Thursday, September 19, 2019

A post about Alice Hoffman's The World That We Knew and her upcoming visit to Milwaukee

Here’s the setup for Alice Hoffman’s latest novel, The World That We Knew, which goes on sale September 24*. The story starts in Berlin, where a widow senses the grim future they will have under Nazi control, particularly after her husband's murder. Hanni can't leave, as this would mean abandoning her elderly mother, but maybe there’s hope for her daughter Lea. They know that their Rabbi has been experimenting with golems. Hanni is Orthodox, she can only talk to the rabbi’s wife, who refuses to help. On leaving, she is confronted by the Rabbi’s daughter Ettie, who has been spying on her father and might know how to make a golem. As part of her payment, Ettie wants a train ticket out of Germany too, for her and her sister Marta. The golem is created, with the task of taking care of Lea. Ettie warns Hanni that the golem, named Ava, must be destroyed when Lea is safe, or it will become too powerful and destructive. And the escape begins.

What a great book! But this is not the first book I’ve read by Alice Hoffman, nor my second. The history goes back a bit further than that, more than thirty years. And I know exactly when I came to read Hoffman and when my enthusiasm jumped to another level because in my twenties, I started writing down every book I read. I felt so bad about having started so late, but now I kind of laugh about that. Soon after starting as a bookseller, I began to create a monthly list, not just ranking but reviewing the books I read, and then I’d mail the list out to friends. It was Booklist, but not the one from the American Library Association. In 1987, I still worked on the floor of the Iron Block Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop. It was my Booklist, and I'm sure Stephen McCauley was thrilled to hear that The Object of My Affection was the #1 book for its month.

#1 for August was the first novel I read by Alice Hoffman. Illumination Night takes place on Martha’s Vineyard and follows a number of characters – a middle-aged woman who won’t leave her home, a nearly blind grandmother struggling with her delinquent granddaughter. And, as I note, “a giant who grows vegetables, with a penchant for the romantic.” At one point I wrote “Hoffman gets compared a lot to Anne Tyler and Louise Erdrich and will someday be a bestselling author – perhaps in twenty years?’

It took less time than that. She followed up with At Risk, a novel about a young gymnast who contacts AIDS from a blood transfusion. It was an earnest effort, but I thought that maybe we were going to end the relationship after two dates. I was wrong. Seventh Heaven was my #1 book for July 1990 (a really good year for reading!) and I noted that it more than fulfilled the promise of Illumination Night for me. Set in a Long Island subdivision, it features a shrinking boy, a young woman hiding out in the Lord & Taylor (Abraham & Strauss is also featured in the book – two department stores in one novel!), and at least one love triangle.

I loved Seventh Heaven, and what was even more fun, so did many of my bookseller colleagues at the Book Nook in Whitefish Bay. This was handselling at its most enjoyable. “Take this book and fall in love.” It’s one of my favorite things to do as a bookseller still, which I’m sure you’ve guessed. I’m pretty sure that Seventh Heaven was also Hoffman’s first New York Times bestseller. It also has one of my favorite hardcover treatments, from Fred Marcellino, whose most famous work is likely the iconic hardcover illustration for The Handmaid's Tale.** Here's the original Publishers Weekly review.

While Hoffman has often dropped ultra-realistic novels, it was really the ones with a little supernatural that I took to. I’m not a fantasy person, and that’s not what they read like. They are more like domestic magical realism, coined after the South American writers of the sixties and seventies that specialized in this sort of thing. Many of her books would feature what appeared to be werewolves, ghosts, and witches, the last of which is from Practical Magic, which is one of her better selling backlist titles, due to the movie adaptation.

I went back and read her first four novels, and discovered another of my favorites, Fortune’s Daughter, about a fortune teller who actually has the gift. I noticed that her work had softened a bit with age, which is not that unusual. Anne Tyler’s first novel is also kind of raw. And I continued to read each novel as it came out for many years. But eventually it came to a point where I was now often reading three books a month where I once read nine. So while I’d love to say I’ve read all 35 of Hoffman’s novels, I can’t say that. But 20 is good, right? I can’t think of too many other authors where I’ve read so much.

At about the time Boswell opened, Hoffman had a bit of a change of course. She started writing in a more traditionally historical genre. There was The Dovekeepers, a Biblical tale, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set on the Lower East Side, and The Marriage of Opposites, which to my knowledge, is her only adult novel that focuses on a real historic figure, the mother of artist Camille Pissarro. This was one of Jane’s favorites, and we went on to sell more than 100 copies of this book. Like most independent bookstores, we have a lot of customers who like narratives set in the art world, and if you find a good one, you can run with it.

I’m so thrilled we’re hosting Alice Hoffman for the first time through Boswell. This is bucket list territory! We’ve teamed up with the Harry and Rose Samson Jewish Community Center, the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Research Center, and ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis) as cosponsors. We had actually looked at hosting Hoffman in the bookstore for a previous novel, but it didn’t come together. I had been talking to Laurie at the JCC, who told me that they would love, love, love to host Hoffman. And when The World That We Knew was announced, I saw that it would be of great interest to JCC patrons, as well as HERC, another of our regular partners. I had been chatting with ABCD about doing something, as Hoffman has been a strong advocate of breast cancer awareness and documented her story in a nonfiction book called Survival Lessons. Sadly, this book went out of stock just as we were putting together marketing for this event. 

One of the things that I love about The World That We Knew is that I can see all the themes that you can see a clear through line from Hoffman’s earlier novels to her present work. - the tension between mothers and daughters, the risks and rewards of first love, and that there is magic in the world, and you must know the rules, but sometimes you have to break them to get what you want. Whether you’ve liked Hoffman’s earlier works or her more recent historical fiction, The World That We Knew blends both together. The truth is that I could write for several more hours about Alice Hoffman – such an important part of my life. I might say a few more words and some point. But for now, The World That We Knew goes on sale September 24. More information about the September 26 ticketed event on the JCC website, which some would say is 32 years in the making!

*I feel like maybe I should have listed the event ticket link up front, which is jccmilwaukee.org/arts-ideas/alicehoffman/.

**I think at one point, I actually chose what to read based on whether it had a Fred Marcellino jacket.



Monday, September 16, 2019

Boswell events for the week of September 16-22 (with a preview of September 23) - Scott Westerfeld, Lynn Cullen, Michael Bauman with Ron Wolf, Sarah Seo, Chris Fink, R Richard Wagner, Matthew Farina and Doug Salati, Jacqueline Woodson

Monday, September 16, 7 pm reception, 7:30 pm talk, at Lynden Sculpture Garden:
Lynn Cullen, author of The Sisters of Summit Avenue

The Lynden Sculpture Garden’s Women’s Speaker Series produced by Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company present the author's latest novel about two estranged sisters during the Great Depression.

Tickets cost $31, $26 for Lynden members, and include admission, a signed copy of The Sisters of Summit Avenue, and light refreshments. Come early and stroll the garden grounds. Online ticket sales have ended, but seats may still be available at (414) 446-8794. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 W Brown Deer Rd, just west of I-43.

Ruth is raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm since her husband was infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. Her older sister, June, is married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul, and has a coveted job as one of “the Bettys” who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But she has no children, and the man she loves belongs to Ruth. When the two reluctantly reunite, June’s bitterness sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which could dismantle the entire family.

Monday, September 16, 7 pm, at UWM Student Union Fireside Lounge:
Scott Westerfeld, author of Shatter City: Impostors Book 2:

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the Uglies series, translated into 35 languages, returns to Milwaukee for Shatter City, the follow up to Impostors, a new sci-fi adventure series set in the world of The Uglies. This Geek Week preview event is cosponsored by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Involvement and Boswell Book Company.

The UWM Student Union Fireside Lounge is at 2200 E Kenwood Ave, Campus Level (one floor above Kenwood). Free registration until 2 pm at westerfeldmke.bpt.me. We should have enough space to accommodate walk ups.

Twin sisters Frey and Rafi are inseparable, two edges of the same knife. But Frey's very existence is a secret. Frey isn’t just Rafi’s twin sister – she’s her body double. When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Now Frey's taken on the role of her sister without anyone else knowing. Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her. But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare - because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father.

