Monday, October 12, 2020

Events! Amy Timberlake with Jim Higgins, John Grisham with Nick Petrie, Angie Kim with Daniel, plus Max Gross next Monday

It's a light week, especially in the evenings. Maybe I can make dinner. I miss Outpost's balsamic beets and have been trying to reproduce the recipe.

Monday, October 12, 5:30 pm
Amy Timberlake, author of Skunk and Badger
in Conversation with Jim Higgins for a Virtual Event

When someone gets a Newbery honor and receives the Edgar Award for a historical novel (set in Wisconsin, no less), as Amy Timberlake did for One Came Home, you expect their next project will be another historical novel. Well, that's not what happened.

Here's my take on Timberlake's latest, Skunk and Badger: "Badger is enjoying living in Aunt Lula’s Brownstone, doing his Very Important Rock Work, when there’s a knock on the door. It’s Skunk, who has also been invited by Aunt Lula to live there. Badger can’t offer him a bedroom because it’s filled with boxes, so he gives him the closet. This is one badger set in his ways. Skunk cooks delicious food, but he doesn’t clean. And weirdest of all, he is friends with chickens – who knew there were so many chickens in town? With Skunk seemingly taking over, how is Badger to do his Very Important Rock Work? The early chapter book is so wonderful, this take on the odd couple it feels like a classic, but with a contemporary sensibility. The drawings are klassic Klassen (sorry, can’t resist!) and the details about rocks and chickens and skunks might intrigue kids to learn more about these subjects. It’s hard to say goodbye to these two, but the good news is, this is not the last think we’ll read about Skunk and Badger. Hooray!"

Jim Higgins talked to Amy Timberlake for the Journal Sentinel, where he wrote: "Timberlake modeled the gentler Skunk and Badger after A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh books. In particular, she wanted to make a book that would be fun for teachers and parents to read aloud with children. Jon Klassen's full-color plates and spot black-and-white illustrations give Skunk and Badger an old-fashioned appearance in the right kind of way." And later: "If you're a Badger kind of person who thinks books should be Important Reading where you Learn Things, be at ease. You will learn a little about rocks and chickens while reading this book. More importantly, you will learn about the delicate art of working things out with the people you live with, a timely lesson for many of us cooped up together during the COVID-19 pandemic."

The conversation continues tonight when Jim Higgins talks to Amy Timberlake via Zoom. Register here for this event. And don’t forget to purchase your copy of Skunk and Badger for 20% off list price. We're hoping to keep Timberlake's book well-stocked for the holidays, but with several virtual school events coming up, we might have issues. You know someone who needs this book for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 14, 1 pm
John Grisham, author of A Time For Mercy
in Conversation with Nick Petrie for a Virtual Event

I'm not exactly going to say we've got an exclusive here. After years of John Grisham limiting his visits to the stores that supported him for his A Time to Kill tour so many years ago, Grisham started doing bookstore tours again for Camino Island, and continued the tradition with a virtual tour for Casino Winds. I think he's doing at least two events a day, which is why our event is at 1 pm (not that we're averse to weekday afternoon events - they actually do pretty well - see Friday.) But we have the only John Grisham event where he's in conversation with Milwaukee's own Nick Petrie, author of the Peter Ash series, starting with The Drifter and gearing up for The Breaker, on sale January 12, 2021. (And can I say here that Peter Ash is back in Milwaukee!!??)

Here's a little more about the book. Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance (the hero of A Time to Kill) finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line. The result is a richly rewarding novel that is both timely and timeless, full of wit, drama, and most of all, heart.

John Grisham is author of thirty-five novels, including books like The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and The Client which have cemented his reputation as the master of the legal thriller, and nine of his novels have been adapted into films. Nick Petrie is author of five Peter Ash novels, including The Drifter, which won the ITW Thriller and Barry Awards, and The Breaker, which will be published January 2021.

Register here for our event on October 14 at 1 pm CDT. And purchase a copy of A Time for Mercy here for 20% off. We have a limited number of signed tip-in copies. Ask for your signed copy when you order your book.

Friday, October 16, 2 pm
Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
in Conversation with Daniel Goldin for a Virtual Event

Edgar Award winning writer and former trial lawyer Angie Kim joins us for a chat with Daniel Goldin about her Edgar Award-winning novel that is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author's own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life "submarine" patient. We had a great time with Helen Phillips for our first spoilers-allowed paperback event. I loved how Phillips had never really talked about several of the twists and it took sort of a running leap to get into that territory. We'll see if Kim will go there. I've promised the authors that if we post these videos, we'll have warnings on them.

Kim’s thrilling debut novel is perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, which will appeal to John Grisham fans (see above) as the book is structured as a court trial, a book that examines how far we'll go to protect our families and our deepest secrets. Writing for The New York Times, Krys Lee calls the novel "a fascinating study of the malleability of truth in the courtroom… Miracle Creek is a brave novel that challenges assumptions of reality." When I read books late, I sometimes forget to write staff recs, but this would definitely go on my staff rec shelf and I've just added it to our book club recommendations page.

In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine - a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic "dives" with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos' small community. Both a compelling page-turner and an excavation of identity and the desire for connection, Miracle Creek is a brilliant, empathetic debut from an exciting new voice.

Register for this Zoom event here. Purchase your copy of Miracle Creek for 10% off list price. Reminder - this paperback event is spoiler-friendly, so questions about about the book's ending may be discussed. Though it’s not necessary, we might suggest reading the book before this evening.

A look ahead!
Monday, October 19, 7 pm
Max Gross, author of The Lost Shtetl
in Conversation with Andrew Silow-Carroll for a Virtual Event

Join us for a virtual event with Max Gross, Editor in Chief of the Commercial Observer and debut author of a remarkable novel, written with the fearless imagination of Michael Chabon and the piercing humor of Gary Shteyngart, about a small Jewish village in the Polish forest that is so secluded no one knows it exists - until now. Cohosted by The Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center and the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center. Hell chat with his former mentor Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor of The New York Jewish Week. Read Silow-Carroll's piece about the book here.

When Paul at HarperVia asked us if we'd be interested in hosting Gross, we had already had a great read from Chris Lee, which is always important but even moreso with virtual events. Here's what Chris thinks: "It’s a myth, it’s a fable, it’s something like a newly discovered religious text. In a world with a seemingly endless supply of novels about the ends-of-the-earth-reaching consequences of WWII and the Holocaust, The Lost Shtetl is a wondrous left turn – the story of one tiny Jewish village in Poland that the Nazis missed and time forgot. Learn along with the villagers of the past horrors they escaped and the present horrors (television, tourists, inflation, and postal codes, yech!) of the world that’s discovered them. With the village itself as a sly, sighing narrator, Gross has written a clever, affecting parable of the ways history, sooner or later, reaches us all."

Chris got me to read it too. Here are my thoughts: "In The Lost Shtetl, Kreskol, a Jewish settlement in present-day Poland, is discovered when, after a matrimonial fallout, the wife leaves town, the husband follows suit, and the town sends out a search party of one, a mamzer baker’s apprentice whom nobody will miss. When Yankel (the baker) is admitted to a hospital in nearby Smolskie, the cat’s out of the bag, or at least it will be if the medical staff don’t decide he’s either delusional or scamming them. On top of the circuitous paths of Yankel, Pesha, and Ishmael (the estranged couple), the newly discovered town must contend with greed, a tourism boom, an ideological rabbinical battle, and a good dollop of antisemitism. Meanwhile, the runaways must contend with what kind of people (and Jews) they are going to be, now that their reality rug has been pulled out from beneath them. When the copy for a novel name checks Gary Shteyngart, Michael Chabon, and Nathan Englander, what jazzy comparison is left for me? Would it be too much for me to call this philosophical and often hilarious novel the bastard child of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Cynthia Ozick?" (Daniel Goldin)

We were able to get copies to our friends at HERC and the JCC. Maybe by next week I'll get a take from them! Click right here to register for this Zoom event. And purchase a copy of The Lost Shtetl for 20% off list price at least through October 26. The book goes on sale tomorrow, October 13.

More on Boswell's upcoming events page

Photo credits!
Amy Timberlake by Phil Timberlake
John Grisham by Michael Lionstar
Angie Kim by Tim Coburn

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