Monday, August 27, 2018

Two Chris picks for the week of August 27: Rebecca Makkai on August 28 and James R. Gapinski on August 30

We've got two events this week and both books have the special seal of approval from marketeer Chris Lee.

Tuesday, August 28, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers, in conversation with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich

The acclaimed author of The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House returns to Boswell for a special evening of conversation about her latest, a dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy, set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris. For this event, Makkai will be in conversation with Mitch Teich, the award-winning Executive Producer of WUWM’s Lake Effect.

Here's what Boswellian Chris Lee has to say about this epic novel: "The Great Believers is the kind of book that reminds me why I love reading in the first place, a book that lets you live a part of someone else's life. It's the kind of book that throws open the door of a world and welcomes you inside. It's about Yale Tishman in Chicago in the 80s, as his art world career begins to take off, watching his friends - his family (one genius conceit of the novel is the family saga structure Makkai uses to tell these friends' story) - decimated by the AIDS crisis during its American height. And there's a second storyline, 30 years on, as Yale's dear friend Fiona searches for her runaway daughter in Paris, pulling old friends back into her orbit as she comes to terms with the toll of losing those closest to her decades before - there's a devastating understanding in this book that the damage of PTSD comes from more than one kind of war. This is a beautiful, heart wrenching, and true novel."

Chris isn't the only believer in Rebecca Makkai's third novel, which has received raves from Daniel and Lynn in house. For example, Michael Cunningham in The New York Times Book Review wrote: "The Great Believers is peppered with surprises, a minor wonder in a narrative so rife with dreadfully foregone conclusions. As is true of many good novels, writing about it requires considerable navigation around spoilers. Suffice it to say that in the mid-80s sections the grim reaper runs rampant, but there’s no telling who’ll be felled and who’ll be spared. The 2015 sections are, in their way, a detective story. How, after all, does a mother locate her adult daughter, knowing only that she’s somewhere in Paris?"

In addition to her novels, Makkai is also the author of the story collection Music for Wartime. Her work has appeared in several Best American anthologies as well as Tin House, Ploughshares, and Harper’s.

Thursday, August 30, 7:00 PM, at Boswell:
James R. Gapinksi, author of Edge of the Known Bus Line.

Former Milwaukeean James Gapinski catches a ride to Boswell with his newest book, Edge of the Known Bus Line, winner of the Etchings Press novella prize.

Here's Chris's take on Edge of the Known Bus Line: "A horrible little adventure, funny, dark, and weird, just the way I like 'em. On her way home from a shift at the deli, our heroine is left for dead in a mud-caked shantytown where depressed cannibals worship the prophecy of a probably imaginary bus. It's the kind of scene I used to dream up on deliriously hot summer camp days, out in the woods, staring at the sun, imagining a band of people cut off society, trying to make sense of it all while also trying to stay alive. It's a story about survival, about holding onto hope against all odds that there's someday an escape from the life you've been dropped into, about the way that hope alienates you, and about the monster you might become. And it's about tripping on psychedelic spider venom. This one goes by fast, but it sticks with you and leaves you thinking, maybe being a monster isn't the worst thing."

Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels, says, “this is a bus we’ve all been on, and this is a town we all carry around with us. The only question is: will James R. Gapinski let us out where we want, or where we deserve?”

James R. Gapinski is author of Messiah Tortoise, a collection of linked flashes, and his work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Word Riot, and Juked. He is Managing Editor of The Conium Review, holds an MFA from Goddard College, and an MA from Prescott College. While in Milwaukee, he worked with acclaimed poet Margaret Rozga.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Boswell bestseller bonanza for the week ending August 25, 2018

Boswell bestseller bonanza for the week ending August 25, 2018.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
2. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
3. Ohio, by Stephen Markley
4. The Other Woman, by Daniel Silva
5. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
6. Circe, by Madeline Miller
7. The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
8. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh
9. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
10. Desolation Mountain, by William Kent Krueger (event at Boswell Sat Sep 29, 3 pm)

Ohio is in the spotlight, as it's the setting for not just Celeste Ng's perennial bestseller Little Fires Everywhere but also Stephen Markley's first novel, which is touted by Boswell's Chris Lee: "Ohio is a portrait of incredible depth that tells the truth of a generation doomed from the start but still swinging for the fences as they run out the strings of their wrecked lives." Jeff Baker in The Seattle Times calls Ohio "a big novel about what happened after 9/11, the initial euphoria and the long depression that grips us still."

