Monday, September 26, 2016

Events this week: Chistopher Hebert with Valerie Laken, Milwaukee Rep preview of 'Man of La Mancha,' Jennifer Chiaverini in Kenosha, Thomas Holbrook on elections, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin in Wauwatosa, Bradley Beaulieu at Discovery World, Florentine Opera 'Sister Carrie' book club.

Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Christopher Hebert, author of Angels of Detroit

Boswell presents Christopher Hebert, author of The Boiling Season, winner of the of the 2013 Friends of American Writers Award. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Five Chapters, Cimarron Review, and The Millions. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and is editor-at-large for the University of Michigan Press. Hebert is currently the Jack E. Reese Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee Libraries and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. He will be in conversation with Valerie Laken, Associate Professor of English at UWM.

Christopher Hebert’s new novel delivers a kaleidoscopic of an iconic American city, of abandonment, hope, violence, and resilience—and the lives intersecting on Detroit’s margins. Once an example of American industrial might, Detroit has gone bankrupt, its streets dark, and its storefronts vacant. Miles of city blocks lie empty; saplings grow through the cracked foundations of abandoned buildings. Hebert takes an urban wasteland whose history is plagued with riots and unrest and reimagines it as an ambiguous frontier—a site of tenacity and possible hope. With razor-sharp, beguiling prose, we are drawn into the lives of multiple characters who are struggling to define their futures in this desolate landscape. Each of their desires are distinct, and their visions for a better city are on a collision course in this master plotted epic.

Wednesday, September 28, 2 pm at Boswell:
A talk and scene preview of Man of La Mancha, adapted from the classic Don Quixote, by the cast from Milwaukee Rep

Join us for a free talk and scene preview from the Milwaukee Rep cast of Man of La Mancha, winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

It’s an adventurous tale of a knight’s heroic battle. It’s a fairy tale with a tragic love story. It’s a tale of an old man gone mad and his family searching desperately for him. It’s all of those things and more. With incredible songs that you know and love, you won’t want to miss The Rep’s next big musical. Man of La Mancha will run from September 30-October 30 and is recommended for audiences 14+.

Here's ticket info for Man of La Mancha. And here's Mike Fischer's review of the show in the Journal Sentinel. His advice?: "By the time the originally skeptical prisoners reprise 'Impossible Dream,' nearly everyone is singing Quixote’s song. Catch this show and so will you."

Wednesday September 28, 6:30 pm, at Kenosha Public Library-Northside Neighborhood Library, 1500 27th Ave in Kenosha:
Jennifer Chiaverini, Fates and Traitors: A Novel on John Wilkes Booth

Take a road trip with Boswell down to the Kenosha Public Library Northside Branch for an evening with Jennifer Chiaverini Her newest novel is about John Wilkes Booth, the driven son of an acclaimed British stage actor and a Covent Garden flower girl, whose quest to avenge the Confederacy led him to commit one of the most infamous acts in American history has long been the subject of speculation and even obsession.

What is less known about Booth is the story of the four women who were integral in the life of this unquiet American: Mary Ann, the mother he revered; Asia, his sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who loved him; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow to whom he entrusted the secret of his vengeful wrath. From a tumultuous childhood on a farm in Maryland, to the glittering ballrooms of DC, the novel portrays not just a soul in turmoil, but a country at the precipice of immense change.

Read the Journal Sentinel review of Fates and Traitors from Jim Higgins.

Thursday, September 29, 7 pm at Boswell:
Thomas M. Holbrook, author of Altered States: Changing Populations, Changing Parties, and the Transformation of the American Political Landscape

The 2012 presidential elections represented the second consecutive defeat for the Republican Party, and its fourth defeat out of the last six presidential elections. In recent years both Republican and Democratic strategists and pundits have spoken of an emerging Democratic Party "lock" on the Electoral College and speculated that even in the wake of Republican victories in Congress, presidential candidates are still at a major disadvantage due to the party's increasing demographic and geographic isolation.

In Altered States, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Wilder Crane Professor of Government Thomas Holbrook looks at party fortunes in presidential elections since 1972, documenting the magnitude, direction, and consequences of changes in party support in the states. Holbrook looks at the ways that the racial and ethnic composition of the state electorates, internal (state to state) and external (foreign born) migratory patterns, and other key demographic and political characteristics drive changes at the ballto box. Additionally, he explores the ways in which increasing partisan polarization at the national level has altered group-based party linkages and contributed to changes in party support at the state level. These factors, along with an increasingly inefficient distribution of Republican votes, have converted what was once a Republican edge in electoral votes to an advantage for Democratic presidential candidates.

