Monday, April 23, 2018

Event: Meg Wolitzer, Carl Swanson, Katherine Reynolds Lewis, Ken Leinbach, Cutter Wood, Jenny Benjamin, Independent Bookstore, Fox and Branch, Scott Prill, Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern, and Kurt Dietrich and the Manty Ellis trio

Monday, April 23, 7:00 pm, at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 1111 E Brown Deer Rd:
A ticketed event with Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion, in conversation with Jane Hamilton

Last chance to attend our event with Meg Wolitzer in conversation with Jane Hamilton.

From the recent Slate article by Lydia Kiesling, who noted "If we try too hard to parse the precise kind of feminism embodied by Meg Wolitzer’s new book, we risk missing its genuinely smart satire."

She continues: "A novel that more or less opens with an act of uninvited groping at a college frat party is probably fated to be received as a #MeToo book, or a “timely” book about 'our moment.' Some readers will be tempted to comb through the book to assess the correctness of its politics or the precise wave of its feminism. As one white woman who feels overrepresented in popular culture put it, 'a novel sifting through the small failures (and huge successes) of a prominent young white feminist hardly feels like a major statement about the movement. In 2018, aren’t there more vital, surprising and layered stories to tell?'" Read the rest here.

Tickets are $30 and include admission, parking, and a copy of The Female Persuasion. Tickets are available at until 2 pm. A portion of all ticket sales will be donated back to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. While there is no gift card option for this event, don’t forget that The Female Persuasion makes a great gift, and it also would be a welcome donation to your favorite school, library, or nonprofit. We cannot guarantee that walk-up sales will be available at this time.

Tuesday, April 24, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Carl Swanson, author of Lost Milwaukee

From City Hall to the Pabst Theater, reminders of the past are part of the fabric of Milwaukee. Yet many historic treasures have been lost to time.

An overgrown stretch of the Milwaukee River was once a famous beer garden. Blocks of homes and apartments replaced the Wonderland Amusement Park. A quiet bike path now stretches where some of fastest trains in the world previously thundered. Today’s Estabrook Park was a vast mining operation, and Marquette University covers the old fairgrounds where Abraham Lincoln spoke.

From beer barons to chocolate makers, from a courthouse statue locals said resembled a drunken dancing girl to an ice cream run that led to the founding of Evinrude outboard engines, Lost Milwaukee is a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past.

Milwaukee’s Carl Swanson enjoys exploring and writing about his adopted hometown. A magazine editor and author of Faces of Railroading from Kalmbach Publishing Company, Carl studied journalism at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and photography at the Woodland School of Photography.

Tuesday, April 24, 7:00 pm, at University School of Milwaukee, 2100 W Fairy Chasm Rd:
Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News about Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever - And What to Do about It

REDgen and USM present a talk from Katherine Reynolds Lewis, cosponsored by Boswell. In her talk, Lewis argues that the current model of parental discipline is as outdated as a rotary phone. This talk is free but registration is required. Visit for more. If you are a teacher, consider the afternoon educators talk at

Today's parents live with an exhausting reality: persistent defiance from children. About half of the current generation of children will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or a substance addiction by age eighteen. And many parents feel increasingly unable to exert any influence over their children. In our highly connected age, the all-powerful parent is largely a thing of the past.

Lewis proposes a radical solution: empathy. As she journeys from parenting seminars to neuroscience labs to schools to the homes of modern parents, Lewis documents a crisis of self-regulation, and shows how children rise to the occasion when their parents learn to trust them. You'll recognize your own family in Lewis's sensitive, realistic stories, and you'll find a path to making everyone in your home more capable, kinder, and happier, including yourself.

Katherine Reynolds Lewis is an award-winning independent journalist based in the Washington, DC, area who regularly writes for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Working Mother magazine. Her work has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is a certified parent educator with the Parent Encouragement Program in Kensington, Maryland.

Wednesday, April 25, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Ken Leinbach, author of Urban Ecology: A Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities, and the World

In 2017, Ken Leinbach’s book that explains the history and philosophy of the Urban Ecology Center was published, exclusively available through the Center. But now, in celebration of its general distribution, Boswell presents a talk from Ken Leinbach, the Urban Ecology Center’s Executive Director.

