Monday, October 5, 2015

A Whirlwind Week of Words: Marilyn Sadler Today (Monday) at 4, Amy Reichert at East Library (6:30) Tuesday, Luke Shaefer on $2.00 a Day at Boswell on Tuesday, Joe Meno and Nina Revoyr at Boswell on Wednesday, Greg Gerke and Ben Tanzer at Boswell on Thursday (these last three events are at 7), David Maraniss at Centennial Hall on Thursday (6:30) and Gary D. Schmidt on Friday (7)

Monday, October 5, 4 pm (note time:
Marilyn Sadler, author of Charlie Piechart and the Case of  the Missing Pizza Slice.

It's a delicious story about pizza! It's a mystery! It's a tale of fractions! Kirkus Reviews gives an explanation: "Charlie’s family of five is joined by his friend Lewis, which means that if they order a large pizza, each of them will get two slices. But can they agree on toppings? Four-sixths want nothing to do with veggies, and no one wants anchovies. Pepperoni it is. But between the pizza’s arrival and its serving, one piece has gone missing. Charlie goes into full detective mode (his dog is even named Watson!) and hunts for clues, then turns to his five suspects." Boswellian Barb Katz is a fan of the new book. She writes: "It's pizza night at Charlie's house, but wait -a piece of pizza is missing! Both a mystery and a very clever look at fractions, this is a fun book that will be read over and over." Barb added that kids who don't love math shouldn't be put off by Sadler's book, but if they do love math, Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice will be even more fun."

And yes, we'll have pizza, 2/3 of which will be plain and 1/3 will be pepperoni. If you have 1 slice of the former and 1 of the latter, how fast was your train going at the time? Enjoy Eric Comstock's retro-modern illustration, also featured in this delightful trailer from HarperCollins.

Tuesday, October 6, 6:30 pm, at East Library, 2320 N. Cramer St.: Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

This popular romantic comedy is set in Milwaukee, featuring the owner of a small French restaurant who gets a blistering review from a freelance critic, only to run into him again at a local watering hole.

Brandi Megan Granett interviewed Reichert for the Huffington Post. Usually I find that books set in New York City are encouraged to be very placey, the rest of the coats and possibly Chicago a little less so, and all other cities are played down. To have Milwaukee featured so prominently in a novel from a major publisher is a bit unusual. Granett popped the question: "We would be remiss if we didn't talk about the biggest love story in the book--the one involving your clear love for Milwaukee. How did you decide to imbue the novel with so much of this place you love? What places did you leave out that we should visit as well? Can we actually visit in the winter?"

"When I decided to set my book in Milwaukee, I knew she had to be part of the love story. It's such a special city, that I wanted to share it with everyone. I love that readers are getting a chance to see Milwaukee through my book. There are many more places to visit, like the Harley museum, zoo, and the quirky East Side. And you can absolutely visit in the winter! Cold weather doesn't slow us down, it's just an excuse to head north to watch the Green Bay Packers play or tromp through the beautiful snow in one of the many gorgeous parks. If it's January 1, you can take the Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Michigan."

Being that we're hosting seven cosponsored events with the Milwaukee Public Library this fall, which I think is a new record for us, I would be remiss if I did not like you to their upcoming events page. You can also get more information about their events with Fanni's Viennese Kitchen and Living in the Shadow of Milwaukee.

Tuesday, October 6, 7 pm, at Boswell: H. Luke Shaefer, co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.

This event is cosponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, as part of their "Working Our Way Out of Poverty" series.

My take: "Two academics chronicle the new face of the poor in America, post welfare reform. Edin, a sociologist at Hopkins, and Shaefer, at the School of Social Work at Michigan, look at eight families in four regions of the United States, Chicago, Cleveland, the Missisippi Delta and the Appalachian Foothills of Tennessee, with stories that will remind readers of Nickel and Dimed. The good news is that in a world where there are work incentives and term limits to certain benefits, there’s actually more government money than before reform. The bad news is that virtually no cash component allows poor people almost no flexibility. The lack of subsidized housing has deleterious effects—it’s not a question of doubling up, but of 20 people living in a three bedroom apartment. And heaven help a person with no job who can’t get on disability of some sort. Edin and Shaefer highlight the continuing plight of the poorest of the poor, noting what policites have worked and others that have backfired, offering a few prescriptive solutions for action." (Daniel Goldin)_