Friday, September 30, 3:30 pm at Wauwatosa Public Library, 7421 W North Ave in Wauwatosa:
Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, author and illustrator of Click, Clack, Surprise!

Quack! We're off to our first author event at the Wauwatosa Library for an exciting after-school event featuring longtime collaborators Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, who received a Caldecott Honor for Click, Clack Moon. In their latest, Click, Clack, Surprise, Little Duck learns how to celebrate his birthday with a little help from all the other animals on the farm. Happy first birthday, Little Duck!

Everyone wants to look their best for the big party. But Little Duck has never had a birthday before—so how better to learn how to prepare than to do what all the other animals do! The sheep trim their wool—so Little Duck trims her feathers. All over the barnyard Little Duck snips, slurps, squishes, and shimmy shakes herself ready until...WHOOPS! It’s party picture time—and Little Duck is a big mess. No matter—it’s not something Farmer Brown’s frosted maple cake can’t fix!

Being that we'll be only one day from October, we're expecting to sell a lot of Click, Clack, Boo at this event. And it turns out that Duck For President has also been extremely popular. A lot of independent voters are that only Duck has the kind of bill that can bring together both parties. The campaign is going swimmingly and a win would really be a feather in Duck's cap.

Friday, September 30, 7 pm at Boswell:
Michael Copperman, author of Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta

When Michael Copperman left Stanford University for the Mississippi Delta in 2002, he imagined he would lift underprivileged children from the narrow horizons of rural poverty. Well-meaning but naive, the Asian American from the West Coast soon lost his bearings in a world divided between black and white. He had no idea how to manage a classroom or help children navigate the considerable challenges they faced. In trying to help students, he often found he couldn't afford to give what they required sometimes, with heartbreaking consequences. His desperate efforts to save child after child were misguided but sincere. He offered children the best invitations to success he could manage. But he still felt like an outsider who was failing the children and himself.

From 2002 to 2004, Michael Copperman taught fourth grade in the rural black public schools of the Mississippi Delta with Teach For America. Now, he teaches writing to low-income, first-generation college students of diverse backgrounds at the University of Oregon. Listen to Copperman speak to Mississippi Public Broadcasting about managing a classroom, motivating kids, and reacting to people who hadn't really known an Asian American before.

Saturday, October 1, 12:30 pm, at Discovery World, 500 N Harbor Drive in downtown Milwaukee:
Bradley P. Beaulieu, author of Of Sand and Malice Made

Bradley Beaulieu will be appearing at Discovery World Sci Fi Day, at 12:30 for a family-friendly extravaganza of magnificent costumes, props, and displays from the sci-fi world! Featured are Wisconsin Ghostbusters, Kenosha Lego Group, Heroes Alliance, Milwaukee Astronomy Society’s Planets demo, and more. We'll be featuring books, including those of Bradley Beaulieu, who is appearing for a talk at 12:30 pm.

For those who wonder about the original book's publication, it is considered a classic, but only in retrospect, much like Moby Dick. AsAs John Blades wrote in the Chicago Tribune: "The publisher printed only one thousand copies, of which 456 were sold, bringing the author royalties of $68.40. Seven years later, "Sister Carrie" was reissued to high praise and, with such later Dreiser works as Jennie Gerhardt and An American Tragedy, had a profound influence on the fiction of Upton Sinclair, Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis and others."

Tickets for this all-day event at Discovery World, 400 N Harbor Dr, are $18 for adults, with sliding scale for children, students, and seniors. Once again, Bradley Beaulieu will speak at 12:30 pm. This event is from 10 am to 5 pm and tasteful costumes encouraged.

Monday, October 3, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Book club discussion of Sister Carrie with Florentine Opera

Join us and the in-store lit book club in discussion of Theodore Dreiser’s classic Sister Carrie. We will be joined by UWM’s professors Jason Puskar and Amanda Seligman, along with a guest from the Florentine Opera. Dave Begel writes about the opera in OnMilwaukee: "Sister Carrie will be a commissioned world premiere of a new opera, something that the opera world takes very seriously. There have long been questions of where the new operas are going to come from, and while Puccini and Verdi still resonate and sell tickets, the developmental grants and funds are for new operas. That's why there will be so much national and international attention paid to "Sister Carrie" and why this is a big deal in the world of classical music."