Urban Ecology is an easy guide to creating a safe neighborhood and park right where people live. This Milwaukee experiment, the story of a group of ordinary people who created something extraordinary, starts with the simplicity of getting a city kid exploring their neighborhood park. How is it that so much life, community, and opportunity can grow from this unlikely soil? It's been called a miracle. It's contagious. It's spreading. It's exciting. And it works!

The Urban Ecology Center started in 1991 with neighborhood cleanups. In 2004, their community and classroom center in Riverside Park opened, replacing a double-wide trailer. Today, the Urban Ecology Center, through its three campuses, protects and restores urban green spaces in Milwaukee while serving 77,000+ people each year.

Ken Leinbach, Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center, is a nationally recognized science educator and leader in community-based environmental education. He is a certified high school teacher and has over 30 years of experience teaching and developing environmental science programs in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia. He holds a biology degree from Antioch College, a master's degree in environmental education from Prescott College, and an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Thursday, April 26, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Cutter Wood, author of Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime

When a stolen car is recovered on the Gulf Coast of Florida, it sets off a search for a missing woman, local motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler. Three men are named persons of interest, her husband, her boyfriend, and the man who stole the car, and the residents of Anna Maria Island, with few facts to fuel their speculation, begin to fear the worst. Then, with the days passing quickly, her motel is set on fire, her boyfriend flees the county, and detectives begin digging on the beach.

Here's a recommendation from Boswell's Chris Lee for Love and Death in the Sunshine State: "Part true crime investigation, part self-interrogating memoir, this is about a man who wants to know just how deep he can go into the mind of a killer. By chance, Wood stayed overnight in a Gulf Coast hotel shortly after its owner was murdered. Listening to locals spin theories from rumors, Wood became obsessed with the case. Then the hotel burned to the ground. Wood goes beyond the evidence and spins his own theory from the truth, going beyond the evidence to examine how a relationship can go from romance to murder in this creeping, atmospheric labyrinth of literary achievement."

Cutter Wood was born in Central Pennsylvania and received his BA from Brown University, where he was awarded prizes for nonfiction and poetry. Wood completed an MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa in 2010, during which he was awarded numerous fellowships and had essays published in Harper's and other magazines.

Friday, April 27, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Jenny Benjamin, author of More than A Box of Crayons and Midway

More Than a Box of Crayons irradiates the colors of a life spent in community with nature, art, and family. Through resounding images and sonorous tones, the poems capture the simplicity of childhood, the joys and sorrows of every-day life with loved ones, and the complexities of being a woman or girl in the world.

Marquette University’s Angela Sorby writes: “Jenny Benjamin’s chapbook, More Than a Box of Crayons, blazes with color and energy. These poems fold visual images… into verbal forms. The effect is synesthetic, dazzling, emotionally charged, and ultimately deeply life-affirming.”

Midway is a haunting collection of poems that traces the seasons of loss in one woman’s life, with distinct lyrical touch and a deft ear for nuanced language. The poems are salve and song, beautifully constructed and ultimately enduring. This collection received second prize in the No Chair poetry contest.

Milwaukee-based Jenny Benjamin is the owner of her freelance writing and editing business JB Communications, LLC. Her poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, South Carolina Review, and Fulcrum. She also author of the novel This Most Amazing.

Saturday, April 28, 10:00 opening, 11:00 am concert, at Boswell:
Independent Bookstore Day, featuring a concert with Fox and Branch

Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April. Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. We’ll have exclusive books and literary items that you can only get on that day. Not before. Not after. Not online. No phone or web orders, no holdsies. One of each item limit per person before Noon.

Limited editions for sale include a special signed edition of Dave Eggers’s Ungrateful Mammals, a Bad Citizen graffiti stencil, Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain tea towels, a literary map of the universe print, Dragons Love Books onesie, Read with Me plush featuring Maisie and Horton the Elephant, and a special book club journal featuring inspiring-ish messages from David Sedaris, Stephen King, and more.

At 11 am, we’ll be hosting a free concert for kids with local favorites Fox and Branch, whose latest album is Wings on My Feet. It’s really true that everyone has fun at a Fox and Branch show!

Dave Fox and Will Branch have been touring with their music for two decades. In 2017, Fox and Branch toured overseas for the first time, playing to audiences in Ireland, England and Scotland. They have been honored with four Parents Choice Recommended awards.

