Monday, April 21, 2014

Boswell Book Company Monday Event Post, Week of April 21, 2014--Meg Wolitzer, Brian Freeman, Ann Peters, Stuart Gibbs and More.

Tuesday, April 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Brian Freeman, author of The Cold Nowhere.

We have been sharing events with Mystery One for over a year now, and with Books and Company since we've been open, but this might be our first double share. No, I think Joelle Charbonneau also did this for The Testing. 

Freeman's signing at Mystery One at 5 the same day as us, and then appears at Books and Company on Wednesday, April 23. Freeman comes off his best novel win at the International Thriller awards with a Duluth-based story that gives Nordic Noir a run for its money in the "chiller thriller" category. Booklist writes "The narrative moves between the point of view of Stride and that of the girl's pursuer, making this well-plotted, atmospheric thriller feel like a high-stakes chess game."

This is Freeman's first Jonathan Stride mystery published with Quercus. The previous installments, as well as one stand-alone, were published by Minotaur, while another stand-alone was published by Silver Oak, through Sterling. Our best sale to date was with his 2010 stand-alone, The Bone House, which had a great write-up from Carole E. Barrowman. Barrowman also touted Freeman's newest in a Journal Sentinel write up yesterday. Freeman rounds up some of his reviews here.

Wednesday, April 23, 6 pm, at the Oak Creek Library, 8620 South Howell Avenue, 53154: Stuart Gibbs, author of Poached, Belly Up, Spy School, and Spy Camp.

After a day of school visits (contact Jannis if you are interested in championing a school visit next fall), we whisk Gibbs due South to the Oak Creek Library, where you can learn more about Teddy Fitzroy, boy animal detective. His family works at the FunJungle (no space, two caps) animal park in Texas, and after being caught in a local bully's prank (they drop fake severed limbs into the shark tank), he becomes prime suspect in a genuin koala poaching.

Matthew Weaver in Voice of Youth Advocates writes "Also the author of Spy School, a TV and screenwriter, and a former zoo worker, Gibbs goes the extra mile in establishing the reality of FunJungle, stressing proper animal care while giving an insider’s view of the politics behind zoo exhibits and management. Even better, Teddy’s parents never doubt their son’s innocence and actively engage in his adventure. These extra details lend credibility to the caper and raise the stakes. This will appeal to animal and mystery lovers alike."

Here's a complete map of FunJungle. Please consider setting the third installment on Monkey Mountain. Don't forget the 6 pm start time!

Also on Wednesday, April 23, 7 pm (reception, the author speaks at 7:30), at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 West Brown Deer Road in River Hills, 53217:
A ticketed event with Ann Peters, author of House Hold.

The Woman's Speaker Series at the Lynden Sculpture Garden is a partnership with Milwaukee Reads, with sponsors Bronze Optical and MKE Localicious. Tickets are $30 and include admission, light refreshments and wine, and a copy of House Hold. For Lynden members, the cost is $25.

Kirkus Reviews lauded this memoir, writing that "Nostalgia is a complicated version of love, Peters reveals in this elegiac memoir, which can threaten to fade the vivid present to a sepia-toned past."

From Booklist: "Peters ties her memories to great stories of small-town life by Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, and others. Twenty years of living in New York evokes romantic notions about the city drawn from the writings of Willa Cather and Paule Marshall. Eventually, Peters buys a small house in upstate New York. All along, she ponders her constantly changing landscape, resenting changing and reluctantly conceding her participation in that change, resigning herself to living inside others' history. Peters writes beautifully of the meaning of authenticity and the need to belong."

This fluency with Edith Wharton and Willa Cather as well as the author speaking to the geography of Wisconsin explains a bit why Boswellian Jane is so fond of the book.  She's been recommending it for book clubs, which we'll rev up when the book goes into paperback.

Ann Peters is associate professor of English at Stern College, Yeshiva University, and the recipient of the 2012 McGinnis Ritchie Award for Nonfiction. She lives in Brooklyn and in upstate New York.

Thursday, April 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, The Wife, The Ten Year Nap, The Uncoupling, and more. (Photo credit by Nina Subin)

I read my first Meg Wolitzer novel in 1986. Back then, I knew her as the daughter of Hilma Wolitzer, whose most recent book is An Available Man. I read Silver back in 1988 and I think this might have been the first time I had read novels by a mother and a daughter in a family. For some reason, that seemed very exciting to me. I also read the next novel, This is Your Life, which was about a comedian and her two daughters, which became a movie, but I seem to remember had Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson) in it.

