Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Event alert! Former bookseller Marjorie Robertson at Boswell on Friday at 2 with her novel "Bitters in the Honey," plus Journal Sentinel book picks from today and last Sunday

Just one event this week!

Friday, December 29, 2:00 pm, at Boswell:
Marjorie Robertson, author of Bitters in the Honey

Remember the days of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops downtown? In the mid-eighties, there was a store in the Grand Avenue, and in 1985, the store on Fifth and Wisconsin moved to the Iron Block building at the corner of Water and Wisconsin. If that seems weird, there were also two Woolworths, two Limiteds, and two Radio Shacks.* This was the downtown when Marjorie Robertson worked at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops over two runs, one at each location.

Robertson left Milwaukee to travel and travel she did, but now she's back to read from and discuss her new novel, Bitters in the Honey. The novel, a semifinalist in the 2014 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition, is a multi-voice, coming-of-age story about loss, guilt, the beauty of nature, and the ambiguity of good and evil. It is set in the Midwest in the 1970s, and per the author, “It speaks to a different time in our region, a kind of hat tip and reminder of customs and lifestyle.”

For Lana Sutor, anchorless since the death of her father in Vietnam, her new life on her grandparents’ farm is idyllic. While her mother and grandmother strive to maintain a sense of normalcy, Lana and her brother and sister are left to make their own adventures as they cope with grief. It turns out her alcoholic grandfather is no replacement for her father, but a new farmhand, despite his unfamiliar face and ragged looks, might fill the bill. He earns the trust of Lana’s family, leading to a surprising turn of events.

Robertson grew up on Milwaukee's East Side, attending Hartford Elementary School and Riverside High School. She graduated from the University in Chicago, has an MA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. She teaches at UC Irvine and is working on a novel based on her short story, “The Gleaners,” which was published by the Santa Fe Writers Project.

Catching up at the Journal Sentinel, I missed a local review from Jim Higgins on The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History. He writes: "As a historian, Bailey is determined to keep lifting that blanket of silence and uncover the humanity of people it obscures." If you're interested in Bailey's work, she'll be at a conference at Alverno College in March.

Also included is a gift book roundup by Christopher Borrelli. It originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune and was titled "17 books for the non-reader." So these books are not for you!

Today in the Journal Sentinel is a feature on the book Mexicans in Wisconsin. Bill Glauber writes: "The story (Sergio) González tells in his book Mexicans in Wisconsin, from Wisconsin Historical Society Press, is one of perseverance and struggle, family and faith, stretched across more than 130 years. In many ways, it's a history that is both personal and universal."

*Don't get me started. I started thinking about all the clothing stores that catered to business folk and detoured on a history of Brill Brothers. To think that they were big enough to have a separate warehouse in the Clarke Square neighborhood. And how were the Brills of Brill Brothers and Harleys related? I couldn't glean anything from the obituaries I found. Calling John Gurda!

No comments: