Monday, March 11, 2019

We cordially invite you: Elinor Lipman, Soman Chainani, Alex Kotlowitz, Andy Kutler, Andrea Bartz, Joseph Scapellato, plus a note on Katie Parla

Here is a cordial invitation to celebrate a number of book happenings this week.

Monday, March 11, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Elinor Lipman, author of Good Riddance

Enjoy a wonderful evening at Boswell with one of our favorite authors, Elinor Lipman, in conversation with Boswell's own Daniel Goldin. Lipman is author of many novels, including The Inn at Lake Devine and On Turpentine Lane. In addition to the usual writerly talk, we'll also have a celebrity high school yearbook quiz, plus Lipman has enough yearbook stories to entertain us for hours.

This event is free, and we're so grateful to the folks who registered (now closed). Folks who registered and have not yet bought a book will get 10% off on Good Riddance the night of the event. But don't worry - you're welcome to attend even if you did not register.

Allow me to tell it like it is: "In her inheritance, Daphne Martich’s mother bequeaths her a heavily (compulsively?) annotated high school yearbook, though it’s not from when she graduated, but when she was a teacher to whom the yearbook was dedicated. Daphne, a divorcee with a yoke-tight prenup, tosses it in recycling, only there are more problems on the horizon than the unrecyclable nature of that cloth cover – her neighbor has latched onto it and has big plans to turn the source material into a documentary. Or maybe a podcast. This has the potential to blow up to be rather embarrassing to the Maritch family.

"Just to make things more complicated, Daphne’s father has fallen in love with Manhattan and decides to move into the neighborhood, another neighbor, a bit player on a popular soap opera, is sending Daphne mixed romantic messages, and let’s not even get into that prominent New Hampshire politician who wants to get to know Daphne better. Can this story possibly have a happy ending? When Lipman, a class act herself, is at the helm, you might not know how this story is going to unravel, but you know it’s going to be work out fine and be very funny along the way." (Daniel Goldin rec, and yes, that's my high school year book photo at right. Call me the Lord of Lapels.)

Mary Pols at The New York Times Book Review concurs: "Good Riddance is a caper novel, light as a feather and effortlessly charming. It will not save lives or enrich them in an enduring way (as Marie Kondo can do; two years in, my sock drawer can attest to that). But the book inspires a very specific kind of modern joy. I read it fast, in a weekend, during which I did not find my social media accounts or tidying my house nearly as diverting as what was on these pages. Being more attractive than Twitter may sound like a low bar, but in these distractible times, it feels like a genuine achievement."

Tuesday, March 12, 4:00 pm, at Boswell:
Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil #5: A Crystal of Time

Acclaimed author and screenwriter Chainani presents the fifth installment of the hit School for Good and Evil series. It’s an epic new adventure that’s perfect for adults and kids 8 and up. Swag alert - We've got really cool School for Good and Evil pop totes.

In A Crystal of Time, Sophie, Agatha, and their friends must find a way to overthrow the sinister evil that twists lies into the truth and seeks to rewrite their story. At the end of Quests for Glory, Truth had become Lies, and Lies had become the new Truth. A boy called Rhian had declared himself the true King of Camelot, forced Sophie to be his queen, and captured Tedros, Merlin, and the rest of the School for Good and Evil Quest seekers. Sophie and Agatha must save Camelot and help Tedros reclaim his rightful throne before Rhian’s lies rewrite their stories.

The School for Good and Evil has been translated into twenty-six languages around the world, was recently nominated for the Waterstones’ Children’s Prize in the UK, and Universal Studios has signed on to make the School for Good and Evil movie.

Soman Chainani studied at Harvard where he practically created his own fairy-tale major. He is an acclaimed screenwriter, a graduate of the MFA Film Program at Columbia University, and his films have played at more than 150 film festivals around the world. His writing awards include an honor from the Sun Valley Writers’ Fellowship.

Wednesday, March 13, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Alex Kotlowitz, author of An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago in conversation with Joy Powers

Boswell is pleased to present Alex Kotlowitz, acclaimed journalist and author of There Are No Children Here, with his richly textured, heartrending portrait of the love and death that occurs during one summer across Chicago’s most turbulent neighborhoods. Cosponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute and City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention.

Registration requested at We'll not hit capacity but your registration will help us put out enough chairs. Plus, folks who register by Wednesday at 10 am will get 10% off on An American Summer at the event.

Here's my take: "In his first full-length book in 15 years, journalist Alex Kotlowitz weaves together 15 narratives of the violence that poor Chicagoans must deal with every day. With the breakdown in gang control and demise of the high-rise projects (such as the Henry Horner Homes that were the setting for There Are No Children Here), violence has moved to the streets and neighborhoods. With the omnipresent and widespread cliques, the code of violence of old-time gangs has been decimated – athletes and excelling students are not given a pass, and incidents spin out of control and destroy the lives of innocent bystanders. The residents involved often have PTSD, but this trauma is not post-anything.

"An American Summer does an amazing job of showcasing these individuals, noting how many of these kids and young adults would, under other circumstances, be not just productive members of society but high-achieving ones like Marco, whose destiny teeters between two very desperate futures. Kotlowitz has written a powerful and important work of journalism and so filled with empathy and hope that it’s likely to inspire many readers to search for new answers to a long-existing problem." (Daniel Goldin)

Alex Kotlowitz is author of There Are No Children Here, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and on This American Life, and he produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary The Interrupters. His other honors include a George Polk Award, two Peabodys, the Helen B. Bernstein Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Joy Powers is a Producer of WUWM's Lake Effect. Previously, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio.

Thursday, March 14, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Andy Kutler, author of The Batter’s Box: A Novel of Baseball, War, and Love

Madison native Andy Kutler swings into Boswell with his latest book of historical fiction, which tells the story of a baseball star who struggles when he returns home from World War II and asks, what drives a man to walk away from everything he cherishes?

Will Jamison, star player for the Washington Senators, enlists after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When the war ends, Jamison returns to Washington as a decorated hero burdened with a crushing guilt and harrowing memories he cannot escape. Jamison's life is consumed by an explosive temper, sleepless nights, and a gradual descent into alcoholism. He also must navigate the public stigmas of the 1940s surrounding mental illness, stigmas that often silenced those who suffered.

Historian and baseball author Bernard A. Weisberger says, “As an historian, a World War II veteran, and a devoted baseball fan, Andy Kutler's imaginative dive into the past gave me special pleasure… The Batter’s Box will richly reward any reader who enjoys a gripping and skillfully told tale."

Andy Kutler is author of The Other Side of Life, awarded a Bronze Medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards and Honorable Mention from Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. His writing has appeared in Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Michelle Obama's appearance at the Miller High Life Theater is sold out.

Friday, March 15, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Andrea Bartz, author of The Lost Night

Milwaukee-area native Andrea Bartz chats about her debut novel, a suspenseful look back at the lives and friendships of New York’s hippest set during the financial crisis, with Mike Howard of El Dorado Games.

In 2009, Bushwick, the beguiling Edie has the world in her thrall. She and her clique treat New York like a playground. When she commits suicide at the end of a long, drunken night, no one can quite believe it. A decade later, Edie's friend Lindsay has come a long way from their drug-addled world, with a thriving career, cozy apartment, and true adult friendships. But when a chance reunion leads Lindsay to discover an unsettling video from that terrible, hazy night, she starts to wonder if Edie was actually murdered and worse, if she herself was involved. As she rifles through the past, Lindsay confronts demons of her own violent history to bring the truth to light.

Boswellian Chris Lee offers this recommendation: "Here’s a stylish noir update that offers a glimpse into the cool kid world of late-aughts NYC, a landscape of twenty-somethings searching for meaning (or something like it) in friendships, cheap lofts, and rooftop parties while the world fell apart around them, back when hipster was still a bad word. It’s a what-really-happened-back-then? thriller about a woman who unearths a video clip from her partying days which leads her to personally reopen the decade-cold case of her estranged friend’s suicide-that-was-probably-really-a-murder. The narrator flirts with unreliability (she was blacked out when said suicide-that-was-probably-really-a-murder happened), and the plotting’s just the right amount of twisty to scratch the ol’ whodunit itch. In The Lost Night, Bartz does what classic noir does best, offering a glimpse into the dark side - the unemployment and lack of prospects, the tense, strained friendships, and the drugs and oceans of Pabst - to reveal the secrets of a time and place gone by."

Andrea Bartz is a journalist and coauthor of the blog-turned-book Stuff Hipsters Hate. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, and Elle. She grew up in Brookfield (Wisconsin).

That said, we did move Bartz's event from Thursday to Friday because The Lost Night was published by the same division of Penguin Random House and we had booked this event before Obama was announced.

Monday, March 18, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Joseph Scapellato, author of The Made-Up Man, in conversation with CJ Hribal

Marquette alum Joseph Scapellato returns to Milwaukee, this time at Boswell, for a conversation with his former writing mentor, CJ Hribal, about Scapellato’s first novel, in which existential noir meets absurd comedy.

A young man reluctantly enlists as source material for his strange uncle’s art project. Stanley had known it was a mistake to accept his uncle Lech’s offer to apartment-sit in Prague; knew it was one of Lech’s thinly veiled setups for some invasive, potentially dangerous performance art project. But whatever Lech had planned for Stanley, it would get him to Prague and maybe offer a chance to make things right with T after his failed attempt to propose.

Immediately and wholly immersive, Scapellato’s The Made-Up Man is a hilarious examination of art’s role in self-knowledge, a sinister send-up of self-deception, and a big-hearted investigation into the cast of characters necessary to help us finally meet ourselves. Marc Bojanowski, writing for The New York Times Book Review, says, “Scapellato’s inventive, hallucinatory prose dazzles… A timely dose of his absurdism could prove an antivenom to our problematic times.”

Joseph Scapellato is author of the story collection Big Lonesome, and his work has been published in Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, and PANK. Scapellato is Assistant Professor of English at Bucknell University. CJ Hribal is Professor at Marquette University.

Please note that Katie Parla's event for Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing, and Lost Dishes at Anodyne on Saturday, March 16 is sold out. There may still be tickets to the Glorioso's signing on March 15. More info here.

More event info here.

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