Hardcover Fiction:
1. How the Right Lost Its Mind, by Charles J. Sykes
2. Misdemeanorland, by Issa Kohler-Hausmann
3. Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda
4. Unhinged, by Omarosa Manigault-Newman
5. Educated, by Tara Westover
6. The Fall of Wisconsin, by Dan Kaufman
7. The Chapo Guide to Revolution, by Chapo Trap House
8. Atlas Obscura, by Dylan Thuras et al (Register here for Greenfield Library event, Tue 9/18, 6:30 pm)
9. The Tangled Tree, by David Quammen
10. From the Corner of the Oval Office, by Beck Dorey-Stein

We're definitely cosponsoring an event with Issa Koehler-Hausmann for Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing, as part of the Frank Zeidler Annual Lecture. The date is now likely to be Monday, October 8 and the new location will be announced shortly. Sam Roberts in The New York Times noted that some of her findings can be provocative such as: "Most police practices are intended to reduce violence and social harm, Ms. Kohler-Hausmann acknowledges, and, indeed, the chief beneficiaries have been residents of poor and minority neighborhoods where crime is disproportionately high."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Girl Waits with Gun V1, by Amy Stewart
2. Lady Cop Makes Trouble V2, by Amy Stewart
3. Miss Kopp's Midnight Confession V3, by Amy Stewart
4. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
5. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
6. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
7. Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
8. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney
9. Galahad's Fool, by Bishop and Fuller
10. Edge of the Known Bus Line, by James Gapinski (event at Boswell Thu 8/30, 7 pm)

My reading percentage of the top 10 jumped 10% in the last 24 hours as I closed the book on Sing, Unburied, Sing. We'll be discussing it Mon at 7 at Boswell for the In-Store-Lit Group. October's selection is The Essex Serpent, November's is Daniel Mason's The Winter Soldier, and December brings us #7, Hotel Silence. You can bet I'll be watching this PBS Newshour video where Ward answers readers questions for the program's book club.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Children Save Yourselves, by Ronald J. Berger
2. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Call Them by Their True Names, by Rebecca Solnit
5. The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring
6. Little Walks, Big Adventures, by Erin Burh
7. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
8. A Year in the Wilderness, by Amy and Dave Freeman
9. The Pigeon Tunnel, by John LeCarre
10. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises from Rebecca Solnit has a staff rec from Conrad Silverberg, who says: "Let's face it, sometimes we need someone to point out that the arguments that lie ahead are not to be made couched in disinterested rhetoric, and that our opinions can be conveyed effectively with passionate insistence and not, was we might otherwise be inclined, through reptilian disinterest. This is precisely what is needed to face our possibly grim future with eyes wide open." Solnit recently was featured in the By the Book column of The New York Times.

Books for Kids:
1. Illegal (paperback), by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano (Register for this event on Thu 9/13, 6:30 pm, here)
2. Illegal (hardcover), by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano
3. How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens, by Paul Noth
4. Rough Patch, by Brian Lies
5. Old Hat, by Emily Gravett
6. Bear and Hare Go Fishing, by Emily Gravett
7. The Field, by Baptiste Paul, with illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantara
8. Magical Love Box, by Mary Reinhart, with illustrations by Shawn McCann
9. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
10. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

Brian Lies's Rough Patch is featured on the Fall 2018 Indie Next Kids List and it has a rec from Boswell's Jen Steele: "Evan has lost his faithful companion and nothing can help ease his pain, not even the garden where Evan and his dog enjoyed most of their time together. But something extraordinary is happening in that neglected garden. Something that will help ease Evan's pain. Rough Patch is a thoughtful and impressive picture book about friendship and loss. Brian Lies gives us a picture book that will pull at the heartstrings!"

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins highlight 17 books to look out for this fall. Read more about each book in this seasonal roundup.
--Ball Lightning, by Cixin Liu
--The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, by Maxwell King
--Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, by Mark Leibovich
--Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military, by Neil de-Grasse Tyson and Avis Lang
--The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, by Joanne B. Freeman
--A Lakeside Companion, by Ted J. Rulseh
--The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World, by Sarah Weinman
--Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan
--The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the 20th Century, by Deborah Blum
--Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
--A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult (Tickets for our Sun 10/21 event here)
--Virgil Wander, by Leif Enger (Register for this free event on Wed 10/17 here)
--Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami
--Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon
--The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
--Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life, by Jane Sherron De Hart
--Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce, by Colm Tóibín

And from USA Today, Mary Cadden discusses how Shari Lapena's An Unwanted Guest is an update of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

Monday, August 20, 2018

This week at Boswell: Ronald J. Berger, Amy Stewart (ticketed), and Bishop and Fuller

This week! Ronald J. Berger's Holocaust story, presented by HERC, then our ticketed evening with Amy Stewart, author of the Kopp Sisters series and numerous other nature bestsellers, and then Bishop and Fuller return to Milwaukee for the Fringe Festival, detouring to Boswell for their novel.

Tuesday, August 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Ronald J. Berger tells his family’s compelling true story of two Jewish brothers who survived the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Poland.
This event is cosponsored by Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.
Berger’s father endured several concentration camps, including the infamous camp at Auschwitz, as well as a horrific winter death march. His brother, the author’s uncle, survived outside of the camps by passing as a Catholic among anti-Semitic Poles, including a group of anti-Nazi Polish partisans, eventually becoming an officer in the Soviet Army. The book traces the defining prewar, wartime, and postwar events that marked their extraordinary lives.
Ronald J. Berger is Professor Emeritus at UW-Whitewater. He has published numerous books and articles on topics that include crime and criminal justice, disability, and the Holocaust. Originally from a Jewish community in Los Angeles, he lives in McFarland, WI.