Saturday, April 28, 4:00 pm, at Boswell:
Scott Douglas Prill, author of From the Realm of Time

From the Realm of Time continues the saga of Roman General Marcus Augustus Valerias nine years after his climactic war with the Huns, and five years after the Romans’ catastrophic defeat at Adrianople. Valerias has retired to an estate near Milan with his wife, Claire, a former queen of the kingdom in Britannia, and their two daughters. They face religious strife in the Christian community, unrest in Claire’s former kingdom due to a usurper queen, and the pending massive invasion of Britannia by the Saxons. This is an epic story of treachery, courage, war, and love, set against an important period in world history.

From Arnold Gutkowski, former Director of Menomonee Falls Public Library, USS Liberty Public Library in Grafton, and Brown Deer Public Library: “This is a strong novel full of the strength of the Roman Army, the strength of the family, and ultimately the sacrifices made to preserve the strength of civilization… You will be thrust into this gritty, powerful, also loving, and caring ancient universe in which to live by your strength and wit can be a deadly necessity.”

Saturday, April 28, 5:30 pm, at First Unitarian Society, 1342 N Astor St in Milwaukee:
Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, authors of The Gift of Our Wounds: A Sikh and a Former White Supremacist Find Forgiveness After Hate

The First Unitarian Society presents a lecture and workshop cosponsored by Boswell about The Gift of Our Wounds, a powerful story of a friendship between two men, one Sikh and one skinhead, that resulted in an outpouring of love and a mission to fight against hate.

After the Oak Creek tragedy, Arno and Pardeep worked together to start an organization called Serve 2 Unite, which works with students to create inclusive, compassionate and nonviolent climates in their schools and communities. With New York Times bestseller Robin Gaby Fisher telling Arno and Pardeep’s story, The Gift of Our Wounds is a timely reminder of the strength of the human spirit, and the courage and compassion that reside within us all.

Arno Michaelis is the author of My Life After Hate and works with Serve 2 Unite. He has appeared on media outlets including the BBC, The New York Times, and The View. Pardeep Sigh Kaleka is a first generation immigrant, a native of Punjab, India, who grew up in Milwaukee. A former police officer and educator in Milwaukee’s inner city schools, Kaleka is a therapist specializing in holistic, trauma-informed treatment.

Registration is required for participation, at Please note there is also a registration-requested workshop after this talk.

Sunday, April 29, 3:00 pm schmooze, 4:00 pm demonstration, at City Lights Brewery, 2210 W Mount Vernon Ave:
Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern, author of The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods

The Tapestry program of the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and YJAM present a special program with Elizabeth Alpern and Jeff Yoskowitz, cofounders of Gefilteria. Their cooking demo will highlight their attempts to revive Ashkenazi cuisine. Their first cookbook includes 100-plus recipes pulled deep from the culinary histories of Eastern Europe and the diaspora community of North America, drawing inspiration from the legacies of Jewish pickle shops, bakeries, appetizing shops, dairy restaurants, delicatessens, and holiday kitchens.

Drawing inspiration from aromatic Jewish bakeries (Classic Challah with a Marble Rye Twist, Seeded Honey Rye Pull-Apart Rolls), neighborhood delis (Home-Cured Corned Beef and Pastrami, Rustic Matzo Balls, and Old World Stuffed Gefilte Fish), old-fashioned pickle shops (Crisp Garlic Dilly Beans, Ashkenazi Kimchi), and, of course, their own childhood kitchens, Yoskowitz and Alpern rediscover old-world food traditions, helping you bring simple and comforting recipes into your home.

Tickets are $15, and include admission, appetizers, a beer, and a take-home jar of pickled goodies. Register at

Liz Alpern got her start in the Jewish food world working with acclaimed cookbook author Joan Nathan. She curates and cooks for pop-up events and boutique shops. Jeffrey Yoskowitz, trained as a pickler at Adamah Foods, where he fell in love with the art of lacto-fermentation, and has worked in the food world as an entrepreneur and a consultant for small businesses. He has written on food culture for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Slate.

Monday, April 30, 7:00 pm, at The Jazz Estate, 2423 N Murray Ave:
Kurt Dietrich, author of Wisconsin Riffs: Jazz Profiles from the Heartland, with special guests The Manty Ellis Trio

The Jazz Estate and Boswell present a talk from Ripon College music professor Kurt Dietrich, followed by music from the Manty Ellis Trio. Admission is $5 at the door.

Although New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago are often considered the epicenters of American jazz, this extensive, upbeat compilation of jazz musician biographies details Wisconsin’s rich association with the genre since its inception in the early 1900s. Iconic musicians Bunny Berigan, Woody Herman, Les Paul, and Al Jarreau all hailed from Wisconsin, as have many other influential players, composers, and teachers. Wisconsin Riffs features these musicians side-by-side to portray a comprehensive history of jazz in Wisconsin.

Kurt Dietrich is a professor of music and the Barbara Baldwin DeFrees Chair in the Performing Arts at Ripon College. He is the author of Duke’s Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists, as well as numerous articles for publications including Annual Review of Jazz Studies and Black Music Research Journal. As a musician, he has performed on numerous recordings.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Boswell bestsellers, week ending April 21, 2018

We wouldn't have a bookseller without you - buying stuff that we can tabulate into this bestseller list.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
2. Raising the Dad, by Tom Matthews
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
5. The Fallen, by David Baldacci
6. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See
7. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
8. Tangerine, by Christine Mangan (#1 Indie Next Pick for April)
9. I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhon
10. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer (Pulitzer Prize winner)

The first thing I want to not is that since I have been keeping bestseller lists for first Schwartz and then Boswell, I do not recall a pop for a Richard Powers in hardcover like we had for The Overstory this week. I know we sold a lot of Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, hand-sold by Jack Covert, and we must have sold a good number of The Echo Maker, as it won the National Book Award. Ron Charles offered a rave in The Washington Post: "What makes The Overstory so fascinating is the way it talks to itself, responding to its own claims about the fate of the Earth with confirmation and contradiction. Individual stories constantly shift the novel’s setting and pace, changing registers, pushing into every cranny of these people’s lives."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. A Higher Loyalty, by James Comey
2. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris
3. Fascism, by Madeleine Albright
4. David Sedaris Diaries, by David Sedaris
5. Wife Inc, by Suzanne Leonard
6. Promise Me, Dad, by Joe Biden
7. Natural Causes, by Barbara Ehrenreich
8. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris
9. Your Story Is Your Power, by Elle Luna
10. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari

Unlike Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury, James Comey's A Higher Loyalty did not have the same sort of stock shortages. That said, it's life has probably been extended by the demand that the Justice Department release the Comey memos (Business Insider), with interesting results (New York Times). Michiko Kakutani came out of retirement to review the book for The New York Times.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See (In-Store Lit Group discussion on Mon Jun 4, 7 pm, at Boswell)
2. Frankenstein 1831 Text, by Mary Shelley
3. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
5. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
7. The Little French Bistro, by Nina George
8. My Dear Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray
9. Miss You, by Kate Eberlen
10. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katharine Arden (Books and Beer Book Club, Mon May 21, 7 pm, at Cafe Hollander)

Proving that Hamilton fever has not yet abated, Stephanie Dray's My Dear Hamilton has its best week in its third showing. Novelist Karen White compared this historical novel to Erik Larson's Dead Wake. The publisher noted that Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza's story as it's never been told before--not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal--but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right. Kathe Robbin at RT Reviews noted that "a complete and very human portrait of Eliza will resonate with today's readers."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. With One Shot, by Dorothy Marcic
2. Rock 'n' Roll Radio Milwaukee, by Bob Barry (rescheduled to Wed May 9, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. Ina's Kitchen, by Ina Pinkney
4. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris
5. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan (event at Schlitz Audubon Thu May 17, 7 pm)
6. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
7. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris
8. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
9. Naked, by David Sedaris
10. Good Food, Strong Communities, edited by Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey

Congratulations to Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Egan, whose The Death and Life of the Great Lakes hits The New York Times bestseller list at #7. It looks like this was helped by its selection as PBS NewsHour-New York Times book club for April. Here are some great discussion questions from Elizabeth Flock on the PBS web page. And here's an interview with Egan where he notes that he's probably the only reporter in America whose beat is the Great Lakes.

Books for Kids:
1. Hello, by Liza Wiemer
2. Sail Away Dragon V3, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Randy Cecil
3. Better Together, by Barbara Joosse and Anneka Lisberg
4. Avalanche, by Terry Lynn Johnson
5. Sled Dog School, by Terry Lynn Johnson
6. Lovabye Dragon V1, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Randy Cecil
7. How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens, by Paul Noth
8. Overboard, by Terry Lynn Johnson
9. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
10. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

It seemed a little late for Terry Lynn Johnson to be visiting area schools in April for books like Survivor Diaries: Avalanche and Sled Dog School, only for us to have two major snowstorms in the month. I hope you are not thinking this weather was our fault! Of Sled Dog School, Kirkus Reviews called this novel "A tale of loyalty and friendship - with a strong dose of validation for readers who learn from doing rather than books—that hits all the right notes." Watch the trailer here. And don't forget that if you're an educator, you probably want to get on the Jenny list and get the opportunity to propose author events for your school.