Wednesday, September 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Bauman, author of Ron Wolf and the Green Bay Packers: Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, Reggie White, and the Pack's Return to Glory in the 1990s, with special guest Ron Wolf

The Green Bay Packers turned 100 this year, and just like the rest of Wisconsin, we want to celebrate all season! We're pleased to host Michael Bauman, former sports columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in conversation with special guest Ron Wolf, former Packers General Manager and subject of Bauman's new book

Please register for free at baumanwolfmke.bpt.me. You can also upgrade to a copy of Ron Wolf and the Green Bay Packers for $24.70, including tax and ticketing fee. Books will also be available for sale at this event, but please note, special prices are for preorders only. Please see website for limitations on returns.

Bauman and Wolf will chat about the years when Wolf brought victory back to the Pack. With Wolf in charge, the Packers never had a losing season. One of the greatest NFL GM's of all time, his legacy continues to influence professional football.

Wednesday, September 18, 7 pm, at UWM Golda Meir Library Fourth Floor Conference Center:
R Richard Wagner, author of We’ve Been Here All Along: Wisconsin’s Early Gay History.

R Richard Wagner presents his volume of history of the gay community’s roots in Wisconsin and throughout the upper Midwest. Cosponsored by UWM Library, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and Boswell. There will also be an exhibit featuring source materials for the book drawn from the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society and the UWM Libraries. The UWM Golda Meir Library is located at 2311 E Hartford Ave.

Wagner, who was the first openly gay member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, draws on historical research and materials from his own extensive archive to uncover previously hidden stories of gay Wisconsinites. This book honors their legacy and confirms that they have been foundational to the development and evolution of the state since its earliest days.

Thursday, September 19, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Sarah A Seo, author of Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom

University of Iowa Associate Professor of Law Sarah A Seo chronicles how the rise of the car, the symbol of American personal freedom, inadvertently led to ever more intrusive policing, with disastrous consequences for racial equality in our criminal justice system. Cosponsored by the UWM Urban Studies Program.

Before the twentieth century, most Americans rarely came into contact with police officers. But with more and more drivers behind the wheel, police departments rapidly expanded their forces and increased officers’ authority to stop citizens who violated traffic laws. Constitutional challenges to traffic stops have largely failed, and motorists “driving while black” have little recourse to question police demands. Seo shows how procedures designed to safeguard us on the road ultimately undermined the nation’s commitment to equal protection before the law.

Friday, September 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Chris Fink, author of Add This to the List of Things That You Are

UWM Creative Writing PhD graduate and Professor of English at Beloit College, Chris Fink appears at Boswell with his new collection of short stories. Fink edits the Beloit Fiction Journal and is author of the novel Farmer’s Almanac.

Fink’s collection of stories features authentic Midwesterners with a lot of conflicts under their seemingly sunny exterior who suffer through the challenges of their lives. Fink’s characters want to flee hometowns yet feel out of place among the urbane.

A man can no longer face the cabin he shared with his ex and flees home, then around the world. People dream of free Cubs tickets, but once they arrive, watch in dismay as the twenties peel away from their wallets. Fink’s stories touch on alcoholism, violence, and the self-doubts of minds cultivated during long, shut-in winters.


Saturday, September 21, 11 am, at Boswell:
Matthew Farina and Doug Salati, author and illustrator of Lawrence in the Fall

It’s a fall-themed Saturday storytime with Waukesha native and author Matthew Farina and illustrator Doug Salati, who will present their beautiful picture book about a young fox who explores the changing forest in fall.

When Lawrence Fox's teacher announces that students will be presenting their collections at show-and-tell, Lawrence realizes he doesn't have anything to share. Luckily, Papa knows just what to do to help. Together, they venture into the woods. Lawrence is scared at first, but as he grows comfortable in the forest, he starts to recognize its magic, and how beautiful and unique each tree and leaf is, allowing him to gather a splendid, one-of-a-kind collection of his own!

Matthew Farina is a painter and writer whose reviews and essays have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, ArtCritical, and elsewhere. Matthew received a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. Doug Salati received his MFA from the Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts and was a 2015 Sendak Fellow. He is also the illustrator of In a Small Kingdom by Tomie dePaola.

