Monday, May 20, 2013

Sedaris Yes, But Also Harilyn Rousso, Barry Wightman, Douglas Foster, Ru Freeman, and at the Weyenberg Library, Michael Perry.

Monday May 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Harilyn Rousso, author of Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back 
This event is co-sponsored by United Cerebral Palsy of Southeastern Wisconsin, IndependenceFirst, and Disability Rights Wisconsin.

Daniel's take: Thanks to Ellen Bravo for helping put this event together. We are very proud to say that our store is (aside from getting the door open sometimes) a very accessible place for folks in wheelchairs. And who knew that would be an inadvertent bonus of having more lower cases in the center of the store?

Harilyn Rousso is a disability activist, feminist, psychotherapist, writer, and painter. She is the President of Disabilities Unlimited Consulting Services, founder of the Networking Project for Disabled Women and Girls, and co-editor of Double Jeopardy: Addressing Gender Equity in Special Education and author of Disabled, Female, and Proud!.

In her empowering, and at times confrontational memoir, Rousso, who has cerebral palsy, describes overcoming the prejudice against disability—not overcoming disability. She addresses the often absurd and ignorant attitudes of strangers, friends, and family—as well as her own prejudice toward her disabled body—and portrays the healing effects of intimacy and creativity, as well as her involvement with the disability rights community. She intimately reveals herself with honesty and humor and measures her personal growth as she goes from “passing” to embracing and claiming her disability as a source of pride, positive identity, and rebellion.

“I've known Harilyn Rousso as a powerful activist and gifted artist, but with this revelatory book, she becomes something even rarer: a storyteller who conveys her uniqueness and so helps us to discover our own. Don’t Call Me Inspirational is irresistible to read, honest, insightful, and universal.”—Gloria Steinem

also on Monday, May 20, 6:30 pm, at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library, 11345 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon 53092:
Michael Perry, author of Visiting Tom and more.

Say hi to us in Mequon, where we'll be selling books for Michael Perry and our friends at the Weyenberg Public Library (and also our friends at the Friends of the Weyenberg Library). Perhaps you missed our event last fall or the one at Next Chapter. This is part of Mequon's Communities Read program. I don't have to say it sounds like a blast; I know it will be a blast!

Tuesday, May 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Barry Wightman, author of Pepperland.

Daniel's take: This should be a fun event! We'll have music accompaniment and some light refreshments. And if you can't make tonight's event,you can see Wightman at the Brookfield Public Library on Tuesday, June 18, 7 pm.

Local favorite Barry Wightman is fiction editor for Hunger Mountain, a journal for the arts based in Vermont. He is an award-winning essayist who has contributed work to WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio and reviews books for publications in Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington D.C., including the Washington Independent Review of Books. Wightman is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and plays in a rock ‘n’ roll band, The Outta State Plates.

Regarding his new novel, Pepper Porter is on an improbable journey to rock stardom when his long-gone girlfriend reappears. Sooz, a subversively brilliant computer whiz, has crafted an algorithm that “will forever change the direction of all human communications,” fuel the birth of the personal computer and the Internet. But there’s trouble looming as Sooz is on the lam from the FBI—she’s ex-Weather Underground—radical and revolutionary. Falling in love with Pepper, she asks—do you want to play your little rock 'n’ roll songs or change the world? He says—both.

A 70s rock-and-roll race through the heartland of America and a love letter to the power of new-fangled computers and the importance of a guitar pick: Pepperland is about missing information, missing people, missing guitars, paranoia, brothers, revolution, Agents of the Federal Government, IBM, Hugh Hefner, a Dark Stranger, love, death and the search for it amidst the wreckage of recession-wracked, entropically rundown mid-seventies America.

Wednesday, May 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Douglas Foster, author of After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Douglas Foster, an associate professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, is a contributor to The Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and Smithsonian.

Daniel's take: Both Anne Lamott and Michael Pollan have sung the praises of Douglas Foster and his work to me. I occasionally get gripes from customers that we don't do enough serious nonfiction. Here's your second event in a week. Show up and make us proud of our strong turnout for serious subjects so that we can the publishers that the new nickname for Milwaukee is Smartypants City (or alternately Brainiburg).

A brutally honest expose, After Mandela provides a sobering portrait of a country caught between a democratic future and a political meltdown.

Recent works have focused primarily on Nelson Mandela's transcendent story. But Douglas Foster, a leading South Africa authority with early, unprecedented access to President Zuma and to the next generation in the Mandela family, traces the nation's entire post-apartheid arc, from its celebrated beginnings under "Madiba" to Thabo Mbeki's tumultuous rule to the ferocious battle between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Foster tells this story not only from the point of view of the emerging black elite but also, drawing on hundreds of rare interviews over a six-year period, from the perspectives of ordinary citizens, including an HIV-infected teenager living outside Johannesburg and a homeless orphan in Cape Town. This is the long-awaited, revisionist account of a country whose recent history has been not just neglected but largely ignored by the West.

“What a pleasant surprise to encounter a book that actually looks beyond the surface... Foster gives us a portrait of a vibrant nation, full of contrasts and contradictions."—Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, May 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Ru Freeman, author of On Sal Mal Lane.

Daniel's take: Both Stacie (pictured with Freeman) and I have spent time with Ru Freeman at Winter Institute and AWP and we both were cativated. This is a great event for fiction fans, but also for folks interested in world affairs. Freeman takes the war in Sri Lanka and makes it come to life as fiction, using one of my favorite literary devices--reducing the conflict to folks on one block.

Ru Freeman is the author of A Disobedient Girl, which was a finalist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and has been translated into seven languages. She is an activist and journalist whose work appears internationally.

For those who loved Kiran Desai’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Inheritance of Loss, and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, a novel that Cheryl Strayed calls “Piercingly intelligent and shatter-your-heart profound… a riveting, important, beauty of a book.”

The Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009) claimed tens of thousands of lives and pitted friends, neighbors, colleagues, and lovers against one another: Tamils and Sinhalese, Buddhist and Catholic and Hindu, rich and poor. In Ru Freeman’s stunning new novel, On Sal Mal Lane, we are transported to a quiet street in Colombo in the years leading up to the deadliest conflict in Sri Lankan history. The children growing up on Sal Mal Lane fill their days with cricket matches, romantic crushes, and small rivalries. But the tremors of civil war are mounting, and the conflict threatens to engulf them all. In a heart-rending novel poised between the past and the future, the innocence of the children—a beloved sister and her over-protective siblings, a rejected son and his twin sisters, two very different brothers—contrasts sharply with the petty prejudices of the adults charged with their care. In Ru Freeman’s masterful hands, On Sal Mal Lane, a story of what was lost to a country and her people, becomes a resounding cry for reconciliation.

Sunday, May 26, 2 pm, at Boswell:
David Sedaris, author of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.
Doors open at 10 am for this event.

Daniel's take: This is a free event however some restrictions/guidelines may be put into place. We expect to fill up early, but will arrange for an overflow signing line outside. As per our previous blog post, there are no holdsies on this event. You cannot come to the store, hold your place, and leave. Once you're here, you must stay here to make sure we do not close the door when we reach capacity. We will have hall passes for folks needing to use the facilities are get refreshments from the Starbucks next door.

1. We will not cut off the line. Mr. Sedaris will make sure that everyone's book is signed. I don't usually say this, but if you can't make it early, I think you could probably show up at 4 pm and we'd still be here. Also 6 pm. Maybe 8 pm. Who knows? Call the store to double check.

2. There are no photos or video allowed for this event. That's pretty much the only restriction. Folks that hear the presentation will get a line letter, but you are not required to buy the book from us to get the letter.

Oh, and a bit about the book. From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

Not going to be in town or looking for a more civilized experience? David Sedaris will be back in Milwaukee on Friday, November 1, for a show at the Pabst Theater. Books will be for sale from our friends at Rainy Day Books. Buy your tickets here.

What an exciting week! Please say hi when you're in the store.

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