Here are highlights from the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page!

--Laurie Hertzel profiles Cleveland's Loganberry Books and their Stump the Bookseller website. This print-only story originally appeared in the Star Tribune. In her attempt to find the answers to the missing titles from her own childhood, Hertzel wrote: "The books we read as children make a lasting impression. Even if we can’t recall the details, we recall the feelings, and these are important. Reading these queries is heartening – so many beloved books, so many people trying to reconnect."

--Loraine Ali reviewed Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, but You Can Read Them Too, written by Louis Anderson, who plays a mom on the FX comedy Baskets. Of this role, Ali (writing for the Los Angeles Times) writes: "It’s a move that has made Anderson, 65, the latest in a long line of beloved TV moms. In playing Christine, the mother of Chip Baskets, a would-be professional clown, and his twin brother, Dale, (both portrayed by Galifianakis), Anderson has gained newfound acclaim and an Emmy for supporting actor." In his profile Anderson discussed "how channeling his mother helped him create the wonderfully nuanced Christine, deal with his own demons, and come to terms with the memory of his abusive, alcoholic father."

--Jim Higgins offers some upcoming events going on around town: Meg Wolitzer (last minute to buy tickets here), Christopher Moore, Paula McLain, Arundhati Roy, Luis Alberto Urrea, Katherine Applegate, and Jennifer Egan. The website version also includes the delightful-but-please-don't-bring-your-children-because-I-only-have-so-many-fingers-to-cover-little-one's-ears Samantha Irby on May 10.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Anita Shreve

They year started on a great note for us. Our friend Kate at Vintage called and asked if we wanted to host Anita Shreve for The Stars Are Fire in paperback. We wound up pairing with the Elm Grove Library and Friends of The Elm Grove Library (FOEGL) for an event at the Elm Grove Woman's Club.

We'd already had two wonderful events with Shreve at Boswell, for our grand opening (she was one of our three ribbon cutters, along with Elinor Lipman and Mameve Medwed) and again when her Stella Bain came out in paperback. We did that as a free event in the store and we were so excited because we had has such a successful event with Kristin Hannah the year before and pre-sales were really strong. We were going to beat our sales numbers from both previous events and nothing warms a publisher's heart more. 

What strong memories I had of Anita Shreve's previous appearances. She'd visited Harry W. Schwartz several times over the years. Back when I worked above the Whitefish Bay Book Nook, Elly and Beverly and Anne and Betsy and Jeanne were selling the heck out of Eden Close and Strange Fits of Passion

Shreve had started writing novels after years of journalism, focusing mostly on the lives of women and families. All that research prepared her for her penetrating insights in her novels. She got the credit, but I'd still call her the ghostwriter for Dr. Balter's Child Sense and its followup. Her own books included Working Woman, Women Together Women Alone, and Remaking Motherhood, which Library Journal said was recommended for academic libraries only. The book definitely hit a nerve with some reviewers, but reading the complaints now, it shows that Shreve was a bit ahead of her time. 

Later on, it was our friend Catherine who became one of Shreve's biggest bookseller advocates. As the manager of the Brookfield store, she had completely fallen in love with The Weight of Water, and was selling a ton of it. The book went on to be shortlisted for the Orange Prize (now the Women's Prize) and won the PEN/New England Winship Award. 

One of my strongest memories of our events with Shreve was when she was scheduled to visit the Brookfield Schwartz for The Pilot's Wife. Closer to the event, her publisher had to cancel because Shreve had an important appearance to make. Yes, it turned out our event conflicted with her appearance on Oprah, where Winfrey had scheduled a show about the novel being her latest book club pick?!

What to do? Well her friend Elinor Lipman had an idea. Why not reschedule the two authors together. So that they did, and what a wonderful evening it was. A bunch of booksellers got to have dinner with the two authors at Bartolotta's in Wauwatosa. I'll never forget when Lipman said, "Anita and I are knitting a baby blanket together. She's doing the dark squares and I'm doing the light ones." I paraphrase. But it still makes me laugh!

Similarly, Mameve and Elinor, and Anita went out after our grand opening with my family. We ate at Hotel Metro. One of my last correspondences with Shreve, after we booked the event and I sent her an enthusiastic note, was her asking me what the name of that cute hotel was from that memorable trip in 2009. 

Our event wound up being cancelled due to emergency surgery. I kind of knew what that meant. And as you know, Shreve passed away on March 29. 

I always felt that when Meg Wolitzer* talked about the different ways we judge men and women writers, Shreve was one of those women who got short shrift. Even though Shreve would sometimes be pigeonholed, I really felt that while she was often examining the same themes, making sense of her world view through writing (like so many great writers), she made a number of creative leaps in terms of time, structure, and perspective. And for a writer who could sometimes get a novel a year, her words were always carefully chosen. It never felt like she rushed.

I wound up reading 12 of her novels and have a fondness for many of them, but after our event was cancelled but before her death, I had put The Last Time They Met on my recommendation shelf. Yes, one of my friends said she threw it against the wall at the end because of the twist, but I really liked that. Very Ian McEwan-y.

For my colleague Jane, it was the quartet of novels set in the same house which she returned to again and again - Fortune's Rocks, The Pilot's Wife, Sea Glass, and Body Surfing. Jane always hoped that Shreve would tell the story of the nuns who originally lived in the home, but unless there's a manuscript hidden in a chest, that tale will have to be written by someone else. 

It can be so hard to say goodbye to someone you lose, but the nice thing about writers is that they leave something behind. I've been remiss in putting up our memorial table, but I promise I'll get to it today.

*Meg Wolitzer in conversation with Jane Hamilton on April 23. Last chance for tickets

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bob Barry event postponed due to weather - new date is Wednesday, May 9, 7 pm

Alas, we had to postpone our event with Bob Barry tonight! The weather is a mess and Bob was driving in from quite a bit a ways. Who would have guessed that our first weather cancellation would be in April. Is this even the season anymore?

Our event for Rock 'n' Roll Radio Milwaukee is now rescheduled for Wednesday, May 9, 7 pm. We apologize for the inconvenience, but hope we kept a number of you safe at home.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dorothy Marcic, panel discussion with Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, Tom Matthews, Bob Barry, Lisa See, Suzanne Leonard, David Sedaris, Meg Wolitzer

With Sunday's weather mess behind us, here's this week's book scoop. And we're hoping for calm skies and warmer temperatures.

Monday, April 16, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Dorothy Marcic, author of With One Shot: Family Murder and a Search for Justice

From noted playwright, theatrical producer, and Waukesha native Dorothy Marcic comes a true crime story from her own life. The victim’s lonely widow confessed to the coldblooded murder. But Marcic suspected a more sinister tale at the heart of her beloved uncle’s violent death.

The brutal murder of LaVerne "Vernie" Stordock, a respected family man and former police detective, shocked his Wisconsin community. On the surface, the case seemed closed with the confession of Stordock’s wife, Suzanne. But the trail of secrets and lies that began with his death did not end with his widow’s insanity plea.In 2014, Marcic embarked on a two-year mission to uncover the truth. In the bestselling tradition of Ann Rule and M. William Phelps, With One Shot tells a tale of unmet justice and the truth behind a shocking family tragedy.

From Amanda Finn in the Wisconsin State Journal: "Between court documents and Suzanne’s less than one year stay in a psychiatric hospital, Marcic had her doubts that she knew the truth about what happened on that night in 1970. So when Marcic’s cousin, and Stordock’s daughter Shannon Stordock Hecht, discovered Suzanne and her family were living in Tennessee in 2014, they knew they had to find them. For the next two and half years Marcic got her hands on every document, newspaper clipping and person she could find that was even remotely attached to Suzanne and LaVerne in hopes that she would find the truth."

Dorothy Marcic is a playwright and theatrical producer whose productions include SISTAS, which has been running Off Broadway for six years. An adjunct professor at Columbia University, Marcic was formerly a Fulbright Scholar at University of Economics in Prague and a professor at Vanderbilt University. Her other books include Understanding Management and Respect: Women and Popular Music.