Monday, September 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
The Rose Petranech Lecture, featuring Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone, in conversation with Dasha Kelly Hamilton

We're so pleased to announce that National Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson will be appearing at Boswell Book Company for the Rose Petranech Lecture with her new novel, Red at the Bone. Woodson will be in conversation with Milwaukee writer, performer, and creative change agent Dasha Kelly Hamilton (below left). Tickets are $28, include admission, a copy of Red at the Bone, and all taxes and fees, available at woodsonmke.bpt.me.


Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson’s extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.

From RO Kwon in the just-released New York Times review: "Woodson has written more than two dozen books, many of them award-winning; in 2014, she won the National Book Award for young people’s literature for her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. She is also a four-time National Book Award finalist and a two-time N.A.A.C.P. Image Award winner, a beloved writer with millions of copies of her books in print. Red at the Bone is her second novel* for adults, with urgent, vital insights into questions of class, gender, race, history, queerness and sex in America."

In addition to our general admission, Boswell will be working with several community groups to broaden the audience that would not normally be able to attend such an event. We're grateful to Kate Petranech, who is helping us facilitate this outreach, in honor of her late, book-loving sister, Rose Petranech.

More at the Boswell Upcoming Events page.

*I think it's her third.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

What's selling at Boswell this week? - September 8-14, 2019

What's been selling at Boswell?

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
2. This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger
3. A Better Man, by Louise Penny
4. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
5. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
6. The Institute, by Stephen King
7. Quichotte, by Salman Rushdie
8. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
9. Fly Already, by Etgar Keret
10. The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott

You might have heard that The Testaments, Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale came out last week. You might even know someone who got it early. We sold ours on time. It might be the best first week for a non-event hardcover fiction release this year - I should verify that. Meanwhile, Julie Myserson writes in The Guardian: "Given all of this history – and the fact that for 35 years fans have apparently been begging for answers to a host of Gilead-related questions – it’s not surprising that The Testaments feels as eagerly awaited as a handmaid’s bouncing baby. If ever a novelist could justify the spawning of a sequel, Atwood can."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Something Deeply Hidden, by Sean Carroll
2. For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig
3. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, by Caitlin Doughty
4. Our History Is the Future, by Nick Estes
5. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
6. Educated, by Tara Westover
7. She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
8. The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power
9. Lifespan, by David A Sinclair
10. Epic Bike Rides of the Americas, by Lonely Planet

Caitlin Doughty ran a very successful preorder campaign for indie bookstores on Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs - folks also got a Doughty pin! If we run out, we'll have more on October 20 when Doughty interviews Landis Blair for The Envious Siblings. Register at landisblairmke.bpt.me. Margaret Wappler writes in the Los Angeles Times: "After graduating from mortuary school, she opened her own funeral home, wrote two memoirs, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity, and developed a web series, Ask a Mortician, where she educates the morbidly curious (ahem, all of us) on such taboo topics as necrophilia and sewing a mouth shut. Her approach is wickedly funny, all while packing in concrete information. In her new book, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Doughty answers the frank queries of teenagers and other kids..."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
2. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
3. The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald
4. Madame Bovary, by Gustav Flaubert
5. There There, by Tommy Orange
6. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
7. Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger
8. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Blake Smith
9. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
10. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson

The Goldfinch made a huge leap to #1 on the national paperback bestsellers lists, following a similar jump from The Art of Racing in the Rain (which I don't think ever hit our top 10). It doesn't look like either film is working. Business Insider reported on the Garth Stein adaptation being a flop for Disney (though it's officially a Fox Studios holdover). Hannah Shaw-Williams in Screen Rant actually wrote a piece on why she thinks the reviews on The Goldfinch are so particularly bad.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Outward Mindset, by Arbinger Institute
2. Beating Guns, by Shane Claiborne
3. Incredibull Stella, by Marika Meeks with Elizabeth Ridley
4. The Future Is History, by Masha Gessen
5. The Man Without a Face, by Masha Gessen
6. Brothers, by Masha Gessen
7. One Pot Vegetarian , by Sabrian Fauda-Role
8. These Truths, by Jill Lepore
9. 111 Places in Milwaukee That You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
10. Calypso, by David Sedaris

Jill Leppore's These Truths doesn't seem like the kind of book to me that would work in paperback, but here it is in our top 10. Ivan DeLuce in Business Insider (look at me quoting from them twice in one week!) did note that Bill Gates just recommended it, along with "every word David Foster Wallace has ever written."


Books for Kids:
1. Strike Zone, by Mike Lupica
2. All the Impossible Things, by Lindsay Lackey
3. Heat, by Mike Lupica
4. Elvis Is King, by Jonah Winter, with illustrations by Red Nose Studio
5. The Cape, by Kate Hannigan
6. Miracle on 49th Street, by Mike Lupica
7. The Secret Subway, by Shana Corey, with illustrations by Red Nose Studio
8. Adventures of Mark Johnson, by Harlan D Hayman
9. No Slam Dunk, by Mike Lupica
10. Five Dark Fates, by Kendare Blake

It's school visit season! Several folks in this week's top 10 had visits, and that's not just Mike Lupica. Lindsey Lackey's debut, All the Impossible Things was a big hit earlier in the month, while Kate Hannigan comes to town for The Cape this Wednesday. In both cases, there are no public events. We should have signed copies - though I should note we sold through all our signed copies of Mike Lupica's Strike Zone.

From the Journal Sentinel Book Page:

--Mark Athitakis (USA Today) reviews Nell Zink's Doxology: "The opening pages of Nell Zink’s irreverent, ersatz social novel Doxology suggest a quirky tale about parenthood and punk rock in 1980s New York. But it soon expands into something bigger, more charming and ambitious, encompassing the most serious themes of the 21st century while remaining comic and earthbound."

--Elliot Schrefer (also USA Today) takes on Rob Hart's The Warehouse: "In this near-future novel, a massive tech company, Amaz- whoops, I mean Cloud, has become the corporate answer to government itself, bringing workers together in climate-controlled, carefully surveilled villages separated by hundreds of miles of sun-broiled wasteland. After the Black Friday Massacres brought an end to physical shopping, Cloud is one of the few employers left in the country, and scoring a job there also means submitting to its rules and relocating to a MotherCloud facility."

--Russell Contreras (Associated Press) writes about Jeffrey Ostler's Surviving Genocide: Native Nations and the United States from the American Revolution and Bleeding Kansas: "A new book by a noted historian attempts to show how expanding American democracy hurt Native Americans in the early days of the nation and how tribes viewed the young United States as an entity seeking to erase them from existence."


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New Releases: The Testaments, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Talking to Strangers, and The Years That Matter Most

It’s September and that means every week at the bookstore is a heavy release week. Our receiving room is packed to the rafters with new titles, and yes, that includes Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, that book that Amazon accidentally sent out to 800 customers. Our books went on sale today - more in this Vox article. So in other words, none of us have read the new book yet, but we did have a preorder program where you could get a Testaments tote bag with purchase. I think they are all taken through preorders.

Similarly, W.W.Norton had a program where you could preorder a signed copy of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death. According to our buyer Jason, those copies have also all been accounted for. But the good news is that Caitlin Doughty will be at the store to sign more copies when she interviews Landis Blair, who illustrated From Here to Eternity. He’s coming to Boswell on Sunday, October 20, 3 pm for The Envious Siblings: And Other Morbid Nursery Rhymes. If you like Edward Gorey, or maybe even the darker depths of Struwwelpeter, you will love this book, just like Chris, my fellow marketeer. This one is free with registration at landisblairmke.bpt.me.

One highly anticipated nonfiction release is Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About People We Don’t Know, his first book since David and Goliath in 2013. I still recall with fondness our sold-out event at UWM’s Zelazo Center where he showed us the Gladwell method for super-fast signing. This book is also his first since the Revisionist History podcast, which has rarely had an uninteresting episode (I think the McDonald’s French Fry segment was a rare fail – I could spent a whole blog post discussing this, but I won’t) and has a bit more of a social justice bent than his books do. Would his newest be more like his previous books or more like the podcast?

Being that the thesis is set up bookended by the well-known incident involving a minor traffic violation that escalated to jail and suicide, I thought it would be a little more like the podcast. But his thesis, which deals with reading and understanding those strangers in the book’s title, does play off his previous works, most notably Blink. Through a series of stories, Gladwell lays out the argument that we are wired to believe folks, but we are particularly bad at misreading liars who act like they're telling the truth, or worse, truth tellers. who for whatever reason, appear to be lying.

Is Gladwell going to give you all the answers to make you a better judge of character? One notable story in the book talks about how politicians made better judgments about Hitler if they didn’t meet him than if he did. I’m not going to give anything away, but after reading the book, we were doing a series of job interviews, and I said to Amie and Jason, “Why are we even bothering? We’ll probably make just as good decisions looking at the resumes." But looking at resumes gives you far less info than say, reading a series of articles and position papers about Hitler’s motivations in Europe, particularly if the resumes are dolled up.

One of my favorite Gladwell podcasts was part of his series on education, most notably why Vassar has such bad food and what that says about higher education. You really should actually listen to it now if you haven’t already.  If you liked this series, you will love Paul Tough’s The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us. Since the release of How Children Succeed, Tough’s work has been championed by educators, but I wound up not reading it, despite the enthusiasm of my fellow bookseller Hannah, and the fact that I had a shelf of education narrative books in my home. Maybe soon.

For his new book, Tough followed a number of students for several years as they navigated the college process. At the same time, he looked at all the aspects of admission from college tests and the rise of testing services, the increasing importance of US News and World Report rankings and how that as affected college policy and unofficial behavior, and what kind of support when students (notably first gens) not prepared for the atmosphere of a super-competitive college get or don't get when they arrive.

I really loved this book; it brought back memories of reading a book by Jacques Steinberg’s The Gatekeepers, which followed admissions officers and guidance counselors through the admissions process. Now I don’t think that will sell the book for most of you, but I think it’s fair to say that Tough’s book is fairly compared to Evicted, in which he blends policy and storytelling together. Read "What College Admissions Officers Really Want" in The New York Times Magazine.

Boswell and University School of Milwaukee are partnering for a Paul Tough talk on October 15. It’s free, but you do have to register at usmk12.org/tough. This is going to fill up so please don’t wait until the last minute.

Monday, September 9, 2019

What's happening at Boswell this week? Events from September 9 through 15, 2019 - Sean Carroll, Masha Gessen, Mike Lupica, and more

What's going on with Boswell this week?

Tuesday, September 10, 6:30 pm, at University School of Milwaukee, 2100 W Fairy Chasm Rd:
Masha Gessen, author of The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia

University School of Milwaukee Global Scholars program presents Masha Gessen, New Yorker staff writer and winner of the 2017 National Book Award, who reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a virulent new strain of autocracy. This event is free, but registration is required. RSVP at usmk12.org/gessen.

Masha Gessen’s understanding of the events and forces that have wracked Russia in recent times is unparalleled. Gessen follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own.

Gessen, who also teaches at Amherst College, charts their paths against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, and against the war it waged on understanding itself, which ensured the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time. Read Francis Fukuyama's of The Future is History in The New York Times.

This is a rare opportunity to see Gessen, who would be very unlikely to come to Milwaukee on a traditional book tour. We're so grateful to University School of Milwaukee for opening up Gessen's visit to the general public. Please note that online registration will likely close out after today.

Thursday, September 12, 7:00 pm, at UWM Student Union Fireside Lounge (note new location), 2200 E Kenwood Blvd:
Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Letters and Science, Manfred Olson Planetarium, UWM Student Union, and Boswell Book Company present an evening with Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist at California Institute of Technology. Carroll will discuss his new book, Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime. General admission tickets for this talk are $30 and include the book and all taxes and fees, available at seancarrollmke.bpt.me. Specially priced tickets for UWM students, faculty, and staff are available at UWM Student Union Information Desk closer to the event date. The talk will be followed by a book signing.

In his latest book, Carroll takes on the holy grail of modern physics - reconciling quantum mechanics with Einstein's general relativity, his theory of curved spacetime. Carroll argues that the refusal to face up to the mysteries of quantum mechanics has blinded people, and that spacetime and gravity naturally emerge from a deeper reality called the wave function. Yes, people, we’re saying the multiverse (scientifically speaking, the Many-Worlds theory) is real!

