Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ten Things to Know About Jennifer Weiner's Ticketed Event at Boswell on Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm.

Ten things to know about our ticketed event with Jennifer Weiner on Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm, in addition to the regular things to know, like her new book is Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, and that tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets are $28 including the book.

1. Bibliography! Jennifer Weiner's been pleasing fans since the release of her first novel, Good in Bed, in 2001. She followed that up with In Her Shoes, which became a beloved movie starring Camron Diaz and Toni Collette. Her most recent novel for adults is Who Do You Love. She has ten novels in print altogether, plus one collection of stories, The Guy Not Taken. As a bookseller, I don't pay much attention to ebooks (as we can't sell them very well, with apologies to Kobo). But if you are hungry for more Weiner, there is Good Men, which is a prequel  to Good in Bed, and five other stories.

Jennifer Weiner has also just released her first novel for kids, The Littlest Bigfoot. It's going to be a movie!

2. Jennifer Weiner's been standing up for people since she was in college and protested same-sex eating clubs. You'd know this if you read her new book. She's used traditional and new media to make the argument that women and men don't get treated equally when it comes to book coverage. For those who argue that chick lit and romance aren't worthy of serious coverage like literary novels, why do equally escapist thriller, predominantly written by men, get serious attention in mainstream media that eludes not just romance and chick lit, but the softer genre mysteries written more often by women?

3. I'm not very good at social media, but Weiner is a Twitter phenom with 135,000 followers, particularly for a writer who doesn't have her own line of clothing and a reality show (yet). To put it in perspective, we have 3000 followers. Lately we've been focusing on Instagram, where we have...65 followers.  Check out Weiner's Instagram feed too.

4. I love memoirs in the form of essays. Two of my previous favorites are Aleksandar Hemon's The Book of My Lives and Elinor Lipman's I Can't Complain*. What I  like about these kinds of books, including Jennifer Weiner's new Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, is take nonfiction works that were written for all sorts of reasons and published in all sorts of places, and lay them out so that it becomes the writer's life. Weiner's parents grew up in Detroit but they moved to a town outside Hartford, Connecticut. Her dad eventually abandoned the family, and much later than that, her mom came out.

Weiner went through what a lot of kids go through, and some things that not every kid goes through, and sadly, some things that we now accept go on a lot more than we think, like bullying and weight shaming, particularly from her dad. One really great essay in Hungry Heart shows that at least for her, acceptance came with not really caring what other people thought. It's a tough lesson, sort of like the one where people tell you that you'll fall in love when you're not looking.

5. What else is in Hungry Heart? Other essays deal with having having a working journalism and then writing career, marriage and divorce, raising her two daughters, watching a film get made of one of her books, watching it not do as well as everyone hoped. I don't know if you're aware of this, but we're in a romantic comedy drought. What's happening? Can we have a comedy where people don't have bodily fluid issues? Has psychological suspense taken away this market? No more When Harry Met Sallys, no more Sleepless in Seattles, no more Knocked Ups. I can't find the article that I read about this, but here's one from L.A. Weekly in 2014.

That's too bad, because I often opined the difficulty in having a successful romantic comedy become a bestseller, but I always thought, at least there's film possibilities. But now, not so much.

6. Critical Reception. Daniel, what are folks saying about this book?

From Wild author Cheryl Strayed: “Hungry Heart is a fiercely funny, powerfully smart, and remarkably brave book. With candor, wit, and insight, Jennifer Weiner writes beautifully about her darkest struggles and brightest triumphs, about growing up and getting on with it, about gaining and losing, about herself and also—ultimately—about all of us. I was spellbound by Hungry Heart from the first page to the last.”

From Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Eligible and American Wife: "“Haven't we all wondered exactly how the many-splendored Jennifer Weiner became so many-splendored? This candid, poignant, and very funny memoir tells all, and I'm confident other readers will be as fascinated and moved by it as I was.”

From Publishers Weekly's starred review: "“In this generous, entertaining memoir, novelist Weiner known for her plus-size heroines, authentic voice, and hilarious one-liners, offers her fans and others a front-row seat to the drama of her life. Weiner doggedly pursues her dream of becoming a writer who speaks to women's lives, insisting—and proving— that women's stories matter.“

7. Will I enjoy my evening with Jennifer Weiner? Why not take a test drive. Watch a little of this great interview on CBS News with Gayle King. They talk about the first time her daughter used the "f" word, and by that, I mean "fat."

8. Do we have a great interview partner or what? We have so many great folks to work with in Milwaukee for our events, but when Journal Sentinel Assistant Entertainment/Features Editor (we're also allowed to call him the Book Editor) and I began chatting, I realized he was the perfect fit for Weiner. What I love about Higgins is that he is a true book lover and a great critical thinker, but his interests go far and wide. He can write about poetry and genre fantasy with equal conviction. He understands that every kind of writing has its own guidelines for success and has never fallen into that critical trap of treating women writers as second class citizens. While we don't always agree, I always respect his opinions. Let's hear it for discourse!

It's also important to know that Jennifer Weiner's earlier career was in the newspaper business, and that Higgins in his career used some of her pieces at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

9. The history of Jennifer Weiner at Boswell. This is Weiner's first visit to Boswell but she actually appeared once at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop on Downer Ave. All I know is that I had a car and I didn't know the neighborhood and I got there late and I had trouble parking...and so I didn't attend.

Don't let this happen to you! For one thing, nobody told me what I can now tell you. When parking, don't do what most visitors do and head north (lots of restaurants) and west (apartments with relatively few off-street options) of the store, and instead head east (houses with alleys and garages) and south. The best spots are on Downer Avenue, south of Bradford, near the Gilman Triangle and Eastcast Place Senior Living Why didn't I understand this?

I should also note that there's now a parking garage across the street where there was a small lot previously. It's not a cheap lot and we don't reimburse for parking, but the truth is that the roof parking is actually quite cheap.

10. When we were working to set up the event, we were told that Jennifer Weiner likes a little treat at her event. Now I have quite the sweet tooth and could probably write for months on Milwaukee's dessert history, but for this event, we decided to get a tray each of two of my current favorites. The first is the incredible Outpost Natural Foods brownie (no nuts, chocolate chunks, a hint of coffee, said to be passed down from a famous now-closed bakery) and the other is the Beans and Barley poppy seed torte, which we're serving as mini cupcakes. It's got the richest butter cream frosting and is dense with poppy seeds, so dense that I'd advise not eating one before a drug test.

Tickets are still available for our event on October 18, 7 pm, so I'm making another plug. Is there a $20 Boswell gift card option in lieu of the book on the night of the event? Yes, there is.

*Sorry about the typo! I blame the two other folks in my life with the other (wrong) spelling.

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