Monday, October 31, 2016

Event Watch: Jeff Pearlman on Brett Favre, Glen Jeansonne on Herbert Hoover, Brenda DeVita on Shakespeare, Pete Fromm on the wilds, two events (one each) with acclaimed poets Susan Firer and Sarah Rosenblatt, Murder and Mayhem at the Irish Cultural Center (and a bonus Noir at the Bar), Jon Meacham and Mitch Teich discuss George H.W. Bush, and Jeanette Hurt at Great Lakes Distillery. Please check dates, times, and locations, as there is a lot of details!

Here's what's going on this week!

Tuesday, November 1, 6:30 pm, at Elm Grove Library, 13600 Juneau Blvd:
Jeff Pearlman, author of Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre

This event is cosponsored by the Elm Grove Public Library and OnMilwaukee.

You probably noted in yesterday's bestseller roundup the strong advance sales for Jeff Pearlman's Gunslinger. From Brookfield/Elm Grove Now: "Gunslinger tells Brett Favre’s story for the first time, drawing on more than 500 interviews, including many from the people closest to Favre. Pearlman charts Favre’s unparalleled journey, from his rough rural childhood and lackluster high school football career, to his prominent role in the restoration of greatness in Green Bay. The book presents a fascinating portrait of the man with the rocket arm whose life has been one of triumph, fame, tragedy, embarrassment, and — ultimately — redemption."

Sports Illustrated ran an excerpt, which you can read here.

Here's what Boswellian Todd Wellman has to say: "Brett Favre's life flows like light beer in this accessible biography that presents a man with many identities: alcoholic, recovering alcoholic, philanderer, football star, abused son, Wisconsin hero, patient ear for those with disabilities. While not pausing for too long in any era, Pearlman makes the case for varying frames of mind by tallying actions to show the identities exist. I had many "Oh, that's what was going on" moments as I read about The Packers organization maintaining the public persona of Favre, namely how they massaged his alcohol and drug use for the public. Complete with (incomplete) portrayals of Aaron Rodgers as artless antagonist and Deanne Favre as stand-by-your-man-through-prayer wife, Gunslinger brings up many questions, and the answers could fill a companion book, if not a book discussion. Namely, beyond the unexplored reasons Deanna stayed with Brett, what in the NFL and other football organizations abets the poor treatment of spouses, and how did it influence Favre?"

The Elm Grove Library is located just outside the Village. From Bluemound Road, take Elm Grove Road north to Juneau Blvd (though you have to zig zag a bit when you get to Watertown Plank). It's in the same complex as the police department and Village Hall. Doors will likely open at 6 pm. We're guessing that we might hit the library capacity on this one, so I suggest you arrive on the early side.

Tuesday, November 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Glen Jeansonne, author of Herbert Hoover: A Life.

David Luhrssen, Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Shepherd Express, will introduce Jeansonne.

Jeansonne, UWM Professor of History Emeritus, offers a take on the Herbert Hoover presidency that redeems him in history. The book draws upon a previous academic work of Jeansonne's, The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker, 1928-1933, which covered only the presidential years. In that book, as reviewed in The Washington Times by Joseph S. Goulden, Jeansonne blamed "a vigorous Democratic propaganda machine, funded by financier John J. Raskob, the party’s national chairman, and crafted by hatchet-man journalist Charles S. Michelson, the publicity manager. Lacking a program of their own, the Democrats set about demonizing Hoover as responsible for the country’s economic woes."

As Jim Higgins wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jeansonne reminds readers who only remember Hoover as the president swept out of office by the Great Depression and FDR of his accomplishments, including leading the relief effort to feed starving Belgians during World War I, and of his impact as Secretary of Commerce under President Coolidge.

"The historian believes the Great Depression would have sunk any sitting president. Only 59 when he left the White House, Hoover had an active post-presidential public life. Jeansonne notes that, over time, Hoover gravitated further right in opposition to the swelling federal bureaucracy. During those elder-statesmen years, the historian writes, Hoover "was the single most important bearer of the torch of American conservatism between his own administration and that of Ronald Reagan."

Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Brenda DeVita, Artistic Director of the American Players Theatre, presenting her talk, "Why Shakespeare"

This event is sponsored by American Players Theatre and the University of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

Brenda DeVita discusses why Shakespeare's work has endured through four centuries and how it thrives specifically at American Players Theatre. She'll also discuss the question that she and the American Players Theatre artists struggle with continually: what makes a classic a classic? A practical, visceral, artist's eye view of how to produce Shakespeare for a 21st- century audience, and why it's so important.

This talk is part of the Shakespeare in Wisconsin yearlong schedule of programming, in conjunction with the Shakespeare's First Folio exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison. The First Folio, published in 1623, is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, many of which were not published during his lifetime. Two of Shakespeare's fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays to preserve them for future generations. Without their efforts, the world may have never known 18 of these plays, including Macbeth and Hamlet. The exhibit runs from November 3 through December 11.

And don't forget, The American Players Theatre schedule for 2017 is now up. Their Shakespeare productions are A Midsummer Night's Dream and Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and other performed plays will include Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge and Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov. While you're in Spring Green, don't forget to visit our friends at Arcadia Books.

Registration requested but not required for this event.

Thursday, November 3, 6:30 pm, at the Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave: Pete Fromm, author of The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds.

Former Shorewoodian Pete Fromm is a five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for his novels If Not For This, As Cool as I Am, and How All This Started, his story collections including Dry Rain, and the memoir, Indian Creek Chronicles. The film of As Cool as I Am was released in 2013. Fromm has also published over 200 stories in magazines and journals.

At twenty years old, Pete Fromm accepted a job babysitting salmon eggs for seven winter months alone in a tent in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Leaping at this chance to be a mountain man, with no experience in the wilds, he left the world. 25 years later, he was asked to return to the wilderness to babysit more fish eggs. No longer a footloose twenty-year old, at 45, he was the father of two young sons. He left again, alone, straight into the heart of Montana’s Bob Marshall wilderness, walking a daily ten-mile loop to his fish eggs through deer and elk and the highest density of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states.

The Names of the Stars is not only a story of wilderness and bears but also a trek through a life lived at its edges, showing how an impulsive kid transformed into a father without losing his love for the wilds. From loon calls echoing across Northwood lakes to the grim realities of life-guarding in the Nevada desert, through the isolation of Indian Creek, and years spent running the Snake and Rio Grande as a river ranger, Pete seeks out the source of this passion for wildness, and explores fatherhood, and mortality, and the costs, risks, and rewards of life lived on its own terms.

From Cory Walsh in The Montana Standard: "The self-professed Hemingway fan writes in a conversational voice with artful fragments of sentences. He loves a three-beat rhythm and uses it well: 'The windowpane is a blank, the sky socked in, though I can't hear rain. I click the faint green glow of my watch. Four a.m. Six hours of sleep. In a row. Practically record setting.' In scenes of tension or meditation, he stretches that voice out into long, flowing sentences, a flash of technique that's more effective because he knows when to use it and does so sparingly. (Fromm's the author of several novels, short-story collections and has won a few Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Awards.)"

Thursday, November 3, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Susan Firer, author of The Transit of Venus: Poems

We are pleased to welcome former Milwaukee Poet Larueate Susan Firer to Boswell for her first collection since 2007's Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People. Here's Jim Higgins in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussing the book:

"Firer may not have been born under a rhyming planet, but in recent years she has bathed in the emanations of the Oort Cloud. Stimulated by Jean Creighton's lectures at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Manfred Olson Planetarium, Firer draws stars, planets and astronomical language into The Transit of Venus, the former Milwaukee poet laureate's sixth collection. The Summer Triangle of Vega, Altair and Deneb, Trans-Neptunian objects and Magellanic clouds glide through her viewfinder.

"Much rarer than an eclipse, a transit of Venus refers to that planet passing across the face of the sun, becoming visible to us as a black dot against the broiling solar magnificence. In Firer's book, that title phrase also evokes her life with her husband James Hazard, a well-known poet and writer who died in 2012."

Susan Firer grew up in Milwaukee, where she continues to live, write, and work.. She is the author of six books of poetry, including The Transit of Venus, Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People: New and Selected Poems 1979–2007, and The Laugh We Make When We Fall, which won the Backwaters Prize. Billy Collins has said, “To read the poetry of Susan Firer is to enter a unique building constructed by the imagination, like Kubla Khan’s pleasure-dome, out of the shimmering material of words.”

Friday, November 4, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Sarah Rosenblatt, author of Where Are We in This Story?

By day, Sarah Rosenblatt is a child and family therapist in Milwaukee, and by night, she is a poet whose previous works are On the Waterbed They Sank to Their Own Levels and One Season Behind. Now she returns with Where Are We in This Story?, her first collection since 2007, once again with illustrations with her mother, Suzanne Rosenblatt.

Sarah Rosenblatt laments, celebrates and questions the meaning of the ongoing story of time. Seasons speak but don’t recognize us. Time creeps through the windows in the same way it did with our ancestors. Light shines through and touches hope and sweetness but this is only fleeting, leaving us to a vast sky that doesn’t name us or our troubles. Leaves on the trees watch, hold and rot. The collection challenges the guts and touches the heart and soul of being alive in a story in which we are challenged to find meaning.

From Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel: "Her succinct poems read calmly, even when addressing unpleasantries. In 'Human Nurture' she writes, 'Our fellow human beings / are not even-tempered,/ each new discussion is another opportunity / for us to misunderstand each other.' Writing about a caterpillar (but inevitable suggesting creatures. Her succinct poems read calmly, even when addressing unpleasantries. In 'Human Nurture' she writes, 'Our fellow human beings / are not even-tempered,/ each new discussion is another opportunity / for us to misunderstand each other.' Writing about a caterpillar (but inevitable suggesting creatures in 'Disorderly Conduct,' Rosenblatt sounds like a gentler Lennie Briscoe quipping before the cut to a commercial: 'We could see / from the onset / that a mother / so taken with order / was bound to create disorder / in the life of her child.'"

Saturday, November 5, 9 am to 5:30 pm, at the Irish Cultural Center, 2133 W Wisconsin Ave: Murder and Mayhem Milwaukee, sponsored by Crimespree Magazine

Doors open at 8:30 am for this all day festival. Tickets are $40 and are available on Brown Paper Tickerts. Boswell will of course be selling books.

Here's the schedule. First up is "First Blood", the 9 am roundtable featuring Kristi Belcamino, Alex Grecian, Tim Hallinan, Brad Parks (moderator), Nicholas Petrie, and Johnny Shaw. At 10, the "Murder as a Fine Art" is moderated by Janet Reid and features Lou Berney, Cara Black, Jess Lourney, Marucs Sakey, and Alex Segura. "Lessons of a Lifetime" is an 11 am discussion between Heather Graham and David Morrell, followed by lunch, which is being served upstairs.

The afternoon commences with Kate Malmon moderating "The League of Night and Fog (Thunderdome)," featuring Dana Cameron, Matthew Clemens, Ed Kurtz (attending in place of Steve Blackmoore), Lisa Lutz, Brad Parks, Bryon Quertermous, Todd Robinson, and Tom Schreck. This is followed by the "Creepers" panel at 2 pm, moderated by Bryan Van Meter and featuring Blake Crouch, Shaun Harris, Chris Holm, Lisa Lutz, and Daniel Palmer. A conversation between Sara Paretsky and Meg Gardiner ("Blood Oath") is at 3, while Joe R. Lansdale is interviewed at 4.

Here's a list of recommended hotels. And don't forget, several of the writers will also be at Noir at the Bar, at Mobcraft Brewery, 505 S Fifth St, on Thursday, November 3, 7 pm. They will be featuring a special Chocolate cherry moon beer brewed especially for Crimespree and Murder and Mayhem. 

Sunday, November 6, 7 pm, at Boswell: A ticketed event with Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, in conversation with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich

This event is cosponsored by WUWM 89.7, Milwaukee Public Radio.

Tickets are $20, including admission for one, a paperback copy of Destiny and Power, and all taxes and fees. On the night of the event, a $13 gift card is available in place of the book. You can purchase your ticket at Brown Paper Tickets.