Sister Carrie will be performed at Uihein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts October 7 and 9 for more information, including ticket information please visit Florentine Opera’s website.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending September 24, 2016 - Plus the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page, plus a note that we are closing slightly early tonight (Sunday)

We are closing early tonight (Sunday, September 25), at 5 pm, for a staff meeting. Here are our annotated Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 24, 2016.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Leave Me, by Gayle Forman
2. Karolina's Twins, by Ronald H. Balson
3. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett (event is sold out)
4. Every Kind of Wanting, by Gina Frangello
5. The Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny
6. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
7. The Virginity of Famous Men, by Gina Frangello
8. The Girls, by Emma Cline
9. Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen
10. Mischling, by Affinity Konar

Affinity Konar's Mischling is the just-released novel about twin sisters at Auschwitz, or specifically at Josef Mengele's Zoo. It has been the priority title for Lee Boudreaux Books this fall, making the Indie Next list and getting some strong reviews out of the box, including The New York Times Book Review write up from Ruth Franklin, who wrote: "Mischling is not for everyone, not least because it is excruciating to read about such pain. I do not remember the last time I shed so many tears over a work of fiction. And it will surely offend those who still chafe at the idea of fictionalizing the Holocaust. But readers who allow themselves to fall under the spell of Konar’s exceptionally sensitive writing may well find the book unforgettable."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. My Son Wears Heels, by Julie Tarney
2. Napoleon, by Andrew Roberts
3. The Last General, by Andrew Krepinevich
4. Savior Generals, by Victor Davis Hanson
5. Paying the Price, by Sara Goldrick-Rab
6. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
7. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
8. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
9. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
10. His Final Battle, by Joseph Lelyveld

Fall hardcover books are surely working, but I'm not exactly sure whether they are driving folks into bookstores, or at least our bookstore. Hey, bulk sales help pay the bills. We had a great week of events but I guess the biggest was Julie Tarney's homecoming for My Son Wears Heels. And yes, Harry came along with his mom from New York, where they both now live. He works at a photography studio during the day and does drag at night. Here's' an interview with Julie Tarney from Emily Talapa on Radio Milwaukee.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
2. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
3. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
4. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (in store lit group November 7)
5. Shadowy Third, by Barbara Wuest
6. A Man Called Ove, by Frfedrik Backman
7. Saving Sophie, by Ronald H. Balson
8. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
9. Sister Carrie, by Thedoore Dreiser (in store lit group with Florentine, October 3)
10. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes (preview with Milwaukee Rep, September 28, 2 pm)

One of the most well-reviewed novels last year was Fates and Furies, now out in paperback. It was also one of the favorites of many indie booksellers, including me. I'm glad they kept the distinctive cover. Like many (hundreds of) bookstores, we hoped to get on the paperback tour but it looks likes she's pretty much doing festivals and series. She comes pretty close though, as she's part of Lake Forest Reads on October 27 and 28, including a signing at Lake Forest Bookshop on 10/28 at 2 pm. Hey, it's only an hour away.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. One Billion Seconds, by Poppy and Geoff Spencer
2. Bats Sing Mice Giggle, by Karen Shanor
3. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
4. Black Earth, by Timothy Snyder
5. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
6. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
7. Riverwest: A Community History, by Tom Tolan
8. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
9. Gumption, by Nick Offerman
10. Denial, by Deborah Lipstadt

Timothy Snyder's "On the Issues with Mike Gousha" event for Black Earth at Marquette University's Eckstein Hall on Wednesday, October 19 is likely sold out by now, but when you register, there is a waiting list, and they also show the interview by video in the lobby. It's still worth it to sign up if you're free at 12:15 pm. From The Atlantic, a snippet of Snyder's views on Hitler, being interviewed by Edward Delman: "He presents himself precisely as a German nationalist who is going to get the German economy going, who is going to bring Germans inside the borders of Germany. That’s how he presents himself, but that is a lie. He’s quite consciously manipulating German national sentiment to get to power and then to start the war, which he thinks will transform the Germans, as it were, from a nation into a race. So he’s aware that German nationalism is a force in the world, but he’s just using it in order to create the world that he wants, which is this world of racial struggle."

