Monday, September 12, 2022

Six in-person events at Boswell: Jonathan Ames, John Koethe, Jeffrey Breslow, Erika L Sánchez, William Kent Krueger, and Marie Kohler

Monday, September 12, 6:30 pm
Jonathan Ames, author of The Wheel of Doll
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Novelist Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO’s Bored to Death, appears at Boswell for an evening featuring his latest novel, the second Happy Doll mystery, in which a badly scarred detective with a new philosophy takes on a fresh case. Ames visited us virtually last year for his first installment of this series and he’s a one-of-a-kind – check out the video of that event here.

Down to his last kidney after the previous caper, Happy Doll is back in business. When a beguiling young woman turns up at his door, it seems Doll’s past has also come knocking. Mary DeAngelo is searching for her estranged mother, a singular and troubled woman Doll once loved. The last he’d seen her she’d been near-death: arms slit like envelopes. She survived but vanished shortly thereafter. Now, Mary claims she’s alive and has made contact, only to disappear once again. Although his psychoanalyst would discourage it, Doll takes the case. But as the investigation deepens, there are questions he can’t shake.

Wholly original, this book follows Happy from LA to Washington and back again on a journey that gets wilder and woolier with each turn. Praise for the series includes this, from Lee Child: "Quirky, edgy, charming, funny, and serious, all in one. Very highly recommended." And from Boswellian Chris Lee: "This is crime fiction the way it was meant to be: sly, sad, and a little weird. And I love it."

In fact, Chris loves it so much that he wrote a whole blog post about his favorite west coast noir books - check that out here! He'll be chatting with Ames for the event as well, so it's an event you don't want to miss. 

Jonathan Ames is the author of I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, and novella You Were Never Really Here, which was adapted into the acclaimed film starring Joaquin Phoenix. He's the creator of two television series, Blunt Talk and Bored to Death, and has had two amateur boxing matches, fighting as 'The Herring Wonder.'

Tuesday, September 13, 6:30 pm
John Koethe, author of Beyond Belief: Poems
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Milwaukee poet and UWM Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus John Koethe visits Boswell for a celebration of the release of Beyond Belief, his latest book, which is a rich, meditative new collection that poses questions of time, language, and literature.

The eleventh book of poetry from America’s philosopher-poet is an intimate, searching collection that gives life to the mundane and lends words to our most interior and abstract musings. What makes a life real? Words on a page, the accumulation of moments and memories, or nothing at all? And what is it worth? Locked inside, have we lost our future and its promises or are we merely pressed to inhabit our present and ourselves? The award-winning poet invites us into his consideration of our world, as "an ordinary person sitting on his balcony on a summer afternoon, / Waiting patiently for someone to explain it to and meanwhile / Living quietly in his imagination, imagining the afterlife."

Jonathan Farmer, writing for Slate, says: "Koethe is a beautiful writer, one whose subtle inventiveness can give new life to persistent images, nail a complex feeling in just a few words, or make the basic tools of the poetic trade into sources of pleasure and persuasion."

John Koethe has published eleven books of poetry, and has received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the Frank O’Hara Award for Poetry. He has also published books on Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosophical skepticism, and poetry.

Wednesday, September 14, 6:30 pm

Boswell hosts an evening featuring author Jeffrey Breslow for an event featuring his memoir, A Game Maker’s Life, in which the former toy developer responsible for games like Operation, Simon, and UNO Attack! goes behind the scenes to tell the story of toys.

Millions of people around the world have played with games and toys Breslow and his partners invented. Now he shares his remarkable story, which charts how a flash of inspiration, followed by hard work and ingenuity, brought these wonderful games to life.

In his memoir, Breslow explains the game-creation process, a mix of Rube Goldberg, Santa’s workshop, and mass production. He recounts the toy industry’s transformation from using cardboard and plastics into electronics. And he tells the story of how he overcame a deadly workplace shooting to lead his shaken employees through the tragedy and back to running a thriving business.

Jeffrey Breslow graduated from the University of Illinois and spent more than four decades in the toy industry. Breslow was a Managing Partner at Marvin Glass and Associates and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1988. He now sculpts full time and his work has been displayed at the University of Illinois and the Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Friday, September 16, 6:30 pm 
Erika L Sánchez, author of Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir
in-person at Boswell for the Rose Petranech Lecture - click here to register 

Boswell hosts the return of the Rose Petranech Lecture featuring Erika L Sánchez, author of the National Book Award Finalist novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, for an evening featuring her first book for adults, Crying in the Bathroom, an utterly original memoir-in-essays that is as deeply moving as it is hilarious.

Growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago in the nineties, Erika Sánchez was a self-described pariah, misfit, and disappointment - a foul-mouthed, melancholic rabble-rouser who painted her nails black but also loved comedy, often laughing so hard with her friends that she had to leave her school classroom. Twenty-five years later, she’s now an award-winning novelist, poet, and essayist, but she’s still got an irrepressible laugh, an acerbic wit, and singular powers of perception about the world around her. In these essays, Sánchez writes about everything from sex to white feminism to debilitating depression, revealing an interior life rich with ideas, self-awareness, and perception. Insightful, unapologetic, and brutally honest, Crying in the Bathroom is Sánchez at her best.

Early praise comes from Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street: "A famous Latino comic told me - quoting either Chaplin or Cantinflas or both - that if you tell a story that makes people laugh, that’s great, but if you make them laugh and cry, that’s genius. Erika Sánchez tells her tale with a 'deluge of unidentifiable feelings that came out through my eyes.' It’s only after you’ve laughed that you understand the heartbreak beneath the laughter. I relished especially the stories she shares about being a wanderer savoring her solitude, a rare gift for a woman, but absolutely essential for any writer."

The Rose Petranech Lecture is dedicated to the memory of Rosemary Petranech, a long-time diversity officer at Marquette University who worked to expand opportunities to women and people of color. Rose’s love of reading and books made her a special friend of Boswell, and we are thrilled to partner on this series.

Erika L. Sánchez is a Mexican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her YA novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a New York Times bestseller, a National Book Awards finalist, and is now is being made into a film directed by America Ferrera. Sanchez was a Princeton Arts Fellow, a recipient of the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Please note that we may reach capacity on this event. Please register if you want to attend. 

Saturday, September 17, 4 pm
William Kent Krueger, author of Fox Creek
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

One of our favorite Minnesotans, the Anthony, Barry, and Minnesota Book Award-winning author William Kent Krueger, whose recent novels include of This Tender Land and Lightning Strike, returns to Boswell for an event featuring the nineteenth installment of his beloved Cork O’Connor series.

The latest installment of William Kent Krueger’s beloved series finds Cork O’Connor in a race against time to save his wife, a mysterious stranger, and an Ojibwe healer from bloodthirsty mercenaries. The ancient Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux has had a vision of his death and tries to prepare himself peacefully for the end of his long life. But peace eludes him as hunters fill the woods seeking a woman named Dolores Morriseau, a stranger who had come to the healer for shelter and the gift of his wisdom. On the last journey he may ever take into this beloved land, Meloux must do his best to outwit the deadly mercenaries who follow.

Boswellian Tim McCarthy is as big a Krueger fan as you can find. Here are his notes on the latest book: "This is the 19th volume in the Cork O'Connor mystery series, featuring the Northern Minnesota PI with both Irish and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) heritage. In Fox Creek, Krueger brings the focus back to Henry Meloux, a beloved Ojibwe friend and mentor to Cork who is well over 100 years old. A woman has come to Henry for help, not knowing that she’s been followed to his doorstep. He’ll need every ounce of his skill, vision, and enormous heart to lead her and the people he loves away from the forces on their trail. It may not be enough. Henry knows that one way or another his time to leave this life is near. When Krueger did a Boswell author event a few years back he told us that his indigenous fans say "not bad for a white man" about the way he develops Ojibwe characters. I laughed and felt relieved to hear validation of my true fondness for these fictional people. I’m a fan!"

William Kent Krueger is the New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land, Ordinary Grace, and the acclaimed Cork O’Connor mystery series.

Please note that we may reach capacity on this event. Please register if you want to attend. 

Marie Kohler, playwright of Boswell
in-person scene reading at Boswell
Monday, September 19, 6:30 pm - click here to register. 

Milwaukee-based playwright Marie Kohler visits Boswell for a presentation and dramatic scene-reading from her play titled, aptly for us, Boswell. This event is a special preview to the play’s Off-Broadway run.

Kohler’s Boswell is set in the 1950s when an American graduate student discovers lost journals from James Boswell’s wild and woolly Tour of the Scottish Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. She falls in love with the lively narrative and the possibility of a more authentic life.

The Edit gives Kohler’s play 4 stars, and calls it: "an excellent example of history being brought to life and it undoubtedly is a fabulous platform for the talent it showcases." And from Broadway Baby, which also gives the play 4 stars: "There is an infectious energy and clear commitment to detail in this production: it is very well loved and immaculately researched...and playwright Marie Kohler certainly seems to enjoy the opportunities to draw out elements of bawdiness and humour to lighten the earnest literary tone."

Marie Kohler is a director, writer, actor, dramaturg, and award-winning playwright. Kohler is a co-founder of Renaissance Theaterworks, where she served as Co-Artistic Director from 1993-2012 and Resident Playwright from 1993-2020. She is a freelance writer for local and national publications and has been Playwright Respondent and Director Respondent at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She was named Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board in 2005, and Friend of the Arts in 2020.

Please note that we may reach capacity on this event. Please register if you want to attend. 

Photo credits: 
John Koethe by Tom Bamberger 
Erika L Sánchez by Adriana Diaz 

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