Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Event Post--Doug Bradley, Erin Celello, Peter Roller, John Tolan, plus Beau Boudreaux at UWM.

We're keeping busy this week with several interesting events. I should note that on the Monday event blog, I use our press copy a bit more than I do elsewhere. We've got a number of folks on the distribution that have told me they really value this weekly reminder of what's going on, and it's more important to get the info out than to reinvent a wheel. You can only imagine how "I got out this amazingly creative post about this week's events out this week, only I didn't finish it until Thursday" would go over.

Monday, February 18, 7 pm, at Boswell, co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Doug Bradley author of DEROS Vietnam: Dispatches from the Air-Conditioned Jungle, and
Erin Celello, author of Learning to Stay.

When Bill from Veterans for Peace originally contacted me about taking a look at Doug Bradley's story collection, I wasn't surprised to learn that he drew an enormous crowd in Madison. In addition to co-authoring We Gotta Get Out of This Place: Music and the Vietnam Experience with Craig Werner, he also co-teach a popular course at UW-Madison entitled "The Vietnam Era: Music, Media, and Mayhem." He's also done a lot to help veterans over the years, having helped establish Vets House, a storefront community-based center for Vietnam-era veterans.

Doug Bradley used his experiences in war as a jumping-off point. Structurally based on Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, DEROS Vietnam (the acronym stands for Date Eligible for Return from Over Seas) is a collection of 16 short stories and 16 interlinears about the GIs who battled boredom, racial tensions, the military brass, drugs, alcohol—and occasionally the enemy. From cooks and correspondents to clerks and comptrollers, Bradley distills the essence of life for soldiers in the rear during the war and, later, back home in a divided America.

So we were playing around with various options for the event, while at the same time booking several other and alas, saying to still others that I didn't think we could make it work, when I came across Erin Celello's novel Learning to Stay.  Not only was her novel mining the experiences of a veteran as well, but like Bradley, she also lived in Madison. I asked if they would be amenable to appearing together, and of course it turned out that they knew each other.

Of course Celello's novel has a slightly different take. Elise Sabato is proud of her husband, Brad, for serving his country, and grateful when he returns home to her. But the traumatic brain injury he suffered in Iraq has turned him from a thoughtful, brilliant, and patient man into someone quite different, someone who requires more care and attention than Elise can give while working in a demanding law firm. And when Brad ends up on his family's farm, hundreds of miles away, she wonders where their marriage is headed. While Learning to Stay is not based on Celello's direct experiences, she of course did a lot of research putting together the novel, and the experience of the Sabatos is not an outlandish fictional device.

Here's a case where I think we'll have a more interesting reading by having two authors read together. And I can't wait for the group question and answer session.

Tuesday, February 19, 7pm, at Boswell:
Peter Roller, author of Milwaukee Garage Bands.

Milwaukee hasn’t earned a reputation as a launching pad for hopeful rock stars, but for generations it has had the perfect acoustics for the garage band rock scene. Of course, the whole point of garage rock is that every place has the perfect acoustics, but just try telling that to the folks who heard “Blitzkrieg Over Kenosha” for the first time. With dual citizenship in the research library and the basement show, Peter Roller follows Milwaukee’s garage rockers everywhere they haul their amps, observing bands like the Stilettos, the Angry Daisies, the Palmettos, the Chevelles and the Violent Femmes in their natural habitat.

Peter Roller started out playing guitar in garage bands in suburban northern New Jersey as a teenager. He went on to accompany first-generation southern bluesman Yank Rachell during the 1980s—making the critically acclaimed record Blues Mandolin Man with him and writing a master’s thesis at Indiana University about Rachell’s performance style. Roller holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from the UW–Madison and is currently an associate professor of music at Alverno College. A frequent performer while working as a college teacher, Roller’s CD Blue Fog, was released in 2010.

 Thursday, February 21, 7 pm, at the Hefter Center, 3271 North Lake Drive, 53211:
Beau Boudreaux, author of Running Red Running Redder.

Our apologies! I mixed up the Boudreaux lecture and the Boudreaux talk. Yes, the man behind the Boudreaux has a book of poetry, and he will be reading at the Hefter Center on Thursday, February 21 at 7 pm.

"A fiery color scheme sparks through these tightly wound poems of desire, luminosity, loneliness, weather and place. Written in multiregisters of language, allusion, and imagery, they move effortlessly between high and popular culture. Filled with sonic pleasures and insights, the poems surprise and awaken with the sting of their 'wasp of words.'"--Susan Firer

Sunday, February 24, 2 pm, at Boswell John Tolan, co-author of Europe and the Islamic World

Originally from Milwaukee and educated at Yale, John Tolan is professor of medieval history at the Université de Nantes. He is also the author of Saracens and Saint Francis and the Sultan: The Curious History of a Christian-Muslim Encounter.

Written by three eminent historians, experts in the medieval, modern, and contemporary period, Europe and the Islamic World sheds much-needed light on the complex relationships between Arabic and European peoples, from the death of Muhammad in 632 AD to the recent Arab Spring protests. Aiming to refute, once and for all, the misguided notion of a "clash of civilizations" between the Muslim world and Europe, John Tolan, Gilles Veinstein and Henry Laurens, give a broad history of how the Muslim world and the West have shared not only in wars, but also in diplomacy, commerce, the slave trade, as well as intellectual and artistic explorations and experience.

Europe and the Islamic World describes this shared history in all its richness and diversity, revealing how ongoing encounters between Europe and Islam have profoundly shaped both and how a nuanced understanding of that history can affect domestic and foreign policy today and in the future.

And though we aren't promoting it officially in our schedule, if you stop by on Wednesday evening, you'll catch the Milwaukee Jewish Day School poetry night.

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