Monday, November 9, 2015

Coming This Week: Welcome to Night Vale with Patrick Rothfuss, Jessica Hopper, Rainn Wilson with Victor DeLorenzo, Eboo Patel, Gina Athena Ulysse, Michelle Brafman, Renée Rosen.

Tuesday, November 10, 7 pm, at the Turner Hall Ballroom:
Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, authors of Welcome to Night Vale, in conversation with Patrick Rothfuss.

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the creators of the #1 podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, have written a novel, also called Welcome to Night Vale, that plays off the podcast, featuring two of the recurring characters, Diane Clayton and Jackie Fierro. This novel has become a huge hit, reaching top five on The New York Times bestseller list.

We're so excited that fantasy star Patrick Rothfuss is appearing with Cranor and Fink, moderating a conversation that gets inside the creation of the story, offering insider details and perhaps a few heretofore unknown secrets about the mysterious town called Night Vale. Charles Barton in the Los Angeles Times perhaps said it best: "Night Vale depicts the sort of place where government conspiracies and unexplained phenomena aren't just possibilities, they're a part of life. Think of A Prairie Home Companion filtered through the anarchic paranoia of Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM with a generous helping of David Lynch.

Tickets are still available for the show, which is at Turner Hall Ballroom on Tuesday, November 10, 7 pm, with doors opening at 6. The cost is $22 plus taxes and fees, and it comes with a copy of the book. Post event, the authors will be signing, as will Rothfuss. You can purchase tickets here. I might come early and hangout, as the neighborhood will be bustling, what with the Republican debate going on at the Milwaukee Theatre nearby.

And yes, we'll also have books from Patrick Rothfuss for sale, and he'll be part of the signing afterwards.

Wednesday, November 11, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Jessica Hopper, author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. This event is cosponsored by 88Nine, Radio Milwaukee.

You've read her work in Pitchfork, The Chicago Reader, Spin, LA Weekly, and several volumes of the Best Music Writing series from DaCapo. She's a music consultant for This American Life. And now Jessica Hopper's new collection is called The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic and while one of our music-loving booksellers begged to differ, Hoppers title calls out the lack of diversity in this testosterone-fueled field.

As the publisher has said, Jessica Hopper's music criticism has earned her a reputation as a firebrand, a keen observer and fearless critic, not just of music but the culture around it. Spanning her punk fanzine roots to her landmark piece on R. Kelly's past, this compilation is not merely a selection of two decades of her most engaging, thoughtful and humorous writing;it also documents the last 20 years of American music making and the shifting landscape of music consumption.

Championing her work is Boswellian Carly Lenz, who wrote this about The First Collection of Criticism by a Female Rock Critic: "Known for her years of brazen music and culture writing, and especially for her work with Pitchfork, Jessica Hopper's new collection not only offers a series of reviews and commentaries on legendary albums and contemporary artists, but also ruminations on the culture and mores that envelop music and the people active in the industry.. Hopper does not shy away from unpacking artist controversy and scandal, sexism in genre, persona construction, and flagrantly flat records, and her honest writing dazzles with hard facts and compelling detail."

Thursday, November 12, 7 pm, at The Pabst Theater:
Rainn Wilson, author of The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith and Idiocy, in conversation with Victor DeLorenzo, with opening act Nineteen Thirteen.

Tomorrow is the release day for Rainn Wilson's new memoir, The Bassoon King. Jim Higgins noted in his profile in the Sunday Journal Sentinel that the book has many Wisconsin connections. His mom grew up on a farm in Weyauwega, and two of the folks on his list of greatest TV sidekicks are The Fonz from Happy Days and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. But perhaps the most notable local shout out was to Victor DeLorenzo and The Violent Femmes. So it seemed natural to ask Mr. DeLorenzo to be part of the conversation, with his current band Nineteen Thirteen, opening for Wilson.

The Bassoon King is at once a rich and warm anecdotal memoir of the making of an actor. From a geeky kid who knew how to work Model U.N. to a teenager who, while embracing punk and new wave music, found his own voice through theater. And it's also the story of a kid, brought up in the Baha'i faith, who went through some spiritual struggles as he tried to find himself, and found the answer in the religion of his childhood.

It appears that Mr. Wilson might wind up meeting all of his musical idols by the end of this book tour. Here he is in USA Today talking about Elvis Costello with Jaleesa M. Jones: "I was up there shooting a movie (The Shimmer Lake) and he was doing a book signing so I went by and I got my book signed and got to tell him that he was featured in my book and what a big fan I was. I was kind of nerding out but that was very exciting. I’m going to have to go with "Mystery Dance" off of his first album because that was the song that I performed in front of my acting class and that’s when I knew I wanted to become an actor. I made the whole class laugh just being my normal goofball self."

Tickets to this event are $26.50 plus taxes and fees and include a copy of The Bassoon Artist. There will be a signing following the event for those who wish to wait.

Also on Thursday, November 12, 7 pm, at the UWM Student Union:
Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith and Sacred Ground.

The Distinguished lecture series presents an evening with Eboo Patel, activist, author, and advocate of interfaith cooperation. He is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based international nonprofit that aims to promote interfaith cooperation. IFYC was founded in 2002, when Patel saw a need to create an organization that worked with youth and brought together the ideals of diversity, service, and faith as essential components of civic life. He was inspired to create IFYC based on his own experiences as an American Muslim from Indian descent. The driving belief behind his work is that religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.

Patel's two books are Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation which chronicles his own story, and Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, which offers his platform of interfaith cooperation. Paul Chaffee, editor of The Interfaith Observer, wrote in the Huffington Post: "This short book goes down like hot chocolate on a cold night. Eboo is a master storyteller, framing his heavy-duty agenda with his own personal story, full of passion, good humor and a transparent vulnerability."

Tickets for this event are free for UWM students with a sliding scale of $8-14 for other attendees, with a discount for UWM faculty and staff, and another discount for buying your ticket in advance at the UWM Box Office. For more information, contact (414) 229-5780 or email

Saturday, November 14, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Gina Athena Ulysse, author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle.

Like any city, Milwaukee chases a lot of conferences, and like many bookstores, Boswell takes advantage of these meetings to bring feature talks from interesting authors. With the National Women's Studies Association meeting this week, we are able to host Gina Athena Ulysse, a feminist artist-anthropologist-activist and a self-proclaimed Post-Zora Interventionist, as well as author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle.

The thesis of Ullysses's book is that the Haitian earthquake of July 2010 offered news coverage the opportunity to spotlight Haiti, but in the end, they reproduced and upheld long-standing stereotypes and narratives of Haiti and Haitians. Why Haiti Needs New Narratives is a collection of articles that she wrote in response.

Armed with an ethnographic lens, Ulysse delivers a critical analysis of culture, geopolitics, and daily life in Haiti in a series of dispatches, op-eds, and articles on post-quake Haiti. Her aim is to explain how the nation and its subjects continue to negotiate sovereignty and existence in a world where, according to a Haitian saying, "Tout moun se moun, men tout moun pa menm," which means "All people are human, but all humans are not the same." Join us Saturday, November 14, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Sunday, November 15, 4 pm, at the Harold and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center:
Michelle Brafman, author of Washing the Dead.

In the new novel from Michelle Brafman, three generations of women confront family secrets. Washing the Dead examines the experience of religious community, the perilous emotional path to adulthood, and the power of sacred rituals to repair damaged bonds between mothers and daughters. It begins in a wealthy Milwaukee suburb, where Barbara and her family lives their lives as baalei teshura, Jews who have returned to Orthodoxy. But behind this facade, she discovers that her mother has a secret, and it's only years later that she learns the truth about her mother's actions.

Brafman's novel has won raves from many writers. Amy Bloom offered this praise: "Intimate, big-hearted, compassionate and clear-eyed, Brafman's novel turns secrets into truths and the truth into the heart of fiction." And David Bezmozgis writes: "Heartfelt and genuine, Washing the Dead never betrays the complicated truths of family and tradition." There are plenty more recommendations, from writers such as Susan Coll, Faye Moskowitz, and Robert Bausch.

There's nothing like a Packers game to get us to come up with new, creative start times for events, which is why Brafman is appearing at the Harold and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center on Sunday, November 15, at 4 pm, after the game is over. Brafman will be in conversation with Jody Hirsh, director of Judaic Education, as part of their Tapestry: Books and Ideas program. The JCC is located at 6255 N. Santa Monica Dr. in Whitefish Bay.

Monday, November 16, 7 pm reception and 7:30 program, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden:
Renée Rosen, author of White Collar Girl.

We had a great time last year with Renée Rosen last year when she came to Boswell for What the Lady Wants, her historical novel about Marshall Field, the store and the man. Previous to that, she chronicle the Chicago mafia in her novel Dollface. Now, as she slowly becomes the go-to novelist for Chicago historical fiction, her new book, White Collar Girl, goes inside the Chicago Tribune in the 1950s.

Here's a little more about the book. Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig up the major stories of Chicago. But it s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room. But Walsh's struggle to be taken seriously once she establishes a secret source inside the mayor's office, and gets her hands on confidential information. But even if she lands on the front page, there's no guarantee she'll remain above the fold. That's a newspaper joke!

As she has for previous books, Rosen has prepared a wonderful presentation that looks at the fact behind the fiction of White Collar Girl. And because we think White Collar Girl will make a great book club selection, Boswellians Daniel Goldin and Jane Glaser who've each been working with reading groups for over twenty years, will be preparing a lively entertaining presentation on great new books that are perfect for book club discussion.

Tickets are $22 ($18 for Lynden members) and include a copy of White Collar Girl, wine and light refreshments from MKE Localicious. There's a short reception at 7 pm, followed by a presentation at 7:30. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 W. Brown Deer Ave. The Women's Speaker Series is produced by Margy Stratton of Milwaukee Reads, with sponsorship from Bronze Optical. See you on Monday, November 16.

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