Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Riverhead Weekend! Events with Sarah Vowell Tonight (Saturday), and Marlon James Tomorrow (Sunday)

It's so exciting to be finally celebrating Riverhead weekend! I say that because two of our four events in the next two days come from that esteemed division of Penguin Random House. And please note that I'm not sure that "division" is the proper term, so apologies in advance.

First up is Sarah Vowell, author of the just-released Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, at the Milwaukee Public Library Centennial Hall, tonight (October 31) at 7 pm. It's so exciting to be hosting Vowell again. Last time we ticketed in store, but this time we have a special Halloween treat - the event is free. We've been offering preorder signing priority to folks who bought the book up front from us, but starting when doors open (around 6 pm, if not a bit before), we'll be giving out line letters to anyone who wants a signing, and we're pretty certain that some of the signing will take place before the event.

If you haven't read Vowell before, think of it as a cross between David McCullough and Bill Bryson, with a little Dorothy Parker (I'm referring to a wee bit of irreverent wit, plus I wanted at least one female comparison) rolled in for good measure. All of Vowell's books are a combination of history with travelogue, and her newest, about Marquis de Lafayette, is no exception. There are Lafayette memorials all over the place, said the person who just got off at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station when he was in New York, and we completely take them for granted. I think that's why folks so often say "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive" instead of King Drive, the way we normally would say for a memorial. They don't want to forget exactly what they are commemorating.

So am I advocating that every Lafayette Park, Square, and shopping mall (I think there is one in Indianapolis) be renamed "Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette Dog Park," for example? No, but once you read Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, you might be tempted. Lafayette was once the most beloved and least polarizing figure in the American Revolution, unlike George Washington, whom is now universally beloved, at least according to grade school textbooks. It was certainly not the case at the time. The other thing you take away from Vowell's newest is that the polarization of the country, or at least the profound inability to agree about anything, is hardly a contemporary issue. It's been the case since the country started.

We're honored that the Milwaukee Public Library was able to bring in Lauzun's Legion, which is, to quote the organization, "a living history organization devoted to the research and portrayal of French and other European soldiers who were part of the French military establishment and served in the American colonies during the American War for Independence. Through this unique hobby, we hope to educate the public about the important and critical role the French government and it’s military played in the final outcome of our fight for independence." More on their website. They will be in the Loos Room before the event.

Also in the Loos Room will be our American Revolution costume contest. It is Halloween, after all. We'll be giving out up to three Boswell gift cards to the winners. The winner will get $50, and if we think there are honorable mentions, we'll have gift cards for $30 and $20 to second and third place.

One thing to be aware of is that aside from the Loos Room before the event, there are no photos or video during Vowell's talk or signing, much like a David Sedaris event. Please respect this request. We're happy to take a picture of you with a book and a reenactor or someone in costume. We've even got extra tricorner hats for guests to wear.

The second event I want to mention is Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings. Our event with Mr. James is Sunday at 3 pm. The interesting story about that is that our original event was set for October 13, but he had to postpone because that was the night of the Man Booker Prize ceremony.

And he won the award, so it's a good thing he showed up.

A Brief History of Seven Killings was one of the best reviewed books of 2014, and there any number of sources I can link to for reviews. But I'm going to go with Boswellian Eric's write up, partly because he told me it was the best book he read in twenty years (that's a quote!), and partly because he's leaving us for the nonprofit world, where he'll be working with male prisoners. Before Boswell, one of Eric's gigs was as the Milwaukee County Jail librarian. Alas, that position was cut.

Eric Beaumont's recommendation for A Brief History of Seven Killings: "The years 1976 through 1991 saw a horrific surge in violence in Kingston, Jamaica, a surge that spread throughout the Western hemisphere with the introduction of crack cocaine. Jamaica-born-and-educated author Marlon James takes you to zinc-fence shanty towns and opulent mansions, telling pieces of a bitter and rarely glorious story, in the distinct, often musical voices of 13 different narrators. The focal point of the novel is mentioned by name exactly once in almost 700 pages. Heavy use of Jamaican patois and slang. The greatest novel I've read in 20 years."

As part of his celebration of our event, Eric, who is also the musician Eric Blowtorch, will be spinning Jamaican music in the hour or so before our event starts. How cool is that?

And finally, there is a third, non Riverhead event I should remind you about. Rob Reischel will be at Zablocki Library, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave. to talk about his book, Leaders of the Pack: Starr, Favre, Rodgers and Why Green Bay's Quarterback Trio Is the Best in NFL History. The talk is tomorrow, November 1, 2 pm (note time) at the library (Update: this event was cancelled, due to a family emergency). I don't know if you are aware of this but Zablocki is one of two branch libraries (aside from Central) that is open on Sundays during the school year. The other one is Capitol.

We have the following signed books available from this past week's events.:
--Bream Gives Me Hiccups, by Jesse Eisenberg
--Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
--Cooking Like a Master Chef, by Graham Elliot
--Binge, by Tyler Oakley
You can call or order on our website. While supplies last!

Hope to be back on track with our event blog on Monday. These past few week's have been a little overwhelming!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Some Thoughts on Jesse Eisenberg Tonight.

Oh, the complications of who is doing the introductions! Since I was going to say a few words at the Sarah Vowell event at the Milwaukee Public Library tomorrow, I told Todd that he could introduce Jesse Eisenberg. Then I forgot I said this and wrote an introduction anyway. But then I realized I wasn't supposed to write it, and stopped. And then I decided that I should mention a couple of things that would be inappropriate to come from Todd.

Reading Bream Gives Me Hiccups, I decided that the author was the love child of Steven Millhauser *and Woody Allen. Then I learned he was actually the child of Barry Eisenberg and Amy Fishman. Then I became convinced that, having grown up in Queens in the 60s and 70s, that I went to high school with his father. And then I remembered, every high school class in Queens in the 70s probably had a kid named Barry Eisenberg. (And later I learned that his father went to Forest Hills High School, not Cardozo.)

As I read the book, I was continally reminded of the work of Simon Rich, especially his first collection, Ant Farm. And then I learned that not only are they friends, but that Eisenberg was planning to invite him to his theoretical dinner party on NPR, along with George Saunders and Jon Ronson, because they are funny. I read the last Jon Ronson, So You Think You’ve Been Shamed, about internet bullying. Hilarious!

Todd is not from Queens, nor does he read Simon Rich and Jon Ronson. But he is well aware of many other authors and of whom they are love children. And that's why I am glad he introduced Jesse Eisenberg,** author of Bream Gives Me Hiccups.***

Our email newsletter went out today. You can read it here.

*Who the heck is Steven Millhauser, you ask? He's an amazing writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for Martin Dressler in 1997, a novel that sort of imagines what would have happened if a Walt Disney type created a hotel that rivaled Disney World, and built up instead of out. But the book that I was of course reminded of was Edwin Mullhouse, which is the biography of a young creative genius. And by young, I mean 11. It was my backlist pick last spring, but boy, did I do a bad job of selling it.

**Photo credit Marzena Wasikowska.

***We'll have signed copies tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tonight! Jenny Lawson AKA The Bloggess, at Boswell, Starting at 6:30 pm.

Tuesday, October 27, 6:30 pm (note time):
Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

Jenny Lawson's second collection, Furiously Happy is the follow-up to Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) is winning raves everywhere. Megan Lewis wrote of Furiously Happy in her A-rated Entertainment Weekly review: "We’re living in an era of bestselling books by female comedians. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler dominated with their memoirs — and rightfully so. But Lawson’s book needs no lovable, familiar face on the front cover. While she doesn’t have the advantage of fame backing her book, this comes with a major perk—she has no boundaries. Where Fey, Kaling and Poehler have acting careers to think about, Lawson can only benefit from taking it a step further. She’s unapologetic, candid, outrageous, and the book reaches new levels of hilarity because of it."

Don't forget, our event with The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, is free, but we will close the doors to the general public if we reach capacity, which is a little bit over 300 people. If you've already bought a book from us and got your early line letter, please come earlier to make sure you get in. I would suggest showing up by 6 pm, but of course I have no idea what the actual turnout will be. Please note that this is not a ticketed event. What you have gotten is an early slot on the signing line.  Do I think we are going to reach capacity? I do not. But it's important to send out this warning anyway.

For folks who haven't bought books from us, Lawson will sign copies of her books from anywhere. You can pick up your line letter for the event any time after 4. But please note once again that this is not your guarantee into the event. In the event that we reach capacity, the store will close to the public until the talk is over and the signing begins.

But here's the good side of that. Unlike several of our events we've had of late, there are very few restrictions, Can you have memorabilia signed? I don't know what Jenny Lawson memorabilia there is floating about, but if you have it, you can bring it. Can you take a photo? Yes. Can you get your book personalized? Yes? Can you ask her to write some complicated note or other? Yes, but when we're doing sticky notes, we'll ask for personalization only and leave the rest up to you.

And reading about her earlier signings, it sounds like bringing gifts is okay too.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Peek Inside Boswell's Annotated Bestseller List for the Week Ending October 24, 2015--Plus the Journal Sentinel Book Reviews, Eight of 'Em!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Death Wears a Mask, by Ashley Weaver (signed copies available)
2. Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson (signed copies available)
3. Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, by Bonnie Jo Campbell (signed copies available)
4. Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith
5. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
8. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
9. Felicity, by Mary Oliver
10. Strangeness in My Mind, by Orhan Pamuk

Career of Evil, he third mystery from J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, is this week's big fiction release, and it opens with our heroes getting a very special delivery, a severed leg. According to Daneet Steffens of The Boston Globe, it's the bloodiest entry yet. The take: "Copious bloodletting aside, the author’s trademark plotting has lost none of its propulsive readability, and Strike and Robin reveal more of their backgrounds as well as their charms."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Serial Winner, by Larry Weidel
2. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson (event 10/27, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (event 12/2, 7 pm, at Boswell)
4. Empire of Imagination, by Michael Witwer
5. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, by Sarah Vowell (event 10/31, 7 pm, at Centennial Hall*)
6. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. M Train, by Patti Smith
8. Good Stock, by Sanford D'Amato (event with Lori Friedrich 11/24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. Binge, by Tyler Oakley (sold out event)
10. The Road to Character, by David Brooks

