Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Seven reasons to come to our event with Christopher Castellani for Leading Men - two of them are Liam Callanan and Milwaukee Opera Theatre

I know we just did our event blog but I'm really excited about our event with Christopher Castellani for Leading Men on Wednesday, April 24, and I just wanted to say a few more words recommending to attendees. I think it's time for a list.

1. This is Christopher Castellani's third event in Milwaukee. He came once to Schwartz and again to Boswell for his series of novels based on his Italian family in Wilmington, Delaware. We're not focusing on those books today, you can read Castellani's interview with Paul Salsini, himself the author of novels set in Italy, in The Italian Times. It's page 19. In the story, they talk about how Castallani kept coming back to the lives of Italian immigrants, and those stories come up again in Leading Men.

2. Many great reviews on Leading Men. Publishers Weekly wrote: "This is a wonderful examination of artists and the people who love them and change their work in large and imperceptible ways."

Here's John Francis Leonard in the Lambda Literary Review: "Leading Men is a finely-rendered narrative based upon some of the twentieth century’s most compelling artistic figures. It is broad in scope and lush in detail, without every tipping into sentimentality. It is a love story between two men — two men who existed in a rarefied world that accepted this relationship without judgment, at a time when the world-at-large most certainly did."

Michael Upchurch in The Boston Globe: "Castellani’s quiet portrait of Merlo has a deep, aching appeal, and while his invented story of Anja’s legendary career and reclusive later years has its moments, it doesn’t match the passages where he plunges directly into the give-and-take of Merlo and Williams’s loving if volatile relationship. Castellani’s prose has a beguiling lilt and color, whether he’s evoking his characters’ evasive or erratic emotions, or conjuring the far-flung locales where these globe-hoppers touch down."

David Leavitt didn't really like it, alas. I'm sure you've read that one in The New York Times. I'm not linking to it. However, Dwight Gardner, in his review for the Times, raves: "[Castellani’s] scenes glitter... This book is a kind of poem in praise of pleasure. Its author knows a great deal about life; better, he knows how to express what he knows. But this is an alert, serious, sweeping novel. To hold it in your hands is like holding, to crib a line from Castellani, a front-row opera ticket.”

3. Here's a sliver of  my recommendation - the rest is on my website: "Tenn and Frank’s relationship is at the heart of the story, of a playwright who wasn’t really aware he had a muse until he lost him. Lush writing, intricate characterizations, themes that resonate from Williams’s own work, and a Beautiful Ruins type vibe in the fifties section that had me looking at flights to Italy." (Daniel Goldin)

My marketing colleague Chris Lee is also a fan. Here's a snap of his shelf talker for this "literary feast."

4. But that's not all. Castellani will be in conversation with Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book, and Professor of English at UWM. You know how vibrant our conversations can be and in particular, how wonderful Liam Callanan conversations are. Liam and Chris know each other from those things authors do - conferences, teaching, talking about their books.

It was just announced that Liam Callanan has won the Edna Ferber Prize for Paris by the Book. The CWW lunch is May 11. I'm attending! You can attend too. Congrats to the other winners, including Christi Clancy, who has a novel coming out in 2020 that we're already abuzz about.

5. Castellani is Artistic Director for Grub Street, the writing center in Boston, not the New York Magazine food blog. He surely has interesting things to say for you creative writers out there.

6. But wait, there's more. Instead of a regular reading before the conversation, we're working with Jill Anna Ponasik from Milwaukee Opera Theatre on a scene reading. You know Ponasik from her non-traditional productions all over town, including two at Boswell, The Story of My Life and more recently, Antiology, inspired by Dana Spiotta's Eat the Document. And the stars of The Story of My Life, Doug Clemons and Adam Estes, are back at Boswell, appearing with Jenny Wanasek for the reading. Wanasek is making her Boswell debut. Yes, this could go in her Playbill. It's sort of a 10th anniversary present to Boswell.

7. What more can we say? Oh, yes, one more thing. We're discounting Leading Men 20% through Wednesday. Including online.

Our event is Wednesday, April 24, 7 pm, at Boswell. No reservation, no cost - just show up for a great time. I'm flying back early from a conference in Ann Arbor to be there!

Thank you to Liam, Jill Anna, Doug, Adam, Chris for making this event happen. And also you - we wouldn't have a bookstore without you.

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