Destiny and Power, now in paperback, is the intimate and detailed life story of George H.W. Bush, a man known only through his politics or from a distance. From interviews and unprecedented access to Bush's presidential diaries, Meacham brings Bush and the great American family vividly to life, beginning in the Midwest in the late 1800s and moving on to George H. W. Bush's childhood, his heroic service in World War II, Texas, and his political rise. With Meacham's trademark compelling narration, historic depth, and contemporary insight, this stunning biography reveals the unusual self-reflections and distinctive American life of a man from the Greatest Generation who pursued a life of service as a guardian of America in the way of Eisenhower, and was one of the last gentleman in our political world.

Here's a roundup of reviews of Destiny and Power:
--Jim Kelly in The New York Times Book Review
--David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times
--Carlos Lozada in The Washington Post.

Our event with Jon Meacham in conversation with Mitch Teich is only two days before the general election: the perfect respite from Campaign 2016!

Monday, November 7, 7 pm, at the Great Lakes Distillery, 616 W Virginia St, which is sponsoring this event:
Jeanette Hurt, author of Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat

Hurt's talk will be "Women Behind Bars: The Surprisingly Illicit History of Female Bartenders." There is no admission charge for this event. The bar will be making and selling four drinks from Hurt's new Drink Like a Woman.

Take one-part feminist history, two parts fresh cocktail recipes, and add a splash of veteran barkeep advice. Shake until chilled. Garnish with charming illustrations and share with friends! Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat. is a treat for anyone looking for a glass of something strong after a long day of smashing the patriarchy. Featuring more than 70 amazing women from history, literature, and pop culture, and honors each with her own cocktail. It’s time we acknowledged that women’s taste in cocktails, just like our contribution to history, is anything but predictable.

Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. As full-time journalist, Hurt has written about spirits, wine, and food for, Four Seasons Magazine, and Wine Enthusiast. When she’s not writing, traveling, cooking or shaking up some concoction, she can usually be found walking along Milwaukee’s lakefront with her family.

Please note that this event is for folks 21 and older. And speaking of Jeanette Hurt...

And one last event, that we're not selling books at but we support. It's the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, on Friday, November 4 and all day, Saturday, November 5, at the UW-Waukesha campus. With the theme Roots and Branches, the folks at SEWIBOOKFEST offers a fabulous opening ticketed talk and reception with Jane Hamilton (many folks are saying that her recent conversation with Ann Patchett was one of our best events of the year, and Hamilton was a big part of that), followed by a day of talks, panels, and conversations with fine authors, including Kathie Giorgio, Jeanette Hurt (see above), Ron Faiola, Liam Callanan, Patricia Skalka (at Boswell later in November), Mark Speltz, Brenda Cardenas, and Dan Chaon, whose new 2017 novel has a ton of buzz.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Boswell annotated bestseller list for the week ending 10/29/16.

Here's what sold at Boswell this past week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Bait, by Chuck Palahniuk
2. The Whistler, by John Grisham (Maslin in the NYT likes this better than the last)
3. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
4. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, by P.D. James
5. The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Mark Frost
6. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
7. Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien (shortlisted for Man Booker Prize)
8. Hag Seed, by Margaret Atwood
9. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson
10. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult

Thanks to Chuck Palahniuk who provided signed bookplates for Bait: Off Color Stories for You to Color. Russ Burlingame on the Comic Book website noted Palahniuik's intention: "It could be that I’m attracted to conflict and tension; for instance, upsetting stories told in the form of a coloring book, a pastime normally designed to help people relax."

Though he's penned everything from thrillers to sports histories to young adult fantasy with his most recent series, The Paladin Prophecy, Mark Frost is probably still most famous as the co-creator of Twin Peaks with David Lynch. Now The Secret History of Twin Peaks is out, letting readers know what's happened in the last 25 years. Alas, Frost's tour is over (you could have zipped over to Magers and Quinn last Monday for his visit to Minneapolis). Read more about the book's release here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Truth About Cancer, by Ty M. Bollinger
2. Gunslinger, by Jeff Pearlman (event at Elm Grove Library, Tue Nov 1, 6:30)
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. North of Dixie, by Mark Speltz
5. Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton
6. Appetites, by Anthony Bourdain
7. Cooking for Jeffrey, by Ina Garten
8. The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page
9. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
10. Cook's Science, from America's Test Kitchen

Gunslinger had a bang-up first week in Milwaukee, and probably anywhere in Wisconsin or where Packer Nation holds court. Jeff Pearlman's biography was reviewewd in the Chicago Tribune, where Ed Sherman wrote: "Favre was an iconic player who dominated the sporting landscape for nearly two decades. Pearlman's book presents the compelling, complete story of his legend, and his faults." He does note that if a Favre fan does not want their image of the star quarterback to be sullied, he or she should not read Gunslinger.

And this note from Pearlman comes from Gary D'Amato's review in the Journal Sentinel: "When you write a biography, you see the ups and downs and the highs and lows. You see the journey. He’s a 47-year-old volleyball dad who lives contentedly in Mississippi. He has come out of it as a really good guy. We all have our ups and downs. How do you come out of it in the end? I think Brett Favre overcame all these problems to become a really good human being.”

Paperback Fiction:
1. French Rhapsody, by Antoine Laurain
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
3. Again and Again, by Ellen Bravo
4. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
5. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
6. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
7. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
8. Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People, by Susan Firer (event at Boswell Thu Nov 3, 7 pm)
9. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
10. Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

While the National Book Critics Circle Award popped Paul Beatty's The Sellout, my guess is that having the double whammy of the Man Booker Prize should get this book onto everybody's reading list. Beatty is the first American winner, and Charlotte Higgins notes in The Guardian that it almost didn't get published in the UK. She notes: "His rumbustious, lyrically poetic novel was turned down, his agent confirms, by no fewer than 18 publishers. And then, finally, a small independent called Oneworld – founded by a husband-and-wife team in 1986 – took it up. The company is celebrating the unusual achievement of a second consecutive Man Booker win, because it also published Marlon James’s A (Brief) History of Seven Killings." That is last year's winner, by the way.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Covenant with Black America - Ten Years Later, by Tavis Smiley
2. Pacific, by Simon Winchester
3. Magic Words, by Cheryl Klein
4. Shallow Grave, by Gavin Schmitt
5. Rosemary, by Kate Clifford Larson
6. Childrens Writers and Illustrators Market 2017, by Chuck Sambuchino
7. Swimming Studies, by Leanne Sharpton
8. The Men Who United the States, by Simon Winchester
9. Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul
10. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson

We took Simon Winchester out of the bookstore to the American Geographical Society Libray at UWM for his new-in-paperback Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators and Fading Empires and it was a great evening. Winchester was excited to find a collection of maps he'd once written about, and had not known where the collection now was. It was a welcome reunion. As Jennifer Senior wrote in The New York Times: "If you’re the type who ever wondered whether there was once an albatross conference in Tasmania (yes) or if there’s a nation that straddles all four hemispheres (again, yes — Kiribati, a pixelated bunch of islands and atolls), this book is unquestionably for you."

Picture Books and Board Books for Kids:
1. Penguin's Christmas Wish, by Salina Yoon
2. Bad Kitty Scaredy Cat, by Nick Bruel
3. Mary Had a Little Glam, by Tammi Sauer, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
4. Julia's Home for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke
5. Found, by Salina Yoon
6. One Love, by Cedella Marley, based on the lyrics of Bob Marley, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton
7. Hallo Wiener, by Dav Pilkey
8. Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon
9. 10 Little Ninjas, by Miranda Paul, with illustrations by Nate Wragg
10. Every Little Thing, by Cedella Marley, based on the lyrics of Bob Marley, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton

What a week! I'm sure you can tell:

a. We hosted school events for Salina Yoon. If you are an educator that want to participate in this program, contact Todd. Of the newest work, Penguin's Christmas Wish, Kirkus Reivews writes: "Grandpa’s touching words about the meaning of Christmas and Penguin’s sweet presents of sticks add depth to this unassuming but satisfying story."

b. Last weekend was the annual SCBWI-Wisconsin conference. The keynote speaker was Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the illustrator behind Mary Had a Little Glam, the two Bob Marley adaptations, One Love and Every Little Thing, and Wisconsin writer Thelma Godin's The Hula-Hoopin' Queen. Take a look at Brantley-Newton's other work on her Ooh La La Design Studio blog.

c. Dav Pilkey and Nick Bruel visited this week! More below and you'll see more appearances as our school sales are tabulated. Signed copies of Dog Man and Bad Kitty Scaredy Cat are available.

Chapter Books and Young Adult Books:
1. Dog Man V1, by Dav Pilkey
2. Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke
3. Ashes V3, by Laurie Halse Anderson
4. Zita the Spacegirl V1, by Ben Hatke
5. The Great Greene Heist (paper), by Varian Johnson
6. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
7. The Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks A Lot V12, by Dav Pilkey
8. Chains V1, by Laurie Halse Anderson
9. The Great Greene Heist (cloth), by Varian Johnson
10. Forge V2, by Laura Halse Anderson

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews The Boat Rocker, the new novel by Ha Jin. It tells of "36-year-old Feng Danlin, a journalist working on Long Island for a small Chinese news agency that’s trying to speak truth to power back home in Beijing. Easier said than done, which is why Danlin is being lectured by a Chinese consul, making clear that if Feng continues rocking the boat with his current series of columns, there’ll be significant consequences — never mind that this onetime Chinese national has recently become a U.S. citizen." He didn't like it!

Jim Higgins, the Journal Sentinel's book editor, reviews Alexander Masters' newest. He explains: "In the remarkable Stuart: A Life Backwards, Masters explored the life of a charming, cheeky, self-destructive, alcoholic homeless man, trying to understand how he became that way. In Simon: The Genius in My Basement, Masters probed the life of his landlord, a math genius who did revolutionary work in group theory, but went on to spend much of his time riding buses and trains and fighting against public transportation cuts. In A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in the Trash, Masters delves into his most ordinary yet mysterious subject yet: the author of 148 handwritten diaries discovered in a dumpster in Cambridge, England, spanning 50 years of the diarist's life and amounting to millions of words.

He also notes: "A Life Discarded also serves as Masters' tribute to his friend Dido Davies, the discoverer who actually went into the dumpster to rescue the diaries. A biographer, academic, exotic-animal keeper and pseudonymous sex-manual author, she died during the making of this book. She sounds like a fascinating soul. If we're lucky, perhaps Masters will write more about her one day." I think that seems likely, don't you?

And finally, here's info about the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. Jane Hamilton is the keynote for Friday evening, November 4. More details on tickets here.

If there are print reviews that first appeared elsewhere, my apologies and I'll read them when I'm back in Milwaukee. I'm visiting my mom and sister and reading the new Don Lee (Wrack and Ruin, Yellow, The Collective) novel coming next June. It's called Lonesome Lies Before Us. I also read the forthcoming Nickolas (Shotgun Lovesongs) Butler novel, The Hearts of Men, coming in March. This is what happens when you can't find a place to use your computer, even when you need to get a lot of things done. You read!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

What Did the In-Store Lit Group Think? This catch-up session offers mini recaps of "She Weeps Each Time You're Born" and "Sister Carrie," plus what we're reading in November and December.

We've had an interesting run of discussions this fall. After reading Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer. It was my thought that we would follow this up with Amy Barry's She Weeps Each Time You're Born, making it a sort of unit on Vietnam. Based on what the group felt, I think it worked.

Each book looks at Vietnam experience (and note that the Vietnamese of course call it The American War) from their perspective, something we're not used to in the United States. But whereas Nguyen mostly covers the war and afterwards, Barry goes further back, perhaps chronicling the entire 20th century.

They are also such different books. The Sympathizer is one part immigrant narrative, one part Graham Greene spy story, and one part making-of-a-film story satire. She Weeps Each Time You're Born has much more of a poetic feel, playing with the Buddhist view of life and capturing many of the important moments in Vietnamese history.

My advice to folks reading She Weeps Each Time You're Born is to just go with the flow, especially since much of the story takes place on a boat.