As I might have noted, we have a crazy packed fall event schedule but this week's nonfiction bestseller list offers the ominous refrain of the Jaws theme in terms of what we have ahead of us. Two more high-profile event books were released. Instead of crying about not being able to attend Tyler Oakley's sold-out Binge event (the truth is that you won't be able to get in the store without a ticket, as it's after we close), you can try to squeeze into Jenny Lawson on Tuesday (it should be packed) or have a comfortable and fun evening with Sarah Vowell for Lafayette in the Somewhat United States on Halloween night at the Centennial Hall. I love this interview by Lizzie O'Leary in Marketplace Weekend, where the host realizes that memorials to the Marquis de Lafayette are everywhere, and why the most important one might be the Square across from the White House.

*But some of the festivities start earlier.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (event 11/1, 3 pm, at Boswell)
2. Murder at the Brightwell, by Ashleey Weaver
3. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
4. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
5. The Bishop's Wife, by Mette Ivie Harrison
6. The Martian, by Andy Weir
7. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
8. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
9. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
10. Fourth of July Creek, by Smith Henderson

Just out in paperback is The Bishop's Wife, a mystery that was an Indie Next pick in hardcover, with Patricia Worth of River Reader calling this "a beautifully written story about a woman who supports her husband as the bishop while recognizing that her inner convictions might go against his will." This likely-to-be series features Linda Wallheim, wife of her LDS ward's bishop in Draper, Utah. In addition to his weekly sermons, he, like a Catholic priest, is often privy to the secrets of the ward members. And then one of the women in the community disappears, and while the husband claims she ran off, Linda is suspicious. But he's not the only suspect in town. More in Janet Maslin's New York Times review.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Beer Bible, by Jeff Alworth
2. The Tattooed Lady, by Amelia Klem Osterud
3. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew J. Prigge
4. Tunnel, Smuggle, Collect, by Jeffrey Gingold
5. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
6. Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul
7. Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich (Nobel winner)
8. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson (Dayton Peace Prize winner)
9. Choose Your Own Autobiography, by Neil Patrick Harris
10. Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015, edited by Rebecca Skloot

For those of you who missed our great event with Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible, at The Sugar Maple, you can read an interview with the author at Bobby Tanzilo asks him about pairing beer with food: "I know there are a lot of different theories on this. That's a good thing to acknowledge up front. One of the issues that I like to point out about beer and food pairings is that both food and beer are complex. But let's say a nice marzen would go with a good Mexican mole. The problem is there are a lot of different Mexican moles out there. And some of them are more nutty and some are more chocolaty and some of them are spicier. The same thing that's true with beer, depending on what brand you're dealing with – American styles are hop-forward and Belgian styles are yeast-forward, one IPA tastes very different from another IPA."

Books for Kids:
1. Bear Report, by Thyra Heder
2. Fraidyzoo, by Thyra Heder
3. Adventures of Beekle, by Dan Santat
4. Totally Irresponsible Science Kit, by Sean Connolly
5. Lizard Radio, by Pat Schmatz
6. Time for Cranberries, by Lisl Detlefsen
7. Inventor's Secret, by Suzanne Slade
8. Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller
9. Sophie's Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller
10. Ninja Red Riding Hood, by Corey Rosen Schwartz

We had very strong sales this week on the kids bestseller list (for kids, not belonging to kids), due not just to our regular school events, but also because of last weekend's SCBWI-Wisconsin conference. Among the most popular speakers was Pat Schmatz, author of the new Lizard Radio, a dystopian novel about Kivali, a gender nonconforming teen who begins to wonder what's going on at the reform school where Kivali has been sent. The starred Kirkus Reviews write-up offers this praise: "Sophisticated, character-driven science fiction, as notable for its genderqueer protagonist as for its intricate, suspenseful plot."

Over in the Journal Sentinel, it's time for Carole E. Barrowman's "Paging through Mysteries" column. First up is F.H. Batacan's debut, Smaller and Smaller Circles. Why this is a Barrowman bet: "Set in Quezon City in Manila in the late 1990s, Batacan has written a priest procedural (or Catholic noir), a novel where the righteousness of two Jesuits, Father Saenz, a forensic anthropologist, and his associate, Father Lucero, a psychologist, drives its gripping plot." This book also won the Philippine National Book Award.

Mrs. Roosevelt's Spy is a paperback original featuring Maggie Hope, England's most daring spy. Barrowman's take: "Maggie travels with the prime minister to Washington, where our intrepid heroine seasoned in 'spying and sabotage behind enemy lines"' is plunged into tensions between the U.S. and Britain in 1941, involving a murder plot to discredit the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, and President's Roosevelt struggle to find a balance between "'the right thing to do' and 'what must be done.'"

And finally, Barrowman notes that the 19th book in Elizabeth George's Lynley and Havers series is as absorbing as the first one. In A Banquet of Consequences, "The deep friendship between the two detectives, the psychological motivations of engaging characters, especially a mother who makes Joan Crawford look like Mother Teresa, and a complex plot that opens 39 months before Lynley and Havers' investigation showcase all the elements that make George one of the reigning queens of the genre."

Mike Fischer reviews David Mitchell's Slade House, which the paper calls "a smart, spooky thrill ride." The book takes place in Slade House over a series of Octobers, each nine years apart, from 1979 to 2015. Talk about an enthusiastic review - Fischer fires off: "Mitchell combines such genre fiction staples with compelling, fully realized characters. Propulsive narrative drive. An impassioned moral conviction that even his wildest rides are simultaneously stories of the way we live now. And — most important — an accompanying belief that despite the seemingly closed and cruel system we inhabit, there's still always room to make game-changing choices. We read fiction because we believe such choices actually matter. If you haven't yet read Mitchell, choosing this novel just might make a believer of you."

Jim Higgins reviews two new poetry collections. On How to Avoid Speaking: "Jaimee Hills signals her intelligence, intensity and puckishness from the outset with "Synaesthesia," a sonnet suggesting that multisensory experience is a child's prelapsarian state, and 'Chlamydia,' which finds the 'melody cloaked in the malady' of that euphoniously named STD." A little more advice: "Take your time, these are high-calorie poems that can take a little while to digest; have a dictionary handy."

Alas this publisher is not selling to Ingram, Baker and Taylor, and even the traditional source for independent poetry, Small Press Distribution. It's online megastore only, alas, at least for now. There's better distribution out there for Ronald Wallace, University of Wisconsin-Madison poet and author of For Dear Life, from the Pitt Poetry series. Higgins notes: "Many of this collections' poems are sonnets that incorporate acrostic riffs on great haiku masters, including Basho and Issa." He also calls out the "compelling" selections about his father, who had multiple sclerosis.

Over in the Fresh section, Graham Elliot is profiled by Kristine M Kierzek in the "Fork, Spoon, Life" column for Cooking Like a Master Chef. She begins: "Bow ties, distinctive white glasses and inked arms tell only part of Graham Elliot's story. After dropping out of school at 17 to start a punk rock band, Elliot found his way into restaurant kitchens." Read more about his tattoos, how to judge dishes on a television show, and what Mars Cheese Castle has to do with his risotto. Check with Bacchus to see if seats are still available for his dinner on Friday, October 30. The meal is $108, including book, Elliot-insired meal, wine, tax, and gratuity.

And finally (yes, there were really eight books profiled in the Journal Sentinel this week, and I might have missed one along the way), Joanne Kempinger Demski profiles Outstanding American Gardens: 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy, put together by Page and Ed Dickey, with Marion Brenner. The Milwaukee garden that is profiled is called Greenfire Woods and is located in River Hills. It's part of the Open Days program. These are private gardens that are opened to the public for a period of time. More on the Garden Conservancy website

Monday, October 19, 2015

Where in the World is Boswell This Week? Beer Bible at Sugar Maple Monday, Matthew J. Prigge at Centennial Hall Tuesday, Michael Witwer on Gary Gygax Wednesday, Bonnie Jo Campbell and Jim Higgins on Thursday, Adam Johnson on Friday, Amelia Klem Osetrud on tattoo history on Saturday, and Jerry Apps at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center on Sunday Afternoon.

Our email newsletter also went out today. Since I'm a it overwhelmed, I am having it do double duty. If you read both, you're probably feeling at this point I'm being repetitive. But on the other hand, maybe you will be convinced to come out to Sugar Maple tonight. Should be fun!

Monday, October 19, 7 pm, at the Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave. in Bay View:
Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible.

The Beer Bible is the ultimate reader- and drinker-friendly guide to all the world's beers. No other book of this depth and scope approaches the subject of beer in the same way that beer lovers do - by style, just as a perfect pub menu is organized-and gets right to the pleasure of discovery, knowledge, and connoisseurship. Divided into four major families - ales, lagers, wheat beers, and tart and wild ales - there's everything a beer drinker wants to know about the hundreds of different authentic types of brews, from bitters, bocks, and IPAs to weisses, milk stouts, lambics, and more. Each style is a chapter unto itself, delving into origins, ingredients, description and characteristics, substyles, and tasting notes, and ending with a recommended list of the beers to know in each category. Hip infographics throughout make the explanation of beer's flavors, brewing methods, ingredients, labeling, serving, and more as immediate as it is lively.

The book is written for passionate beginners, who will love its "if you like X, try Y" feature; for intermediate beer lovers eager to go deeper; and for true geeks, who will find new information on every page. History, romance, the art of tasting, backstories and anecdotes, appropriate glassware, bitterness units, mouthfeel, and more-it's all here. Plus a primer on pairing beer and food using the three Cs- complement, contrast, or cut. It's the book that every beer lover will read with pleasure, and use with even more.

And what a great location for this event! Sugar Maple has 60 draft beers on tap with a "diverse and eclectic selection (that) will satisfy the discerned aficionado."

Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library's Loos Room, 733 N. Eighth St.:
Matthew J. Prigge, author of Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century

Boswell is excited to partner with the Milwaukee Public Library for an event with Matthew Prigge, author of Milwaukee Mayhem and host of WMSE 91.7's weekly local history segment What Made Milwaukee Famous, at Central Library's Loos Room, located at 733 N. 8th Street in Milwaukee. Milwaukee Mayhem uncovers the little-remembered and rarely told history of the underbelly of a Midwestern metropolis from murder and matchstick men to all-consuming fires, painted women, and Great Lakes disasters - and the wide-eyed public who could not help but gawk at it all.

Prigge offers a new perspective on Milwaukee's early years, forgoing the major historical signposts found in traditional histories and focusing instead on the strange and brutal tales of mystery, vice, murder, and disaster that were born of the city's transformation from lakeside settlement to American metropolis. These stories are presented as they were recounted to the public in the newspapers of the era, using the vivid and often grim language of the times to create an engaging and occasionally chilling narrative of a forgotten city.

Wednesday, October 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Witwer, author of Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons.

Lifelong gamer and gaming enthusiast, actor, and Chicago author, Michael Witwer, is coming to Boswell for his new book, Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons and Dragons the first comprehensive biography of the mythic icon among geek and gaming culture. Empire of Imagination offers the complete story behind the invention of Dungeons & Dragons, the best-known, best-selling role-playing game of all time, and which boasts an elite class of alumni including Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, and Junot Diaz.

The godfather of all fantasy-adventure games, Gary Gygax, has a life story that has been told only in bits and pieces. Michael Witwer has written a dynamic, dramatized biography of Gygax from his childhood in Lake Geneva to his untimely death in 2008. Gygax's magnum opus, Dungeons & Dragons, would explode in popularity throughout the 1970s and '80s and irreversibly alter the world of gaming. Gygax's involvement in the industry lasted long after his dramatic and involuntary departure from D&D's parent company, TSR, and his footprint can be seen in the genre he is largely responsible for creating. But as Witwer shows, perhaps the most compelling facet of his life and work was his unwavering commitment to the power of creativity in the face of myriad sources of adversity-cultural, economic, and personal.

Thursday, October 22, 7 pm, at Boswell Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, in Conversation with Jim Higgins, arts editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

From the author of National Book Award finalist American Salvage comes a dazzling and suspenseful new story collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. We're honored to host a special evening with Bonnie Jo Campbell in conversation with the Journal Sentinel's Jim Higgins.

Higgins writes of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The collective message that mothers pass on to daughters in some of this book's most powerful stories might be summed up simply as 'danger ahead,' whether that be from predatory men or the difficulties engendered by the power of their own sexuality. In the sobering title story, a dying woman who can no longer speak aloud argues her case for her approach to life, and her record as a parent, in the presence of her adult daughter. 'Women get themselves hurt every day - men mess with girls in this life, they always have, always will - but there's no sense making hard luck and misery your life's work.' Sounds so affirming, doesn't it? But this is a story about abuse, of both women; readers are empaneled on the jury hearing her closing argument."

 If you've read Bonnie Jo Campbell previously, you know that she's disarmingly fearless, and we can say from our previous event with the author that she's just as fascinating in person. A Kalazmazoo resident, who now teaches at Pacific University's MFA program, Campbell grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings. She learned to castrate small pigs, milk Jersey cows, and make a fine batch of chocolate candy. She wound up leaving to study philosophy at the University of Chicago, and detoured to sell snow cones with the circus, and organize tours of Russia and the Baltics. For a time, she lived in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood and attended UWM.

Friday, October 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Adam Johnson, author of Fortune Smiles.
This event is cosponsored by the UWM English Department.

Adam Johnson by Tamara Beckwith We're excited to welcome back Adam Johnson, author of the major new short story collection, Fortune Smiles, for his first visit to Milwaukee since winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This event is cosponsored by the UWM English Department. Of the new collection, Ron Charles wrote in The Washington Post: "The six stories in Adam Johnson's new collection, Fortune Smiles, will worm into your mind and ruin your balance for a few days. From ravaged American cities to abandoned torture chambers, these pieces take place in an uncanny world you recognize but don't. They're all cast in an unsettling twilight of moral struggle, and each one is a miniature demonstration of why his remarkable novel The Orphan Master's Son won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction."

The Orphan Master's Son was named one of the best books of the year by more than a dozen major publications, chosen as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and in addition to the Pulitzer, won a host of other prizes, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Now Johnson turns his remarkable talent to a collection of stories that delve deeply into love, loss, the decisions we make for ourselves, and the decisions we make for others. And to add to his honors, Fortune Smiles has just been named a finalist for the National Book Award.

Saturday, October 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Anelia Klem Osterud, author of The Tattooed Lady: A History.

Please join us at Boswell for an evening with Amelia Klem Osterud, talking about The Tattooed Lady: A History, which uncovers the true stories of heavily tattooed women throughout history, bringing them out of the sideshow realm and into their working-class realities. Combining thorough research with more than a hundred historical photos, this updated second edition of The Tattooed Lady: A History, explores tattoo origins, women's history, circus lore, and includes even more personal and professional details from modern tattooed ladies.