Robert P Crease reviewed Carroll's latest in Nature: "Something Deeply Hidden is aimed at non-scientists, with a sidelong glance at physicists still quarrelling over the meaning of quantum mechanics. Carroll brings the reader up to speed on the development of quantum physics from Max Planck to the present, and explains why it is so difficult to interpret, before expounding the many-worlds theory. Dead centre in the book is a Socratic dialogue about the theory’s implications. This interlude, between a philosophically sensitive physicist and a scientifically alert philosopher, is designed to sweep away intuitive reservations that non-scientists might have."

Carroll is author of The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself and other books and is host of the Mindscape podcast. This is a rare opportunity to hear one of our top scientists bringing to life one of the most important theories of the day. Join us today for this special ticketed event - walk-up tickets are also available.

Also on Thursday, September 12, 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Chris Sickels, who works as Red Nose Studio, illustrator for Elvis Is King

AIGA Wisconsin presents a public presentation from Chris Sickels/Red Nose Studio, in conjunction with their private workshop. In Everything You Can Imagine Is Real, Sickels discusses how he uses texture, light, and a whole lotta elbow grease to create magic that we guarantee will ignite your creativity and leave you feeling like a kid again.

Here's Booklist writing about Elvis Is King: "If the artwork in this seems a little in-your-face, it may be wise to remember that we're talking about the King here—a figure known for large gestures, not for subtlety. Red Nose Studio, known for dramatic 3-D illustrations constructed from polymer clay figures and hand-built sets, teams up with award-winning author Winter to bring readers a portrait of Elvis, from his hard-scrabble beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi, to his transformation into one of the first rock stars."

Please note that this event is ticketed. Register here. Admission is $15 for the general public, $10 for AIGA members, $5 for students with ID. Check in will be at Boswell.

AIGA Wisconsin works to connect designers to one another, to business and to the broader world while helping them to realize their talents and to advocate the value of design, stimulating thinking and promote design excellence. Their mission is to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force. More about Red Nose Studio here.

Friday, September 13, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Mike Lupica, author of Strike Zone

Sports writer for Esquire and The New York Daily News and host of ESPN’s The Sports Reporters and ESPN2’s The Mike Lupica Show visits Boswell with Strike Zone, his timely, heartfelt follow-up to Heat, the bestselling novel about a young baseball prodigy and his immigrant family living in today’s America. This event is free but registration is requested at lupicamke.bpt.me. Folks who sign up will get 10% off their copy of Strike Zone.

Twelve-year-old star Little League pitcher Nick Garcia has a dream. Several in fact. He dreams he’ll win this season’s MVP and the chance to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. He dreams he’ll meet his hero, Yankee’s pitcher Michael Arroyo. He dreams they’ll find a cure for Lupus so his sister won’t have to suffer. But mostly, he dreams one day his family can stop living in fear of the government.

Strike Zone is best for kids ten and up, but many of Lupica's novels are for even younger reading levels. Lupica is also slotted to write new entries in Robert B Parker's Sunny Randall series. So we can enthusiastically state that Lupica's visit is for all ages. Listen to Mike Lupica's podcast here.

Saturday, September 14, 2 pm, at Boswell:
Marika Meeks and Stella, author and subject of Incredibull Stella: How the Love of a Pit Bull Rescued a Family, with coauthor Elizabeth Ridley

Marika Meeks and Stella the pit bull visit Boswell with the story of how, while recovering from a serious illness, Marika Meeks adopted an abandoned pit bull puppy, named her Stella, and together, they healed each other. They’ll be joined for this event by Milwaukee author Elizabeth Ridley, coauthor of Incredibull Stella.

While recovering from Stage 3 breast cancer, Marika Meeks fell in love with the adorable, abandoned pit bull puppy with warm eyes and boundless affection that could melt anyone’s heart. Marika and her family were still reeling from her brush with mortality, but she couldn’t deny the pure joy of this sweet-natured dog’s unconditional love, and she knew in her heart what her family needed.

