Monday, August 3, 2020

Boswell events - S.A. Cosby of Blacktop Wasteland in conversation with Carole E Barrowman, plus next Monday's launch of The Very Last Leaf from Stef Wade

Tuesday, August 4, 7:00 pm
S.A. Cosby, author of Blacktop Wasteland
in conversation with Carole E Barrowman for a virtual event

Sometimes we pitch for great events, sometimes we chase them without an official pitch opportunity, and sometimes they fall in our lap. When the publisher put out a query for event proposals for S.A. (Shawn!) Cosby, we made one, and like most of the time, especially before the age of coronavirus, we did one without a read. Sure the buzz on Blacktop Wasteland was good - Lee Child called the book "Sensationally good—new, fresh, real, authentic, twisty, with characters and dilemmas that will break your heart. More than recommended" while Dennis Lehane offers this praise: "Blacktop Wasteland is an urgent, timely, pitch-perfect jolt of American noir. S. A. Cosby is a welcome, refreshing new voice in crime literature.” But wait, what about Walter Mosley? He offers: "Diamonds and fast cars, trailer park dreams and late night illegal street racing, S. A. Cosby reinvents the American crime novel. Black and white with bills unpaid and no exit in sight, his characters feel the pull of family and swagger with the melancholy ache of wanting to be someone. Blacktop Wasteland thrums and races—it’s an intoxicating thrill of a ride.”

We love it too. Here's Chris Lee's rec: "Here’s one where you can believe the hype - Cosby’s penned a heist novel that just might have stolen my heart. Our hero’s a Carolina wheelman who’s put his criminal past just far enough behind him to maybe nod and wave hello to polite society when he passes it across the street. Indeed, Blacktop Wasteland is an ode to country people living around the edges of legal who desperately want to be anything other than poor nobodies. The way Cosby uses language in this book, oh my lord. He’s not just got perfect pitch for dialogue; this novel is stuffed full of more knee slappers and Southernisms than my Granddad could carry in a poke (look it up). There’s just enough a hard man’s gotta do… swagger to please the toughest thriller though guys, and when it comes to American muscle screeching down highways and scrambling through back roads, you know Cosby’s got some high-flying surprises for you. What I like best is when a plan goes south and our hero’s got nothing left but his wits to get a step ahead of disaster, and between cartoon-dumb redneck accomplices and slicker-than-snakes backroom kingpins, every plan in this book gets a tool chest of wrenches thrown in it. Okay, here’s your car metaphor: the rest of this year’s thrillers look like sad little Pintos puttering along in the dust of Cosby’s ‘69 Camero." 

Gabino Iglesias offered this take on the NPR website: "Racial tension is at the core of Blacktop Wasteland. Cosby, a Black man from southeastern Virginia, knows racism well. He understands what it means to be Black in places where things like the use of the Confederate flag (which comes up in the novel) are still being debated today. This knowledge, and the heartfelt way in which Cosby writes about being the other now as well as historically, make Blacktop Wasteland the kind of book that should be part of every conversation about why we need diverse books."

And here's another fan, Carole E. Barrowman, the Journal Sentinel, Star Tribune, and Morning Blend. Barrowman, who is also a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Alverno College, is a big fan and will be in conversation with Cosby at Boswell on August 4, 7 pm. She teaches a seminar on the art of mystery - wouldn't you love to audit that class? Broadcast via Zoom, you can register for this event right here! And don't forget, Blacktop Wasteland is on sale for 20% off the list price through at least August 10.

Coming next Monday, August 10, 4:30 pm
Stef Wade, author of The Very Last Leaf
A virtual launch party

Milwaukee children’s book author Stef Wade virtually visits for a launch celebration of her latest picture book that asks, how do leaves know when it’s time to fall?Broadcast via Zoom, registration will be required. Here's the link, so click it to register! And purchase your copy of The Very Last Leaf from us for 20% off list price, through at least August 17.

Lance Cottonwood is the best and brightest of the leaves, but even the top students on the tree have worries. Can Lance conquer his fear of falling and just let go when the time comes for his final exam, or will he let his worries take over? This funny and encouraging picture book tells an engaging story and deftly addresses social and emotional struggles many kids encounter each day. These delightful characters and rich autumnal colors make a perfect book for any period of transition in life. Kirkus calls the illustrations charming and says The Very Last Leaf is “a reassuring story that should leave readers feeling a bit more self-confident.”

Stef Wade is co-creator and writer for the former cooking and home blog Haute Apple Pie. She is author of A Place for Pluto. A graduate of Marquette and DePaul Universities, she is also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

More on the Boswell Upcoming Events page. And don't forget that you can watch previous events on our virtual author conversation page.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending August 1, 2020

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending August 1, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Everywhere You Don't Belong, by Gabriel Bump (watch Boswell event video)
2. The Lives of Edie Pritchard, by Larry Watson (watch Boswell event video)
3. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
4. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
5. Crooked Hallelujah, by Kelli Jo Ford (watch Boswell event video)
6. Axiom's End, by Lindsay Ellis
7. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
8. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
9. Three Hours in Paris, by Cara Black (register for this August 11 event here)
10. Blacktop Wasteland, by SA Cosby (register for this August 4 event here

Several breakout bestsellers have had coronavirus-related printing delays, but we're glad to say we've caught up with backorders for Mexican Gothic. The great reviews keep coming - here's Laura Miller in Slate: "Truth be told, even those of us who love a high-end gothic novel must admit that many of the genre’s devices have lost their flavor. How many books can you read about inexperienced but scrappy young women (or, in the case of Rebecca, gormless ingenues) arriving in gloomy English country estates where dark secrets lurk behind moth-nibbled velvet drapes? Even this premise, once so delicious, can get stale. The genre’s palette is typically limited, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be—as Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic amply, deliriously, and gloriously demonstrates."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi
2. The King of Confidence, by Miles Harvey (Boswell event video coming soon)
3. Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump
4. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
5. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
6. Me and White Supremacy, by Lala F Saad
7. Educated, by Tara Westover
8. Begin Again, Eddie S Glaude
9. Milwaukee Brewers at 50, by Adam McCalvy
10. Price of Peace, by Zachary D Carter

We've had steady sales of The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, by Zachary D Carter, a senior reporter at Huffington Post. Lots of raves on this, including a recommendation from Jon Meacham. From the publisher: "Keynes was not only an economist but the preeminent anti-authoritarian thinker of the twentieth century, one who devoted his life to the belief that art and ideas could conquer war and deprivation. As a moral philosopher, political theorist, and statesman, Keynes led an extraordinary life that took him from intimate turn-of-the-century parties in London’s riotous Bloomsbury art scene to the fevered negotiations in Paris that shaped the Treaty of Versailles, from stock market crashes on two continents to diplomatic breakthroughs in the mountains of New Hampshire to wartime ballet openings at London’s extravagant Covent Garden."  Here's Jennifer Szalai's New York Times review.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
2. There There, by Tommy Orange
3. Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward
4. The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
6. All the Right Mistakes, by Laura Jamison (register for this August 13 event here)
7. Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim (Read the book? register for our book club discussion here - no author involved)
8. The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J Ryan Stradal
9. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
10. Late Love, by Paula Goldman (register for this September 10 event here

Jung Yun in The Washington Post recommended Angie Kim's Miracle Creek, which went on to win an Edgar Award. From the review: "Kim’s real-life experience as a former litigator shines throughout the courtroom scenes. Her sharply drawn prosecutor hammers away at the evidence of Elizabeth’s guilt, while her defense attorney offers up alternative explanations for how the fire started. While the courtroom scenes and plot pyrotechnics are sure to delight readers of legal thrillers and mysteries, at its heart, Miracle Creek is a deeply moving story about parents and the lengths they will go for their children."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (pre-order Caste here)
2. They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei
3. I Was Their American Dream, by Malaka Gharib
4. My Father's Shadow, by Myles Hopper (watch Boswell event video)
5. March V1, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
6. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
7. Intimations, by Zadie Smith
8. Make Me, by Eric Toshalis
9. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
10. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi 

George Takei's graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy got many wonderful reviews and profile pieces, but I don't think it hit our bestseller list until we got some school adoptions. This story, of Takei's imprisonment as a child in American internment (concentration) camps in World War II. The book won the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature. Jacqueline Woodson wrote that the book is "moving, thoughtful, important, engaging, and stunningly rendered. I am so excited to see this book's impact on the world." An expanded version of They Called Us Enemy goes on sales August 25. You can preorder here.

Books for Kids:
1. Dear Martin, by Nic Stone (If you love this author, stay turned for an announcement)
2. Far from the Tree, by Robin Benway
3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
4. On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
5. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
6. Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds
7. Love Hate and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
8. The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
9. Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
10. The Realm of Possibility, by David Levithan 

I'm not sure I'll find another book with advance praise from Angie Thomas, John Green, Jason Reynolds, and Jodi Picoult - one didn't make it to the front jacket of the paperback. Dear Martin won raves when it was released in 2017 and went on to be a national bestseller and a William C Morris Award finalist. Adrienne Green wrote in The Atlantic: "Dear Martin belongs to a growing body of young-adult literature exploring racial injustice and police brutality from a teen perspective. 2015’s All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely followed a black high-school student beaten by a cop who mistakes him for a shoplifter. Jay Coles’s Tyler Johnson Was Here, about a boy whose twin brother is a victim of police brutality, will be published in the spring. Jewell Parker Rhodes’s forthcoming Ghost Boys tells the story of the ghost of a black boy who meets the spirit of Emmett Till after he is killed by law enforcement and enters the afterlife." Note - this is an old article, so these books are now published.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, here's a profile of Paula Kiely, Milwaukee's Chief Librarian since 2006. Thank you to your great contribution to the city and the literary community! We're honored to have been a library partner for many programs over the last 11 years. 

When asked what's changed over the years, Kiely noted technology and then: "The other change, of course, is in the libraries themselves, and how the libraries look, how they function. When I started off in 2006, I knew that the facilities were going to be a big part of what I did. But when I look back, it is surprising to me how much time I've spent working on these library developments and how differently the libraries really function. We don't focus on how many books we can sort of squeeze into the space. It's how many people can we accommodate in the spaces that we want to create for different groups of people. And I think, especially in the new library (Good Hope) that will be opening up shortly, children and teenagers really have a big win here. Because we realize how important it is to have children engaged early on." 

Also, congratulations to Joan Johnson, the incoming Chief Librarian.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Hidden Wisconsin - a book round-up

Last week I spoke to Audrey Nowakowski on WUWM's Lake Effect for a summer book segment we could have called Hidden Wisconsin. The list consisted of books that I read and enjoyed this summer that had Wisconsin connections that weren’t quite clear from the publisher marketing. Some had no local content, but were written by Wisconsinites Larry Watson (Kenosha), Steven Wright (Madison), and Christina Schwarz (per the publisher, rural Wisconsin, but we narrowed it down to Delafield, Pewaukee, or Hartford, depending on whether you are talking about mailing address, voting location, or school district). We have signed copies of Larry Watson's The Lives of Edie Pritchard and signed bookplates for Bonnie. One day I'll drive to Madison and we'll have signed copies of The Coyotes of Carthage too, but for now, we just have a delightful book to sell you, sans sig.

Miles Harvey’s The King of Confidence is a narrative nonfiction book about the exploits of James Strang, who decided he was the second coming of Joseph Smith and started a religious colony, first in Burlington, Wisconsin and then on Beaver Island, which is officially in Michigan – Strang was actually elected to the Michigan legislature, but he likely stuffed the ballot box. Burlington is clearly in Wisconsin – it’s southwest of Milwaukee, on the way to Lake Geneva. I’m a big fan of this book and we’ll be talking on Thursday, July 30 (registration link here). Harvey has some great images for us to share at the Zoom event – I’ve only done this once before so have patience!

Kathleen Rooney’s Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey (also an event on August 18 – register here) has Wisconsin roots too. I don’t believe Cher Ami the pigeon ever set foot here, but Whittlesey was born in Florence, Wisconsin (coincidentally, also on the Michigan border, near Iron Mountain) and lived here until he was ten, when the family moved to Massachusetts. And I love to say that the headlines in Christina Clancy’s The Second Home screams Cape Cod (the house the three kids are fighting over), but the story is as much about Milwaukee (the house nobody wants, for the most part). Christi (yes, that’s her non-professional name) said it’s a love letter to the city, and I have to agree. We have signed copies of Clancy's novel. 

One author with more Milwaukee roots than you’d know at first glance is Mia Mercado. Weird but Normal is kind of book we’d normally do an event for, but it came onto my radar a bit late. Once I read it, I learned that Mercado grew up in Glendale and Grafton, and when I did more research, I learned that the third school of higher ed she attended (third time’s the charm) was UWM. It’s possible she’s even been in the bookstore, which I probably wouldn’t have thought if I only knew the Grafton angle. Her essays are sometimes silly, sometimes serious – think Samantha Irby (there’s a cover quote!), Jenny Lawson (discusses mental health and talks a lot about her husband), and Jen Lancaster (the audience was as interested in her husband Fletch as they were in our featured author, and I could see a similar reaction by fans to Riley after a few more books). Anyway, someone tell Mercado that if she hasn’t done a Milwaukee-area focused event, it’s not too late!

I don’t recall Brandon Taylor ever mentioning Madison in his first novel, Real Life, but I swear, you can close your eyes and walk the streets of that novel and not accidentally fall in Lake Monona. It’s the story of Wallace, a biology grad student who, having arrived from Alabama, is plunged into a white world without much support. Over the course of one weekend (there’s a lot of backstory, but it becomes clear that the timeline is quite compressed), Wallace starts an affair with a fellow male grad student (Closeted? Bisexual? Curious? We don’t know because we don’t see the story from his perspective), who, like so many other characters in the story, is bound to disappoint Wallace. Taylor must have passed through the creative writing program at Madison, based on the setting and with the thank you to Danielle Evans, who was at UW before moving to Johns Hopkins. But I also noticed he did his MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop. Was he a Fellow? No, here's the list. A big shout out to Lucy Tan, Kate Wisel, and Stuart Nadler, who all did events at Boswell in connection with the Fellowship. Plus Rebecca Dunham, who now teaches at UWM.

Aha (later)! It says in The Guardian that Taylor dropped out of the Madison PhD program.

We just heard word that Real Life was longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, along with two other favorites of mine, Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age and Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road, plus a lot of other books I haven’t discovered yet. I was chatting with a friend at Riverhead who said my pick (Taylor’s book was five months old at the time I highlighted it) was prescient, but I didn’t know why. Here’s the official announcement about the Booker Longlist

At first I thought it was because of Taylor’s mention in a profile of Edmund White in The New York Times. From Joshua Barone: “In that sense, A Boy’s Own Story has become more significant for its historical importance than its urgency. Brandon Taylor, the 31-year-old author of Real Life, remembered being a teenager searching for gay novels to read and repeatedly coming across it as an essential book. Today, though, White ‘isn’t a touchstone for people I consider my peers,’ Taylor said. That doesn’t mean he isn’t influential, though. ‘When you see a book about a queer Midwestern coming-of-age,’ Taylor added, “it’s hard not to see his hands all over that.”

I thought back to my reading tastes at the time, when I would look for books published by Dutton (the original publisher of A Boy’s Own Story – at the time not part of Penguin Random House) and St. Martin’s Press, who would often do paperbacks in their Stonewall Inn Editions, which according to the internet, is still the only imprint from a major publisher devoted to LGBTQ issues, though to be clear, it was really a G imprint. Along with A Boy’s Own Story, it seemed like everyone was reading Dancer from the Dance. I was also a fan of Robert Ferro (mentioned in the story) and The Family of Max Desir. But I read them like candy – Larry Duplechan’s Blackbird, Jaime Manrique’s Latin Moon in Manhattan, David Feinberg’s Eighty-Sixed, John Fox’s The Boys on the Rock. Both publishing programs died out because the sales just weren’t there. Even Alyson Books is gone.

When publishers did publish gay fiction, there was a tendency to de-queer the stories in the marketing, much like the way publishers de-Wisconsin their stories. See how the two strands of this blog come together? But it’s nice to see more books being published that don’t hide behind innuendo. We’re also seeing a lot more lesbian fiction and memoirs whereas we once had to rely on specialty publishers like Naiad. We’re seeing a lot more work from trans and gender nonconforming authors, and my guess is that more titles are in the pipeline.

I checked my bookshelf to see if I still had A Boy’s Own Story, and I did, a hardcover edition no less. And when I opened it up, it was signed and personalized. I thought maybe I went to a reading at A Different Light. It was not a first edition and it was discounted 10%, but with a hand-written sticker placed on the inner flap. What? No computer sticker! Oh yes, that was 1982. The memories are blurry, alas.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Miles and Myles and Kelli - Boswell events for the week of July 27 with Kelli Jo Ford, Myles Hopper, and Miles Harvey

Here's what's happening virtually with Boswell this week. 

Monday, July 27, 7:00 pm
Kelli Jo Ford, author of Crooked Hallelujah
in conversation with Boswell's Daniel Goldin for a virtual event.
Register on Zoom here.

Here's the story about how we wound up with an event for Kelli Jo Ford, citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. It was last January and booksellers were meeting in Baltimore for Winter Institute. Did you ever go to a conference and run into a person you've never met before and then proceed to run into them 100 more times, and yet there are all these other folks you know from previous conferences that you see once if at all? Well, that was the case for Ford and me. First we sat together at a seminar where she told me about her book, then then a sales rep talked about it at the rep-around lunch, and then I got a copy signed by her at a reception. Every time we passed each other in the hall, we waved. How could I not read her debut novel?*

The best part was that the novel, Crooked Hallelujah, was as wonderful as the kismet-like way we were brought together, again and again. Here's my recommendation: "The complicated bonds of three generations of Cherokee women are explored in Ford’s striking debut, a chapter of which won the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize. At the start, Justine is a teenager rebelling against Lula, her strict Holy Roller mom. A decade later, Justine is raising her own daughter, hoping that she can give Reney a better future. Both Justine and Reney struggle with abusive men as mom and daughter move away from their Oklahoma reservation and back again, toward dreams and away from reality. Eventually the elements rebel and the family must confront tornadoes, fires, and more. Crooked Hallelujah is not quite a novel and not quite not a novel as Ford plays with style, chronology, and perspective (a heads up to you plot obsessives). One particular piece follows a lesbian couple that moves to rural Texas and have a life-threatening test; it’s a great story but seemed ancillary to the rest of the plotline. But I actually enjoyed that chapter a lot, so I can see how the decision was made to include it – just too good to let go! Come to think of it, that’s my feeling about the whole book – I didn’t want it to end.

And I'm not the only fan. Ford won the Plimpton Prize, "an annual award of $10,000 given by The Paris Review to a previously unpublished or emerging author who has written a work of fiction that was recently published in its publication." Ford got great advance reviews on Booklist and Publishers Weekly, the latter of whom said, "Ford's storytelling is urgent, her characters achingly human and complex, and her language glittering and rugged. This is a stunner."

Here's the great review from Dwight Garner in The New York Times. Here's the very quotable write up from Julie Buntin in the San Francisco Chronicle. One Buntin pull-out: "The novel is told in cleverly connected stories that span time (from 1974 to the near future) and point of view - a prismatic lens that emphasizes the way each woman’s story depends on the women who came before her. Ford’s pages ache with tenderness and love and no small amount of frustration — her characters are all trapped in different ways, by crappy jobs with too-small paychecks, by men who fail to do right or stay, by the debt of love they owe their mothers, their daughters."

And yesterday Sarah McCammon spoke to Ford on Weekend Edition Sunday. Ford spoke about her inspiration: "The first inspiration, for me and what continues to be one of my strongest inspirations is that there were times in my life when I was a little girl that I - like Reney, the book's youngest protagonist, also lived in a household with four generations of Cherokee women. And so growing up with a strong woman, these strong personalities, these really close relationships in, you know, one household? That was just going to stick with me, I think. It was going to probably come out in some way if I was going to make art of any kind."

We're hoping to help set up another event with Ford and UWM Access, where she'll be joined by local Indigenous participants for a Circle of Women. I almost consider Monday's event a preview for that one.

Tuesday, July 28, 7:00 pm
Myles Hopper, author of My Father’s Shadow
in conversation with Kim Suhr for a virtual event
Register for this event on Zoom right here.

We’re pleased to host Shorewood author Hopper as he chats about his memoir with Red Oak Writing's Kim Suhr. This event is of course cosponsored by Red Oak Writing.  Looking for an online critique group for your work in progress? Red Oak is meeting on Zoom. Here's more information

Last week I visited Orange Hat Publishing in downtown Waukesha. I had a flashback to 30 years ago in the height of my department store obsession, when I got someone to drive me to Johnson Hill's, which I think also traded under the name McCoys. At that time, there was still a JC Penney and two variety stores, despite the presence of Brookfield Square, which had led to the closing of Sears. Shannon Ishizaki gave me a mini tour as I picked up signed copies of Myles Hopper's memoir. And yes, that means we have actual signed copies.

A little boy with hair the color red - his scarlet letter - and family secrets to be disclosed only decades later. A man late in life confronted with looming mortality. These are the bookends of My Father’s Shadow, a narrative nonfiction collection of timely stories with universal themes that are heartwarming, painful, distressing, humorous. This memoir examines how one person has managed to thrive in a world replete with wild imperfections and an eclectic array of people and relationships, some nurturing, others much less so. My Father’s Shadow delves deep into the pain and joy of life itself.

Myles Hopper is a cultural anthropologist and former faculty member at universities in Canada and the United States. His writing has appeared in the Jewish Literary Journal and Creative Wisconsin Anthology, and has been anthologized in Friends: Voices on the Gift of Companionship and Family Stories from the Attic. 

Are you a Kim Suhr fan? Don't forget she's also interviewing Randall Kenan, author of If I Had Two Wings, on August 12. Register here.

Thursday, July 30, 7:00 pm:
Miles Harvey, author of The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch
in conversation with Daniel Goldin for a virtual event
Register here for our Zoom conversation.

Boswell Book Company presents Miles Harvey, author of The Island of Lost Maps, who’ll chat about his latest, the story of the most infamous American con man you've never heard of: James Strang, the self-proclaimed divine king of earth, heaven, and an island in Lake Michigan. Purchase your copy of The King of Confidence from Boswell using the link above for 20% off the list price through at least August 6.

Here's yet another event we've been working on forever. The King of Confidence was originally coming out earlier, and I was trying to set up an event at the American Geographical Society map library at UWM. Reading The King of Confidence, I could actually visualize the maps of this story. And where is Beaver Island, the nexus of James Strang's kingdom? It's about 100 miles east of Washington Island. I think it's officially in Michigan waters, but there's no question that Strang's first stronghold was Burlington, which is definitely in Wisconsin.

Here's the official certified Daniel recommendation: "How many of you know the story of James J Strang, the man who claimed an angel came to him after the death of Joseph Smith and said he, and not Brigham Young, was the true heir to the LDS church? Establishing a base just outside of Burlington, Wisconsin, he and his followers went on to control Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. From there, his followers did a little piracy, some counterfeiting, and something called consecration, where you rob nonbelievers in the name of religion. Yes, it’s crazy. But what’s even more interesting of the story is how this now footnote to history captured the 19th century zeitgeist in so many ways, from religious revivals to astounding transformations to the rise of the confidence man, such that Strang’s story might have been one of the inspirations for Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man and an incident in Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad. Fascinating history with lots of great stories!" 

Vanity Fair calls it “A rollicking story ripe for the Hollywood treatment.” And Jennifer Day, writing for the Chicago Tribune, says ”Harvey serves up what promises to be a page-turner about this bizarre moment in Michigan history where fair Beaver Island served as an epicenter of fraud, polygamy and piracy."  But wait, there's more - it's reviewed in today's New York Times Book Review by Chris Jennings: "Harvey’s wonderfully digressive narrative is interspersed with news clippings, playbills, land surveys and daguerreotypes, as if to periodically certify that all of this madness is really true. Strang himself, however, remains a cipher. Where did the calculation end and the delusion begin? Did he himself ever convert to his own gospel? In any case, the inner life of a prophet is less interesting than his or her effect on the world. Tinhorn revelators are seldom in short supply. Few of them secure private theocracies."

Miles Harvey is the author of the national and international bestseller The Island of Lost Maps and the recipient of a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship. His book Painter in a Savage Land was named a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year. He teaches at DePaul University.  Is DePaul our favorite source for writerly events? Could be? We're hosting Harvey's colleague Kathleen Rooney for Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey on August 18. Yes, that's the author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. Register here.

