Monday, June 29, 2020

Event alerts - Katherine Addison with Jim Higgins on June 30 - Steven Wright with Chris Lee on July 1

Hey, welcome back to the Monday Boswell event blog! We've got two great events this week.

Tuesday, June 30, 7:00 pm - First up is Katherine Addison, the author of The Angel of the Crows. Addison is an acclaimed Wisconsin science fiction/fantasy writer that is a particular fan of Journal Sentinel Arts and Book Editor Jim Higgins. He'd already named Addison's latest one of his summer reading picks. So when we were offered the chance to host a virtual event (register here) with Addison, we knew exactly who should be the conversation partner.

This Madison-area writer has won praise under two names! To quote from her publisher, As Addison "her short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. As Sarah Monette, she is the author of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series and the Locus Award-winning novel The Goblin Emperor; and co-author, with Elizabeth Bear, of the Iskryne series."

Addison’s latest, an alternate history fantasy novel that is a unique take on the Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson legend. Angels inhabit every public building of London, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall (capitalized on purpose), and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Kirkus says The Angel of the Crows is “a Sherlock Holmes-esque novel that truly breaks the mold… As Doyle and Crow explore London’s seedy occult underground, Addison doesn’t shy away from discussing the era’s racism… what really makes this title stand out among a sea of Sherlock Holmes stories is its straightforward criticism of gender roles and the gender binary itself.”

And Jim Higgins notes in his Journal Sentinel review: "Even more than Holmes and Watson, Crow and Doyle are outcasts, nearly friendless before their fateful introduction. Doyle has been harmed by great evil and wrestles with that constantly. The doctor hides two dangerous secrets. I'm not an obsessive reader of Holmes pastiches, but "The Angel of the Crows" goes as deep into the strengths, weaknesses and psychology of the Watson character as any I have read, making the veteran much more than a simple bulldog with a medical bag and a revolver."

This event is free and you can register on Zoom right here. Copies of The Angel of the Crows is discounted 20% off the list price at least through July 6.

Wednesday, July 1, 7:00 pm - Steven Wright, author of The Coyotes of Carthage. Originally scheduled as an in-store event, we've converted Wright's event to Zoom (register here), and while we're now two months out from pub date, our enthusiasm hasn't diminished. In fact, it's risen - Chris Lee, who is doing the conversation for this one, convinced me to read The Coyotes of Carthage and now I'm a big fan too.

Madison author Wright is Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, and he also teaches in the UW-Madison's creative writing program. But wait, he also worked in the Obama administration. And did I mention that he writes for The New York Review of Books? But there's more - Wright runs the Wisconsin Innocence Project. I'm guessing that he's taught a lot of lawyers in Milwaukee!

John Grisham has been one of the book's champions, calling Wright "a major new voice in the world of political thrillers." And the publisher has positioned the book as Grisham's The Firm meets The Sellout, the Booker-winning political satire from Paul Beatty. And it is much like The Sellout in that they are both great books, but I would argue that the tone on The Coyotes of Carthage is not quite so satirical. I really think of this book's tone as more of an espionage novel, contemporary political espionage.

Here's Chris Lee's take “To save his career as a political fixer, Dre has a quarter million in dark money to convince a small town in South Carolina to let a company dig for gold (yes, really), strip mining the local nature preserve and poisoning the water. It’s a grimly hilarious assessment of one microcosm of the American body politic; literary ironies abound. As Dre grapples with his past, tries to care for what’s left of his family, and maybe even makes a friend, the novel evolves into a bracing portrait of a man trying to untangle the political from the personal to see if he can save what scraps of decency he might have left.”

The reviews on this book are so great so I just have to include one more, from James Grady, author of Three Days of the Condor, in The Washington Post: "Andre is a strong but narratively flawed character, a 30-something black man deployed to a largely white county in the former Confederacy, a scrappy D.C. street kid who loves his moneyed, morally bankrupt lifestyle yet also cares deeply about his mother. He’s a felon who served time, got a college degree and then the “right” door opened. His backstory allows Wright to shed light on important non-electoral political and social issues, but those same forces undercut his protagonist’s believability. And while some secondary characters personify other human hopes and foibles, they often feel too forced, too cliched, too narrowly used. But when Andre’s on his fixer’s game, ah, the places Wright will take you in the politics that shape our lives, the backrooms, back alleys and bad dreams of our cash-hacked system, and he does so with a ticktock pace and knockout prose."

Join us for Steven Wright's event on July 1, 7 pm. Register here. Buy The Coyotes of Carthage here. It's discounted 20% at least through July 7.

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