We're not the only book club who grouped these two titles together. She Weeps Each Time You're Born is one of three suggestions of the Bored to Death Book Club to read after The Sympathizer.

For October, we teamed up with the Florentine Opera to read Sister Carrie, the novel published in 1900 by Theodore Dreiser. This was in conjunction with the Florentine world premiere on October 7. We wound up having one of our biggest turnouts of 33 people, with folks coming to hear UWM's Jason Puskar and Amanda Seligman talk about the book, as well as Kelly Schlicht from the Lorentine. Puskar and Seligman put the story in the contect of the time. While we each didn't have as much time to speak about the work, it turned out to be a very interesting evening.

The story features Caroline "Carrie" Meeber, who leaves her small town in Wisconsin to make it in Chicago. She stays with her sister while she looks for work, but finds herself being the object of admiration by two suitors, first a salesman named Charles Drouet who tells everyone they are married and sets her up in an apartment, and then George Hurstwood, a bar manager who convinces her to run off with him. They wind up in New York where after a number of years, her star rises in the theater world while Hurstwood's declines.

The book was groundbreaking for its time, being the portrait of a woman who is not punished for her what-might-be-called-by-some-at-the-time sins. And we had a spirited discussion on Carrie, how much she had a hand in what she accomplished, and the morality of the various characters. It's a novel where commerce seems to drive people's motivations, a philosophy that seems a bit ahead of its time.

One thing I learned from researching the book is that there are several different versions of Sister Carrie, with a series of edits followed by 1981 edition from the University of Pennsylvania Press that attempted to return the novel to the form that Dreiser first imagined. The Penguin Classic edition we featured was this new edit, while our alternate edition, the Signet Classic, was probably the Doubleday edition.

Next up, we'll be reading Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen, on Monday, November 7, 7 pm. This novel, which won the PEN Hemingway award and was shortlisted for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, is about a woman with a crappy job at a prison and a just-as-crappy home life who falls under the sway of a new counselor. It's definitely in the psychological suspense camp, but ramped up to lit luminary level. And still Jean Zimmerman at NPR called it "dark, damaged, fun."

And then, to lighten things up, we'll be reading Hannah Rothschild's The Improbabilty of Love on Monday, December 5, 7 pm. It's been one of Jane's big picks, and seemed just the antidote to all the dark and somber tales that have twisted around us. Jennifer Senior wrote in The New York Times: "The book may on occasion be silly and over-the-top, even for a satire. But Ms. Rothschild writes with such exuberance and spins such a propulsive yarn that you happily accept these excesses as part of the package, the same way you happily accept the frippery of Elton John."

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dog Vs. Cat Part One! Dav Pilkey at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center Tonight, Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm.

Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm, at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center, 4800 S 60 St, just off Layton Ave in Greenfield.

Here's what you need to know!

1. You know Dav Pilkey from his Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta series. Dog Man is a new creation of George and Harold, the "creators" of Captain Underpants. The story is that they created Dog Man (the comic) long before, put it away and forgot about it, only to rediscover it later. And we are all the better for it! (Too much?) Just say so.

2. Dog Man (the dog-man) was created when Officer Knight and Greg the Dog were in a terrible accident and to save them, Greg's head was sewn onto Officer Knight's body. It turns out that Greg was quite a bit smarter and Office Knight tougher so this really was the perfect match.

3. Their nemesis is Petey the Cat, who operates out of a Secret Lab. This volume has four Dog Man adventures, including my favorite, "Weenie Wars." Will their be a second Dog Man collection? Yes, there will!

4. Dog Man is laugh out loud funny. I was an obsessive comic book kid, sneaking them home under my shirt, everything from Betty and Me and The World of Jughead to Spooky Spooktown and Little Dot's Uncles and Aunts. I got a little older and moved onto DC comics but they were generally not of the Dark Knight scary variety. My favorite stories were from the 60s, when thing were just a little bit sillier, even Batman. Have you ever read vintage Legion of Super Heroes? "I am Matter Eater Lad and my super power is eating garbage!"* That kind of thing. Not so different from Dog Man, right?

5. Just to make sure, I test-marketed the book on Eleanor, a ten-year-old I know, who also thought it was quite funny. Two thumbs up!

6. Dav Pilkey's appearance is going to be one of the hottest tickets in town. you'll even be able to pose with a Captain Underpants character.

7. Several kids will get Boswell gift cards at this event!

8. The Greenfield Performing Arts Center is also known as the auditorium for Greenfield High School. It's across the street from the Meijer that's under construction, not all the other Meijers.

9. Pilkey does not personalize but he will draw a picture in one book per attendee.

10. Our cosponsors for this event are the Greenfield Public Library and Greenfield School District. But please remember the event is not at the Greenfield Public Library but at Greenfield High School (Performing Arts Center). 4800 S 60 Street. Got it?

11. One last note - please be aware of the start time. We did have one error go out with a sign that said 7 pm. It's 6:30!!!!!! Come early for the best parking and the best seats. And while we have a large venue for this event, we will close the doors if we reach capacity.

*Matter Eater Lad has an environmental quality I don't think we appreciated at the time.

Here's what's been selling at Boswell, week ending October 22, 2016, plus links to a ton of book features in the Journal Sentinel

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett (event last week)
2. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (event last week)
3. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (both Woodson and Whitehead are shortlisted for the National Book Award)
5. Hag Seed, by Margaret Atwood (in the Hogarth Shakespeare series)
6. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
7. The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue
8. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. Thrice the Brinded Cat Mewd, by Alan Bradley

Fans of Emma Donoghue's newest, The Wonder, include Stephen King, who recommended the book in The New York Times Book Review. He wrote that The Wonder "is a fine, fact-based historical novel, an old-school page turner (I use the phrase without shame). Donoghue’s grave consideration of the damage religion can do when it crosses the line into superstition lifts the narrative rather than weighing it down. In that way — as with her sturdy narrative prose, gilded about with the occasional grace-note — it also reminded me of The Razor’s Edge, only turned inside out. Maugham’s book is about the power of spirituality to heal. Donoghue has written, with crackling intensity, about its power to destroy."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Hungry Heart, by Jennifer Weiner (event last week)
2. Dogs As I See Them, by Lucy Dawson (Ann Patchett rec)
3. Cook's Science, from America's Test Kitchen (Jack Bishop event this past week)
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond (Patchett rec)
5. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
6. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (Patchett rec)
7. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
8. Black Earth, by Timothy Snyder (Event)
9. Much Ado, by Michael Lenehan (event at Boswell on December 5)
10. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky

I bet you want to know a little more about Dogs as I See Them, the collection of pet portraits and notes from Lucy Dawson. It was the work of a portraitist in the 1930s and went out of print in 1950. Patchett agreed to write the introduction, and talk about it at her event. We were warned that she had sold out every event, so we brought in more than anyone else had sold to date, 55 on top of the copy we had for stock. We're up to 58 now, which makes us the #2 store on Above the Treeline (we can guess who is #1) and if we have momentum like Jeanette Haien's The All of It, we might well sell another 50+ copies. Plus the sequel, Dogs Rough and Smooth, comes out November 1.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Arrow: The Dark Archer, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (still playing at the Downer)
3. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
4. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
5. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
6. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
7. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (in store lit group meets November 7)
8. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild (in store lit group meets December 5)
9. French Rhapsody, by Antoine Laurain (event today at 3)
10. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain (same here)

If you follow social media, you may already know that French Rhapsody's Antoine Laurain flew into O'Hare on Saturday, where we drove him to Milwaukee and did a little Milwaukee culture - and by that I mean the Harley Davidson Museum, Conejito's, cracker crust pizza at Pizza Man, and a bar. I didn't do the last one but I was pushing for Wolski's. For those wondering if the books are being adapted, there's a television movie of The President's Hat, a forthcoming feature film of The Red Notebook, and a British mini series adapting French Rhapsody, so that might be British Rhapsody. And yes, at least one of Laurain's older novels, The Portrait, should be in English by summer. And yes squared, signed copies of the three books in English are available now.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Black Earth, by Timothy Snyder (daytime event last Wednesday)
2. Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder
3. People of the Way, Dwight Zscheile
4. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett (event last Wednesday)
5. Conservative Counterrevolution, by Tula A. Connell (event last Monday)
6. America's Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (event last Thursday)
7. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
8. Why not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
9. WTF?! What the French, by Olivier Magny
10. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It's just coincidence that we're selling WTF?! so well with Antoine Laurain coming to town. Magny, author of Stuff Parisians Like, looks at the modern idiosyncrasies of France in his new collection. As one reviewer noted, it's a little crankier than the previous volume.

Board books and picture books for kids:
1. Room on a Broom board book, by Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler
2. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts
3. How to Dress a Dragon, by Thelma Lynne Godin, with illustrations by Eric Barclay
4. Bad Kitty Scaredy Cat, by Nick Bruel (event 10/28, 6:30 pm, at Boswell)
5. Good Night Little Sea Otter, by Janet Halfmann, with illustrations by Wish Williams
6. Because of Thursday, by Patricia Polacco
7. Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson, with illustrations by E.B. Lewis
8. 10 Little Ninjas, by Miranda Paul and Natt Wragg
9. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Gold Beook, by Geoff Smith
10. Baby Says Moo, by Joann Early Macken, with illustrations from David Walker

This is just a preview of last weekend's SCBWI-Wisconsin conference in Green Lake. We had some presales on the titles that were rung in before the event, including 10 Little Ninjas from Miranda Paul, Baby Says Moo, by Joann Early Macken, and Good Night, Little Sea Otter, from Janet Halfmann. Expect to see more from these authors next week.

Chapter and YA Books for Kids:
1. Behind You, by Jacqueline Woodson (event last Friday)
2. Brown Girl Dreaming in paperback, Jacqueline Woodson
3. Conjuror, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barromwnan
4. Brown Girl Dreaming in cloth, Jacqueline Woodson
5. Thor's Hammer, by Rick Riordan
6. Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey (event Monday, 10/24, tonight, 6:30 pm, at Greenfield Performing Arts Center)
7. The Littlest Bigfoot, by Jennifer Weiner (event last Tuesday)
8. The Girl who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
9. Bjorn's Gift, by Sandy Brehl
10. Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier

Can we give you more reasons to come to the Dav Pilkey event at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center? I am going to try in the next blog post. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Conjuror, the first entry in the YA series, The Orion Chronicles. It features the twin heroes from the middle grade Hollow Earth series (a little older) plus Remy Dupree Rush, a new conjuror who can control music the way the Calder twins could manipulate art.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, two fall titles get the front cover treatment of TAP Weekly. Glen Jeansonne's Herbert Hoover: A Life, is a fresh look at the 31st president. Jim Higgins notes that "Jeansonne reminds readers who only remember Hoover as the president swept out of office by the Great Depression and FDR of his accomplishments, including leading the relief effort to feed starving Belgians during World War I, an dof his impact as secretary of commerce under Calvin Coolidge." Our event with Jeansonne is on Tuesday, November 1, 7 pm.

Per Higgins, Place Names of Wisconsin, by Edward Callary, "researches the origin of more than 2000 city, town, village, lake, and river names in our state, adding a pronunciation guide where necessary."

The authors of Milwaukee's Frozen Custard, Kathleen McCann and Bobby Tanzilo, "trace the history of the treat that took over Milwaukee, including a look at famous local joints Gilles, Leon's, and Kopps." We're hosting an event with the authors on November 22, 7 pm.

Another book that's sure to get a lot of attention is Jeff Pearlman's Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre. Higgins notes: While Favre did not talk to the author for this book, Pearlman interviewed hundreds of other people, including Favre's mother Bonita. He handles the troublesome strains of Favre's story, including his Vicodin addiction and alcohol abuse and his womanizing, without flinching but also with prurience, treating them as part of this impulsive, often messy life." It's "perspective out outside the Packerland bubble." The Elm Grove Library is hosting Pearlman on Tuesday, November 1, 6:30 pm.

Here's a Journal Sentinel review from Gary D'Amato in the sports section of Gunslinger.

Michael Schumacher, "who previously chronicled the fates of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Carl D., continues his Great Lakes shipwreck series " with Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man's Survival on the Open Sea. His event at Boswell is November 15, 7 pm.

