Monday, August 17, 2020

Kathleen Rooney with Caitlin Horrocks discuss Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, Maggie O'Farrell and Jane Hamilton talk Hamnet, plus don't forget about tonight's event for Kirkland Hamill's Filthy Beasts (with Christina Clancy)

Tuesday, August 18, 6:00 pm (note updated time)
Kathleen Rooney, author of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey
in conversation with Caitlin Horrocks for a virtual event

We’re pleased to host a virtual event with the author of the beloved Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. Rooney will chat about her new novel, based on the incredible true story of a WWI messenger pigeon and the soldiers whose lives she forever altered. She'll chat with Caitlin Horrocks, author of The Vexations. Broadcast via Zoom, registration is required to view this event. Click right here and register today! Purchase a copy of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey from Boswell Book Company for 20% off list price – paperback link above. Hardcover edition also available here.

Daniel's rec: "In her latest compelling novel, the author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk reimagines the Lost Batallion incident of World War I through two iconic historical figures, Major Charles ‘Whit’ Whittlesey and Cher Ami, the homing pigeon who got through enemy lines when others failed. As was the case in another recent pick of mine, The Story of a Goat, Cher Ami tells her own story and brings to vivid life what we ask of animals in the service of humans, in addition to the sadly familiar notes on the toll of war. Whit and Cher Ami’s stories offer pointed parallels: both are destroyed by battle, one physically and the other emotionally. And while Whit lives the life of a closeted gay man, Cher Ami also has a queer identity - mistaken by most for a male pigeon, she is actually a female, and the love of her life is another female pigeon, Baby Mine - keep in mind that this is historical fiction with a capital F. Rooney hones in on the connections between the two stories with repeated opening sentences in consecutive chapters, a touch similar to one I really enjoyed in The Maze at Windermere. Those who loved Lillian Boxfish will enjoy an old New York brought to life, as well as the celebration of a life - no, two lives - that are consigned to the margins of history. And while I should warn readers that it takes some time to acclimate to the pacing of the story, by the end, I couldn’t stop reading."

How we booked this event: Have I mentioned our success with Lillian enough for one blog post? And with the help of avid readers in the Milwaukee community (here's a shout out, Nancy Quinn), we wound up selling hundreds of copies and brought Rooney in paperback to two area libraries for a book club talk. But what about the new book? Under Life with Covid: The Series, a lot of publishers have cut back on print advance copies and I'm just having a dickens of a time reading ebooks. So here's a second shout out to our rep Stefan Moorehead, who got permission print a copy of the book for me. We made contact with Rooney's publicist and a date was set.

Wednesday, August 19, 2:00 pm
Maggie O'Farrell, author of Hamnet - just came back into stock!
in conversation with Jane Hamilton for a virtual event

Boswell Book Company and Inklink Books of East Troy, WI kick off their joint Ink/Well virtual event series with Costa Award winning author Maggie O’Farrell for a chat about her latest, Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague. She’ll be in conversation with Wisconsin’s own Jane Hamilton, author of The Excellent Lombards and The Book of Ruth. Broadcast via Zoom, registration is required to view this event. Click right here to register right now! Purchase a copy of Hamnet for 20% off list price right here from Boswell Book Company, or call InkLink Books to place an order at (262) 642-9607.

O'Farrell, author of This Must Be the Place and the memoir I Am I Am I Am, now brings us a deeply moving novel about the death of Shakespeare's 11 year old son Hamnet - a name interchangeable with Hamlet in 15th century Britain - and the years leading up to the production of his great play. The novel returns us to another, far earlier time of widespread disease: England in 1580.

Writing for The New York Times, Geraldine Brooks (People of the Book) says, "Hamnet is an exploration of marriage and grief written into the silent opacities of a life that is at once extremely famous and profoundly obscure... This novel is at once about the transfiguration of life into art - it is O'Farrell's extended speculation on how Hamnet's death might have fueled the creation of one of his father's greatest plays - and at the same time, it is a master class in how she, herself, does it."

