Monday, March 23, 2015

Erik Larson Sold Out, but You Can Still Attend Carson Ellis on Wednesday, Liam Callanan on Friday, and Judith Claire Mitchell Next Wednesday, April 1, All at Boswell.

Tuesday, March 24, 7 pm at Boswell: our sold-out event with Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.

The good thing about reading this blog regularly is that you probably got enough warning to buy your tickets to Erik Larson's event on Tuesday before it sold out. For those who weren't paying attention, it is in fact sold out. Here's what else you need to now.

a. Boswell will be closing to the general public at 5:30 pm on Tuesday.

b. All folks with tickets should arrive by 6:45 pm to make sure they get a seat. After that, we will sell a limited number of standing-room tickets, which are also $30 and have the same option as the regular tickets (a copy of Dead Wake or a $22 gift card).

c.Your copy of Dead Wake will be autographed. If you'd like to get your book personalized (with a name - no messages please), there will be a signing line afterwards. Folks will line up by line letters. We'll start giving out line letters around 5 pm. If you are getting more than 4 books signed (most likely a dealer), we ask you to wait until after everyone else has gotten their books signed.

d. Yes, you can take photos, with these caveats. No flash, no posed photos on line, and please, no video taping.

e. And finally, we do have enough copies such that we can get a book signed for you, with one caveat. You must purchase the book first to guaranty getting the book signed, even if it's signature only. You can personalize, but names only, no messages.

f. I should note that our next ticketed event is for Neal Stephenson, coming for the release of Seveneves. He's at Boswell on Friday, June 5, 7 pm, and tickets will go on sale by April 1.

Wednesday, March 25, 7 pm, at Boswell: Carson Ellis, author and illustrator of Home.

It's not often that a first-tme author/illustrator gets the kind of enthusiasm that Carson Ellis is generating, but  that's partly because she's already illustrated many beloved books, from Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society (only the first volume) to Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead, to the Wildwood series, with husband Colin Meloy. One of the books that was no longer available was Dillweed's Revenge: A Deadly Dose of Magic, which she illustrated for Wisconsin's late beloved author, Florence Parry Heide. I would like to note that Heide's niece, Leslie Parry, is appearing at Boswell on Friday, May 15, 7 pm, for her first novel, Church of Marvels, but I digress.

While vaguely on the subject of Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis is actually in town because she's following the tour for The Decembrists, who are playing a sold-out show at The Riverside Theatre the very night Ellis is in town. While that may cause some consternation, because many of Ellis's fans are also Decembrists' fans, But you can do what our friend John M. is doing. He's going to the Decembrists show in Milwaukee and seeing Carson Ellis in Chicago. She'll be at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square on Friday, March 27,

I've been saying to folks since Amie was sold the title and fell in love with it that Home will surely be up for some sort of award at some point. Of course there are not that many awards to be had in the picture book world (whereas an adult novelist might strike out at the big three and still win the PEN/Faulkner or Dylan Thomas or other equally prestigious prize) but I did notice that she showed up on some mock Caldecott ballots and I think this book actually qualifies for 2016's awards.

Here are a couple of official Boswell recommendations of Home. From Barbara Katz: "Readers can anticipate a treat coming when they view the striking cover of Home and see its bright red endpapers. The large pages feature many homes, such as the artist's home on the front and pack pages, a bus home, and even a shoe home! Bold illustrations done in gouache and ink feature muted colors accented with bright red and yellow. Small details in each picture create a story for the reader to imagine. Fun touches include a bird appearing throughout the book, and surprises in the artist's studio. This beautiful book invites readers to interact with it, as they think about other homes and also answer 'Where is your home? Where are you?'"

And from Boswellian Jannis Mindell, another recommendation of Home: "What is your concept home? Is it the physical building where you live or the place that connects you to the larger world around you? These are some of the questions tackled in the beautiful picture book written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. The simple text is perfectly matched by the gorgeous and rich illustrations showing various different homes. Some are in the country and others in the city, some are under the sea while others live in a hollow in a tree. Careful and observant readers will find picture clues in some of the final pages. A great addition to any picture book collection!"

Friday, March 27, 7 pm, at Boswell: Liam Callanan, author of Listen and Other Stories.

Ever since we opened Boswell, one of our staunchest supporters has been Liam Callanan, professor of English and Creative Writing at UWM. He's not only talked up our events, but encouraged student readings too, from UWM's United We Read program for the graduates and another for the St. Robert elementary school students. But we've really never celebrated one of Callanan's own books, so it's a very special treat that his new collection, Listen and Other Stories, is finally out. But it's not just the programming he's helped us with. Liam Callanan is a true FOB (Friend of Boswell), providing support and encouragement, and more than a few laughs. In fact, if I spot anyone in the Callanan clan at Boswell, my happiness quotient immediately goes up a few notches.

Here's a write-up from Ann Christensen at Milwaukee Magazine: "In his new Listen and Other Stories (Four Way Books), MKE author Liam Callanan begs for an ear. He has a willing set right here. The protagonists in these disparate, nuanced stories are connected by the universal need to be heard. That moment might be precipitated by an event, life-changing (such as the gay man who captures his lover’s last breath inside a balloon) or not. We’re bystanders, pulled along eagerly, only knowing so much. But enough. Callanan, a professor in the English department at UW-Milwaukee, explores “voice,” letting events unfold without resorting to pathos. Listen carefully."

And here's my recommendation of Listen and Other Stories: "consequences. An arts critic refuses to join a tradition of going pantsless on an anchor’s last day. A lot of the folks in Liam Callanan’s fine new collection of stories are on the cusp of making important decisions. And perhaps those decisions are a bit constricting, and just to amplify that point , a number of characters are physically trapped, whether in a locked mausoleum, a tent with a ferocious bear outside, a dilapidated convent on fire, or in a home being flooded by dam. Past decisions are equally debilitating, and that sometimes leads to an attempt to preserve the lost, perhaps through their voices, or their breath. Whatever their foibles, it’s hard not to connect with the life-infused characters of Listen and Other Stories, blessed as they are with the author’s grace and good humor. " (Daniel Goldin)

Want to read more before attending on Friday? I love this column about exploring Paris with children and books that was published in The Wall Street Journal.

And then we have a little break, first while I visit my Mom and sister and go to a gift show in Boston and Worcester with Kirk, and then we run up against Good Friday, Passover, and Easter. But we do have one upcoming event which makes the whole week, Judith Claire Mitchell's long-awaited second novel, A Reunion of Ghosts, which goes on Sale March 24. Our event is Wednesday, April 1, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Here's Boswellian Jen Steele's recommendation of A Reunion of Ghosts, which will give you a handle on the book. "'The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children to the 3rd and 4th generations.' These are the words that the Alter sisters live by. It has become their motto and this conviction becomes part of the reason they have chosen to die at their own hands on December 31st, 1999. Lady, Vee and Delph Alter have written a suicide note together, which is more than a "goodbye, world" note; it's also a family history. You see, the Alter sisters are descendants of Lenz Otto Alter and Iris Emanuel Alter. Lenz was a chemist and the creator of the poison gas that was first used in WWI. Iris was the first woman to earn a PhD in chemistry and the first in the family to commit suicide. A Reunion of Ghosts is a captivating chronicle of a family and the weight of consequences, which grows heavier with time. It's the quirky, dark comedy, family saga you'll want to read."

And here's a little excerpt from the Publishers Weekly starred review: " Moving nimbly through time and balancing her weightier themes with the sharply funny, fiercely unsentimental perspectives of her three protagonists—each distinct, yet also, as their name suggests, at “different stages of a single life”—Mitchell’s fictional suicide note is poignant and pulsing with life force." Read the rest here.

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