Also featured is Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest, from Geri Schrab and Robert Boszhardt, who "provide archaeological perspective and documentary photographs."

But no, that's not the TapBooks page! Featured there is Jim Higgins's poetry column on two local writers, Susan Firer, whose newest is The Transit of Venus, and Where Are We in This Story?, by Sarah Rosenblatt.

Of The Transit of Venus, "that title phrase also evokes her life with her husband, James Hazard, a well-known poet and writer who died in 2012." Our event with Firer is Thursday, November 3, 7 pm.

Of Rosenblatt, Higgins notes that the author "extends a family tradition of multidimensional creativity...her succinct poems read calmly, even when addressing unpleasantries. Rosenblatt is at Boswell on Friday, November 4, 7 pm.

Mike Fischer in the Journal Sentinel reviews Jonathan Lethem's A Gambler's Anatomy. It's the story of Alexander Bruno, a competitive backgammon player who develops a brain tumor and faces "an evil nemesis named Keith Stolarsky, who idolized Bruno in high school and now relishes the chance to prove that he himself has come out on top in life's game of chance."

And finally, from the print edition of the Journal Sentinel, a review from Newsday's Stephan Lee of The Wangs vs. the World, the first novel from Jade Chang. Lee calls the book "jam-packed with misadventures and unplanned excursions as the Wang family crisscrosses the United States in their increasingly crowded vintage station wagon...even when it's a little too much, it dazzles you with its uniquely American charm and confidence."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Event watch: Tula Connell on 1950s Milwaukee, Jennifer Weiner with Jim Higgins, Jack Bishop on cooking secrets, Jacqueline Woodson's coming-of-age novel, Antoine Laurain's new French novel, and more

The first thing we need to tell you about our upcoming events is that our morning with Patricia Polacco, scheduled for Saturday, October 22, 11 am, has been postponed due to illness. We do not have a new date for Polacco, who was visiting to talk about her new book, Because of Thursday, but if we're able to get one, we'll be sure to let you know.

Monday, October 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Tula A. Connell, author of Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee

In the 1950s, Milwaukee's strong labor movement and socialist mayor seemed to embody a dominant liberal consensus that sought to expand the New Deal. Tula A. Connell explores how business interests and political conservatives arose to undo that consensus, and how the resulting clash both shaped a city and helped redefine postwar American politics.

Labor writer and historian Connell focuses on Frank Zeidler, the city's socialist mayor. Zeidler's broad concept of the public interest at times defied even liberal expectations. At the same time, a resurgence of conservatism with roots presaging twentieth-century politics challenged his initiatives in public housing, integration, and other areas. As Connell shows, conservatives created an anti-progressive game plan that undermined notions of the common good essential to the New Deal order. It also sowed the seeds for grassroots conservatism's more extreme and far-reaching future success.

As one critic noted, this never came up in Happy Days!

Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A ticketed evening with Jennifer Weiner, author of Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, in conversation with the Journal Sentinel's Jim Higgins.

Tickets are $28 and include admission, all taxes and fees, and a copy of Hungry Heart. Tickets are still available. On the evening of the event, a $20 Boswell gift card is available in lieu of the book.

You know Jennifer Weiner as many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and per The New Yorker, an unlikely feminist enforcer. She’s also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current runner; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. Here, in her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins it into a collection of essays on womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron.

From Michelle Ruiz's profile in Vogue Magazine, on Good in Bed being slapped with a "chick lit" label: "That was very disheartening. I just thought I was writing a coming-of-age novel. At first, as I say in the book, there wasn’t a lot of stigma attached to that kind of book. When Melissa Bank and Helen Fielding published their novels, it was sort of like, “fun, breezy, very relatable, very authentic.” It wasn’t like you were the necrotizing, flesh-eating virus that was going to take literature down. But by the time Good in Bed came out, the market was inundated with all of these books, some of which were terrific and some were a little more disposable than others. And that’s when chick lit came to mean disposable, beach-blanket fluff, with no depth or insight or meaning."

From Jim Higgins's profile in the Journal Sentinel: "Weiner classifies her own popular novels, including Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, as romances, and has become a prominent scourge of media that she and many others believe fall short of fair coverage of books by women and for female readers. But a hypothetical syllabus for the Jennifer Weiner School of Writing would draw from every part of the literary ecosystem: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, "for pacing and for plot, for when in a story you do your big reveal"; Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, "for all the tricks he uses to bring hell to life"; Eloisa James, "for how to write a sex scene — what you say and what you don’t say and how sometimes what you don’t say is just as powerful as what you do."

Revisit this blog post with more Weiner details.

Alas, our event with Ann Patchett in conversation with Jane Hamilton on Wedensday, October 19, 7 pm, is sold out. That said, if you'd like to see Jane Hamilton, the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books has a ticketed keynote event in Waukesha on Friday, November 4, 7 pm.

We'll have signed copies of Commonwealth for sale after the event.

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Jack Bishop, Chief Creative Officer of America's Test Kitchen, presenting a talk on Cook's Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Our Favorite Ingredients

From the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, and the best-selling The Science of Good Cooking, comes an all-new companion book. Each chapter explains the science behind one of the 50 ingredients in a short, informative essays. Topics range from pork shoulder to apples to quinoa to dark chocolate, before moving onto an original (and sometimes quirky) experiment, performed in our test kitchen and designed to show how the science works.

From Kristine M. Kierzek's column in the Journal Sentinel: "Jack Bishop is a curious and detailed cook, but he’ll be the first to admit he’s not a professional chef. In fact, he uses that to his advantage in his role at America’s Test Kitchen, where he regularly asks, “But would a home cook be able to do that?” Bishop, the chief creative officer at America’s Test Kitchen, has been with the company since 1992. Along with the magazines, television programming and online content, the company has published nearly 100 cookbooks over the past decade. This year alone, they’ll be releasing 13 new titles.

"The latest, Cook’s Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Your Favorite Ingredients is the first in a new series from America’s Test Kitchen ( It features more than 300 recipes aimed at curious cooks who want to know the whys and hows of cooking, with detailed explanations that go straight to the science behind kitchen success."

