Monday, November 16, 2020

Boswell events for the week - Kiese Laymon, Rick Bragg, Christine Kendall, Charles Baxter, Merrill Markoe

Monday, November 16, 7 pm
Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: Essays
in Conversation with Amina Wilson for a Virtual Event

Kiese Laymon, Hubert H. McAlexander Professor of English anbd Creative Writing at the University of Missippi and author of the memoir Heavy, visits for a conversation about the new, revised edition of his collection of thirteen essays. Cosponsored by America's Black Holocaust Museum. Register for this Zoom webinar here.

With subjects that range from an interview with his mother to reflections on Ole Miss football, Outkast, and the labor of Black women, these thirteen insightful essays highlight Laymon’s profound love of language and his artful rendering of experience, trumpeting why he is, according to New York magazine, “simply one of the most talented writers in America.”

Roxane Gay says, "I first encountered Kiese Laymon's writing when I read How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. I was stunned into stillness." Brilliant and uncompromising, piercing and funny, this is essential reading. This new edition of award-winning author Laymon’s first work of nonfiction looks inward, drawing heavily on the author and his family’s experiences, while simultaneously examining the world - Mississippi, the South, the United States - that has shaped their lives.

Wednesday, November 18, 7 pm
Rick Bragg, author of Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South
in conversation with Bill Young for a Virtual Event

Rick Bragg, best-selling, Pulitzer prize-winning author of All Over But the Shoutin' and The Best Cook in the World joins us for a conversation about his latest, a collection of his irresistible columns from Southern Living and Garden and Gun. He’ll chat with Midwest Media owner Bill Young. Register for this virtual event here.

From his love of Tupperware to the decline of country music, from the legacy of Harper Lee to the metamorphosis of the pickup truck, the best way to kill fire ants, the unbridled excess of Fat Tuesday, and why any self-respecting southern man worth his salt should carry a good knife, Where I Come From is an ode to the stories and history of the Deep South, written with tenderness, wit, and deep affection - a book that will be treasured by fans old and new.

From Kirkus Reviews: “Poignant... The columns are clever, unassuming, and, most notably, told in a distinctive voice. They do what good columns do: sometimes tug at your heart, sometimes make you laugh to yourself, sometimes both. You read one and then go on with your day with a better sense of what it’s like to be from somewhere.”

Thursday, November 19, 10 am
Christine Kendall, author of The True Definition of Neva Beane
A Virtual Event for families, schools, and educators

Join us for a conversation with the NAACP Image Award-nominated author of Riding Chance. Kendall's latest tells the story of a girl whose dictionary is helping make sense of the world, her changing body, friendships, and a family that's struggling to stay strong amidst the turbulent backdrop of activism. Note, this event is open to the public and is school and educator friendly! Register for this event here.

Being twelve isn't easy, especially when you're Neva Beane. Neva feels beautiful wearing her new bra, but she's confused by how others respond to the changes taking place in and out of her body. Her best friend, Jamila, is getting all the attention. Her brother, Clayton, is becoming an activist. And Mom and Dad are gone working. Grandad and Nana aren't much help, either, with their old ways and backward views.

Neva struggles to find her place in a world that is uncertain, at times scary, and filled with unanswered questions. While the pages of her beloved dictionary reveal truths about what's happening around her, Neva must discover the best way to define herself. In this wholly original story, a girl finds her voice in unexpected ways.

Thursday, November 19, 7:30 pm
Charles Baxter, author of The Sun Collective
in Conversation with CJ Hribal for a Virtual Event

Join us for a special evening with National Book Award finalist Baxter, whom the Chicago Tribune has called “one of our most gifted writers,” for conversation about his first novel in more than a decade. Register for this event here. Ask for your signed bookplate when you purchase the book.

The Sun Collective is earning advanced praise, with a starred review from Kirkus, which calls it “an exceptional work. There are no easy answers, but there’s promise, even respite in the quasi-magical, the nearly miraculous.” And Booklist says, “Fiction virtuoso Baxter’s artistry and merciless insights are in full, intoxicating flower in this sinuous, dark, and dramatic tale… He has brilliantly choreographed a wholly unnerving plunge into alarming aberrations private and public, festering political catastrophe, and woefully warped love.”

From Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Baxter points toward an inspiration for this duality by naming the Brettigans’ pets after characters from Mikhail Bulgakov’s hallucinatory classic The Master and Margarita. But the likeness that occurred to me is with Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, where the underlying chaos is both concealed and somehow deepened by the inviting, mannerly prose."

Charles Baxter is author of novels such as The Feast of Love, nominated for the National Book Award, First Light, and The Soul Thief, and story collections Believers, Gryphon, and Through the Safety Net. His stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories. 

Tuesday, November 24, 7 pm
Merrill Markoe, author of We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe
in conversation with Mimi Pond for a Virtual Event

Merrill Markoe may be best know for her work on Late Night with David Letterman, but she also won a Writers Guild award for HBO's Not Necessarily the News. She wrote episodes of Sex and the City, Moonlighting, and Newhart, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, and The New Yorker. Markoe joins us for a conversation about her first ever graphic memoir. She’ll be joined by graphic memoirist Mimi Pond. Register for this event here.

Markoe unearths her treasured diaries, long kept under lock and key, to illustrate the hilarious story of her preteen and teen years and how she came to realize that her secret power was her humor. Wielding her layered and comically absurd style, Markoe takes readers back through her time as a Girl Scout, where she learned that “scouting” was really more about learning housewifery skills, to her earliest crushes on uniquely awful boys and her growing obsession with television.

Perfect for fans of Roz Chast, Allie Brosh, and Lynda Barry, We Saw Scenery is a laugh-out-loud story of a girl growing up, told from the perspective of the woman she became, and it will speak to all who wanted to understand themselves in the midst of their own maturing. The Washington Post writes that Markoe "taps into not only the challenges of a girl growing up in the 1960s, but also Markoe’s special ability to use traditions and American consumerist culture as fuel for her absurdist humor." 

Photo credits:
--Rick Bragg by Jake Reiss
--Christine Kendall by Matt Godfrey
--Charles Baxter by Keri Pickett
--Merrill Markoe by Markoe

More on Boswell's upcoming event page.

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