Time skips. Wolitzer's fan base grows. We have some very nice sales for Wolitzer's novels at Schwartz. My coworker Nancy reads a few, and I use her quote. I'm trying to figure out whether Ms. Wolitzer ever appeared at Schwartz. Please comment below if you've seen her. Sometimes I just can't remember and other times my memory is faulty. I was convinced that Chuck Klosterman came before Boswell's 2009 appearance, but he said that was not the case.

Wolitzer had hit the national bestseller lists before, but I feel like her new novel, The Interestings, has reached a level of popularity and acclaimed she hadn't before seen. The book has had amazing reviews and hit a number of best-of-the-year roundups, including this wonderful review in The New York Times from Liesl Schillinger.

"The Interestings is warm, all-American and acutely perceptive about the feelings and motivations of its characters, male and female, young and old, gay and straight; but it’s also stealthily, unassumingly and undeniably a novel of ideas. Wolitzer has been writing excellent fiction for 30 years, and it has always been this astute. From the start, her subject has been the practical, emotional and sexual fallout of women’s liberation, particularly as it affects mothers and children. But here she has written a novel that speaks as directly to men as to women. With this book, she has surpassed herself. Just don’t call her exceptional."

Eden Lepucki rhapsodizes over The Interestings in The Millions. She compares the book to two other novels I read and enjoyed, Beautiful Ruins (which we all know) and Jami Attenberg's The Middlesteins (which we should know better). 

Suzanne Koven in The Boston Globe: "The main characters in Meg Wolitzer’s complex and engaging new novel, The Interestings, were born in 1959 (as was Wolitzer). They’re members of that shadow generation, not old enough to have participated fully in the dramatic events that dominated their childhoods, vaguely aware that when they finally arrived late to the party of adulthood, it, and they, might turn out to be less fascinating than they hoped."

My sister's friend Christine heard Meg Wolitzer speak at a fundraiser in Phoenix and told me that Wolitzer was as wonderful a speaker as could be--engaging, smart, and witty. To me, those are the three points of fabulousness. Oh, and she's a good friend of another author who has been a dear friend to the store, so we better do a good job, or else.

We've had a nice display up with the bags as well (the reissues from Wolitzer offer many design variations, but they are definitely type covers!), and we've been talking about the event a lot. I panic before every event, but several indications, like a number of book clubs who have promised me they are coming and the fact that The Interestings has been our #1 selling trade paperback fiction title for the last two weeks should allow me to exhale, at least for a minute.

Monday, April 28, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Five year anniversary celebration with Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

As Jim Higgins wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Boswell Book Company could not have picked a more fitting new book for its fifth anniversary celebration." If you skipped Friday's post about the book, you can read it now. and tear up a bit (note: not "tare" up,  but "teer" up).  And Zevin has promised to guest-write a post later this week.

Monday, April 28, 7 pm, at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2210 N. Terrace Ave. 53211:
Timothy Corrigan, author of An Invitation to Chateau Du Grand-Luce: Decorating a Great French Country House.  There is a $5 admission fee for this event, which goes directly to Villa Terrace. 

Folks come to us about event ideas all the time, and sadly, mostly don't work out. By the time folks know about books, the tours are planned. More than that, it's sometimes hard to understand that when the publisher author comes to us, the onus for attendance is lower than when we go to them.

So here is a textbook example of when a customer's idea can and does work. Our friends Pat and Stephanie noted that Timothy Corrigan, one of the world's most acclaimed decorators, was going to be in Chicago in April, on tour for his book, and wouldn't it be a great thing for us to be able to add Milwaukee on. Corrigan lived in Milwaukee at one time and had plenty of fans who were well-connected to bring out a crowd.

We originally had the event scheduled for another day, but a shift in his schedule made April 28 the best opportunity. The only problem is that we already had Gabrielle Zevin booked, and as a national tour, the date wasn't flexible. I just couldn't let this go, and suggested Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. The museum was excited to be part of this--we had a very nice event for The Art Forger at their sister museum, The Charles Allis. And when we asked his people, it turns out that Corrigan had been taken by Villa Terrace on his last trip to town and had photographed it. Destiny, right?

The book is about how Corrigan purchased an 18th century chateau and restored it to its former glory.  Corrigan tells all to David Keeps in this Los Angeles Times column. Hope you'll join us for this lovely event.

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