As always for free events, we will close to additional attendees if we reach capacity.

Friday, October 21, 6:30 pm, at Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St:
Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn.

The Young People's Poet Laureate and winner of the National Book Award for Young People for Brown Girl Dreaming presents her first novel for adults in 20 years. Another Brooklyn is a national bestseller, the #1 Indie Bound pick for August, and short-listed for the National Book Award (this time in the category of fiction for older people)

This event is cosponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library and YWCA Southeast Wisconsin. The Executive Director, Paula Penebaker, will introduce Woodson at the event.

I love Another Brooklyn! Here is my recommendation: "August is a girl in Brooklyn, living with her father and brother. She peers out the window at the life going on around her, seeing the other girls – Angela the dancer, Gigi the actress, Sylvia with the parents with big plans for her – who would one day be her friends. She tells her story to us in dream-like incidents, a free verse kaleidoscope of the hardscrabble Brooklyn neighborhood where her father, a Nation of Islam convert, tried to keep the family same, and the memories of SweetGrove, the place they were from, the kind of place where girls would be sent when they went too far with their boyfriends.

"Woodson vividly creates an urban neighborhood in the 1970s, a time of blackouts and white flight, of soldiers lost in Vietnam and mothers lost in random violence. Another Brooklyn is the story of a women looking back, trying to figure out the moment when she became who she is today, in a place that is as much a lost memory as Tennessee. It’s a dreamlike prose poem, the kind of book where your only response after finishing it is to start again from the beginning." (Daniel Goldin)

A signing will follow!

Saturday, October 22, 1-4 pm, on Downer Ave:
Haunted Halloweeen

Head on over to Historic Downer Avenue to trick-or-treat at our businesses, enjoy the amazing Halloween-themed artistry of over 10 chalk artists, buy your pumpkin at St. Mark's Church, and even drink New Belgium's Pumpkick, a pumpkin flavored beer that is tapped directly out of a pumpkin while being serenaded by our Dracula Accordion player!

Vote for your favorite pumpkin from our businesses as they compete to win our carving contest this year while you earn your chance to win great prizes. Kids can enjoy their own chalk drawing area plus Face Painting by Jess. This is a FREE event and fun for the entire family. Don't be scared- join us!

Sunday, October 23, 3 pm, at Boswell:
Antoine Laurain, author of French Rhapsody, The Red Notebook, and The President's Hat

This event is cosponsored by Alliance Française de Milwaukee

First the bad news. We're almost out of Laurain's books in French and the distributor didn't have any more either.

Now the good news! Antoine Laurain is one of the most charming authors ever and if you've never read one of his novels, you're in for a treat.

Here's my take on French Rhapsody" "When Doctor Alain Massoulier gets the letter in the mail, telling him that Polygram Records would be interested in meeting with the Holograms to discuss a record contract, he doesn’t know what to think. After all, the letter arrived 28 years late. But his first thought is where is his copy of that tape? And his second thought is to find the group members. But the Holograms are no longer close – the drummer is now a contemporary artist, the bassist a populist politician, the lyricist an antiques dealer, and the producer a business tycoon. The keyboard player has abandoned France for Thailand. And the singer? There’s no trace of her. This wonderful novel has all the French charm we’ve come to expect from Antoine Laurain, but it’s also surprisingly timely, with the political climate of both France and the United States being reflected in the plotline. Like his previous novels The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook, French Rhapsody is about a quest, but this is not just a search for a music tape, it’s a search for the soul of France itself." (Daniel Goldin)

Clearly this is one of the greatest weeks in the history of Boswell for authors.

Monday, October 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Gavin Schmitt, author of Shallow Grave: The Unsolved Crime That Shook the Midwest

An upright citizen kidnapped in public and dumped in a shallow grave. A police chief’s wife arrested for murder. A mobster kidnapped and threatened by the FBI. And an ongoing corruption probe looking at everyone from the lowest bookie all the way up to judges and prosecutors. What is going on in small town America? This is what happens when you are caught between a rock and a hard place, or the Milwaukee Mafia and the Chicago Outfit. The Midwest’s two most powerful gangs are fighting over territory and no one is safe. Shallow Grave features a series of colorful characters and shines light on the gritty creatures who live under the rocks of even the most innocent of cities. Follow the exploits of the police, FBI and Bobby Kennedy himself as they try to put together the pieces and catch the bad guy if they can.

Gavin Schmitt is also the author of Milwaukee Mafia: Mobsters in the Heartland, as well as the Milwaukee Mafia entry in Arcadia's Images of America series. He also wrote the entry for Neenah.

Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm, at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center, 4800 S 60 St, just off Layton Ave:
Dav Pilkey, author of Dog Man and the Captain Underpants series.

Some of our best kids' events are at the Greenfield Public Library (thanks, Emily and Peter!) but when it came to Dav Pilkey, we worried that we'd not have enough space, since both our events with Lincoln Peirce and Lauren Tarshis were packed to the rafters. But fortunately, the Greenfield Library had another space up their sleeve, the Greenfield Performing Arts Center at Greenfield High School. Now we can fit 700 people, and you know what? We might still hit capacity. Pilkey's Dog Man is the first in a series and it's so good. Barb, Todd, and I all read it, as did Amie's daughter Eleanor. Her take? It's very funny. It's comic written by Pilkey favorites George and Harold. Dog Man has the head of a police dog and the body of a police man and will stop at nothing to foil the evil antics of his nemesis, Petey the Cat.

From Booklist, the publication of the American Library Association: " From the doodle-scratch art and jumbled panel borders to crossed-out words with simulated grammar and spelling lapses to the generous helpings of potty humor, the book feels like a frantic message of delirious imagination from one child to another. In truth, it's the work of Pilkey who, in the relentless style of his own Captain Underpants series, has again fired an arrow of joy straight at the fevered childhood psyche of millions of readers. And as with the good captain, this will prove a groaning burden for many adults and an utter, unfettered delight for kids."

This event is cosponsored by the Greenfield Public Library and the Greenfield School District. This event is free.

And after that? We don't have an event on Tuesday, October 25, giving us a little time to catch our breath.