The Tattooed Lady pays tribute to a group of unique and amazing women whose legacy lives on. Living in a time when it was scandalous even to show a bit of ankle, a small number of courageous women covered their bodies in tattoos and traveled the country, performing nearly nude on carnival stages. These gutsy women spun amazing stories for captivated audiences about abductions and forced tattooing at the hands of savages, but little has been shared of their real lives. Though they spawned a cultural movement-almost a quarter of Americans now have tattoos-these women have largely faded into history.

Sunday, October 25 2 pm, at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 1111 E. Brown Deer Rd." Jerry Apps, author of Whispers and Shadows: A Naturalists's Memoir.

Boswell is proud to welcome Jerry Apps to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, located at 1111 E. Brown Deer Road in Milwaukee, for a talk about his latest book Whispers and Shadows: A Naturalist's Memoir. This event is free with $8 admission to the Nature Center. In this book, Apps explores such topics as the human need for wilderness, rediscovering a sense of wonder, and his father's advice to "listen for the whispers" and "look in the shadows" to learn nature's deepest lessons.

Jerry Apps was born and raised on a central Wisconsin farm. He is a former county extension agent and professor emeritus for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today he works as a rural historian, full-time writer, and creative writing instructor, and has written more than forty books. Whispers and Shadows will be a documentary, produced by Wisconsin Public Television and airing on Milwaukee Public Television this holiday season.

Also new is Wisconsin Agriculture: A History. Of that book, Pam Jahnke of Wisconsin Farm Report Radio says: It makes me thankful that Jerry Apps has such a sense of commitment to Wisconsin's agricultural heritage--and to getting the story right."

Monday, October 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
John Garrison, author of Glass.

Please join us for an event with Carroll University's John Garrison, talking about his latest book, Glass, which explores an object that is all around us, from windows to iPhone screens, and the fascinating and strange ways it reflects our inherent desire for connection. Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things, edited by Ian Bogost.

Pause and look, and you will see that you are surrounded by glass: light reflects off and refracts through your windows; it encircles a glowing filament above you; it's in a mirror hanging on the wall; you're drinking water out of a pint glass. Taking up a most common object, rarely considered because assumed to be transparent, Glass draws evocative connections between historical depictions of glass and emergent discourses within the technology sector that envision glass as holding unique promise for new forms of interaction. Grounded in examples familiar to most readers, this book offers a series of surprising, often counter-intuitive, insights into how we see the world and see ourselves in the world.

We also have Tyler Oakley at Boswell on Sunday evening for his new book, Binge. The store is closed to the general public and tickets for the event are sold out.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Boswell's Annotated Bestseller Lists for the Week Ending October 17, 2015.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (event at Boswell 12/2/15)
2. Courtroom Avenger: The Challenges and Triumphs of Robert Habush, by Kurt Chandler
3. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson (event 10/27, see below)
4. Black Earth, by Timothy Snyder
5. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Once in a Great City, by David Maraniss
7. Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, by Elvis Costello
8. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
9. M Train, by Patti Smith
10. Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
11. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
12. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
13. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
14. The Quiet Season, by Jerry Apps (event at Schlitz Audubon 10/25)
15. Lobster is the Best Medicine, by Liz Climo

One day when I don't have event books to read I hope to have a week with Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, the new memoir from Elvis Costello. Like many folks (including Kathy Flanigan at the Journal Sentinel) , I had a very strong emotional connection to his early albums. For example, he came up in Rainn Wilson's The Bassoon King. That one I read, because he's coming to the Pabst Theater on November 12. The book is winning raves everywhere, like David L. Ulin's piece in the Los Angeles Times, who calls the book "often brilliant and wholly idiosyncratic." There are caveats, like from Eric Swedlund in Paste, who writes: "Unfaithful Music contains a web of tangents and muddled chronology, with ventures into family history that bog down an already lengthy book."

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Felicity, by Mary Oliver
2. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen
3. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
4. The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks
5. All the Lights We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
6. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (event 11/1, 3 pm)
7. The Girl in the Spider's Web, by David Lagercrantz
8. Secondhand Souls, by Christopher Moore
9. Mountain Shadow, by Gregory David Roberts
10. City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg

There are some books that are just meant for some readers. So when FOB (Friend of Boswell) Gloria walked in the store this week and said, "What should I read?" there really was no new book that was meant to be with her than Garth Risk Hallberg's City on Fire. Knopf and the Random House sales team have been talking up the book since last winter, when the author came to Winter Institute. Alex Preston in The Guardian offers this taste: "City on Fire takes place between Christmas 1976 and 13 July 1977, the date of the great New York blackout. Although even an attempt to describe something as simple as the novel’s setting in time and place is complicated. This is a book deeply engaged with questions of novelistic time, whereby it at once enacts and undermines literary convention. It reminded me often of John Lanchester’s Capital – both books want to give the reader the traditional satisfactions of the novel while pursuing more high-minded, experimental objectives in the wings."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Let Me Be Frank With You, by Richard Ford
2. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (yes, the same author!)
3. The Martian, by Andy Weir
4. The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
5. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
6. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
7. Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
8. Meet Me Halfway, by Jennifer Morales
9. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
10. The First Bad Man, by Miranda July

