Monday, August 27, 2018

Two Chris picks for the week of August 27: Rebecca Makkai on August 28 and James R. Gapinski on August 30

We've got two events this week and both books have the special seal of approval from marketeer Chris Lee.

Tuesday, August 28, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers, in conversation with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich

The acclaimed author of The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House returns to Boswell for a special evening of conversation about her latest, a dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy, set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris. For this event, Makkai will be in conversation with Mitch Teich, the award-winning Executive Producer of WUWM’s Lake Effect.

Here's what Boswellian Chris Lee has to say about this epic novel: "The Great Believers is the kind of book that reminds me why I love reading in the first place, a book that lets you live a part of someone else's life. It's the kind of book that throws open the door of a world and welcomes you inside. It's about Yale Tishman in Chicago in the 80s, as his art world career begins to take off, watching his friends - his family (one genius conceit of the novel is the family saga structure Makkai uses to tell these friends' story) - decimated by the AIDS crisis during its American height. And there's a second storyline, 30 years on, as Yale's dear friend Fiona searches for her runaway daughter in Paris, pulling old friends back into her orbit as she comes to terms with the toll of losing those closest to her decades before - there's a devastating understanding in this book that the damage of PTSD comes from more than one kind of war. This is a beautiful, heart wrenching, and true novel."

Chris isn't the only believer in Rebecca Makkai's third novel, which has received raves from Daniel and Lynn in house. For example, Michael Cunningham in The New York Times Book Review wrote: "The Great Believers is peppered with surprises, a minor wonder in a narrative so rife with dreadfully foregone conclusions. As is true of many good novels, writing about it requires considerable navigation around spoilers. Suffice it to say that in the mid-80s sections the grim reaper runs rampant, but there’s no telling who’ll be felled and who’ll be spared. The 2015 sections are, in their way, a detective story. How, after all, does a mother locate her adult daughter, knowing only that she’s somewhere in Paris?"

In addition to her novels, Makkai is also the author of the story collection Music for Wartime. Her work has appeared in several Best American anthologies as well as Tin House, Ploughshares, and Harper’s.

Thursday, August 30, 7:00 PM, at Boswell:
James R. Gapinksi, author of Edge of the Known Bus Line.

Former Milwaukeean James Gapinski catches a ride to Boswell with his newest book, Edge of the Known Bus Line, winner of the Etchings Press novella prize.

Here's Chris's take on Edge of the Known Bus Line: "A horrible little adventure, funny, dark, and weird, just the way I like 'em. On her way home from a shift at the deli, our heroine is left for dead in a mud-caked shantytown where depressed cannibals worship the prophecy of a probably imaginary bus. It's the kind of scene I used to dream up on deliriously hot summer camp days, out in the woods, staring at the sun, imagining a band of people cut off society, trying to make sense of it all while also trying to stay alive. It's a story about survival, about holding onto hope against all odds that there's someday an escape from the life you've been dropped into, about the way that hope alienates you, and about the monster you might become. And it's about tripping on psychedelic spider venom. This one goes by fast, but it sticks with you and leaves you thinking, maybe being a monster isn't the worst thing."

Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels, says, “this is a bus we’ve all been on, and this is a town we all carry around with us. The only question is: will James R. Gapinski let us out where we want, or where we deserve?”

James R. Gapinski is author of Messiah Tortoise, a collection of linked flashes, and his work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Word Riot, and Juked. He is Managing Editor of The Conium Review, holds an MFA from Goddard College, and an MA from Prescott College. While in Milwaukee, he worked with acclaimed poet Margaret Rozga.

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