Monday, May 12, 2014

Another Crazy-Great Week of Events at and with Boswell--Joseph Ellwanger, Tony DiTerlizzi, Bill Berry, Roxane Gay, Faith Ringold, David Downing, Alan Weisman, Plus Next Week's Joshua Ferris and Thomas Mickey.

Monday, May 12, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Joseph Ellwanger, author of Strength for the Struggle: Insights from the Civil Rights Movement and Urban Ministry.

Strength for the Struggle is a collection of stories, and lessons learned, from the three congregations Joseph Ellwanger served in a pastoral capacity over the past 55 years and from his involvement in the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, in the 1960's and in the peace and justice movement in Milwaukee 1967 to the present.

As pastor of a St. Paul Lutheran in Birmingham, Alambama, and Cross Lutheran in Milwaukee, and then at Haphata Lutheran since 2002 Ellwanger has "taken up the causes of many of society's most marginalized: the poor; refugees; those addicted or imprisoned; and in more recent years, gay and lesbian people seeking full inclusion in their church," per Anyssa Johnson in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Ellwanger discusses the story behind the cover photograph, the voter ID debate, and his battle with Birmingham which led to his move to Milwaukee in this profile.d

Thank you to Kira Henschel, whose publishing services in Bay View helps books like Strength for the Struggle.

Tuesday, May 13, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Celebrate National Children's Book Week with Tony DiTerlizzi, author of The Battle for WondLa.

Tony, DiTerlizzi, renowed author and illustrator, has had great success with The Spiderwick Chronicles, his middle-grade collaboration with Holly Black. The Battle for WondLa is the third book in his WondLa series, and is the perfect book for celebrating National Children's Book Week.

When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-old girl is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, “WondLa.” Tony DiTerlizzi honors traditional children’s literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child’s wish for a place to belong. Eva Nine is at her bravest in the final book in this New York Times bestselling trilogy.

DiTerlizzi is also well known for his picture books, most notably The Spider and the Fly, which was a Caldicaott Honor title. And he's also well known for his legendary Dungeons and Drgaons illustrations. On Saturday, a couple of fellows who are attending Tuesday night's event wondered if we had any card decks or old paperbacks. That's our first request for the line in a while--brings back old memories of Gencon. I suggested they read Of Dice and Men, the cultural history that I wrote about last year.

We've invited the Cream City Illustrators for a pre-event reception, but we'll have enough treats for all. We'll be featuring our final Milwaukee Cupcake Company collaboration, as MCC has announced they are closing later this month. Because DiTerlizzi has mentioned his great interest in insects, we've stocked up on the particularly delicious dirt cupcake, which includes a gummy worm. 

Tuesday, May 13, 7 pm, at the Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place 53211: Bill Berry, author of Banning DDT:  How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin Led the Way

On a December day in 1968, DDT went on trial in Madison, Wisconsin. In Banning DDT, Bill Berry details how the citizens, scientists, reporters, and traditional conservationists drew attention to the harmful effects of “the miracle pesticide” DDT, which was being used to control Dutch elm disease.

A chronicle of the struggle and ultimate success of local grassroots efforts by citizen activists in Wisconsin, Banning DDT is a testament to the positive, far-reaching change a handful of concerned citizens can begin in their own communities. The Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center is located at 1500 E. Park Place in Milwaukee. The entry fee for this event is $5 for members and $10 for non-members, proceeds of which go to the Urban Ecology Center.

The Shepherd Express featured Bill Berry's appearance as this week's Book Preview event. More info at the Urban Ecology Center website.

Wednesday, May 14, 7 pm, at the Harold and Rose Samson JCC, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. 53217: NBC news correspondent Martin Fletcher with his novel Jacob's Oath.

This event is free and open to the public. More on the JCC website.

In his new novel, NBC News correspondent and National Jewish Book Award-winner Martin Fletcher has taken the deepest lesson he learned in his career and has applied it to fiction. Jacob's Oath follows two people emerging from one of history’s greatest tragedies, and examines the challenges they face in coping with the rest of their lives. After decades of reporting on war, Fletcher says he has learned that the human spirit survives tragedy not by any great achievement, but by one laborious step at a time. “It is a lesson obvious with hindsight,” says Fletcher, “but unimaginable in the pain of the moment.”

Thursday, May 15, 7 pm, at Boswell: Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State.

Please join us as we welcome for a reading and signing Roxane Gay, a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic “built-in readership” (Library Journal). Her debut novel, An Untamed State, is about a woman who is kidnapped for ransom, her father (who refuses to pay), her husband (who fights for her release over thirteen days), and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

"While visiting her wealthy parents in Port-au-Prince, Mireille Jameson is kidnapped in front of her family. Her father, a prominent citizen, has a strict policy of not paying ransoms. The story moves back and forth between the horror that Mireille undergoes at the hands of her captors, and her personal history, both as a daughter of Haiti, and as a wife and mother. What happens to her while she is held prisoner is only part of the story. When she is released, she must regain her sense of person, and conquer the fear that engulfs her. An Untamed State is a bold and unvarnished novel that will open the reader’s eyes to a part of the world that they may not be familiar with. I highly recommend it." --Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company

“Clear your schedule now! Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. An Untamed State is a novel of hope intermingled with fear, a book about possibilities mixed with horror and despair. It is written at a pace that will match your racing heart, and while you find yourself shocked, amazed, devastated, you also dare to hope for the best, for all involved.” —Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light

Thursday, May 15, 6 pm, at North Division High School, 1011 W. Center Street 53206:
Faith Ringgold, author of Tar Beach, If a Bus Could Talk, and more.