The First Bad Man got an eight month paperback cycle, meaning that if a bookseller really loved this book, there's no hardcover to hand-sell for Christmas. Many reviews focused on how hard July is to pigeonhole. Margaret Wappler in the Los Angeles Times writes "The First Bad Man embraces the strange and taboo: psychosomatic throat problems, weird affairs that cross age boundaries, violent but transcendental interactions between women and the graphic sexual fantasies of a frumpy control freak in her early 40s." For another take on the author, here's a profile of Rihanna in The New York Times that very much infuses the writer's voice and thoughts.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee Food, by Lori Friedrich (event 11/24 at Boswell)
2. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew Prigge (event 10/20 at MPL's Loos Room)
3. The Romance of Wisconsin Names, by Robert Gard
4. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
5. Healthy at Home, by Tieraona Low Dog
6. How to Relax, by Thich Nhat Hanh
7. Milwaukee Bucket List, by Barbara Ali
8. Christ Actually, by James Carroll
9. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
10. The Birth of the Pill, by Jonathan Eig

Just out in paperback is Christ Actually: Reimagining Faith in the Modern Age, by James Carroll. His thesis is that even if you contend that we live in a religionless world (and world events seem to contest that), there is still much to be gained in being more like Christ. From Scott Korb's review in the Los Angeles Times: "'Imitation,' Carroll contends, 'can make us more than human.' And while the Christian devotional practice may have its roots in Thomas à Kempis' 15th century handbook "Imitation of Christ," Carroll reminds us that "from the start, those who fell under his spell understood that being like Jesus was the only point.' Through imitation we transcend ourselves. Offering the further examples of humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer and pacifist Dorothy Day, Carroll argues that the imitation of Christ is one truly viable way that remains to make belief believable."

Books for Kids:
1. Big Nate: Welcome to My World, by Lincoln Peirce
2. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick
3. Big Nate: Say Goodbye to Dork City, by Lincoln Peirce
4. Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild, by Lincoln Peirce
5. Big Nate's Greatest Hits, by Lincoln Peirce
6. Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice, by Marilyn Sadler
7. Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary D. Schmidt
8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
9. Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
10. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
11. Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt
12. Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt
13. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, by Rick Riordan
14. Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
15. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling

You have to go pretty far down the list to find a non-event book. At the bottom are new blockbusters from Rick Riordan and Rainbow Rowell, plus the new version of Harry Potter. In The Sword of Summer, the first book in Riordan's spinoff series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, where a homeless boy learns he is the son of a Norse God. Kirkus writes: "Riordan consciously crafts a diverse cast, including a dark-skinned dwarf and a deaf elf. Muslim Valkyrie Samirah is a particularly interesting character. Though she does not come across as devout-she doesn't seem to take time out to pray, for example-Riordan's choice to make her happy with her future arranged marriage both honors her culture and allows her friendship with Magnus to develop blessedly free of romantic tension. A fast-paced, eventful, and largely successful pivot."

In the Journal Sentinel this week is a full slate of book features. Jim Higgins reviews the new collection from Bonnie Jo Campbell, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. He writes: "Campbell's new collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories, continues her line of fiction about women scratching and clawing their way through another day on the outskirts of the American Dream. Her previous collection, American Salvage, was a National Book Award finalist; her novel Once Upon a River, the odyssey of a teenage sharpshooter living by her wits along Michigan rivers, led reviewers to invoke Mark Twain and even Homer." Higgins will be in conversation with Campbell on Thursday, October 23, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Chris Foran reviews Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, from author Sarah Vowell. from his Journal Sentinel piece: "The Lafayette of "Lafayette in the Somewhat United States" is equal parts cheerleader for the cause of liberty and a symbol of its possibilities — an odd mix for a man born into privilege who left his family behind to pursue adventure half a world away. That status as a symbol, Vowell asserts, is crucial to understanding America, particularly since Lafayette was a rare bird: something we all could agree on. When Lafayette was invited back to the United States in 1824, two-thirds of the population of New York City turned out to see and cheer him." Vowell is coming back to Milwaukee for an event at Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall on Saturday, October 31, 7 pm. Yes, it's Halloween, so feel free to come in your best Revolutionary War or Colonial attire. We'll be giving out prizes for the best costume.

Jenny Lawson is profiled in an article by Amy Reyes, which originally appeared in the Miami Herald. Reyes notes: "A few years into blogging, Lawson revealed to her readers that she suffered from mental health issues. In Furiously Happy she explains her diagnosis: 'high-functioning depressive with severe anxiety disorder, moderate clinical depression, and mild self-harm issues that stem from an impulse control disorder.' Throw in avoidant personality disorder, depersonalization disorder, a little rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune issues and 'sprinkled in like paprika over a mentally unbalanced deviled egg, are things like mild OCD and trichotillomania — the urge to pull one’s hair out — which is always nice to end on because whenever people hear the word "mania" they automatically back off and give you more room on crowded airplanes.'" There's nothing like quotes within quotes within quotes to get me to pull my hair out. Lawson is coming to Boswell on October 27, 6:30 pm.

No, not every book piece features an upcoming event visit. Hey, it's October--we stacked the deck with something like 40 events (if you include the offsites and school visits). Mike Fischer reviews Orhan Pamuk's A Strangeness in My Mind. In it, Mevlit marries what he thinks is the beautiful Rayiha, only he was mistaken as to whose eyes he'd seen (her face was covered, of course) and he wound up marrying her older and homelier sister. Fischer explains: "Mevlut's sense of disconnect between self and world — and his lifelong efforts to harmonize the two — sound a recurring theme in Pamuk's writing and dominate this novel, in which a long, early section retraces the years culminating in the climactic elopement, followed by a portrait of Mevlut and Rayiha's marriage, the years after Rayiha's premature death in 1995 and a double coda concluding in 2012."

And finally, from Paula Suozzi, a review of Diana Nyad's Find a Way, a memoir of the acclaimed long-distance swimmer. She writes about her five attempts to swim from Florida to Cuba: "For those of the public who followed her 2011-'13 attempts at this crossing, we are in familiar territory. But the devil is in the details, and reading about her training, her mind-set and how she managed and organized and inspired so many to work for no pay with her on this goal is exciting, because she always weaves that extra story throughout. This is not a dry training journal, this is a life-affirming story about a real person with a real goal who is willing to work harder than anyone else to fulfill that goal." Her only caveat: the abuse scenes from her stepfather and first swim coach might be too graphic for young readers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Meandering Post that Nonetheless Highlights a Shocking Number of Prizewinners (and Finalists) Coming in the Next Two Weeks - Coretta Scott King, Pulitzer, Pulitzer, Man Booker...

As you can well imagine from looking at our schedule, the last couple of weeks have been crazy at Boswell. What you might not know from the schedule is that somehow, along with everything else, we've fit in 12 school visits, three booksellers at Heartland Fall Forum conference, preparation for the SCBWI-Wisconsin conference this coming weekend, and several offsite sales events where we were just bookseller of record so they weren't on our marketing materials.

This is probably our biggest fall ever, maybe tied for the number of events, but definitely in terms of advance preparation. If you rent a space like Alverno's Pitman Theatre, as we did for Brian Selznick's The Marvels event, there are things you don't think about, like getting an insurance certificate, and helping facilitate the catering for Scholastic's private reception. And while we would normally never be able to rent a beautiful space like that for a free event, we decided that even if we didn't make the money back in book sales, it would be worth it for the good will. Afterwards we learned that we had the biggest event on the tour to date, and by far the best sound and video system.  A big thank you to Rollie, Tonya, and Bea - not sure of anyone's spellings, so please forgive me for that!

When you have an author like Tyler Oakley (sold out!), you need to get some private security and secure wristbands - our normal line letters are not enough. There's a very, very slight chance, that more tickets to the Binge* singing, but there are absolutely no walk ups, and everybody should know that the store is closed to the general public during our event. Each attendee will be allowed one other person with them to come in the store. I'm guessing very few of our blog readers are attending, but fortunately Brown Paper Tickets allows us to write to the folks participating.

And after we've said "we're full" to I don't know how many folks this fall, a certain actor who wrote a new collection of stories asked us to figure out a way to slip him into the schedule. I really was at the point where I was ready to say no, but the publicist assured me it would be easy, and it turns out Jason loved the book. So much like Trisha Yearwood, who wanted to do a last-minute signing for Trisha's Table, we simply have to find a slot. It's not confirmed so I'm not going to say who it is. I think it's ok for me to say that our bookseller Jen had held onto her Yearwood concert ticket for 15 years. And I also should note that Yearwood and her team were as gracious as could be, and the fans were thrilled - it was completely worth it.

So I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Marlon James was awarded the Man Booker award last night for A Brief History of Seven Killings. As you may know, our original event was scheduled for last night, the night of the ceremony itself. They were fortunately able to reschedule for Sunday, November 1. Now when I said that it was one of the best reviewed books in the last year, and we told you that our bookseller Eric said it was the best book he'd read in twenty (count 'em!) years, we hoped you'd pay attention. This reminds me of the moment when we were hosting Carol Shields at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Brookfield and she found out she'd won the Pulitzer. Memory is a funny thing - I'm pretty sure that's how it went, and I'm pretty sure I was there, but I could be wrong about everything.

So have you been paying attention to the award winners coming in the next few weeks? Tonight (October 14) we're hosting Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely for All American Boys, a book that is certain to be on our favorite novels of 2015 (I already saw it on one booksellers' list for the holiday newsletter). Earlier this year he won the ALA's Coretta Scott King award for When I Was the Greatest.

Then we are hosting not one but two former Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. On Thursday, October 15, we have a ticketed event with Richard Ford for Let Me Be Frank With You. He was awarded the Pulitzer for Independence Day, the 2nd Frank Bascombe novel. This is sort of #4 in the trilogy. This event is ticketed.

But wait, there's more! On Friday, October 23, we've got Adam Johnson coming for Fortune Smiles, his new collection of stories. He was awarded the Pulitzer for The Orphan Master's Son. And just announced, Fortune Smiles was just announced a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. As Lois Ehlert proclaims in her new book for kids, Holey Moley!

*Not just sold out, but no signed copy requests either, alas.  But for all the other books, we should have signed copies. We'll even get a few hardcovers signed of Richard Ford and Marlon James.