From AZ Family, Meeks talks about her journey: "I went from being totally shipwrecked in a post-cancer sea of fear, worry, anxiety, and guilt, to understanding that my journey is about so much more than my efforts to stay alive. It is all about how to live while you are still alive,” states Marika. “Now I'm cancer-free and living my best life with a renewed purpose and connection to my husband and daughters, having dedicated my life to educating people on the powerful force that pets can play in our lives while also encouraging people to rescue, foster, and adopt animals like Stella."

Marika Meeks was born in England and emigrated to the United States with her family at age six. A lifelong entrepreneur, she became the co-owner of a national software company. Elizabeth Ridley runs The Writer’s Midwife editing and publishing consulting company and is coauthor of several books, including Saving Sadie: How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World and Searching for Celia.

Sunday, September 15, 5 pm, at the UWM Student Union Ballroom, 2200 E Kenwood Ave:
Legacies of Mistrust: A Conversation with Harriet A Washington

Milwaukee Film Minority Health Film Festival, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and UWM's Sociocultural Programming present an evening with Harriet A Washington, author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present and most recently, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind.

Harriet Washington deconstructs the politics around medical issues. Painting a compelling and disturbing portrait of medicine, race, sex, and the abuse of power by telling individual human stories, Washington’s work examines the historical effects of scientiļ¬c racism on African American health issues, making a case for broader political consciousness of science and technology.

Boswell is selling books at this event. Tickets to the general public are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and $8 to UWM students. Doors open at 4 pm with a panel discussion at 5 pm and the conversation with Washington at 6 pm. For more information, contact info@mkefilm.org.

Monday, September 16, 7 pm reception, 7:30 pm talk, at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd:
Lynn Cullen, author of The Sisters of Summit Avenue

The Lynden Sculpture Garden’s Women’s Speaker Series produced by Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company present Lynn Cullen, the author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End with her latest novel about two estranged sisters during the Great Depression. Tickets cost $31, $26 for Lynden members, and include admission, a signed copy of The Sisters of Summit Avenue, and light refreshments. Come early and stroll the garden grounds. Tickets available online, at lyndensculpturegarden.org/LynnCullen. Please note that the Lynden closes out online registrations the day before the event - after that, call them at (414) 446-8794

Who doesn't love a good feuding sister story? Ruth is raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm since her husband was infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. Her older sister, June, is married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul, and has a coveted job as one of “the Bettys” who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But she has no children, and the man she loves belongs to Ruth. When the two reluctantly reunite, June’s bitterness sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which could dismantle the entire family.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere. Elisabeth Clark in Library Journal wrote that "Cullen's complex story of a family torn apart by jealousy, betrayal, and misunderstanding will resonate with all readers. Courageous and heart-wrenching, it is a tribute to mothers, daughters, and sisters that's not to be missed."

Monday, September 16, 7 pm, at UWM Student Union, 2200 E Kenwood Blvd:
Scott Westerfeld, author of Shatter City – Impostors Book 2

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the Uglies series, translated into 35 languages, returns to Milwaukee for Shatter City, the follow up to Impostors, a new sci-fi adventure series set in the world of Uglies. This Geek Week preview event is cosponsored by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Involvement and Boswell Book Company. Westerfeld will appear at the UWM Student Union Fireside Lounge. Free registration is required at westerfeldmke.bpt.me, and space is limited. A purchase-with-registration option is also available for $20, including tax and fees.

Twin sisters Frey and Rafi are inseparable, two edges of the same knife. But Frey's very existence is a secret. Frey isn’t just Rafi’s twin sister – she’s her body double. When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Now Frey's taken on the role of her sister without anyone else knowing. Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her. But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare - because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father.

Kirkus Reviews points out that “a nonbinary character has a larger presence in this book,” about which they rave, “page-turning action made even more engrossing by a rare emotional core.” And if you haven't read Impostors, Scholastic has a great deal to help you catch up. Paperback copies are available at the event for just $4.99 plus tax.

More on the Boswell Upcoming Events page.

Photo credits:
Masha Gessen - Tanya Sazansky
Lynn Cullen - Parker Clayton Smith