Monday, January 16, 2012

This Week We're Celebrating Sugar Maple Thursday: Join us for an Evening with the Delightful Hannah Pittard and Patrick Somerville.

There's no question that we like mixing it up a bit in terms of author events, but if I may be lazy for a moment, allow me to admit that the easiest events to execute are at 2559 North Downer. In addition, they generally do double duty in that they bring folks who might not have otherwise visited into the shop where they might buy something else, or even better, come back.

But events only at the Boswell location? That would be boring. So we've tried a little of everything, with more new locations coming in 2012. For example, on Wednesday, March 14, we're doing our first event at County Clare, for an Irish literary thriller called Until the Next Time. More on that later.

This Thursday, January 19, we have our third event at Sugar Maple, one of our favorite outside venues. In 2010, we hosted Justin Cronin and Dan Chaon. In 2011, we had the Algonquin buddies for the free beer tour, David Anthony, Josh Wilker, and Pete Nelson. And now we're hosting Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates will Find Their Way, now in paperback, with Patrick Somerville, author of two story collections, The Universe in Miniature in Miniature and Trouble, plus two novels, The Cradle and the forthcoming This Bright River

Here are how we make the decision on what events to hold at Sugar Maple:
--The authors should already know each other, or there should at least be some social glue that brings them together. So last time, that was Craig at Algonquin.
--The potential audience meshes well with the bar's audience. You could imagine either author hanging out at a bar discussing plot, structure, and Belgian brews.
--We're not under a huge amount of pressure to maximize sales. We sort of learned that after the first event. While everyone says that folks are more likely to buy something (anything) after a drink, I've done this enough to know that sell-through percentage is not as good as when the event is in the bookstore.

I really like getting the store into a different neighborhood too, especially one where we have a good number of loyal customers, but still have more potential to grow. For every Bay Viewer that zips over the Hoan to the East Side regularly, there's another that bemoans how far away it is. It should take you about ten minutes if you are coming from the vicinity of our store.

So for all the folks I know who tell me that haven't visited Boswell because they never leave Bay View, this is your opportunity to prove that you have literary affectations. You're not a literary lumpkin, are you?

You may recall me talking up Hannah Pittard's novel in hardcover. You may also recall me talking up Patrick Somerville's last novel. In fact, one might say I am huge fans of both. They are also both wonderful readers and speakers. And teachers too. I had dinner with a writer/customer last week who is a student of Somerville's at Northwestern who was pretty over the moon about his talents.

Somerville's latest, The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, is a loosely-connected collection that, per Booklist, "unleashes the full force of his mischievous imagination." Set at the School of Surreal Thought and Design, it follows a character who has The Machine of Understanding Other People and can see into the minds of others, say, a couple squablling about the end of the world, which by the way, in this case, is not theoretical. Think Joe Meno, think Jim Shepard, think about my bookseller who liked it but didn't give me a quote. I could do beter following up on these things.

In summary, both authors are both wonderful and accessible, a rare combo. And that's why this is a great bar event. You will be hypnotized into buying both their books and you will not disappointed. Even after I say the word "avocado." And then I will be happy with attendance and book sales and we'll be able to host another event at Sugar Maple.

See you Thursday at 7 pm, and don't forget to eat at one of the great places around the KK triangle, as I call it. You've got Riviera Maya, Lulu, Cafe Centrale, and if you go south a bit, Hue. I love the pho and the bánh xeo (it's like a crepey omelette) and the kitchen sink rice and the bánh pátê chaud (pork and puff pastry appetizer) and, well, other things.

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