Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back to school: Upcoming events from Bob Miller of Flatiron, Benjamin Percy, Augustus Rose, Bill Goldstein on classic writers, Yanick Lahens, and a shout-out for Anderson's Tom Perrotta event

Every year around this time, and then again around Christmas, my goal is to outreach to the various English and creative writing programs around town, and also writing groups, and let them know who we have coming who might be of interest. Of course we could just list every event, but we have to filter. So here are five authors coming to Boswell, plus one author where it might be worth it to drive a little out of your way.

1. Monday, August 7, 7 pm, at Andersons in Naperville: Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher'. I have been so excited about Mrs. Fletcher since I read it last winter. We put together a strong proposal for an event, but well, there are probably 30 metro areas larger than us, and Mr. Perrotta was doing perhaps ten of them, and it's a good guess that it's more like 8 or 9, and is probably spending multiple nights in some of the larger markets. When I put it that way, isn't it amazing we get to host anybody?

I would drive the two hours or so to get to Andersons if I wasn't hosting our In-Store Lit Group. We're discussing Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley, another writer with major television ties. Fargo, meet The Leftovers. But I am, so I'm not. But you can go. Just tell Perrotta that Boswell sent you, and know that Andersons asks you to buy the book from them to get on the signing line. If you're not going, buy it from us. There's a New York Times review from Chris Bachelder and a profile from Alexandra Alter, which for some reason isn't indexted as of this morning.

2. Wednesday, August 9, 7 pm, at Boswell: Bob Miller, the publisher of Flatiron Books. I know this the kind of event you're all going to embrace, an insider's look at books and publishing. Bob Miller has had a formidable career in publishing, from his start as an assistant at St. Martin's Press, through stints at Dell (now part of Penguin Random House), HarperStudio, Hyperion (now part of Hachette), and Workman. He has seen it all. And now he's used all that knowledge and experience to head up Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan.

Named after the historic building in which the company is housed, Flatiron Books is committed to publishing intelligent fiction and nonfiction with commercial appeal by authors with distinctive voices. Flatiron’s editors include Amy Einhorn (fiction), Will Schwalbe (cookbooks), and Sarah Dotts Barley (young adult). And many of you have already met Schwalbe when he visited Boswell for his recent collection of personal essays, Books for Living.Yes, I'm sure you just heard that Macmillan will be moving to lower Manhattan in 2019.

I am so excited about this talk! We've got a great collection of books we'll be discussing at Boswell's front register display.

3. Thursday, August 10, 7 pm, at Boswell: Benjamin Percy, author of The Dark Net. Percy's novels keep me up nights. Why? Because I second-guess our decision to not have a horror section. His newest explores the deep web and its particularly unsavory guest, the dark net. But what if there weren't just trading platforms for sex and drugs, but things even more terrifying? The Dark Net also came out on August 1 and has already received nice advance reviews, such as this from Library Journal: "Percy turns in a fast-paced dark thriller with crisp, honest dialog and well-imagined characters. His premise is fanciful yet anchored in believability."

You should know, however, that Percy has a long and successful carerr teaching writing, including a stint at Marquette University. His writing essays, Thrill Me, have proven to be quite popular, and I recommend them highly. But Percy's writing has veered from academic to graphic, as he's now penning comics for DC, most notably Green Arrow and Teen Titans. We've been talking this up to area comic book shops, noting that the event has no signing restrictions, and yes, you can bring in your comics to get signed that you bought at Turning Page, Collectors Edge, Lost World of Wonders, or Vortex.

For all of you who didn't buy tickets to Stephen and Owen King in time, maybe it's time to discover a new author!

4. Tuesday, August 22, 7 pm, at Boswell: Augustus Rose, author of The Readymade Thief. Speaking of thrillers, Augustus Rose's novel is one, sort of akin to The Da Vinci Code (being a puzzle novel with an artist, Marcel Duchamp, at the center of it) and some other novels of this sort, like The Rule of Four and The Eight. I think it's time to trot out the Colson Whitehead quote: ""In his highly addictive and multi-faceted first novel, Augustus Rose pits an irrepressible and gritty young heroine against a sinister group of fanatics. The Readymade Thief is a kickass debut from start to finish."

Head to the item page to read Jason's full review, but his elegiac "Such a brilliant journey" sort of says it all--this is a strong chase novel, with philosophical overtones, and a very interesting tour of the architectural ruins of Philadelphia. The book is Indies Introduce and Indie Next, and I should also note that for purposes of this blog post's theme, Rose is a lecture at the University of Chicago Creative Writing Department. And his wife is Nami Mun, who was one of our first visitors to Boswell back in 2009 for Miles from Nowhere.

5. Monday, September 11, 7 pm, at Boswell: Bill Goldstein, author of The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature.

To my knowledge, Bill hasn't been teaching at the university level yet, but that may soon change with the release of his new book about the birth of literary modernism. Let me just take a quote at random, like this from Edmund White: ""This is a brilliant book about the birth of modernism, one which taught me something on every page. I never knew what a life-changing influence Proust had on Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster - or how everyone struggled with money, especially T. S. Eliot. This beautifully written book reveals how artistic innovation occurs in the real world of gossip, love affairs, poverty and class differences. You will feel - and be! - much smarter after you read it."

I think the beauty of this book is that it takes classic books and novelists and shows how they connect to contemporary fiction. It's fascinating the way Forster, Wolff, Eliot, and Lawrence all were dealing with change, in this case brought forward through James Joyce's Ulysses and Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. We're excited because this talk also ties in to the Literary Journeys program that meets at the Whitefish Bay Library; this fall they are discussing E.M. Forster's Howard's End. Registration opens August 29. Contact Jane for details.

And I should also note that all you folks interested in writing will be fascinated by Goldstein's career: Starting at Publishers Weekly, he's had stints in book publishing and newspapers, including The New York Times on the Web, where he was the founding editor of the books site. He now has a recurring guest slot on Weekend Today in New York, where he reviews books. But his academic chops are also formidable: He received a PH.D in English from City University of New York Graduate Center in 2010, and is the recipient of writing fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Ucross.

Oh, and he got me my first job in publishing. Did I mention that?

6. Saturday, September 23, 11 am, at Boswell: Yanick Lahens, author of Moonbath, which is translated from the French Bain de Lune. Lahens is appearing at Boswell with the cosponsorship of Alliance Francaise de Milwaukee, the French Consulate of Chicago, and The French Program at UWM. Lahens will also be appearing on the UWM campus on Friday.

Winner of the Prix Femina (some of you may know that's a French award that can go to someone of any gender, but the judging panel is all female) and the French Voices Award, La Monde called it "a novel of violent beauty" and the critic in Les Echos proclaimed "Everything is there, the content, powerful, and the style, poetic."

I haven't read this yet, but the plot goes like this: "After she is found washed up on shore, Cetoute Olmene Therese, bloody and bruised, recalls the circumstances that led her there. Her voice weaves hauntingly in and out of the narrative, as her story intertwines with those of three generations of women in her family, beginning with Olmene, her grandmother." What a wonderful opportunity to see a very special writer.

I could continue, but I think six events is enough to absorb for one blog post.

Photo credits!
Tom Perrotta, Ben King
Bob Miller, Adrian Kinloch
Ben Percy, Arnab Chakladar
Augustus Rose, Nathanael Filbert
Bill Goldstein, Ben Hayes

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