Monday, November 4, 2013

What's Happening at Boswell (and Two Area Libraries, at Books and Company, and Woodland Pattern) This Week? Jessie Garcia launch, Sandra Dallas, Thomas Cahill, Poets Joshua Weiner, Daisy Fried, and Peter Campion, SHARP Literacy, Plus Amy Tan Next Monday.

Monday, November 4, 7 pm:
SHARP Literacy presents Francisco Mora, illustrator of A Great Lakes Adventure: Salmon's Journey Home.

Books published by the SHARP program are a result of the collaborative efforts of educators, artists and literacy students. After working with a teacher to come up with a core concept, the students work together to research, create and produce a complete book. Their guides are educators and professional artists, and their final work is even translated into Spanish.

From the Journal Sentinel story in yesterday's paper: "Students and teachers from local schools, including Blessed Sacrament Elementary School, Brown Street Academy, Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee, Hartford University School and Escuela Vieau School researched water and weather and submitted writing and artwork for the book. Illustrator-author Francisco X."

Wednesday, November 6, 2 pm, at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library, 11345 N. Cedarburg Road (Highway 57), just north of Mequon Road:
Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women. For details, contact the library at (262) 242-2593.

It's the spring of 1885 when wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen first sets foot in a Denver police station. Just days before, she received the terrible news of the death of her estranged younger sister, Lillie. The telegram from her aunt and uncle was brief, stating only that Lillie had passed away suddenly and there was no need for Beret to make the long trip west.

Soon, a sordid story is revealed when Beret comes across a scandal sheet with the details of a brutal murder of a prostitute named "Lillie Brown" in the brothel where she lived. Upon a closer read, Beret becomes convinced that "Lillie Brown" was in fact her sister, and her murderer has not been caught.

Her investigation takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver’s tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret learns the depths of Lillie’s depravity and must reconcile these with her memories of the innocent young girl of their youth, all while never losing site of finding the murderer.

Here's the Book Preview in this week's Shepherd Express, and don't forget, Dallas will be at Books and Company in Oconomowoc at 7 pm on Wednesday.

We are grateful that Sandra Dallas has been visiting the Milwaukee area since, well since I was managing the Mequon Schwartz store in the 1990s, when I think we hosted The Diary of Mattie Spenser just after I was manager. I definitely remember that the Shorewood Schwartz hosted Tallgrass, as I recall Jim, our event coordinator, doing a particularly good job.  It's funny the strange things you remember.

Wednesday, November 6, 7 pm, at the Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Avenue:
Jessie Garcia, author of My Life with the Green and Gold. For more information, contact the library at (414) 847-2670.

Ever wonder what it's like to interview famous athletes and coaches? For twenty years, sportscaster Jessie Garcia has done just that. In My Life with the Green and Gold she brings fans to the sidelines at Lambeau Field, inside the locker room, aboard the Packers bus, and into the host's chair at The Mike McCarthy Show.

Jessie Garcia shares a personal and humorous insider's look at many Wisconsin sports heroes from the perspective of a female sports journalist who has ridden the adrenaline rush to be on the air at 5:00 a.m., 10:00 p.m., and any hour in between, while also juggling the many demands of family life. Not many parents can say they've changed their child's diaper in the tunnel at Lambeau, but Jessie Garcia can.

When not reporting or anchoring for WTMJ, Garcia can be found teaching journalism at Carroll University in Waukesha, writing her next two books, or enjoying time with her family. Read more on the WTMJ website.

Thursday, November 7, 7 pm, at Boswell, now a free event:
Thomas Cahill, author of Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World.

From the inimitable bestselling author Thomas Cahill, another popular history-this one focusing on how the innovations of the Renaissance and the Reformation changed the Western world. A truly revolutionary book.

In Volume VI of his acclaimed Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill guides us through the thrilling period of the Renaissance and the Reformation (the late fourteenth to the early seventeenth century), so full of innovation and cultural change that the Western world would not experience its like again until the twentieth century.

Beginning with the continent-wide disaster of the Black Death, Cahill traces the many developments in European thought and experience that served both the new humanism of the Renaissance and the seemingly abrupt religious alterations of the increasingly radical Reformation. This is an age of the most sublime artistic and scientific adventure, but also of newly powerful princes and armies and of newly found courage, as many thousands refuse to bow their heads to the religious pieties of the past.

It is an era of just-discovered continents and previously unknown peoples. More than anything, it is a time of individuality in which a whole culture must achieve a new balance if the West is to continue.

Cahill is excerpted in The Daily Beast here.

Friday, November 8, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Peter Campion, author of El Dorado,
Daisy Fried, author of Women's Poetry,
and Joshua Weiner, author of The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish 

The story about this event begins three years ago, in the spring of 2010. Sarah Blake was scheduled to appear at the Fox Point Borders for the paperback release of The Postmistress. By the time the event came around, Borders had declared that the Milwaukee-area strores were closing and was readying for their liquidation sale.

It was a crazy evening. There were five concurrent literary events, including high profile authors at Next Chapter, an area library, UWM, and Marquette. Fortunately we were not hosting an author at the store, so I did the library event and Stacie took on the in-store presentation.

Sarah Blake had a nice time, but it was when she looked at our tee shirts that she noticed the Aaron Boyd fishy tee. "This picture describes my husband's next book of poetry," she said, or so I paraphrase.

It was about six months ago when he asked to organize a poetry evening with these three esteemed poets. How could we not? Here's more about the three authors.

The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish, Joshua Weiner’s third book of poetry, divided into three sections: a series of short pieces bookended by two lyric poems. His other books are The World's Room and From the Book of Giants, and he edited At the Barriers. Weiner currently serves as professor of English at the University of Maryland.

In addition to Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice, Daisy Fried is the author of two other collections, including She Didn't Mean to Do It, which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Her other honors include the Cohen Award for poetry from Ploughshares, and she has been a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and a Pew Fellow in poetry. Currently, Fried is the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith College.

Peter Campion teaches in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of two previous collections of poems, Other People and The Lions. His new collection, El Dorado, explores what it feels like to live in America right now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Also on this night, Woodland Pattern is hosting their annual fundraising gala. For folks who like contemporary art and performance, this also sounds like a great evening, featuring Alison Knowles, art activist Carolyn White-Travanti, and renowned art educator Barbara Brown Lee.

Monday, November 11, 7 pm, a ticketed event at Alverno College:
Amy Tan, author of The Valley of Amazement. 
The ticket is $29.99 plus tax and a small service fee and includes the cost of the book. Purchase your tickets here at Brown Paper Tickets.  It's ticket #453584. I only tell you this because I like numbers.

In Amy Tan's latest novel, her first since Saving Fish from Drowning, the story begins in 1905 Shanghai. Violet Minturn is the young daughter of the American mistress of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when revolution arrives in the city, she will be separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan."

Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet moves effortlessly between the cultural worlds of East and West, quickly becoming a shrewd business woman who deals in seduction and illusion. But her successes belie her private struggle to understand who she really is and her search for a home in the world. Lucia, Violet's mother, nurses wounds of her own, first sustained when, as a teenager, she fell blindly in love with a Chinese painter and followed him from San Francisco to Shanghai, only to be confronted with the shocking reality of the vast cultural differences between them.

Violet's need for answers will propel both her and her mother on separate quests of discovery: journeys to make sense of their lives, of the men-fathers, lovers, sons-who have shaped them, and of the ways we fail each other and our children despite our best attempts to love and be loved. Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement resurrects lost worlds: from the moment when China's imperial dynasty collapsed and a Republic arose and foreign trade became the lifeblood of Shanghai, to the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreign "Shanghailanders" living in the International Settlement, both erased by WWII.

The Valley of Amazement is also a deeply evocative narrative of family secrets, the legacy of trauma, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, which returns readers to the compelling territory Amy Tan so expertly mapped in earlier novels, such as The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic wisdom, grace, and humor, she conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and senses and its illusions and truths.

Lorinda Hayes in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette writes about how "Amy Tan effectively uses her own family history to develop an intricate novel of contrasts." She notes: "Inspired by questions about her grandmother's life story, Ms. Tan developed a fictional account that links both sides of the Pacific Ocean and explores the relationship between a young American mother and her half-American, half-Chinese daughter in the early 20th century."

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