Our buyer Jason Kennedy has this to say about $2.00 a Day: "This punches you in the gut, as you read about people living in America making $1-$2 per day to live on. It shows what a broken society we are that we have seven siblings sharing a bed and they all have one outfit to wear day after day. If you growing up in this kind of poverty, what wouldn't you do to get out? Who would attempt to exploit you to get what they want? Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer have done a tremendous job shedding light on a very dark part of our country, one that we ignore in the media , except to bash the all the programs designed to help the poor, and one where generations of poor families are almost doomed to repeat. Edin and Shaefer also offer some possible solutions that could be a good starting point to bring hope."

Wednesday, October 7, 7 pm, at Boswell: Nina Revoyr, author of Lost Canyon, and Joe Meno, author of Marvel and a Wonder.

Joe Meno and Nina Revoyr are touring together for their two books from Akashic. Meno has appeared at Boswell before, while Revoyr visited Next Chapter upon the release of Wingshooters, which has sold about 80 copies at Boswell since its release. The Wisconsin setting certainly helped.

Sharon Nagel offers a recommendation on Lost Canyon: "Four casual acquaintances get together to backpack in the Sierra Nevada. Each of them is looking to escape something in his or her life. Gwen, a youth counselor, is running from job burnout and the suicide of one of her charges, Oscar, a realtor, is fleeing from the depressed housing market, and the pressure of being a single parent. Todd, an attorney, is bored with his job, and his marriage is crumbling. Finally, Tracy, the group leader, is a personal trainer looking for the adventure that she is missing from her regular routine. What starts out as a physical challenge quickly takes a turn for the worse when the group runs into a man who doesn't want to be discovered. Things rapidly go south, shots are fired, lives are threatened, and the struggle for survival becomes a very real thing that has more to do with courage than with endurance or physical fitness."

And here is her take on Marvel and a Wonder: "Jim Falls is a widowed chicken farmer struggling to make ends meet. His daughter is a drug addict who is uncertain of the father of her son. She leaves Quentin with his grandfather often and for unknown amounts of time. The two are as different as can be. Jim is a Korean War vet, tough, hardworking, and no nonsense. Quentin is a dreamer who is constantly playing video games and raising exotic pets. One day, out of nowhere, a horse is delivered to Jim. A beautiful white racehorse that has been left to him by someone he does not know. When Jim and Quentin find out that the horse can run, the neighborhood starts to take notice of this valuable new resident. Then two local losers steal the horse and try to sell her. Jim and Quentin are determined to pursue the thieves and get her back. The white racehorse is coveted by everyone who comes into contact with her. She represents a dream for each one of them, a better and more successful life. Jim and his grandson get to know and appreciate each other on their suspenseful trip across the country to reclaim their rightful property." (Sharon Nagel)

Here's a photo of Revoyr and Meno traveling together on tour that was posted on Twitter.

Thursday, October 8, 630 pm, at Centennial Hall, 733 N. 8th Street: David Maraniss, author of Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story. (Photo credit Lucian Perkins)

We've all been excited for the return of David Maraniss, whose new book has been winning raves. I'm reading it now, and was it too much that I mentioned our event with the Milwaukee Public Library and David Maraniss when I was approved for the Downer BID this morning? Hey, it was braodcast on The City Channel.

Mike Fischer wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "What makes Maraniss' book so compelling is suggested by his title: Even as he foreshadows the troubles to come, Maraniss also vividly — and lovingly — captures the long-vanished glow of that heady time when Detroit truly was a great city."

And Joe LaPointe notes in The Detroit News: "Maraniss examines modern history in the dogged manner of David Halberstam and Robert Caro. Between the lines, he leaves an unwritten thought for both today’s optimists and pessimists. If things could go change so much in just 50 years, what might the next half-century bring?"

Need more prodding to come to our event? Here's Maraniss talking to Kathleen Dunn last week on Wisconsin Public Radio about 1963 Detroit, "a year in which the city was running on all cylinders — and how the shadows of the city's collapse were beginning to emerge."

Thursday, October 8, 7 pm, at Boswell: Greg Gerke, author of My Brooklyn Writer Friend, and Ben Tanzer, author of The New York Stories.

Raised in Milwaukee, Greg Gerke has decamped to New York, the inspiration for his latest work of fiction. As the publisher notes, regarding My Brooklyn Writer Friend, "Neurotic and funny, earnest and obscure, the voices that echo in these short stories resound with a clarion honesty that remains—and provokes and teases and endears—long after the final page is turned."

John Haskell, author of I Am Not Jackson Pollack, writes: "Greg Gerke writes like an anthropologist of love, or like a Brooklyn-based Sigmund Freud, walking down a Mobius boulevard, finding the truth as it flowers in the cracks of the sidewalk. Honest, deadpan, personal and smart, these stories conspire, like a dream, to create a world both uncanny and familiar, delirious and quotidian, funny and sad and completely mesmerizing."

Ben Tanzer is also a midwest migrant, but his New York tales are of small town life, following in the footsteps of such writers as Richard Russo and Joyce Carol Oates. This collection was previously published in three volumes. The publisher notes that the collection features "dark character studies of childhood, middle age, and (lack of) grace under pressure" transporting readers to "the black heart of the American small-town soul."

Chris Tarry in Atticus Review writes that "The stories are interconnected in as much as a beer at Thirsty’s connects everyone in a small town. Characters move in and out and around a place so familiar, it could be your town—or my town, because I’ve never quite forgotten the time I kissed Susan Smith under the bleachers at Homecoming, and the smell of the stagnant air as she bit my lip leaving me surprised at how much more experience she had than me."

Friday, October 9, 7 pm, at Boswell: A Teacher Appreciation evening with Gary D. Schmidt, author of Orbiting Jupiter, and the Newberry-honor title The Wednesday Wars.

Everyone is welcome to this event, but we'll be honoring teachers with giveaways (lots and lots of advance readers copies for kids) and educators who are with schools signed up for our authors-in-schools programs will get a special discount for the evening.

Teacher's favorite Gary D. Schmidt will be appearing. Jannis Mindel is a fan of his new book, Orbiting Jupiter: "Joseph is a withdrawn 13-year-old father to an infant daughter he has never met. He comes to live with Jack and his family on their farm as a foster child after leaving a juvenile detention facility. Although Jack is warned to keep away from Joseph by his peers and teachers, Jack only sees a withdrawn and hurting boy. Eventually Joseph trusts the family enough to tell them his story and his need to find and meet his baby daughter. This is a spare, sad, and beautifully told story of love, sacrifice, and loss."

I just finished reading Orbiting Jupiter and Jannis and I had a chance to discuss the story. It's tricky subject matter. Joseph is a kid whose been through some hard times, including abuse by his father, and a stay in a detention facility. And the fact that he's a father at such an early age - it can be hard to handle that. But through the eyes of Jack, you see the spirit in this kid and Joseph slowly comes to learn that Jack has his back. It's hard for him to accept - he can't be touched, you can't walk behind him, and even the fact that he insists on calling Jack "Jackie", despite protests, sort of is an indication that he's lost basic connecting skills. It's a beautiful story, very sad, and there's much to talk about afterwards.

I don't know how many people caught this but this the second middle grade book I've read in the last month where the protagonist was named Jackson. Name trending alert!

Monday, October 12, 7 pm, at the Pitman Theatre at Alverno College: Brian Selznick, author of The Marvels.

1. The physical book is fabulous. Have you seen it? Gold edging and everything.

2. The insides are beautiful too.

Random Riggs in The New York Times Book Review: "What’s fiction made of? Do true stories “matter” more than invented ones? These are heady questions for any book to ­tackle, especially one aimed at young readers. But Brian Selznick’s “The ­Marvels” takes them on and, like the best children’s literature, doesn’t shy away from complex answers. The book revels in complication, echoes and mirrorings, and peeling back its layers makes for a rich and surprising reading experience."

Brian Selznick on Maurice Sendak in The Atlantic.

Starred Kirkus Reviews: "In the final volume of a trilogy connected by theme, structural innovation, and exquisite visual storytelling, Selznick challenges readers to see."

3. The event is now free! Please register on the Brown Paper Tickets site and tell your friends.

4. Trailer!

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