Monday, September 22, 2014

Events this Week: Emily St. John Mandel with the Soulstice Theatre Tonight, Chris Guillebeau Wednesday, Paige Rawl Thursday, Christine Merritt Friday, Chloe Benjamin Saturday, All at 7, All at Boswell.

Monday, September 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Emily St. John (photo credit Dese'rae Stage), author of Station Eleven, with the Soulstice Theatre.

Yes, it’s a staged reading! We’re so grateful for Mark Flagg, Margaret Casey, Bo Johnson, Josh Perkins, and Stephan Roselin , plus the rest of the Solstice Theatre for taking this on. You can read more about tonight’s actors in our Station Eleven blog post, but I did absolutely promise that I would plug the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy staged reading at Soulstice central in Bay View. Part two is this coming Saturday and Sunday, September 27 and 28. To my knowledge, tickets are still available.

Meanwhile you probably want more reasons to get out of your house tonight and come to our event. More than Sharon and my recs. More than Mike Fischer’s rec in the Journal Sentinel or the Shepherd Express book preview. How about Laurie Hertzel’s write-up in the Minneapolis Star Tribune? The A rating from Entertainment Weekly and the longlist nomination for the National Book Award are getting you closer, right?

I worried when I saw that Nancy Hightower was including Station Eleven in a round-up of science fiction titles in the Washington Post. Oy, I’m not sure how well it fares competing with purer genre. But Hightower calls the book “a gorgeous retelling of (King) Lear” and “a surprisingly beautiful story of human relationships amid such devastation.”

In the end, you’re just going to have to trust us. Hope to see you this evening.

Wednesday, September 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Chris Guillebeau (photo credit Stephanie D. Zito), author of The Happiness of Pursuit.

For those who have connected with Susan Cain’s Quiet and felt empowered by Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, who’ve been drawn to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, this book is for you. In fact, all these writers have praised Guillebeau’s tale of finding fulfillment through quests. Guillebeau himself made it his goal to visit all 193 countries in the world before his 35th birthday and he did it. I’ll bet he’s now got another project up his sleeve, for the idea of this book is that the fulfillment is in the action.

Call it what you will; I imagine it as a high-energy version of mindfulness, but being that your curiosity is stoked, and that you are not celebrating Rosh Hashanah (yes, I’m well aware of the date), The Happiness of Pursuit might have the power to change your life.

While Guillebeau’s latest is not as directly business connected as his previous title, The $100 Startup, which by the way, hit our bestseller list last week, I suspect this will resonate with folks looking at business and finance as being an integrated part of life. Tim Maurer wrote about how questing resonated with him, and led his family to leave their longtime home in Maryland for South Carolina. And apparently questing leads to more questing. Who doesn’t need a jump start?

Thursday, September 25, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Paige Rawl (photo credit Paulina Osherov on Facebook link), author of Positive: A Memoir, co-sponsored by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Paige Rawl was given her HIV+ diagnosis when she was a toddler, but it was a fateful day in middle school when the author told one of her friends about her situation. Within weeks the whole school new, and the result was that she was relentlessly bullied. The school was not supportive.

As Here and Now notes: “Through counseling, a more supportive high school, and the friendships of others in the HIV-AIDS community, Rawl eventually found the strength not only to bring a lawsuit against her former school, but to become an AIDS educator and an anti-bulling activist.”

Here is the staff rec from Jannis Mindel: “Paige Rawl spent the early years of her childhood unaware of her HIV positive status. Her daily doses of medicine were as much a part of life as cheerleading and playing on the soccer team. After her mother finally tells her about her disease, Paige reveals her status to her best friend. Her life thereafter would never be the same. The bullying started almost immediately and with ferocity.The school did nothing to help Paige or her mother but rather told her she was causing too much drama. The stress became so severe she suffered from frequent seizures and eventually found herself attempting suicide. But with the help of her mother, close friends, and a camp for HIV/AIDS children, she was able to move forward and forgive. This is a moving, personal, and very powerful story of the effects of bullying.”

The timing of our event couldn’t be better. AIDS Walk Wisconsin is Sunday, October 12, with Tim Gunn as the honorary captain, and the ARCW will be there, distributing information and getting folks to sign up. If you want to join Team Boswell, Todd will be signing folks up for that. More about AIDS Walk Wisconsin here.

Friday, September 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Christine Merritt, author of Once Upon a Time in China.

When Christine Merritt, a parasitologist, was given the opportunity to teach at Soochow University in Suzhou Province, she jumped at the chance, in all spending two years there as the only foreign faculty member.

Here experience was one of modern eco-museums and ancient ruins, and she had a rare chance to experience first-hand daily life for Chinese students, their hopes and dreams, and thoughts on everything from family life to the Communist party. Merritt lived, shopped and ate with Chinese, and she brought back a lot of stories.

Saturday, September 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Chloe Benjamin, author of The Anatomy of Dreams.

It’s 1998 in Northern California, and two students, Sylvie and Dave, fall under the spell of the charismatic Dr. Adrian Keller. He is a strong believer in lucid dreaming, the ability to make conscious decisions while asleep. They wind up following Keller throughout the country, but it’s only when they wind up in the Midwest that this curious relationship begins to unravel.

Perhaps it is not always a great thing to have an awareness of your deepest self. Here’s a profile of Benamin in the Isthmus by Jessica Steinhoff, which chronicles how Benjamin came to Madison for her MFA and wound up staying, setting her first novel there. The story quotes: "Being a transplant, I found myself fascinated by Madison, its physical beauty, its really unique populace, and special things that happen here in terms of collaboration and scholarship and community."

Here's a review of The Anatomy of Dreams in the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. Erika Janik writes: "Benjamin’s tale raises interesting psychological questions that flirt with science fiction and fantasy. But the novel stops just short of full explorations of or divergences into either of these themes, which makes it more of a thriller than a philosophical treatise on dreaming. The Anatomy of Dreams is rooted in reality and the real quest for answers about one of the most elusive and inexplicable of human experiences."

Monday, September 29, 6:30 pm, at the Milwaukee Public Library Loos Room, 733 N. 8th Street, 53203:
J. F. Riordan, author of North of the Tension Line.

There's a fine literary tradition of an outsider venturing into a new place, finding the residents a bit crazy, but learning to fit in, and accepting that this new life in this generally small town or equivalent, perhaps an apartment building in a big city, is better than the sterile sameness left behind.

While Ms. Riordan's heroine starts out in Ephraim*, Wisconsin, a popular and lovely town in Door County, she is drawn to Washington Island, where she accepts a dare to spend a winter in a small house there. Armed with a bottle of single-malt scotch and a copy of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, she sets out to win the dare and finds that life in this community is not as dull as it seemed.

*The hands are faster than the brain, and thus, a typo is corrected. 

1 comment:

Jacqueline Rice said...

Hi Daniel, I think you meant Ephraim. ;o) Jacqueline