Monday, April 2, 2018

Event alert: Liam Callanan launch with Alliance Française, John Dear at First Unitarian Society, David B. Bohl, Paul vW. Dáil and Friends, Paul Noth, Kwame Alexander, and Susan Meissner at the Lynden Sculpture Garden

What's going on? Answers below.

Tuesday, April 3, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book

This event is cosponsored by Alliance Française de Milwaukee and will feature light refreshments of a celebratory nature. Note that AF is celebrating 100 years in Milwaukee in 2018!

The Eiffel Tower is built. The balloons are ordered. Paris by the Book goes on sale tomorrow, and we're celebrating!

Here's Callanan talking to Lindsey Anderson of Milwaukee Magazine about the novel's inspiration: "I was researching an article for the Wall Street Journal about letting your kids guide you through Paris with the help of children’s books. For almost a week, my daughters did just that, until the last day, when they were so exhausted they just wanted to sit or lie down.

"We found a tiny English language bookstore, and that’s just what they did, flop down in the children’s corner of the store while we talked with the owner. It turned out that she was on the verge of closing, or selling, the business, and half-jokingly asked us if we’d like to buy the store. We half-seriously thought about it, and in the end decided we just couldn’t. But when I got home, I decided we could – that is, I could write about a fictional family who came to own a bookstore in Paris.

"Discovering the reason why, how, when took longer. Indeed, the book’s a bit of a mystery in no small part because how it would end was a mystery to me as I wrote my way through. I was surprised by the result. But when I look back at that visit to the store, the owner’s offer, I’m not sure what surprises me more – that we half-considered it, or that we didn’t take her up on the spot."

Milwaukee’s Liam Callanan is a novelist, teacher, and journalist, whose first novel, The Cloud Atlas, was a finalist for an Edgar Award. In 2017, he was awarded the George W. Hunt S.J. Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts and  Letters, which seeks to recognize the finest work of Roman Catholic intelligence and imagination. Callanan is an Associate Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and also teaches at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers

Tuesday, April 3, 7:00 pm, at First Unitarian Society, 1342 N Astor St in Milwaukee:
John Dear, author of They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change

This event is sponsored by Earth Justice Ministry of First Unitarian Society. Boswell will be selling books at this event. The sponsors have informed us that there is enough room for last minute registrations: Visit

Wednesday, April 4, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
David B. Bohl, author of Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth

In his new memoir, Milwaukee-based independent addiction consultant David B. Bohl reveals the inner turmoil and broad spectrum of warring emotions - shame, anger, triumph, shyness, pride - he experienced growing up as a relinquished boy. Adopted at birth by a prosperous family, Bohl battled throughout his earlier years to keep up a good front and surpass expectations as he tried desperately to fit in. Despite a life of success, he became dependent on pills and alcohol.

Not until David marries and has children of his own does he feel compelled to search for his birth parents to discover if genetics played a role in the well-being of his offspring. ‘Baby Boy Bender,’ as he was labeled in the adoption papers, had been born to a woman who struggled with alcoholism and an athlete who later died of a brain tumor.

Alcohol once controlled his life; it was his sole coping skill. But slowly he discovered that the process helped him heal. As Bohl says, “My hope is that my story and my experiences can give others the courage to find their own way and to go beyond the struggles that they may be carrying with them.”

Thursday, April 5, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Paula vW. Dáil, coeditor, and Janine Geske, Sandra Callaghan, Kathy Steffens, contributors to We Rise to Resist: Voices from a New Era in Women's Political Action

On January 21, 2017, millions of women (and men) across America marched in protest. Millions more around the world joined them in the first mass action of a new women's political resistance movement. This collection of essays and interviews presents 36 voices in this emerging movement discussing a range of topics - activism, healthcare, education, LGBTQIA issues, the environment, and other concerns that affect the political and cultural environment now and in the future.

Paula vW. Dáil, PhD is a professor emerita of Social Welfare and Public Policy. She was founding director of the Center for the Study of Poverty at Virginia Tech University and director of the Child Welfare Research and Homelessness Research Projects at Iowa State University. Widely published in the social sciences, she is the author of numerous scholarly works and general public media statements regarding social welfare and public policy issues.

Janine P. Geske, J.D. is a retired Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and world-wide legal authority on restorative justice. She was a Marquette University Distinguished Professor, occupying the Association of Marquette University Women's Chair in Humanistic Studies an interim dean of the Law School.

Sandra J. Callaghan, based in the Milwaukee area, is a retired union steward and unit vice-chairperson and served as president of her local school board for three years.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist based in rural Southwest Wisconsin. She speaks at writing programs across the country and teaches fiction through the University of Wisconsin Extension program.

Sunday, April 8, 3:00 pm, at Boswell:
Paul Noth, author and illustrator of How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens

Milwaukee native turned New Yorker cartoonist Noth now presents his first book for readers eight and up. This wonderfully madcap adventure, the first in a series, is full of lovable (and weird) characters and is told in a seamless blend of text and illustration.

Boswell's Daniel Goldin (this is the blog so I can say that's me!) is a fan: "Happy Conklin, Jr, is not exactly happy. His father is a scientific genius whose breakthroughs have been runaway infomercial successes. The only problem is that his evil grandma controls all the money and keeps the Hap and his family confined to two rooms in the dungeon. Because Grandma is against animal testing, she uses the Conklin kids as her guinea pigs, which is why Hap has a beard he has to shave every day, the result of an ill-conceived product called That’s One Handsome Baby. Yes, this illustrated middle-grade story involves many crazy inventions, fighting siblings, a blood-thirsty wrestler, and aliens, and it’s very, very silly. And yes, there are a few lessons here too, most notably to always read the fine print!"

Paul Noth grew up in Milwaukee. He is now a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, where his work has appeared regularly since 2004. Paul created the Emmy nominated animated series Pale Force for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He has developed programming for Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, and Adult Swim, and is the creative director of a forthcoming series of educational comic books for the New York Federal Reserve Bank. His original artwork is displayed in several museums and galleries around the world.

Monday, April 9, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Kwame Alexander, author of Rebound, accompanied by musician Randy Preston

This event is now cosponsored by Stillwater Collective. Registration is requested at If we reach capacity, priority will be given to folks who have pre-registered. Alexander’s latest novel is recommended to readers ten and up.

Before Josh and Jordan Bell, the heroes of The Crossover, were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz-music-worshiping basketball star his sons look up to. Rebound goes back in time to one pivotal summer when young Charlie is sent to stay with his grandparents where he discovers basketball and learns more about his family's past.

Here's Meghan Cox Gurdon recent roundup of kids books in The Wall Street Journal. She called Rebound an affecting novel of rebirth that includes comic strips from Dawud Aynabwile.

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the bestselling author of 24 books, including Booked, Out of Wonder, and the YA novel Solo. He is the winner of the 2018 Pat Conroy Legacy Award.

Monday, April 9, 7:00 pm reception, 7:30 talk, at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd in River Hills:
Susan Meissner, author of As Bright as Heaven

The Women’s Speaker Series, produced by Milwaukee Reads, presents Susan Meissner, the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean. Meissner's new novel, set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, features a family reborn through loss and love. Tickets for this event are $30, $25 for members, and include admission to the event, refreshments from MKE Localicious, and a copy of As Bright as Heaven. Visit or call (414) 446-8794 for more info.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters - Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa - a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without, and what they are willing to do about it.

Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Fall of Marigolds, Stars over Sunset Boulevard, and other novels.

Please see our upcoming event page for more exciting programs.

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