More events on our upcoming event page. How did I wind up scheduling myself doing two conversations on the same week? I should get a better manager.

*This reminds me of the late William "Holly" Whyte's theory of why cities are so productive. And it's also why we still would have conferences in person in a COVID-free world despite the ability to do everything online. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 25, 2020

Boswell bestsellers, for the week ending July 25, 2020 

Hardcover fiction:
1. Lakewood, by Megan Giddings (look for an Access event soon)
2. The Boy, The Horse, the Fox, and the Mole, by Charlie Mackesy
3. The Lives of Edie Pritchett, by Larry Watson (Watch Watson's Boswell video here)
4. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
5. Axiom's End, by Lindsay Ellis
6. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
7. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
8. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
9. Utopia Avenue, by David Mitchell
10. The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue
11. The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones
12. Crooked Hallelujah, by Kelli Jo Ford (Register for Ford's Boswell July 27 conversation here)

We had a very strong first week on Hamnet, the new novel by Maggie O'Farrell, which imagines the life of Shakespeare to Anne (or Agnes) Hathaway and the early death of one of his children. Geraldine Brooks reviews the story for The New York Times Book Review: "In Hamnet, Shakespeare’s marriage is complicated and troubled, yet brimming with love and passion. Hathaway is imagined as a free-spirited young woman, close to the natural world and uncannily intuitive. She attracts the ardor of a repressed, restless teenager still in search of his life’s purpose. In this telling, Will, with his disgraced father and uncertain prospects, is no catch; it is Agnes, given her degree of social and financial independence, who is seen as making the poorer match with this 'feckless, tradeless boy.'"

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump
2. The King of Confidence, by Miles Harvey (register for Harvey's July 30 conversation here)
3. The Answer Is, by Alex Trebek
4. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
5. Remain in Love, by Chris Frantz
6. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi
7. Big Friendship, by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
8. The Room Where It Happened, by John Bolton
9. Begin Again, by Eddie S Glaude
10. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Our 2nd week of sales for Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, increased substantially over week one. Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman "make the bold and compelling argument that a close friendship is the most influential and important relationship a human life can contain-helping you improve as a person and in your relationships with others." They cohost the Call Your Girlfriend podcast. Sow tells Julie Beck in The Atlantic what a big friendship is: "I always make the distinction between someone who is my friend and someone who I am friendly with. I think those two things are very different. One of the reasons for writing Big Friendship was that a lack of vocabulary for what a friend is, or what a long-term, meaningful relationship with a friend is, was something that we had both struggled with. The key to figuring out what we meant to each other really lay in unlocking that vocabulary."

Paperback fiction:
1. Death Overdue, by David S Pederson
2. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
3. The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler
4. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
5. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
6. Late Love, by Paula Goldman (Register for this September 10 event with Susan Firer here)
7. Time's Convert, by Deborah Harkness
8. The Relentless Moon V3, by Mary Robinette Kowal
9. American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson
10. Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim

The Relentless Moon continues the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal, who received the Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Awards for best novel for the first book in the series, The Calculating Stars. Adrienne Martini reviewed the book for Locus, starting with a quibble: "While I heap praise upon those books, a small criticism I’ve had is that they sometimes feel performative, meaning that Kowal does a such a thoughtful job at building inclusive characters and illustrating power dynamics that it can feel rote. I applaud her commitment to inclusivity, mind, but moments felt less organic to the world and more rigidly rooted to an outline. That isn’t to insult outlines, but they aren’t a substitute for story. That response never once popped to mind in The Relentless Moon. Perhaps that is because the plot is more straightforward than the first two books. Rather than tracing Elma’s path through the politics of a NASA-like workplace, The Relentless Moon is a straight-up spy thriller. Nicole Wargin, one of the astronautettes in Elma’s cohort, takes center stage here as she works to untangle who is sabotaging the space program. The Relentless Moon shows what was happening on Earth and in its near orbit during the same time period as The Fated Sky, which we learned about from Elma’s perspective. Now we’re deep in the conflict."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Make Me, by Eric Toshalis
2. The Color of Love, by Marra B Gad (Register for JCC July 28 virtual event - details below)
3. Emergent Strategy, by Adrienne Maree Brown
4. An Altar in the World, by Barbara Brown Taylor
5. My Father's Shadow, by Myles Hopper (Register for Hopper's July 28 event here)
6. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence
7. Four Arguments, by Don Miguel Ruiz
8. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
9. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
10. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson

The JCC Tapestry is hosting a Zoom program with Marra B Gad for The Color of Love on Tuesday, July 28 at 7:30 pm. Per the organizers: "The Color of Love is an unforgettable memoir about a mixed-race Jewish woman who, after fifteen years of estrangement from her racist great-aunt, helps bring her home when Alzheimer’s strikes. The Color of Love explores the idea of yerusha, which means 'inheritance' in Yiddish. At turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming, this is a story about what you inherit from your family—identity, disease, melanin, hate, and most powerful of all, love." You'll see when you buy the book (10% off through at least the August 3) that there's also a recommendation from me.

Books for Kids:
1. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
2. Antiracist Baby picture book, by Ibram X Kendi, with illustrations by Ashley Uananiau Lukashevsky
3. Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer, by Gillian Goerz
4. The Story of Civil Rights Hero John Lewis, by Kathleen Benson and Jim Haskins, illustrated by Aaron Boyd
5. You Matter, by Christian Robinson
6. Alfie, by Thyra Heder
7. Julian Is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love
8. Dry, by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
9. Shadow and Bone V1, by Leigh Bardugo
10. The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Canadian cartoonist Gillian Goerz offers up Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer, a new graphic novel that's available in paperback and hardcover too. Kirkus Reviews notes: "When Jamila Waheed meets fellow 10-year-old Shirley Bones at a garage sale, she's hopeful she's made her first neighborhood friend. Shirley's mother is sending her to camp for the summer, against her will. When Jamila confesses that she's in the same situation, Shirley, who's a bit of an oddball, says that she'll convince her mother to convince Jamila's mother to let them skip camp and spend time together instead. Jamila is skeptical, but Shirley comes through, and before long, the two girls are spending their days together on the nearby basketball court. But instead of practicing, like Jamila, Shirley makes it her home base for doing detective work. When Jamila joins Shirley, the two begin to forge a true friendship - one that their latest case puts to the test."

Jim Higgins reviews Larry Watson's The Lives of Edie Pritchard in the Journal Sentinel: "Like Watson’s earlier novel Orchard, The Lives of Edie Pritchard is a story about a woman whom men try to possess, but rarely make an effort to understand or even listen to. More than once in this new novel, Edie feels exasperated by the rutting stags around her: 'They were fighting to impress her; she knows this. And she wasn’t impressed; she was disgusted. Yet that didn’t matter at all. She didn’t matter either, not really, not her disapproval or her anger. The fight was over her, yet they didn’t even need her there.'" If you missed our event with Watson, you can tune in to Books & Company's program on July 29 (register here) or watch ours on video.

Monday, July 20, 2020

This week at Boswell - Larry Watson, Gabriel Bump, and David S. Pederson, plus Kelli Jo Ford next Monday

Here's what's happening this week at Boswell

Tuesday, July 21, 7:00 pm
A virtual event with Larry Watson, author of The Lives of Edie Pritchard
in conversation with Mitch Teich

We’re excited to host a virtual event with Larry Watson, the acclaimed author of many critically acclaimed novels, most recently As Good As Gone, for a chat about his brand new novel, a multigenerational story of the West told through the history of one woman trying to navigate life on her own terms. Larry Watson is author of ten critically acclaimed books, and his fiction has received numerous prizes and awards. A film adaptation of Watson's novel Let Him Go is currently in production with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane and due to release in November 2020.

For this event, Watson will be in conversation with Mitch Teich, formerly Executive Producer of Lake Effect and now with North Country Public Radio. This event will be broadcast via Zoom. Registration is required – register right here via this link! Books are signed by Mr. Watson. Not bookplates, signed books!

Edie - smart, self‑assured, beautiful - always worked hard. She worked as a teller at a bank, she worked to save her first marriage, and she worked to raise her daughter even as her second marriage came apart. Edie just wanted a good life, but everywhere she turned, her looks defined her. Two brothers fought over her. Her second husband became unreasonably possessive and jealous. Her daughter resented her. And now, as a grandmother, Edie finds herself harassed by a younger man. It’s been a lifetime of proving that she is allowed to exist in her own sphere. The Lives of Edie Pritchard tells the story of one woman just trying to be herself, even as multiple men attempt to categorize and own her.

From the Jim Higgins review in the Journal Sentinel: "We see Edie at three junctures of her life: as a young Montana wife desired by her husband's fraternal twin circa 1967; as a remarried mother of a teenage daughter in a different small town in 1987; and as a twice-divorced grandmother of a troubled teen in 2007. Characters and memories from the first section thread through the later ones. Watson also slyly alludes to a dramatic event from his signature novel, Montana 1948), a book widely read by both book groups and schools."

Wednesday, July 22, 7:00 pm
A virtual event with Gabriel Bump, author of Everywhere You Don’t Belong
in conversation with Nasif Rogers and Shana Lucas

We’re pleased to host a virtual event with Bump, who’ll chat about his darkly funny, heartfelt debut novel with Milwaukee educators Nasif Rogers and Shana Lucas. Cosponsored by UWM ACCESS. Broadcast via Zoom, this event requires registration - click right here to register now! And purchase your copy of Everywhere You Don't Belong for 20% off the list price until July 29. Alas, no signed copies this time. Some day Mr. Bump will visit and you can bring your book to the event to be signed. He's already working on his next novel, The New Naturals.

We're thrilled to be working with UWM Access on this event. Conversation partners Shana Lucas and Nasif Rogers are educators, who are, like Bump himself, Chicago natives. Bump received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and currently works as a teaching artist for Just Buffalo's Writing Center

Tommy Orange, author of There There, calls Bump’s novel “A comically dark coming-of-age story about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, but it’s also social commentary at its finest, woven seamlessly into the work . . . handled so beautifully that you don’t know he’s hypnotized you until he’s done.”

Thursday, July 23, 7:00 pm
A virtual event with David S Pederson, author of Death Overdue
in conversation with Alan Karbel

Boswell (virtually) welcomes Wisconsin author Pederson back to celebrate his fifth novel in the Heath Barrington mystery series, Death Overdue. Pederson will chat with Shorewood Public Schools Librarian Emeritus Alan Karbel.

This event will be broadcast via Zoom, and registration will be required. Click right here to register today! Purchase your copy of Death Overdue for a 10% through at least July 30. And yes, copies are signed by Mr. Pederson!

In Pederson’s latest installment, Heath’s life was now in jeopardy. He had no choice but to confront his blackmailer and find out what he has. But then, the decision’s made for him when the blackmailer turns up dead. Is Heath a murderer? Even he isn’t sure, thanks to several double martinis. Other suspects include a voluptuous neighbor, a smarmy grocer, a ruthless gangster, Heath’s cousin Liz, who was once married to the blackmailer, and Miss Caldwell, a wily librarian who has eyes for the blackmailer’s wife. Heath tries to read between the lines to solve the case of a death overdue before he’s arrested for the crime.

Wisconsin’s David S Pederson is author of five Heath Barrington novels, including Death Checks In, a 2019 Lambda Literary Award finalist. That's his second nomination, by the way.

Monday, July 27, 7:00 pm
A virtual event with Kelli Jo Ford, author of Crooked Hallelujah
in conversation with Boswell's Daniel Goldin

Plimpton Prize Winner Kelli Jo Ford, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, joins us for a chat about her first novel, a remarkable debut that follows four generations of Cherokee women across four decades. She'll be in conversation with Bowell Book Company's proprietor Daniel Goldin. This event will be broadcast via Zoom, and registration is required. Click right here to register today. Crooked Hallelujah is discounted 20% at least through August 3.

It's 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fifteen-year-old Justine grows up in a family of tough, complicated, and loyal women presided over by her mother, Lula, and Granny. After Justine's father abandoned the family, Lula became a devout member of the Holiness Church - a community that Justine at times finds stifling and terrifying. But Justine does her best as a devoted daughter until an act of violence sends her on a different path forever. In lush and empathic prose, Kelli Jo Ford depicts what this family of proud, stubborn, Cherokee women sacrifices for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture. This is a big-hearted and ambitious novel of the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters by an exquisite and rare new talent.

Ford's debut has earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, which says "Ford's storytelling is urgent, her characters achingly human and complex, and her language glittering and rugged. This is a stunner." And don't forget about this great review in the San Francisco Chronicle from Julie Buntin: "Ford’s prose is so absorbing that you’re right there, helping Justine and Reney free a garbage bag full of goldfish or watching the sunset with them over Lake Tenkiller; their lives are difficult, yes, but full of joy, too. Now and then, Ford will turn up the volume in a sentence, sing a little. A list of gifts presented to Reney by her mother’s suitors includes a “bone-handled jackknife, a book of knots, the licks of a bobtailed dog” — the consonantal alliteration (those glorious k’s!), the living animal in the final clause, are a reminder that Ford’s writing is full of poetry. These stories stand up beautifully to rereading; they made me excited for what the writer will do next."

More on the Boswell upcoming events page. Credits are Gabriel Bump by Jeremy Handrup, Larry Watson by Susan Watson, and Kelli Jo Ford by Val Ford Hancock.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending July 18, 2020

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending July 18, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Everywhere You Don't Belong, by Gabriel Bump (register for July 22 event here)
2. Utopia Avenue, by David Mitchell
3. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
4. The Color of Air, by Gail Tsukiyama
5. The Order, by Daniel Silva
6. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Peace Talks, by Jim Butcher
8. Bonnie, by Christina Schwarz
9. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
10. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
11. Crooked Hallelujah, by Kelli Jo Ford (register for July 27 event here)

For several weeks, we've had an unusual situation where paperback nonfiction was driving sales, mostly due to increased interest in antiracisim literature. But while that list is still very strong, hardcover fiction has had renewed life, due to an unusually vibrant July schedule, what with a number of titles being delayed from May and June.

Leading the pack is Utopia Avenue, the new novel from David Mitchell, which dominated the review scene this week and has a nice rec from Boswellian Conrad (which you can read when you click on the link to purchase the book). Ron Charles writes lovingly of the new novel in The Washington Post: " Set in London when “new labels are springing up like mushrooms,” “Utopia Avenue” is a story of creative synthesis, one of those astonishing moments when a few disparate individuals suddenly fall into harmony and change the sound of an era. Mitchell — cult writer, critical darling, popular novelist — knows much about the unpredictable currents of fame, and he brings that empathy and his own extraordinarily dynamic style to this tale of four musicians."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump (a record-breaking week for this one, per Simon and Schuster)
2. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
3. Begin Again, by Eddie S. Glaude
4. Demagogue, by Larry Tye
5. Separated, by Jacob Soboroff
6. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
7. The Room Where It Happened, by John Bolton
8. Countdown 1945, by Chris Wallace
9. A Very Stable Genius, by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
10. Milwaukee Rock and Roll, by Bruce Cole, David Luhrssen, and Phil Naylor

From the William Morrow (itself a division of HarperCollins) imprint Custom House comes Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, from NBC News (and MSNBC) correspondent and winner of the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Broadcast Journalism. I haven't seen too many traditional press reviews on this one (aside from the trade news reviewers like Publishers Weekly and Booklist), as it seems this is mostly being driven by NBC news coverage. From Kirkus: "A book of justifiably righteous indignation at - and condemnation of - a monstrous program." I could be wrong, but usually a major review doesn't show up on page four of a web search.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Nogozi Adichie
2. This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger
3. Death Overdue, by David S. Pederson (register for the July 23 event here)
4. There There, by Tommy Orange
5. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
6. Sula, by Toni Morrison
8. In the Shadow of Young Girls, by Marcel Proust
9. Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan
10. Resistance Women, by Jennifer Chiaverini

While hosting with Lisa Baudoin the event for Christina Schwarz's Bonnie (signed bookplates with purchase), I noted that her novel captured life during the 1930s depression. Another book on our list that is set during this time period is William Kent Krueger's This Tender Land, his second stand-alone novel that has been a New York Times bestseller in hardcover and paperback. That sounds more common than it actually is - I think there is more turn on the hardcover list and it is actually easier to place there than in the trade paperback top 15. I also noticed that the publisher has been playing up the Parade Magazine comparison to Where the Crawdads Sing. Seems like a good idea to me.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
2. Pushout, by Monique W. Morris
3. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hager (our copies are currently signed by the author)
4. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
5. Articulate While Black, by Sami Alim
6. What Kindergarten Teachers Know, by Lisa Holewa
7. Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino
8. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
9. Stomping the Blues, by Albert Murray
10. The Yellow House, by Sarah M. Broom

We have an educator book club reading several titles this summer, including Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, and it was toough to get copies of this so I'm guessing that educators around the country are doing the same. Michelle Alexander of The New Jim Crow called this book “A powerful indictment of the cultural beliefs, policies, and practices that criminalize and dehumanize Black girls in America, coupled with thoughtful analysis and critique of the justice work that must be done at the intersection of race and gender.” Morris is co-founder of the National Black Women's Justice Institute.

Books for Kids:
1. Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson
2. Front Desk, by Kelly Yang
3. The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd
4. A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
5. Antiracist Baby picture book, by Ibram X. Kendi with illustrations by Ashley Lukashevsky
6. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
7. Not Norman, by Kelly Bennett, with illustrations by Noah Z. Jones
8. Creekfinding, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, with illustrations by Claudia McGehee
9. You Should See Me in a Crown, by Leah Johnson
10. Perfect, by Cecelia Ahern

Many of these titles are school orders, but individual sales are driving You Should See Me in a Crown, a YA rom-com about a black queer teen who decides to run for prom queen. Cecily Lewis in School Library Journal wrote: " Johnson's pacing is perfect as the story unwinds at dizzying speed, while attacking some tropes and celebrating others. Occasionally, life has fairy-tale endings. Readers will fall in love with this refreshing book that celebrates the beauty of individuality"

The Journal Sentinel offers a profile of Colson Whitehead and a review of Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Three events this week - Gail Tsukiyama with Jane Hamilton on July 14, Christina Schwarz with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin on July 15, Charles Hagner on birding with Schlitz Audubon's Don Quintenz on July 16

This week at Boswell!

