Saturday, January 16, 2021

Boswell log - Signed copies from Nick Petrie and Jon Sweeney, more about Mameve Medwed's Minus Me, a surprise Elinor Lipman release

This was a big week for new releases. Nick Petrie's new novel, The Breaker, was released. Our event with Jim Higgins was great; it is already on our website. Nick has signed all our stock, and can still come in to personalize if you want. We generally do not take inscription requests  -  not every author likes doing them, and often the messages are something the giver should be writing on the half title page, instead of asking the author to write it on the full title page - but Nick is up for it! You'll still get the caveat from our booksellers that we can't guarantee inscriptions, but that's because it can be hard for everyone to remember what an author will and won't do. 

I enjoyed The Breaker because it's such a Milwaukee book. Petrie really leans into the Machine Shop of the World nickname that Milwaukee once brandished. And there are still lots of small machine shops around. I walked passed several as I was reading The Breaker. I also passed Milwaukee Makespace, just blocks from my house, behind the McDonald's. It was built as a Krambo, back when Bay View appeared to be coming into its own as a supermarket paradise. The Outpost Natural Foods was a Kohls and the BMO Harris bank branch was an A&P. Krambo was a Wisconsin-owned company that sold out to Kroser, the very folks who now own Pick 'n' Save and Metro Mart. Regular Boswell event monitors may recall that we did a cohosted event with Makerspace for Eric Gorges and his book, A Craftman's Legacy.

It was also the launch week for Claire Holroyde and her novel The Effort. Holroyde considers herself a Milwaukeean in-law as her husband's family is from Whitefish Bay. Milwaukee gets some of its most loyal followers by marriage - that's one of the reason Peter Buffett lived here for a number of years. Holroyde didn't do bookplates, but we did have special bookmarks - we might have some left. Her conversation was J.S. (Jenny) Dewes, whose novel, The Last Watch, releases April 20. It's more science fiction than speculative (which seems to be the preferred term for books with science fiction elements but do not wholly embrace the science). 

With the holidays behind us, Chris has been able to catch up on event videos. In addition to the Petrie interview, we rushed out Jon M. Sweeney's talk with Damian Costello on Nicholas Black Elk, due to demand. Jon has also signed copies and like Nick, will personalize. Place your request in comments. And as always, apologies that our website sometimes gets stuck in the shopping cart. It's a function of the device + browser and maybe also the phase of the moon. Any number of people told me they got stuck one day and it worked just fine the next. Were we a tech firm with massive investors, this wouldn't be a problem. Or maybe it would be, as anyone who's had problems with large websites and apps can attest. 

Also out this week was Mameve Medwed's Minus Me, her latest novel, which is from Alcove Press, which is a division of The Quick Brown Fox & Company, or in terms of branding, the non-mystery imprint of Crooked Lane Books. This is our second event with Alcove, following Lesley Kagen for Every Now and Then. We always note that Medwed, along with Elinor Lipman and the late Anita Shreve, cut the ribbon on Boswell's grand opening. 

Her latest book is set at a sandwich shop in small-town (but not rural) Maine, where Anne and Sam operated a gourmet sandwich shop. They bought the recipe for their acclaimed Paul Bunyan Special, from the previous owners, but changed the name. This is a special sandwich indeed - they get orders to ship it! Can you order sandwiches online from Maine? Yes, here's a link to buy a four-pack of Hancock gourmet lobster rolls. And from this, I detoured to the Goldbelly site to see what other foods were shipping online.

But while a sandwich shop can be a comedy gold (see Bob's Burgers "Roamin' Bob-iday" episode), there's more to it than that. Annie's gotten a possible cancer diagnosis and she doesn't have the heart to tell Sam. Instead, she decides to give him instructions for when she dies and works on finding  him a replacement partner. A possible wrench in her plans is her glamourous mother, local royalty, who decides to visit from the big city. I'm going to note that this is not one of those super sad but also funny novels that the Jodi Picoult blurb might imply. I think it's more funny than sad. 

A conversation with Mameve and Elinor Lipman is always worth tuning in for. When I first queried the idea of the two in conversation, I had no idea that Lipman would also have a book, but she does - Rachel to the Rescue. It was published differently from her previous novels - it's actually from a British press and imported here, at least rights-wise (the copies themselves are print on demand). It sounds like a political comedy, because of the set-up. Rachel Klein has gotten a job unshredding documents for the government. Yes, she pieces back together ripped up (or worse) notes from the White House for the federal archive. She sends her inappropriate comment out - yes, it's the curse of  the inadvertent "reply all," rearing it's ugly head. I had a close friend fired from his job for doing this. 

Things get worse. As she's leaving, she's hit by a car. Maybe an accident, maybe not, but it turns out the driver, an optometrist, is guilty of something more than bad driving - I both don't want to give anything away and I also don't want to think about what's she's doing. I think the thing to note here is that this is not political satire; it's an Elinor Lipman novel with a political setup. I read a review that seemed to be upset that it didn't more seriously take on the political climate. But to me, that's like yelling at late-night stand-up monologues. I guess maybe someone out there is doing that.

One thing both Medwed and Lipman's novels have in common is that they are celebrations of small retail. In Minus Me, it's a sandwich shop. In Rachel to the Rescue, the meet cute is between her family paint and wallpaper store and his (yes, it's a romantic comedy, if I didn't note this before) family wine shop. And as an independent bookseller, I can't help cheering for that agenda. 

Mameve Medwed's event for Minus Me, with her in conversation with Elinor Lipman, is Tuesday, January 19, 7 pm CST. Register here. And more virtual event videos here.

No comments: