Monday, September 1, 2014

This Week's Events! Marquette's Julia Azari and Kathleen Rooney on Tuesday, Margaret Peterson Haddix and Lisa McMann on Wednesday, Marja Mills on Harper Lee on Thursday, and Julia Mary Gibson's Milwaukee Homecoming on Friday.

As I mentioned in the email newsletter, we're open on Labor Day until 5 pm. No events today, but it's a busy week this week.

Tuesday, September 2, 7 pm, at Boswell: Politics in Fact and Fiction. Kathleen Rooney is the author of the novel O, Democracy! while Julia Azari has written Delivering the People's Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate.

Here's a little more about O, Democracy!: "It’s late spring of 2008, and one of Illinois’ two Democratic senators is poised to become the next president of the United States. Colleen Dugan works for the other one—not on Capitol Hill, but in a Chicago skyscraper that overlooks Lake Michigan, among coworkers with little to do but field calls from angry constituents while the future of the nation gets decided elsewhere. In the coming weeks Colleen will navigate the perils of costumed protestors, thuggish union reps, vacuous interns, trifling bureaucrats, dirty tricks by the Senator’s Republican rival, and the unexpected discovery of a scandalous secret that will give her the power to change the course of the election and shape her own fate—though not necessarily for the better.

In Delivering the People’s Message, Julia R. Azari draws on an original dataset of more than 1,500 presidential communications, as well as primary documents from six presidential libraries, to systematically examine choices made by presidents ranging from Herbert Hoover in 1928 to Barack Obama during his 2008 election. Azari argues that Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 marked a shift from the modern presidency formed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to what she identifies as a more partisan era for the presidency. This partisan model is a form of governance in which the president appears to require a popular mandate in order to manage unruly and deeply contrary elements within his own party and succeed in the face of staunch resistance from the opposition party.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, as well as a member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She is the author of six books, most recently, the novel in poems Robinson Alone, based on the life and work of Weldon Kees. She lives in Chicago where she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at DePaul University.

Julia R. Azari is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marquette University. She is coeditor of The Presidential Leadership Dilemma: Between the Constitution and a Political Party.

Wednesday, September 3, 7 pm, at Boswell: An Evening with Margaret Peterson Haddix and Lisa McMann.

It's back-to-school season and that means we're taking authors to schools. We normally pass on doing school visits in the first half of September, but how could we say no to two of our favorite authors, Lisa McMann and Margaret Peterson Haddix, who separately done four days of events with Boswell. One thing we we were aware of is that all our public events were at public libraries, so to change things up, we decided to do the public event at the bookstore, especially because McMann was a long-time children's bookseller in Michigan before her writing career took off.

Both authors are in the midst of popular middle grade series, so we also have plenty of the first books in their series, so that kids (and adults can jump right in). But it's my job to tell you what's going on in the newest installment, so here's a little bit about Revealed, the newest book in The Missing series: "It’s morning as usual at the Skidmore household—until Charles Lindbergh, the famous historical pilot, appears in their living room. Jonah can hardly believe his eyes—and then Lindbergh grabs Katherine and vanishes again. And that’s not all. Chip, Andrea, and all the other children from the plane have disappeared too. And worst of all, Jonah’s parents and all the other adults in his town have de-aged into children. Jonah is the only one left, and the only one who can save everyone. With the help of de-aged JB and Angela, he has to collect the clues. And they lead directly back to Gary and Hodge, and a terrible plot that could mean the end of everything Jonah has ever loved. Can Jonah put the pieces together before time runs out?" Yikes!

Here's more from the publisher about the fourth installment of The Unwanteds, Island of Legends: "As Alex grows more confident in his role as the mage of Artime, he expands his skills and brings his first creature to life--with results that are both painful and wonderful. A team from Artime heads out to rescue Sky and Crow's mother from underwater Pirate Island and discovers there are more creatures than they ever imagined in the ocean surrounding the islands--and not all of them are friendly. Meanwhile in Quill, Aaron faces threats to his leadership as Gondoleery hones her rediscovered magical abilities and Eva and Liam form a secret alliance against him. But Aaron's distracted with a discovery of his own--a hidden jungle that holds a dangerous secret. His time there yields a startling truth about himself, and a potential opportunity to increase his power."