Tuesday, July 14, 7:00 pm:  Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Color of Air, in conversation with Jane Hamilton for a virtual event

When we heard that there was a new Gail Tsukiyama novel, we didn't know what to expect. The author left her longtime home at St. Martin's Press for  HarperVia, the new imprint under the auspices of Publisher Judith Curr, Executive Editor Juan Mila, and Associate Publisher Tara Parsons. Would they tour her or not? We stressed and stressed - until of course we realized we would definitely not get on the tour, because there wouldn't be a tour.

So we were thrilled (yes, a rollercoaster of emotions) when we were offered a virtual event with Tsukiyama, winner of  Academy of American Poets Award and the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. And we knew exactly who we'd propose for a conversation partner - Tsukiyama's long-time friend Jane Hamilton (The Book of Ruth, The Excellent Lombards, and every wonderful novel in between), who brought Tsukiyama to Milwaukee for A Hundred Flowers, in conjunction with a residency at Ragdale. The Color of Air is the story of a Japanese-American family set against the backdrop of Hawaii's sugar plantations.

Long-time Boswellian Jane Glaser considers Tsukiyama's The Samurai's Garden to be one of her favorite contemporary novels of all time. She offers this praise for The Color of Air: "Bestselling author Gail Tsukiyama gifts readers with a beautifully rendered story set against the backdrop of 1935 Hawaii as the tremors of the Mauna Loa volcano threaten the community of Hilo, whose livelihood depends on fishing and the sugar cane plantations. Despite the anticipated danger, the people of Hilo are planning a celebration to welcome home a native son from Chicago, where he studied and became a doctor, a first for his family of Japanese descent. Daniel's return not only brings together a joyous gathering, but the reunion also sets off a chain of events where long-buried secrets and moral dilemmas emerge, endangering the relationships of a close-knit town during a time of impending natural disaster. Yet, under the pen of an extraordinary storyteller, Ms. Tsukiyama creates a remarkably soulful portrait of richly drawn characters who, in the face of uncertain times, shows the strength, wisdom, forgiveness, and enduring love that will embrace the heart of every reader. Destined to be one of my favorite books of 2020!"

This event will be broadcast via Zoom, and registration is required. Register today for tonight's event. And purchase your copy of The Color of Air from Boswell from now through at least July 21 for 20% off list price. After the event, we'll link to the recorded event here, as long as nothing goes awry!

Wednesday, July 15, 7:00 pm
Christina Schwarz, author of Bonnie
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a virtual event

In the days of in-person events, two events in a market could make sense, even if they were targeted to the same general audience. But when Lisa and I were both offered an event with former Metro Milwaukeean Christina Schwarz (author of The Edge of the Earth and the #1 bestseller Drowning Ruth) for her fifth novel Bonnie, we decided to join forces and do the event together, sort of a virtual version of our events at the Sharon Lynn Wilson Center. You can buy the book at either Boswell or Books & Company. And yes, I want to call this program something like Readings from Oconomowaukee. Still working on that, but I really like the Oconomowaukee part.

We were told that Bonnie vividly evokes the perennially fascinating true crime love affair of Bonnie and Clyde and were promised a book that was a suspenseful, gorgeously detailed fictional portrait of Bonnie Parker, one of the world's most enigmatic woman. And having read the book, that's a fair assessment. One of the fun things about our dual conversation (this is the first time Lisa and I have done this) is that we got to have a book discussion beforehand, where we traded reflections about the novel.

Schwarz did a lot of research on Bonnie, visiting many of the towns portrayed in the book. She's created a Bonnie who is driven less by boredom (the raison d'etre of Arthur Penn's film version) than by thwarted ambition. Bonnie Parker's poetry is an important part of the story. One of the things I also noted about the story is how mothers and motherhood drives so much of the story - both Bonnie and Clyde are obsessed with their moms, and their crime sprees are often detoured by parental visits. For Lisa, the story's plot arc is almost completely driven by cars and guns. And you know where that got them. But we don't want to give everything away - we've got plenty more questions for Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, read Elizabeth Brundage's review in The New York Times.

This event will be broadcast via Zoom, and registration is required. Click this link to register right here today! And purchase your copy of Bonnie from Boswell for 20% off list price (or you can buy it at Books & Company here), at least through July 22. After the event, if all goes well, you should be able to watch the interview here.

Thursday, July 16, 7:00 pm
Charles Hagner, author of American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, in conversation with Don Quintenz for a virtual event. Cosponsored by Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

A tremendous addition to our birding section was Charles Hagner's American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds in Wisconsin. It took us a while to schedule an event (we had two in the works before COVID-19) and even longer for us to convert to virtual, but we're thrilled to have a great virtual program planned with Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Thanks to former bookseller turned Schlitz Audubon Marketing and Communications Director Nancy Quinn for having pivot patience!

For this event, State Director of Bird City Wisconsin and former Editor in Chief of BirdWatching magazine, Charles Hagner chats about the wonderful wildlife of Wisconsin’s skies depicted in his latest work with Don Quintenz, Senior Ecologist at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Filled with gorgeous color images, this new field guide (the format is Audubon-esque, with its flexi cover) is the perfect companion for anyone wanting to learn more about the natural history and diversity of the state's birds and when and where to see them. Hagner is also Board Chair of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. Alas, I don't think Field Guide to Bats of Wisconsin is in the works. Do imaginary books need to be italicized? Discuss.

With more than 15,000 interior lakes and bordering both Lake Superior to the north and Lake Michigan to the east, Wisconsin is famous as a place to observe waterbirds of all types. It also has expansive forested areas, plains, and farmlands providing ideal habitats for hummingbirds, raptors, warblers, sparrows and more. And with nine national wildlife refuges, two national parks, and more than three million acres of IBAs (Important Bird Areas), Wisconsin is truly a great state for birds and birders.

Broadcast via Zoom, registration is required. Click right here to register today! American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin is on sale at Boswell for 10% off list price through at least July 23. And don't forget, if all goes well, we'll have a link to Hagner's talk right here afterwards. As for all the books, we have free sidewalk pickup (it's a shipping option on our website) or $4 media mail shipping in state, $6 nationally. We have signed bookplates for Tsukiyama and Schwarz.