Thursday, January 30, 2014

Detoured by Obama's Visit, Getting Ready for Our Sold-Out Gladwell, Recapping Events Including Special Guests, Whining About Weather Whining.

I was on my way to buy office supplies this morning, most notably to stock up on markers for Malcolm Gladwell and his event tomorrow evening. Tickets sold out a couple of days ago, and folks have been calling us regularly, anxious that somehow there might be seats we didn't yet announce. Alas, we really are sold out. Maybe it's time to finally sign up for our email newsletter and not miss out? The link is on the bottom right corner of our website.

I knew that President Obama was appearing today in Waukesha, to promote a partnership between GE and "an area community college", as  the national media referred to Waukesha County Technical College, but what I didn't allow for was that a big swath of roads around the airport would be closed off for his landing. Did I know from the news? No, Patrick Ness had told me at his wonderful event last night, worrying that his flight might be delayed as a result.

Due to the detour, I wound up in the car longer than I expected, and heard the Lake Effect piece about Betty Quadracci's memorial in the Quad-Graphics-owned Milwaukee Magazine, from Ann Christiansen and Kurt Chandler. The piece has a number of remembrances from a who's who in Milwaukee, including Boswell authors Barbara Manger and David Gordon.

As an aside, the February issue also includes a profile of Project Runway's Miranda Levy, who has a studio on the third floor of Bay View High School. I didn't know Bay View High School had artist studios. I live only a few blocks from there, but since I have no artistic talent, it should matter, but somehow, it's nice to know that's an option.

Just to keep things bookish, there's a great essay from agent Elizabeth Evans on choosing to move from New York to Milwaukee. I like the line about how in Milwaukee, "you don't need to be a millionaire to have a seat at the table." My thoughts exactly.

At the Winter Institute, I spent some time with Judy, the associate publisher of Grove/Atlantic, who was helping host a dinner for Lily King, who appeared at Boswell for her last book, Father of the Rain. King's new book, Euphoria, sends her off to New Guinea for a novel inspired in part by Margaret Mead.  The other guest was novelist Malcolm Brooks, who worked for 20 years on his Leif-Enger-like novel, Painted Horses, which is set in Montana.

But mostly I'm just talking about this to mention that whenever I see Judy, she asks me what's going on in Milwuakee? She's Bizarro Daniel, or maybe I'm Bizarro Judy. She grew up here an moved to New York, while I did the reverse. I wanted to tell her to eat at Odd Duck, or visit Karen Tibbets' new Soaps and Sense location in the Wauwatosa Village and then get some bakery at Rocket Baby on North and stop by Ono Kine Grindz, or insist that she take her mom to Soup House and then had a list of another 50 restaurants and shops, and then head up Prospect and look at that mesmerizing building that Robert Joseph is building on top of Prospect Mall and get a sandwish at Love Handle, but there was simply too much going on at the party. And I just assume she would come visit Boswell and see what's happening on Downer Avenue. So I'm simply emailing this blog post to her after it's written.

Today's my stay at home day (yes, even owners get one, especially when they are nursing a cold) but I've got a lot to do. I've got to write instructions for the booksellers working Gladwell tomorrow, and then compose a note to be sent to attendees on Brown Paper Tickets. And it wouldn't hurt to at least get started on our February events newsletter, right?

But one last thing--I mentioned how well our event with Patrick Ness went for The Crane Wife (signed copies available--see photo with booksellers Hannah and Jannis above), but what I didn't mention is despite the weather warnings, we still got a decent crowd of people for our event with Greg Kot and I'll Take You There (signed copies available), despite me being on the fence about cancelling. Among attendees were three of Mavis Staples' cousins. They graciously allowed me to take this picture of the family and post it here. Don't worry, Greg, I'm sending you a higher-res version.

I've now developed a "we've gone soft" attitude about the snow and cold, combined with being convinced that news media, in particular television, panics about weather so we'll stay home and watch more television. During that Arctic Vortex of the 1990s, I remember putting on two sets of everything and heading off for my mile-long trek to work. That said, they forget to tell Atlantans not to go out this week and look what happened. Gladwell's event in Atlanta had to be cancelled, by the way. But as I say to folks, all this panic is really our fault--nobody ever gets in trouble for over-warning, but if the weather turns out to be worse than expected, everybody starts looking for blame.

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