropped into what feels like an alien, all-white suburb upstate. This pattern of early upheaval sets Deming - now Daniel Wilkinson — on a path marked by difference and isolation. As Deming’s story unfolds, his mother’s side of the story gradually comes to light, filling in holes and ripping others open, until finally, side by side, their disparate journeys form one complete portrait of the resilience of the spirit. This is a heartbreaking, poignant, beautiful book that will stay with you for a long time.”

This event is cosponsored by OCA-Wisconsin. Celine Wong will be providing both Fuzhou-style and Chinese-American style appetizers.

Tuesday, June 13, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Margaret Rozga, author of Pestiferous Questions: A Life in Poems.

Margaret Rozga is a civil rights activist, poet, playwright, Professor Emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, and the author of Justice Freedom Herbs, Though I Haven’t Been to Baghdad, and 200 Nights and One Day. She served as managing editor of the chapbook anthology Turn Up the Volume: Poems about the States of Wisconsin.

Pestiferous questions? Race, gender, class; American expansion, American exceptionalism; love: all these roil thinking and complicate responses. In the history of the United States, they peppered debates, caused rifts, and ignited conflicts. They shaped our history and national identity. They vex us today.

Jessie Benton Frémont (1824-1902) faced them all. The poems in this volume show her assuming some answers, struggling for others. Daughter of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who saw the expansion of slavery as the key pestiferous question, Jessie Benton married against her father’s wishes. John Charles Frémont, the explorer, in 1856 the first Republican candidate for president and during the Civil War, briefly the commander of the western front for the Union.

Politically astute and insightful, disparaged as a woman who didn’t know her place, faithful to a difficult marriage, privileged, sometimes questioning privilege, a product of her times, and forward thinking, Jessie Benton Frémont the public figure emerges in these poems. The poems also do what poems do so well, turn to the wings to see her before and after she appears on the public stage.

Wednesday, June 14, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Mark O’Connell, author of The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs.

Mark O’Connell is a screenwriter, teacher, and blogger. He wrote episodes for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and has feature film projects with major studios, including Walt Disney, DreamWorks Animation, and Endless Entertainment Group. He is also the founder of the UFO blog High Strangeness. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Monica, and teaches screenwriting at DePaul University in Chicago.

The wildly entertaining and eye-opening biography of J. Allen Hynek, the astronomer who invented the concept of "Close Encounters" with alien life, inspired Steven Spielberg's blockbuster classic science fiction epic film, and made a nation want to believe in UFOs.

In June 1947, private pilot Kenneth Arnold looked out his cockpit window and saw a group of nine silvery crescents weaving between the peaks of the Cascade Mountains at an estimated 1,200 miles an hour. The media, the military, and the scientific community - led by J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer hired by the Air Force - debunked this and many other Unidentified Flying Object sightings reported across the country. But after years of denials, Hynek made a shocking pronouncement: UFOs are real.

Thirty years after his death, Hynek's agonizing transformation from skepticism to true believer remains one of the great misunderstood stories of science. In this definitive biography, Mark O'Connell reveals for the first time how Hynek's work both as a celebrated astronomer and as the U. S. Air Force's go-to UFO expert for nearly twenty years stretched the boundaries of modern science, laid the groundwork for acceptance of the possibility of UFOs, and was the basis of the hit film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. With unprecedented access to Hynek's personal and professional files, O'Connell smashes conventional wisdom to reveal the intriguing man and scientist beneath the legend.

Thursday, June 15, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Don Lee, author of Lonesome Lies Before Us, in conversation with Will Johnson.

Don Lee is the author of the novel Lonesome Lies Before Us. He is also the author of the novel The Collective, which won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature from the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association; the novel Wrack and Ruin, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prize; the novel Country of Origin, which won an American Book Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and the story collection Yellow, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters  His stories have been published in The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, and GQ.

Here's more about Johnson. Will Johnson is a prolific and much beloved indie singer-songwriter. The frontman for the bands Centro-matic and South San Gabriel, he has been recording mainly as a solo artist of late, and he has just released his fifth solo album, Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm. In addition, he has collaborated and performed with dozens of other acts, including Jason Isbell, Monsters of Folk, Jason Molina, and New Multitudes. When not on tour doing living-room shows and playing in clubs, he works on baseball-inspired paintings, which have been exhibited in solo and group art shows.

Drawn to the music of indie singer-songwriters like Will Johnson, who helped shape the lyrics in this book, Don Lee has written a novel that unforgettably captures America's deepest yearnings. Beautifully sad and laced with dark humor, Lonesome Lies Before Us is a profound, heartfelt romance, a soulful and memorable song.

Here’s what Proprietor Daniel has to say about Lonesome Lies Before Us: “Ever since his short story collection Yellow, I have been falling in love with his characters, pondering his philosophy about art and identity, and laughing at his sharp wit. In Lonesome Lies Before Us, his hero is Yadin Park, a musician who was on the verge of making it, despite his stage fright and not fitting the rock star mold, only to walk away. Now he’s installing carpet for a living in Rosarita Bay, Lee’s own Yoknapatawpha, when after years of being away from the business, with a left-brained girlfriend with big ideas (though she’s currently cleaning rooms in a fancy resort), inspiration hits him again. Only he is still the same insecure mess he ever was, and now he’s also got degenerative hearing loss. I still consider Wrack and Ruin one of the best novels I’ve read in my bookselling career, and in many ways, Lonesome Lies Before Us is a companion work and it’s such a great tightrope-walking, argumentative, heartbreaking, and inspiring novel, all at the same time.”

Monday, June 19, 7:00 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library’s Loos Room, 733 N Eighth St:
Louis V. Clark, author of How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century.

This event is cosponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library.

Louis V. Clark was born and raised on the Oneida Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin. Clark turned to poetry to continue the oral tradition of his tribe, the People of the Standing Stone. A member of the Iroquois Confederacy, his family is of the Bear clan. He received a Fellowship Award for his work from the Oneida Nation Arts Program and the Wisconsin Arts Board. Two Shoes was Clark’s first chapbook.

In deceptively simple prose and verse, Louis V. "Two Shoes" Clark III shares his life story, from childhood on the reservation, through school and the working world, and ultimately to, life as an elder, grandfather, and poet.

How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century explores Clark's deeply personal and profound take on a wide range of subjects, from schoolyard bullying to workplace racism to falling in love. Warm, plainspoken, and wryly funny, Clark's is a unique voice talking frankly about a culture's struggle to maintain its heritage. His poetic storytelling style matches the rhythm of the life he recounts what he calls, "the heartbeat of my nation."

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