Tuesday, April 17, 6:00 pm, at UWM Fireside Lounge (the old Kenwood Inn), 2200 E Kenwood Blvd, 3rd floor:
Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, coeditors of Good Food, Strong Communities: Promoting Social Justice Through Local and Regional Food Systems , along with Greg Lawless of University of Wisconsin Extension, Monica Theis of UW-Madison, and Erika Allen of Urban Growers Collective

As part of UWM Earth Week, the UWM Office of Sustainability and The UWM Food Center and Pantry present a talk, panel discussion, and reception. Authors from the book will read excerpts from their chapters with a question-and-answer period hosted by UWM students studying food systems change. The event will be bookended by a reception to share local foods with the authors and community food organizations.

Good Food, Strong Communities shares ideas and stories about efforts to improve food security in large urban areas of the United States by strengthening community food systems. It draws on five years of collaboration between a research team comprised of the University of Wisconsin, Growing Power, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and more than 30 organizations on the front lines of this work from Boston to Cedar Rapids.

Steve Ventura is the Gaylord Nelson Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is also the director of the Land Tenure Center in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Martin Bailkey has served as outreach and program coordinator for Growing Power and coproject manager of the Community and Regional Food Systems Project.

Tuesday, April 17, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Tom Matthews, author of Raising the Dad

We've really been enjoying Tom Matthews's second novel, Raising the Dad. Here's Chris Lee with more about the book: "This one's a charmer. John's marriage has cooled, his goth-leaning daughter thinks her dad a doofus, his mother's losing her marbles, and his heavy-metal washout of a brother is just out of jail, again. John's barely holding it together as-is. Then a man from his past shows up with a secret about John's long-dead father, who maybe isn't exactly so dead. With moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, cringe-inducing awkward, and oh-no gasp sad, this novel's a great story about a man who no longer knows exactly how to get by and about family bonds that will bend but, with a little luck, won't break under the strain of a world gone crazy."

From WUWM's Lake Effect: "When Matthews was 10-years-old, his father died. Years later, he had a dream where a close family friend told him his father was still alive, but due to the massive trauma, his father's personality had changed. The book explores how the protagonist and other family members process that development."

Milwaukee-based Tom Matthews wrote the Costa-Gavras film Mad City, starring Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta. And yes, it was originally set in Madison. His satirical novel Like We Care was published in 2014. Matthews’s writing has appeared in Milwaukee Magazine, Creative Screenwriting, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he is also an essayist on Milwaukee Public Radio’s Lake Effect.

Wednesday, April 18, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Bob Barry, author of Rock 'n' Roll Radio Milwaukee: Stories from the Fifth Beatle

Bob Barry ruled Milwaukee’s airwaves in the ’60s and ’70s. The only time the Beatles performed there, Barry introduced them to the audience, and he was the only local personality who spent time in private with the Fab Four. If a band or musician came to town, he met them with a microphone, whether it was Chuck Berry, the Animals, or The Rolling Stones.

His popular “Bob Barry Calls the World” segment entertained thousands with cold calls to famous personalities, including Bob Hope, Sophia Loren, Elton John, and Cher. Through it all, Barry maintained a calm and fun-loving demeanor, even when mocked by the WOKY Chicken or nearly eaten by wolves on the air.

Packed with never-before-seen photos, this revealing memoir recalls the iconic DJ’s many celebrity encounters, his career highlights and setbacks, and the hijinks that made Milwaukee radio rock.

Bob Barry is best remembered as a legendary Milwaukee disc jockey and TV personality. During his career, he received numerous industry awards, chief among them Billboard Magazine Top 40 Air Personality of the Year in 1975. In 2001, Bob was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Thursday, April 19, 7:00 pm, at at UWM Golda Meir Library, 2311 E Hartford Ave:
Lisa See, author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Friends of the UWM Golda Meir Library presents an evening with Lisa See, the featured speaker of their annual meeting. Her latest, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, is a moving novel about tradition, tea farming, and the bonds between mothers and daughters. This event is free and does not require registration. Join us at the Fourth Floor Conference Center. Parking is available at the UWM Union and Klotsche Pavilion parking garages.

From Helen Simonson in The Washington Post: "Just as properly aged tea from ancient trees has both flavor and a “returning taste,” so this story balances moving on with returning home. Both Li-yan and Haley must ultimately reconcile where they come from with who they are now, and they must compromise with the flaws of family and tradition if they wish to reclaim their roots. A lush tale infused with clear-eyed compassion, this novel will inspire reflection, discussion and an overwhelming desire to drink rare Chinese tea."

Anita Felicelli in the San Francisco Chronicle writes: "The central appeal of Tea Girl is women’s relationships to their mothers and friends. See breathes life into a hidden world to which many of her readers don’t have access, just as she’s done in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls and her many other Chinese historical novels. Snow Flower, for example, revealed 19th century Hunan Province, a world in which a secret script, nu shu, was developed for women, and where some young girls were paired with emotional matches that stayed with them through their lives. The hidden world there served as a resonant backdrop for a heartbreaking tale about the shifting fortunes of two friends."

In addition to her novels, Lisa See is author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003.

Friday, April 20, 2:00 pm, at UWM Curtin Hall 368, 3243 N Downer Ave:
Suzanne Leonard, author of Wife, Inc.: The Business of Marriage in the Twenty-First Century.

Boswell is selling books for Suzanne Leonard’s talk, “Rethinking the 21st Century ‘Wife-Cycle’: From Online Dating to the Campaign Trail.” Suzanne Leonard, Associate Professor of English at Simmons College, will discuss her book, Wife Inc., as well as current issues surrounding gender and media. She is also the author of Fatal Attraction, a critical study of the 1987 film, and co-editor of Fifty Hollywood Directors. She received her PhD in Literary Studies from UWM in 2005.

Of the book, Diane Negra of University College Dublin notes: "Suzanne Leonard’s brilliant, timely book elucidates the new stakes of wifehood in early 21st century culture, unpacking it as a status category, a state of risk and a mode of female labor that demands critical reflection, and the kind of fresh take that she is ideally suited to provide.”

This event is cosponsored by the Center for 21st Century Studies. More info here.

Friday, April 20, 8:00 pm, at Riverside Theater, 116 W Wisconsin Ave:
WUWM 89.7 presents David Sedaris - Tickets available here.

He's back! David Sedaris, essayist, memoirist, and English countryside trash picker upper, offers a not-to-be-missed evening. This is month 11 of the Theft by Finding Tour, and it's likely Sedaris will be previewing Calypso, his new collection of essays releasing May 29. It's already winning raves - Kirkus Reviews gives his newest a starred review: "Bad news has sharpened the author's humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it's increasingly filled with Trump and funerals. Sedaris at his darkest--and his best."

As always, Sedaris will be signing for fans. Boswell will be selling books in the lobby, but you are always welcome to bring your own books from home to be signed. Please note that tax and fees are extra and the ticket does not include a book.

Monday, April 23, 7:00 pm, at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 1111 E Brown Deer Rd:
A ticketed event with Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion, in conversation with Jane Hamilton

You know that two weeks after this event you're going to be hitting your head against the wall that you didn't see Meg Wolitzer in conversation with Jane Hamilton. This is going to be a great night! Limited to 125 seats. We're more than halfway there to sellout.

Maureen Corrigan reviewed the book for NPR's Fresh Air: "The Female Persuasion also makes a strong case for critic Lionel Trilling's theory that the novel of ideas is a critical tool against overconfidence - particularly the blithe overconfidence of smart people (radical, liberal or conservative) who think they've arrived at readily satisfying solutions to political and personal questions. As Wolitzer dramatizes, life isn't that straightforward and art shouldn't be either."

And you must read this column by Michelle Dean in The New Republic: "Do young feminists really apprentice to older feminists in the way Greer latches on to Faith, these days? I’m not sure. It has often seemed to me that young women now deliberately avoid knowing much about their forebears. They dismiss the “liberal second wave” as a relic, often having little idea of what the second wave actually was or what it stood for. They think of themselves as more enlightened on any number of fronts: sexually, racially, economically. They use the word 'intersectional' often, as a way of signifying this. And because they have their own set of foundational texts so readily available on the internet—in blogs, on Twitter, on Tumblr - the desire for mentorship has somewhat receded."

Tickets are $30 and include admission, parking, and a copy of The Female Persuasion. Tickets are available at A portion of all ticket sales will be donated back to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. While there is no gift card option for this event, don’t forget that The Female Persuasion makes a great gift for birthday, graduation, Mother's Day, do I say it, Fathers Day, and it also would be a welcome donation to your favorite school, library, or nonprofit. It's only eight months to Christmas or Hanukkah and this is your opportunity to get a book personalized.

More events on our upcoming event page. Please note the blog is proofread post-publication. Apologies in advance! And if you spot an error, let me know! -Daniel