What you need to know is that Alex and Aaron are twins who were separated, with Aaron on course to be a leader and Alex to be sent to his death for being creative, only he didn't die, but instead was whisked off to a hidden school where creatives were taught how to use their powers of art, music, writing and acting almost like superpowers. No, exactly like superpowers.

Margaret Peterson Haddix previously had great success with her Shadow Children series, while McMann is also writing very sucessful books for teens, including the Visitors series and The Wake trilogy. I've been to both their events previously and had a great time, so I can only imagine what fun they'd be together.

Thursday, September 4, 7 pm, at Boswell: Marja Mills, author of The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee.

As a Madison native whose spent most of her adult career in Chicago, we're lucky enough to be in the orbit of Marja Mills and host her for her memoir of some special years in her life that she spent with Harper "Nelle" Lee and her sister Alice in Alabama. It all started with the To Kill a Mockingbird was chosen as Chicago's all-city read and Mills was sent to do a story about the town where it all happened. And that led to Mills moving to Monroeville and getting to know them up close and personal. This is hardly a tell-all, though it's been not without controversy, of course. But Boswellian Anne read the book and said it was nothing short of "delightful." I asked her about it again recently, and she confirmed how much she enjoyed The Mockingbird Next Door.

Marja Mills is a former reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, where she was a member of the staff that won the Pulitzer Prize for a 2001 series about O’Hare Airport entitled “Gateway to Gridlock.” The Mockingbird Next Door is her first book.

There are so many great quotes about the book that I'd be remiss to not include some. Publishers Weekly, in their boxed review, stated "As she portrays the exceptional Lee women and their modest, slow-paced world with awed precision, Mills creates a uniquely intimate, ruminative, and gently illuminating biographical memoir." And writer Elizabeth Berg (who may have had a role in getting Mills to come up, for which we are grateful), says "In her first book, a journalist offers a gentle, loving portrait of a reclusive writer.... Mills portrays Nelle as a grown-up Scout, the feisty and defiant heroine of Mockingbird.... [A] charming portrait of a small Southern town and its most famous resident."

Come celebrate with Hershey's Kisses and sparkling cider. You'll understand the former if you know the story!

Friday, September 5, 7 pm, at Boswell: Julia Mary Gibson, author of Copper Magic.

When Gibson (corrected!) contacted me about an event, she told me that she grew up in Milwaukee and was excited to be back to appear for her first book. What she didn't tell me was that she went to elementary school with one of my closest friends. By the way, that had no bearing on booking; it was already set when I found out.

Here a little more about the book: "If anyone needs magic, it’s 12-year-old Violet Blake. Her mother and little brother are gone, perhaps never to return. Violet’s morose, heartbroken father can’t seem to sustain their failing farm on the outskirts of a fading town, and summer people are invading the quiet woods. Violet unearths an ancient talisman, a hand fashioned from copper. The copper hand makes its power known. Surely it can make things right for Violet and restore her fractured family. But the copper hand’s abilities are beyond Violet’s understanding – maybe even anyone’s."

Here's a slightly different bio from Gibson's website: "For a significant chunk of my life I worked with sprocketed celluloid, as a garage animator and in various capacities in the visual effects industry. My colleagues were geniuses and magicians and sorceresses. The work was a blast (sometimes literally – catch me as Frances McDormand’s double in an awesome old-school beamsplitter shot in Sam Raimi’s Darkman*), but a time came when my own work cried out to be fostered again. I live in Hollywood, California, surrounded by my four-generation extended family of poets, thespians, dancers, filmworkers, and urban farmers."

*Darkman is the most successful screenplay of my name doppelganger, Daniel Goldin.

Here's a preview of the following week. Monday, September 8, 7 pm, at Boswell:Daryl Brown, co-author of Inside the Godfather: Never Before Told Stories of James Brown by His Inner Circle. The book is also known as My Father the Godfather. More about the book on the official website.

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