This event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Arts @ Large, a non-profit organization that connects arts to academics through meaningful arts experiences for Milwaukee Public School students.

Boswell will have books for sale at this event. Please say hi to Amie and Jannis while you are there.

Friday, May 16, 7 pm, at Boswell: David Downing, author of Jack of Spies and Zoo Station.

Set on the eve of the First World War, across oceans and continents, steamliners and cross-country trains, Jack McColl, a Scottish car salesman with an uncanny ear for languages, has always hoped to make a job for himself as a spy. As his sales calls take him from city to great city—Hong Kong to Shanghai to San Francisco to New York—he moonlights collecting intelligence for His Majesty's Navy, but British espionage is in its infancy and Jack has nothing but a shoestring budget and the very tenuous protection of a boss in far-away London. He knows, though, that a geopolitical catastrophe is brewing, and now is both the moment to prove himself and the moment his country needs him most.

Unfortunately, this is also the moment he begins to realize what his aspiration might cost him. He understands his life is at stake when activities in China suddenly escalate from innocent data-gathering and casual strolls along German military concessions to arrest warrants and knife attacks. Meanwhile, a sharp, vivacious American suffragette journalist has wiled her way deep into his affections, and it is not long before he realizes that her Irish-American family might be embroiled in the Irish Republican movement Jack's bosses are fighting against. How can he choose between his country and the woman he loves? And would he even be able to make such a choice without losing both?

From The Wall Street Journal comes this profile of David Downing by Steve Dougherty. "Mr. Downing's passions include geography and history, as well as rock music, soccer, railways and James Bond books. He studied military strategy while earning a master's degree in international relations at Sussex University. 'I wasn't working all that hard [in school] I must admit. I spent more time writing rock journalism and terrible poetry.'"

Saturday, May 17, 7 pm, at Boswell: Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us and Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth.

This event is at Boswell, but is co-sponsored by the Urban Ecology Center. We also have a media sponsorship for this event from Wisconsin Public Radio.

In The World Without Us, journalist Alan Weisman considered how the world could heal and even refill empty niches if relieved of humanity’s constant pressures. Behind that groundbreaking thought-experiment was his hope that we would be inspired to find a way to add humans back to this vision of a restored, healthy planet—only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature. But with a million more of us approximately every 4 1/2 days on a planet that’s not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of our oceans, prospects for a sustainable future seem ever more in doubt.

In Countdown, Alan Weisman’s long-awaited follow-up book, he traveled to twenty-one countries to ask four questions that experts agreed were probably the most important on Earth—and also the hardest. How many people can the Earth sustain? If, in order to ensure our survival, we need to stop our growth before we hit 10 billion—or even reduce our numbers from our current 7 billion—is there an acceptable, nonviolent way to convince all of the world’s cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems that it’s in their best interest to do so? What kind of ecosystem is necessary to maintain human life, and what species or ecological processes are essential to our survival?

And finally, If a sustainable population on Earth is less than our current growth projection, or even less than our current number, how do we design an economy for a shrinking population, and then for a stable one—that is, for an economy not dependent on constant growth? Truly a journalistic tour de force, Countdown is a riveting piece of narrative nonfiction that is impossible to put down and as compellingly entertaining to read as its message is urgent. The World Without Us has been translated into thirty-four languages, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Wenjin Book Prize of the National Library of China. Weisman's has been selected for many anthologies, including The Best American Science Writing. He has also written for Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Discover, and Vanity Fair.

Double preview for next week: Monday, May 19, 6 pm, in the Milwaukee Public Library Rare Books Room, 2nd floor, 807 West Wisconsin Ave. 53233:
Thomas Mickey, author of America's Romance with the English Garden.

Join us in the Rare Books room on the second floor of the Milwaukee Public Library for a perfect springtime event with Master Gardener, professor, and Milwaukee-born author of America’s Romance with the English Garden, Thomas Mickey. Whether you’re interested in how the marketing efforts of nineteenth-century seed companies and nurseries sold the idea of the English gardening aesthetic to American homeowners or want Mickey’s tips to help your green thumb, you won’t want to miss this fantastic talk and book signing. The Milwaukee Public Library is located at 807 W. Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

Monday, May 19, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Joshua Ferris, author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.

Paul O'Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn't know how to live in it. He's a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul's quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual. At once laugh-out-loud funny about the absurdities of the modern world, and indelibly profound about the eternal questions of the meaning of life, love, and truth, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, is a deeply moving and constantly surprising tour de force.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is beautifully written. It's also funny, thought-provoking, and touching. One hesitates to call it the Catch-22 of dentistry, but it's sort of in that ballpark. Some books simply carry you along on the strength and energy of the author's invention and unique view of the world. This is one of those books.” —-Stephen King

He's already come and gone, but you never know when he'll be back, so I thought I'd share with you this enthusiastic review in Third Coast Digest from Will Stott's Jr. of Shotgun Lovesongs. "I urge you to buy Shotgun Lovesongs, read it, and give it as a gift. It’s good to share the best things about a place you love. That’s what Nicholas Butler has done and you can too."

No comments: