Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Event Post: David Bezmozgis, Kim Wilson, Kathleen Ernst

Monday, November 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
David Bezmozgis, author of The Betrayers.
This event is co-sponsored by UWM Stahl Center for Jewish Studies and the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

Yes, it's a Daniel pick. Here's my rec: "Baruch Kotler didn’t expect his affair with his young assistant to hit the front page of the papers, but that was only after her refused to back down from his stand on West Bank occupation. He took Leora and headed to Crimea, land of his childhood vacations, where he could leave his old family and his problems behind. And so what if his wife spent her life campaigning for his release back when he was a world-famous Russian dissident? But when their reservation is lost and they agree to take a room in someone’s house, the one person whom he most fears seeing turns up. The Betrayers is a darkly comic drawing room novel, a character study with a bit of the thriller, a historical what-if, and a philosophical puzzle too, all told with grace, insight and wit."

Just don't take my word for it. This from Aleksandar Hemon: "The Betrayers is a moral thriller in the tradition of Bernard Malamud, but the generosity, grace, and wisdom of the writing belong entirely to David Bezmozgis. The magic of fiction is that it makes the reader care deeply about imaginary strangers, and Bezmozgis is a magician."

From Canadian novelist Barbara Gowdy (you do remember we're finishing out Canada week, right?): "An intensely penetrating, transcendent novel... with characters that are absolutely themselves, their flaws, strengths and desires so tenderly and truthfully imagined as they move through the startling turns of a story that rises out of the deep center of Bezmozgis's fine intelligence. Extraordinary."

Francine Prose is a fan, which should not be a surprise, since she was one of the three judges for the Giller Prize, for which the book was shortlist: "Dazzling, hilarious, and hugely compassionate narratives [written with] freshness and precision ... Readers will find themselves laughing out loud, then gasping as Bezmozgis brings these fictions to the searing, startling, and perfectly pitched conclusions that remind us that, as Babel said, 'no iron can stab the heart so powerfully as a period put in exactly in the right place.'"

If you've been paying attention, you'll note that I seem driven to these novels that are more character and theme than plot, at least of late. The Betrayers reminds me a lot of a stage play. I've been thinking a lot about its theatrical possibilities.

Tuesday, November 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Kim Wilson, author of At Home with Jane Austen.
This event is co-sponsored by JASNA, Wisconsin chapter.

From her youth in a country rectory in Steventon, a small village in Hampshire, England—where she wrote her first stories for her friends, Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third—to the fashionable spa town of Bath, to the seaport of Southampton, to her final years in her last settled home at peaceful Chawton Cottage, where she penned her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s life was hardly that of a shut in. A regular visitor to London, to the seashore for holidays, and to the estates of friends and relatives, Jane carried her own notion of home with her wherever she went and drew inspiration for her brilliantly witty novels from every new experience. She wrote most everywhere she traveled, accompanied by her portable writing desk.

With gorgeous photography and illustrations, At Home with Jane Austen explores Austen’s world, her physical surroundings, and the journeys the popular author took during her lifetime. Author Kim Wilson ties Austen’s novels to places where she lived, visited, and even attended school, ending with her final months in temporary lodgings in Winchester, England. Jane Austen’s enduring legacy is the final chapter of this beautiful and eye-opening book.

JASNA member Wilson is also the author of Tea with Jane Austen and In the Garden with Jane Austen. And since you're wondering, here's how to get to Jane Austen's house, on Trip Advisor.

Wednesday, November 19, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Kathleen Ernst, author of Tradition of Deceit.

Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe's attention turns from milling to murder.

Back in Milwaukee, Chloe's love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow police officer (his best friend) was shot and killed while on duty.

Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk. This is the fifth book in the Chloe Ellefson series, but that's not the only reason you know Kathleen Ernst. She's also the author of the Caroline Abbott books from American Girl. Who knew that many of the original characters have been archived?.

You can hear Kathleen Ernst talk about her previous novel on Lake Effect here.

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