Books for Kids:
1. Child of the Civil Rights Movement, by Paula Young Shelton
2. Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
3. Booked, by Kwame Alexander
4. White Socks Only, by Evelyn Coleman
5. Dumplin, by Julie Murphy
6. Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary D. Schmidt
7. Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
8. If I Grow Up, by Todd Strasser
9. Yummy, by G. Neri
10. Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier

As I was putting together these lists, I looked at the bestseller list for kids this week and thought, "Hey, I think this is the results of the presentation that Todd and I did at a middle-school district in August," and sure enough, it was. I talked about three of the titles inn this week's top ten, Booked, Orbiting Jupiter, and Ghost. Both Booked and Ghost are long-listed for the National Book Awards. If you are having a development day with at least 25 teachers, we might be able to do a presentation for you too.

And now, it's time for the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page. First up is Jim Higgins and his review of Death's End, the new novel by Cixin Liu. Liu, a power plant engineer, won the Hugo Award for The Three Body Problem and his newest is similarly translated by Ken Liu. Here's Higgins: "I can pull many marvels out of Death's End, the final book in Liu's mind-blowing science-fiction trilogy: space cities orbiting Jupiter, an unexpected view of our reality from inside the fourth dimension, the deliberate bursting of a star — and the tender regard of a man for a woman (and vice versa) that carries each through centuries of struggle. But, unlike the malevolent artist of the tale, I'll never be able to contain Liu's riches in a simple document. Instead, I'll simply gape in amazement at a trilogy that belongs in the pantheon with the greatest works of Arthur C. Clarke, one of Liu's self-declared precursors."

Back when I worked on the floor of the Water and Wisconsin Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, I befriended a Marquette student who was an avid reader. Now many years later he lives in Thailand, but we keep in touch and he had just sent me a note telling me what a big fan he is of Cixin Liu.

From the print edition only:

1. Laurie Hertzel profiles Elizabeth Alexander and her memoir of her husband's death, The Light of the World, originally appearing in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. The book is now out in paperback.

2. Dan Cryer at Newsday reviews the buzzy breakout hit, The Nix, from Nathan Hill.

3. Trisha Collopy, also at the Star Tribune, has a roundup of YA. Her shortlist:
--The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
--Makoons, by Louise Erdrich
--Property of the State, by Bill Cameron
--Towers Falling, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
--Ice-Out, by Mary Casanova.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Boswell event forecast: Ronald H Balson, Gayle Forman, Poppy and Geoff Spencer, Lori Degman, Julie Tarney, Sarah Goldrick-Rab, Lil' Reb, Christine Sneed and Gina Frangello, plus Christopher Hebert next Tuesday

Wow, we've got a lot of stuff going on this week!

Monday, September 19, 7 pm at Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center:
Ronald H. Balson, author of Karolina’s Twins

The Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center is located at 6255 Santa Monica Dr in Whitefish Bay. This event is co-sponsored by the JCC and by the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.

Ronald H. Balson took readers by storm with his critically acclaimed debut, Once We Were Brothers, and entered into their hearts with an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately, the triumph of the human spirit. Now, Balson is making his hardcover debut with Karolina’s Twins and returns to the popular themes and setting that made Once We Were Brothers a national bestseller.

Inspired by true events, Karolina’s Twins is the story of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to fulfill a promise she made to a friend long ago – to return to Poland and find two sisters lost during the war. Lena Woodward enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and her private investigator husband, Liam Taggart, in order to complete the mission, harkening back to her harrowing past in Nazi-occupied Poland. She recounts her mysterious yet fearless bond shared with her childhood friend, Karolina, in their darkest hours. But there is something about the story that is unfinished, and Lena must now come to terms with a secret spanning several decades.

Ronald H. Balson is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator, and a writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of Saving Sophie.

Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm reception 7:30 pm talk:
A ticketed event with Gayle Forman, author of Leave Me at the Lynden Sculpture Garden

The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 W Brown Deer Rd. Tickets are $30 ($25 for Lynden members) and include admission to the event, light refreshments, a copy of Leave Me, and all taxes and fees.This event is cosponsored by Milwaukee Reads and the Lynden Sculpture Garden

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A married working mother who is so busy taking care of her husband and twins she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Gayle Forman is a bestselling, award-winning author of young adult novels. Leave Me is her first novel for adults. Her novel If I Stay won the 2009 NAIBA Book of the Year Award and was a 2010 Indie Choice Honor Award winner. The film adaptation of If I Stay was released in 2014. Forman is also a journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Elle.

Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Poppy and Geoff Spencer, co-authors of 1 Billion Seconds: A Fictional Memoir

Poppy and Geoff Spencer were college sweethearts who initially thought they were destined to spend their lives together—but immaturity and life got in the way. After college, neither of them had the courage, maturity, or communication skills to keep their relationship on solid ground. It took several marriages and life experiences between them to come together 32 years later and build a solid, healthy relationship.

Today, the Spencers work as relational coaches, providing practical, goal-oriented guidance to individuals, couples, and families at various levels in their relationship. The Spencers also work with healthy couples and individuals to develop strategies for their relational goals that are achievable and measurable. With the Myers-Briggs Certification, they also help people understand their personality styles and how those styles work together.

Poppy Spencer, after receiving her Master of Science degree in Art Therapy and working as a Registered Art Therapist for twelve years, she then transitioned her private Art Therapy practice into coaching. A parenting coach, a psychology professor at Ringling College of Art and Design for seven years, a certified Myers Briggs facilitator, and a Certified Professional Coach for nearly a decade, she continues to implement psychology into her coaching relationships. Geoff Spencer is a certified coach, having transitioned from a twenty-five-year career in sales and marketing of specialized technology deployed in higher education institutions. He is also a speaker, singer, and performer, having spoken in many professional venues, sung in churches and theaters, and performed in multiple community theater productions.

Wednesday, September 21, 4 pm, at Shorewood Public Library: Lori Degman, author of Norbert’s Big Dream

The Shorewood Public Library is located at 3920 N Murray Ave, just south of Capitol Dr.

Norbert is a pig with a dream. It doesn't matter if the other farm animals snicker behind his back, Norbert has always dreamed of swimming the English Channel. He's been preparing and training, and finally, he's ready for the big swim! But where exactly is the English Channel?! Will Norbert have to give up on his dreams, or will his friends come to the rescue after all? A funny story about dreaming big.

Lori Degman grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago. She then attended MacMurray College for her Bachelor’s degree, followed by National-Louis University for her Masters. She is also the author of Cock-a-Doodle-Oops and 1 Zany Zoo. She loves writing rhyming poems, song parodies, and she can even juggle!

Wednesday, September 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Julie Tarney, author of My Son Wears Heels: One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to Kickass

When Julie Tarney’s only child, Harry, was two years old, he told her, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” It was 1992. The Internet was no help, because there was no Internet. And bookstores had no literature for a mom scrambling to raise such an unconventional child. Terms such as transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender creative were rare or nonexistent.

Lacking a positive role model of her own, and fearful of the negative stereotype of an overbearing Jewish mother, Tarney embarked on an unexpected parenting path as Harry grew up to be a confident, happy, nonconformist adult. Harry knew who he was all along. Despite some stumbles, Tarney learned that her job was simply to let her child be his authentic self.

Julie Tarney is a board member for the It Gets Better Project, blogs for the Huffington Post’s “Queer Voices” pages, and writes for and the True Colors Fund. She volunteers for the PFLAG Safe Schools Program. A longtime resident of Shorewood, she now lives in New York City.

Thursday, September 22, 6:30 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall:
Sara Goldrick-Rab, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

This event is co-sponsored by Boswell. Centennial Hall is located at 733 N Eighth St. The event sponsor is Milwaukee Public Library and Wisconsin Hope Lab

If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right? Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for their education.

Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. However, America can fix this problem. Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector–focused “first degree free” program.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is coeditor of Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability and has written on education issues for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. She founded the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first research laboratory aimed at making college affordable, and is a noted influence on the development of both federal and state higher education policies. Dr. Goldrick-Rab is professor of higher education Policy and Sociology at Temple University.

Thursday, September 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A talk and performance by Lil’ Rev, for the CD Claw and Hammer

Lil’ Rev grew up in Milwaukee, WI, where he still resides today. Growing up in the shadows of American Motors Corp, Briggs and Stratton, and A.O. Smith, he was inspired by the sights and sounds of an industrial powerhouse in flux. While Lil’ Rev is well known for his ukulele and harmonica stylings, he is also a seasoned multi-instrumentalist equally adept at old time banjo, flat-pick guitar, and blues mandolin.

Lil’ Rev is a Milwaukee-based songwriter, instrumentalist, storyteller, historian, educator, and interpreter of American roots music and culture. His fascination with all things ukulele and harmonica keep him busy teaching and performing all across North America. Lil’ Rev performs for schools, libraries, folk societies, festivals, music stores, concert series, house concerts, ukulele clubs, churches, temples, and just about any kind of wholesome venue you might conjure up.

Friday, September 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A night of Chicago-area writers, featuring Gina Frangello, author of Every Kind of Wanting and Christine Sneed, author of The Virginity of Famous Men

Every Kind of Wanting explores the complex intersection of three unique families and their bustling efforts to have a "Community Baby." Miguel could not be more different from his partner Chad, a happy-go-lucky real estate mogul from Chicago’s wealthy North Shore. When Chad’s sister, Gretchen, offers the couple an egg, their search for a surrogate leads them to Miguel’s old friend Emily, happily married to an eccentric Irish playwright, Nick, with whom she is raising two boys. Into this web falls Miguel's sister, Lina, a former addict and stripper, who begins a passionate affair with Nick while deciphering the mysteries of her past.

But every action these couples make has unforeseen consequences. As Lina faces her long-hidden demons, and the fragile friendships between Miguel and Chad and Nick and Emily begin to fray as the baby's birth draws near, a shocking turn of events—and the secret Lina's been hiding—threatens to break them apart forever.

The Virginity of Famous Men, award-winning story writer Christine Sneed’s deeply perceptive collection on the human condition, features protagonists attempting to make peace with the paths they have taken thus far. In “The Prettiest Girls,” a location scout for a Hollywood film studio falls in love with a young Mexican woman who is more in love with the idea of stardom than with the older American man who takes her with him back to California. “Clear Conscience” focuses on the themes of family loyalty, divorce, motherhood, and whether “doing the right thing” is, in fact, always the right thing to do. In “Beach Vacation,” a mother realizes that her popular and coddled teenaged son has become someone she has difficulty relating to, let alone loving with the same maternal fervor that once was second nature to her. The title story, "The Virginity of Famous Men," explores family and fortune.

Long intrigued by love and loneliness, Sneed leads readers through emotional landscapes both familiar and uncharted. These probing stories are explorations of the compassionate and passionate impulses that are inherent in—and often the source of—both abiding joy and serious distress in every human life.

Christine Sneed has published the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts, and the story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry. She received the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, Ploughshare’s Zacharis Prize, the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Adult Fiction of 2013. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, New England Review, and elsewhere.

Gina Frangello is the author of the Target Emerging Authors selection, A Life in Men, which was also a book club selection. She is also the author of two other books of fiction: Slut Lullabies, a Foreword Magazine Best Book of the Year finalist, and My Sister's Continent. She is the founder of Other Voices Books, has served as the Sunday editor for The Rumpus, the fiction editor for The Nervous Breakdown, Executive Editor for Other Voices magazine, and the faculty editor for TriQuarterly Online.

And coming next week on Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm, at Boswell: Christopher Hebert, author of Angels of Detroit, in conversation with UWM's Valerie Laken

Christopher Hebert’s new novel Angels of Detroit, delivers a kaleidoscopic of an iconic American city, of abandonment, hope, violence, and resilience—and the lives intersecting on Detroit’s margins. Once an example of American industrial might, Detroit has gone bankrupt, its streets dark, and its storefronts vacant. Miles of city blocks lie empty; saplings grow through the cracked foundations of abandoned buildings. Hebert takes an urban wasteland whose history is plagued with riots and unrest and reimagines it as an ambiguous frontier—a site of tenacity and possible hope. With razor-sharp, beguiling prose, we are drawn into the lives of multiple characters who are struggling to define their futures in this desolate landscape. Each of their desires are distinct, and their visions for a better city are on a collision course in this master plotted epic.

Multiple characters struggle to define their futures in this desolate landscape: a scrappy group of activists trying to save the city with placards and protests; a curious child who knows the blighted city as her own personal playground; an elderly great-grandmother eking out a community garden in an oil-soaked patch of dirt; a carpenter with an explosive idea of how to give the city a new start; a confused idealist who has stumbled into debt to a human trafficker; a weary corporate executive who believes she is doing right by the city she remembers at its prime.

Christopher Hebert is the author of the novel The Boiling Season, winner of the of the 2013 Friends of American Writers Award. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Five Chapters, Cimarron Review, and The Millions. Hebert is currently the Jack E. Reese Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee Libraries and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Valerie Laken is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Laken holds advanced degrees in Creative Writing and Slavic Languages and Literatures, from the University of Michigan.