Monday, February 27, 2017

Events blast off: Michael Newman on videogames, Kelly Jensen and Mikki Kendall offer advice to young feminists, Christina Baker Kline on "Christina's World" at the Lynden, Will Schwalbe's reading list, and Nickolas Butler multi-generational story set at Scout camp

Here's a preview of upcoming Boswell events:

Tuesday, February 28, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Newman, author of Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America.

From Michael Z. Newman, Associate Professor and Chair of UWM's Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies, comes a book about the emergence of video games in America, from ball-and-paddle games to hits like Space Invaders and Pac Man. Atari Age shows their relationship to other amusements and technologies, and how they came to be identified with middle class, youth, and masculinity.

From Atari Age: "Video games' identity was established within a cluster of contexts. The arcade and home of the 1970s and early '80s were distinct spaces, and in some ways opposites. In popular imagination, as we have seen, the arcade was a potentially threatening destination frequented especially by teenage boys. It was assocaiated with pinball, an amusement with a historically low cultural reputation associated with gamblers and crime, situated within a masculinized public sphere unless banned, as it was in many cities. The home, by contrast, was idealized as a sanctuary of safety and comfort for the family, a feminized public sphere....This masculine character of video games would always be in tension with the settings in which games were typically experienced."

From Al Alcorn, developer of Pong: "Atari Age examines the impact early video games had on culture and their effects both positive and negative on society. Michael Newman chronicles a history of early games and how their nature and focus created an acceptance of computer technology by society at large. The tension between the positive and negative aspects of the new medium are well illustrated by showing how arcades evolved from dark unsavory places to clean welcoming places that women might frequent. This is a fascinating and well-researched book that is sure to be important in the history of video games.”

Thursday, March 2, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Kelly Jensen, editor of, and Mikki Kendall, contributor to Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak about Feminism for the Real World.

From Laurie Halse Anderson to Roxane Gay, Courtney Summers and more, 44 writers, dancers, actors, and artists, contribute essays, lists, poems, comics, conversations, and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. Together, they share diverse perspectives on and insights into what feminism means and what it looks like.

From Mikki Kendall's "Facets of Feminism": "My feminism is rooted in the women who raised me and the celebrities and historical figures I looked up to as a kid. Strong women who, even if they never explicitly called themselves feminists, certainly worked toward racial and gender equality. Josephine Baker, Queen Latifah, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and so many other strong women influenced my approach to feminism. They taught me that working toward equality meant taking as many roads as were available, and foraging new ones whenever necessary."

Mikki Kendall is a writer, diversity consultant, and facilitates discussions on intersectionality, policing, gender, sexual assault, and other current events. Kelly Jensen is a former librarian-turned-editor for Book Riot and Stacked. She's the author of It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader.

Sunday, March 5, 2:00 pm reception 2:30 pm talk at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd, produced by Milwaukee Reads:
A ticketed event with Christine Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World

Bestselling author of Orphan Train, delivers a novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth. A Piece of the World is the story of Christina Olson, the complex woman and real-life muse Andrew Wyeth portrayed in his 1948 masterpiece Christina’s World. The painting — which features a mysterious woman in a pink dress sitting in a field, gazing at a weathered house in the distance - is an iconic piece of American art and hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of their permanent collection.

From Christine Brunkhorst's review in the Star Tribune: "As Christina tells the story, as her young and old selves converge, there is a steady progression, a sort of painful trek along a dark and narrowing path. But when Wyeth appears — with his vivacious wife, Betsy, and his gift of observing the world — the landscape brightens, and there is light in Christina’s world...Like Wyeth’s paintings, this is a vivid novel about hardscrabble lives and prairie grit and the seemingly small but significant beauties found there."

Tickets for this event are $30 and $25 for members, and include a book, admission to the grounds, and light refreshments. For more details and purchasing information please visit the Lynden Sculpture Garden’s website or call 800-446-8794

Monday, March 6, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Will Schwalbe, author of Books for Living.

From the author of the beloved best-selling The End of Your Life Book Club, an inspiring and magical exploration of the power of books to shape our lives in an era of constant connectivity. Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape from reality? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big and small questions about how to live his life.

From Tim O'Connell in the Florida Times Union: "Books for Living is such a personal book. In it, author Will Schwalbe tells us how certain books added to and changed his life. The authors of these books were his teachers, they offered solutions to his problems and he is forever the grateful student. He is the consummate bibliophile, one who has to have books to live. 'I believe that everything you need to know you can find in a book.' Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we’ve loved and lost and figure out how to live each day more fully. Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: 'What are you reading?'"

In addition to his books, Will Schwalbe has worked in publishing at William Morrow, Hyperion, and Flatiron, is the founder and CEO of, has worked as a journalist.

Schwalbe and I will be guests on The Kathleen Dunn Show on Monday, March 6, 2 pm, with host Kate Archer Kent.

Tuesday, March 7, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Nickolas Butler, author of The Hearts of Men.

An epic novel of intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp from the bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs. Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.

From Nick Butler's interview with Mike Harvkey in Publishers Weekly, when asked if The Hearts of Men is a lament: "Clearly we’re in danger of losing the natural world—and our connection to the natural world, which is maybe what’s hurrying its demise. Over the last five years I’ve been interested in Japanese poetry, and samurai and other warrior cultures, and thinking about what it means to have a code of conduct or morality. I wonder if in our own society having a code is even possible anymore. Or what people would think of you if you told them you had a code. It’s not that I’m dogmatic or politically conservative by any stretch, but I think it’s commendable for a person to have a vision for how they want to live their life."

This is such a great book and apparently, I am one of Butler's biggest fans, as I got the Indie Next quote for the second Butler novel in a row, this time for The Hearts of Men. Here's the list of Indie Next reviews for March, including mine, which we reprinted last Friday.

Now that the event is coming up, I have been thinking about camp and nature and all the creative things I could have done for this event. But we are serving s'mores, or a variation thereof, since I have no campfire at Boswell.

Oh, and if you didn't read it, here's my blog post about my two stints in the Boy Scouts.

And don't forget that we're selling books at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's event at the Milwaukee Theater, also on Thursday, March 2, 7 pm, This event is sponsored by UWM's Muslim Student Assocation and Student Involvement. Tickets are $20 general admission at the door, with discounts for students and advance purchase. And yes, a signing will follow, but please note there are signing restrictions. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar will only sign hardcover editions of his books. Boswell will be providing three recent titles for sale.  More info here.

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