The booking bits: Here's another case where we started with a conversation partner. After Jane Hamilton's wonderful interview with Gail Tsukiyama (you can watch the interview here), we were chatting about who she'd most like to interview. One of the nice things about life in the time of virtual events is that we're not bound by geography. Maggie O'Farrell will be talking to Jane six hours in the future. The Ink/Well collaboration seemed natural - Kayleen Rohrer's store in East Troy is Jane's local hangout and were O'Farrell to visit Milwaukee, Inklink would have likely made a dinner to celebrate the occasion.

Sunday, August 23, 1:00 pm
Emma Jane Unsworth, author of Grown Ups
in conversation with Chris Lee for a virtual event

Boswell hosts a virtual event with British author Emma Jane Unsworth for a chat about her latest, one of Bustle’s Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020 and a favorite of several Boswell booksellers. It’s Fleabag meets Conversations with Friends in this brutally honest book about living online. She’ll chat with Boswell Book Company’s Chris Lee. Broadcast via Zoom, registration is required to view this event. Click right here and register today! Purchase a copy of Grown Ups from Boswell Book Company for 20% off list price.

Boswellians absolutely love this edgy debut. Chris says, “this book is so good it’s giving me anxiety attacks.” Madi says, “I cannot stress enough how well this book handles the stigmas and struggles that women face, including female relationships that are much more than catty bickering. Grown Ups makes you want to hug your best friends and call your mother.” Kira calls it, “a quirky, she's-already-come-of-age novel with a cast of characters that you can't stand and can't believe you so clearly identify with.” And Parker adds, “Unsworth tosses the falling tree and the forest aside and asks the question, 'if I don't post about it did it really matter? And what happens if no one cares?'”

Jenny McLaine’s life is falling apart. Her friendships are flagging. Her body has failed her. She’s just lost her column at The Foof because she isn’t the fierce voice new feminism needs. Her ex has gotten together with another woman. And worst of all: Jenny’s mother is about to move in. Having left home at eighteen to remake herself as a self-sufficient millennial, Jenny is now in her thirties and nothing is as she thought it would be. Least of all adulthood.

The backstory: Here's a case where I watched Chris hand-selling Unsworth's novel to one bookseller after another and thought, we should bottle that, and short of that, we should ask Gallery if Unsworth would do an event with us. Much like O'Farrell, Unsworth will be signing onto the conversation from across the Pond.

And don't forget tonight!
Monday, August 17, 6:00 pm (note updated time)
Kirkland Hamill, author of Filthy Beasts
in conversation with Christina Clancy for a virtual event

Hamill discusses his debut memoir, the riches-to-rags tale of a wealthy family who lost it all and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s deep flaws and his own long-buried truths. He’ll chat with Wisconsin’s Christina Clancy, author of The Second Home. Broadcast via Zoom, you can register with this link for this virtual event. And purchase your copy of Filthy Beasts for 20% off list price from Boswell Book Company.

Chris Lee's rec: "Filthy Beasts is a chronicle of family wounds accrued during a childhood lived between extremes – the crustiest of upper crust New York and exile from elite society to his alcoholic mother’s native Bermuda. Hamill is that rare beast, a most generous kind of memoirist who opens up his entire world to you, without hedging or over-explanation, and trusts you to understand it. Particularly sensitive is his writing about brotherhood and the childhood traumas which resulted from necessary self-preservation yet delayed his own self-discovery. An honest, elegantly bold book."

In The New York Times Book Review, Jason Sheeler writes, "Hamill’s tragicomic memoir [is] about survival - and recovery: of his identity, memories and compassion for his mother... Wendy deserves placement in the gay canon, somewhere between Endora on Bewitched and Jessica Lange in anything directed by Ryan Murphy."

How we booked this event! I was talking to Christi Clancy about how with the success of The Second Home, it would be great to put something together with her as conversation partner. We decided that this would be a great pairing, and Chris (see above) had already read and loved Filthy Beasts. He convinced me to read it as well and the rest is history. Note the time change, so that we'd be more out of the way of the virtual DNC.

More on the Boswell Upcoming Events Page.

Photo credits: Maggie O'Farrell by Murdo Macleod, Emma Jane Unsworth by Alex Lake, Kirkland Hamill by Sieglinde Friedman

No comments: