Monday, June 6, 2011

What's going on this week? All Kids of Wallopingly-Good Wordsmiths, Money Mavens, Fabulous Fathers, Straight-talking Secretaries, and Art Projects Too.

OK, this may be the week that does me in.  And my sister Merrill and her husband Gus are visiting too. Here is our schedule of events for the week.  All are at Boswell unless another location is listed.

Monday, June 6, 7 pm, Alan Heathcock, author of Volt. Who would have guessed that when the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award longlist was announced, that we would have had quite so many nominees as attendees this year. Admittedly, I usually think of a longlist as being about 10-15 titles long, whereas this one was well over 50 entries.  The folks who've already visited Boswell this year are:
--Clark Blaise, author of The Meagre Tarmac
--Valerie Laken, author of Separate Kingdoms
--Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting
--Christine Sneed, author of Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry.
Here are the other nominees.  Congrats to all!

Add to this list Alan Heathcock, author of Volt, a collection of eight stories set in a small town (apparently not called Krypton after all, as alluded to in a recent email newsletter) that have folks like Joy Williams, Anthony Doerr, and Dan Chaon say things like "the stories in Volt are intense, suspenseful, and utterly compelling.  Heathcock writes about violence and bad luck and bad choices with a cool, grime eye that recals Cormac McCarthy, yet he also approaches the hard lives of his stoick Westerners with great empathy, compassion, and heart--a kind of miraculous combination." (That one is from Mr. Chaon.)

I'm glad to announce that you'll be able to hear Mr. Plotnick speaking with Veronica Rueckert on WHAD/Wisconsin Public Radio tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.  And I'm glad to also announce that after spending some time digging through Plotnick's mind-fertilizing collection, I expect that this event will be platinum level. 

So from now on, when I find something "unbelievable", I might lean towards "decapitates reason" or "brain-on-a-bender bizarre."  And when I start to overuse "delicious," I might switch to "sultan worthy" or "eminently scarfable."  Who knows? 

Wednesday, June 8, 7 pm, Danielle Sosin, author of The Long-Shining Waters.
A storm brews outside, and I think both of water's majesty and also its potential for destruction.  And how can I not, once I think about Sosin's euphonic ode to Lake Superior.  Grey Rabbit, Berit and Nora are women from three centuries who are both attracted to and haunted by the waters

I've already written much about Sosin in our email newsletter and a separate blog post. But I think you still need convincing.  Here's a splendrous author profile in Publishers Weekly by our midwest pal Claire Kirch.  (Better than Great strikes again).

Thursday, June 9, 7 pm, Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness
Zeke Pappas runs an arts foundation in Madison.  It's funding future is in doubt, particularly when an offshoot directive of the Patriot Act starts investigating. Could this get in the way of Pappas's pet project, An Inventory of American Unhappiness?

If his work life is in disarray, his personal saga is even more a mess.  Zeke cares for his beloved orphaned niece and nephew with his mom, but when Mother gets ill, she decrees that custody will go to his sister if he doesn't get married.  So starts a desperate attempt for for a matrimonial style bonding with a number of vaguely suitable women.  The vague is an important qualifier.

It's tough to write about a somewhat desperate and unlikable character in a likable way, but Bakopoulos pulls it off, with Library Journal comparing My American Unhappiness to early Martin Amis. 

The AV Club section of The Onion has a great interview with Bakopoulos. Here's a short excerpt and a link to the entire pice.

AVC: It seems America is at a point where happiness is often fetishized, and we’re shamed when we don’t feel it. Were you in any way rebelling against this line of thought?

DB: In some ways, definitely. Unhappiness is a very useful emotion. But we’ve come to expect that we won’t feel it if we make the right decisions or plan our lives accordingly. So I wanted a collage of complaints to underscore how petty they can be when they come one after the other. Americans have the luxury of being unhappy in a way that no other country at no other time in history has. A lot of our happiness stems from not living in the right spot or having the perfect house, job, or dream schedule. Madison Avenue makes us unhappy most of the time. Right now I’m waiting for my check from Houghton Mifflin so I can buy a new car. I’m looking for a used car, and then I’m like, “Why can’t I get a $40,000 Volvo? Come on! I’m the sort of person who drives a $40,000 Volvo.” Then I realize how absurd that is.

Read the rest of the interview here.  And I'm going to chck to see if it's in the Milwaukee edition.  It's not!  One other thing. Missed our blog piece? Here it is again.

Friday, June 10, 6 pm, Kate Levinson, author of Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money, at the Milwaukee Public Market.
We're partnering with the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation at the Milwaukee Public Market for this special after-work presentation.

Psychotherapist Kate Levinson offers fresh approaches to navigating the astonishing range of beliefs about the role of money in our lives, coming to terms with our feelings about being "rich" or "poor," and exploring our inner money life so that we can put our feelings to work for us in a positive way. By understanding our intimate history and relationship with money we are better able to handle our money anxieties, solve our money problems, enjoy the money we have, and make room for other, more meaningful values. (a little paraphrasing, just to make sure this blog gets released before the event is over).

While at the Milwaukee Public Market (400 N. Water Street), why not enjoy a glass of red or white at Thief Wine, or take home some Middle Eastern delicacies at Aladdin or cake bites from C. Adams Bakery? You want dinner?  I'm a big fan of the St. Paul Fish Company--delicious and fresh and reasonably priced. No, not delicious, it' between the teeth.

Friday, June 10, 7 pm, Matthew Logelin, author of the New York Times bestseller Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love.
Matthew Logelin has built an enormous connection with his fans, documenting his attempts to be a great father while struggling with the sudden loss of his wife. He's visited with Oprah and Rachael (I needn't include the last names)

Though we haven't had this event booked for very long (a week), a talk with my new pal Jen (who was helping him scout some locations in Wisconsin) revealed that there's a lot of pent-up demand to meet Logelin in person in this part of the country.  Hence, an extension of his original tour commenced. We're convinced that fans will find out about this event through the magic of social networking.  More on his website.  And here's a short interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Saturday, June 11, 2 pm, Lynn Peril, author of Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office.
Ex-Milwaukeean Peril (Just a head. up that this is a nom de plume so yes, this might be the friend you went to high school with.  Show up to find out.) has written three humorous-serious books exploring feminine archetypes.  She follows up Pink Think and College Girls with Swimming in the Steno Pool, profiling the various incarnations of the secretary, from pliable, sexy mate of the "office husband" to postfeminist executive-in-training, drawing inspiration from a wide range of "femorabilia" and secretarial guidebooks of yesteryear.

Library Journal says "this engaging volume adds to existing scholarship at the fascinating intersection of gender, labor, and cultural studies." And here's a write up on the Mama Pop blog

And don't forget about...
Sunday, June 12, 2-5 pm, Community Artreach
Come explore the ART of Words with ART Milwaukee’s Community ARTreach event. This month we plan to showcase the neighborhood gem, Boswell Books while discovering how much fun words can really be! Children and families are invited to take part in the Sunday afternoon of activities which will include:

~Story telling
~Spoken Word Performances
~Word Puzzles
~Poetry Writing
~Comic Book Drawing
~Calligraphy Lessons
~Mini canvas drawing

Refreshments will be served.  Cosponsors include Join us for this adventure with words! We can’t wait to see you there!

Plus some more things happening around town...

Wednesday, June 8, 7 pm, at Next Chapter in Mequon.
Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name.
Nothing, nothing, nothing, and then two great events from two wonderful independent publishers on the same date.  They even have the same distributor.  If I weren't hosting Sosin, there's a good chance I'd be in the audience for Frank Goldman's talk/reading.

#1 Indie Bound pick, front page of the New York Times Book Review, this nonfiction novel about a short-lived marriage ended by terrible loss has been winning raves all over.  Booklist says that "out of crushing loss and despair, Goldman has forged a radiant and transcendent masterpiece." They seem on the fence about it, don't they?

June 6-10, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, Woodland Patterns co-sponsors a weeklong workshop with poets Elizabeth Robinson and Edward Smallfield, around the them, The Boundaries Between Visual Art and Text.  All culminates in a free reading and reception on Friday, June 10, at 6 pm at the Lynden, 2145 West Brown Deer Road.  For the complete list of events, visit the Lynden's website.

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