Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Boswell Events! Debra Majeed on Wednesday, B.J. Hollars at the Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center Thursday, and Patty Yumi Cottrell next Monday.

Here's what's happening at Boswell this week.

Wednesday, March 15, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Debra Majeed, author of Polygyny: What It Means When African American Muslim Women Share Their Husbands

The first African American and Muslim woman to receive tenure at Beloit College sheds light on families whose form and function conflict with U.S. civil law. Polygyny, multiple-wife marriage, has steadily emerged as an alternative to the low numbers of marriageable African American men and the high number of female-led households in black America.

Featuring the voices of women who welcome polygyny, oppose it, acquiesce to it, or even negotiate power in its practices, Majeed examines the choices available to African American Muslim women who are considering polygyny or who are living it. She calls attention to the ways in which interpretations of Islam’s primary sources are authorized or legitimated to regulate the rights of Muslim women. Highlighting the legal, emotional, and communal implications of polygyny, Majeed encourages Muslim communities to develop formal measures that ensure the welfare of women and children who are otherwise not recognized by the state.

Thursday, March 16, 7:00 pm at Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E Park Pl:
B.J. Hollars, author of Flock Together: A Love Affair with Extinct Birds

After stumbling upon a book of photographs depicting extinct animals, Associate Professor of English at UW Eau Claire's B.J. Hollars became fascinated by the creatures that are no longer with us; specifically, extinct North American birds. And so begins his yearlong journey, one that leads him from bogs to art museums, from archives to Christmas Counts, until he at last comes as close to extinct birds as he ever will during a behind-the-scenes visit at the Chicago Field Museum.

Armed with binoculars, a field guide, and knowledgeable friends, he begins his transition from budding birder to environmentally conscious citizen, a first step on a longer journey toward understanding the true tragedy of a bird's song silenced forever. Told with charm and wit, Flock Together is a moving elegy to birds we've lost, and Hollars's exploration of what we can learn from extinct species will resonate in the minds of readers long beyond the final page.

Suggested general admission is $10 and $5 for Urban Ecology Center members.

Monday, March 20, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Patty Yumi Cottrell, author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, childless, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.

According to the internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for the abyss. Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die. She faces her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and discovers what it truly means to be alive.

Cottrell’s debut has shades of Bernhard, Beckett, and Bowles, but is also a bleak comic tour de force that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, viscerally unsettling, and is the singular voice of Patty Yumi Cottrell.

Here's an early review of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace in the Portland Mercury.

And my take: "She may call herself Sister Reliable, but Helen is anything but, especially as a narrator. Hypersensitive to details, Helen is unable to connect the dots, and the continuous misses create a powerfully hypnotic narrative of estrangement."

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