A ticketed event with Amy Stewart, author of Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions
Wednesday, August 22, 7:00 pm, at Boswell
We’re celebrating the paperback release of the third book in the series, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, and pre-celebrating the September 11 release of #4, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit. And speaking of things that won’t quit, we’re celebrating the success of the first two books in the series, Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble. So mostly, we’re just celebrating.
This is a ticketed event - $17 includes admission and a paperback. Available at Choose from Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, or Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions. For a fourth option, attendees can purchase admission, cover all taxes and fees, and get a pre-release copy of the forthcoming hardcover, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit for just $24. That's right! You can get a copy of the latest Kopp Sisters adventure before its release date in September, but this option is only available at the event.
Here's proprietor Daniel Goldin's take on Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit: "While escorting two inmates-to-be to the Morris Plains asylum, Deputy Sheriff Constance Kopp is forced to pursue one of them into a muddy river when he escapes. But it’s charge number two that’s got Kopp flummoxed – Anna Kayser just doesn’t seem crazy, and when she confesses that it’s her fourth visit to the asylum, each time at her husband’s bequest, Kopp decides to do some investigating. Meanwhile, her boss Sheriff Heath is running for president and while his designated replacement seems all but assured, a rival is now arguing the jail is poorly run and no place for a woman to work. All this, plus a new war-related pigeon project for sister Norma and some glamorous work at the Fort Lee Hollywood studio for Fleurette. Stewart’s excellent fourth entry in this historical series is just the right blend of thrills and humor, and you’ll no doubt be incensed by the period treatment of women. And yes, all the cases are based on true events. Great for readers of historical fiction, mystery, or Stewart's nonfiction!"
Amy Stewart is the award-winning author of seven books, including her acclaimed fiction debut Girl Waits with Gun and the bestsellers The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants. She and her husband, based in Portland, Oregon, own the bookstore Eureka Books in Eureka, California.

Bishop and Fuller, authors ofGalahad’s Fool
Thursday, August 23, 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller, founding members of Milwaukee’s experimental Theatre X, have toured America since 1969 as actors, playwrights, and puppeteers. Returning to Milwaukee for this year’s Fringe Fest, they will appear at Boswell with their novel, Galahad’s Fool, which offers a glimpse of backstage reality unadorned by glitter but blessed with a hardscrabble magic.
A year after the death of his co-creator and soul mate Lainie, a grizzled, acerbic puppeteer struggles to build a solo show. What Albert Fisher intends as a lightweight spoof turns sharply personal as he labors to birth a raw myth of love and loss.
Albert’s aging Galahad, no longer a glittering hero, launches a second mad quest for the Grail. To follow him his wife secretly changes guises with their frail, androgynous Fool. As the performance evolves, Albert finds kinship with Galahad’s despair and dogged vision, opening himself to the risk of new love.
Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller have created more than fifty plays and four radio series. Their books include the novel Realists and memoir Co-Creation: Fifty Years in the Making.

More upcoming events on Boswell's, wait for it, upcoming event page.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending August 18, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending August 18, 2018

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Cherry, by Nico Walker
2. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
3. There, There, by Tommy Orange (register for Tues, Sep 25 event here)
4. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
5. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh
6. Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk
7. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
8. A Double Life, by Flynn Berry
9. The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
10. Noir, by Christopher Moore

In The New York Times, Alexandra Alter writes about Cherry, the new novel by Nico Walker: "Mr. Walker, 33, wrote the novel while serving an 11-year sentence in a federal prison in Kentucky, after pleading guilty in 2012 to robbing 11 banks around Cleveland during a four-month spree. His case puzzled prosecutors at the time, because he was such an unlikely criminal. He came from an affluent, supportive family, and was a war veteran who had received seven medals and citations for service in Iraq, where he went on more than 200 combat missions in 2005 and 2006."

Of the book, Boswellian Chris Lee wrote: "Cherry is Full Metal Jacket for the Iraq War, kicking in doors until it's boring and watching friends die ugly, pointless deaths. But then it comes home to an addict's life of dope boys and thieving, living from shot to shot."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Fall of Wisconsin, by Dan Kaufman
2. Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda
3. Calypso, by David Sedaris
4. High Risers, by Ben Austen (event Mon Sep 17, 7 pm)
5. You Can't Spell Truth Without Ruth, edited by Mary Zaia
6. Llive, Llaugh, Llove Llike a Llama, by Pop Press
7. The Soul of America, by Jon Meacham
8. Famous Father Girl, by Jamie Bernstein
9. Jell-o Girls, by Allie Rowbottom
10. Indianapolis, by Lynn Vincent

Melissa Firman writes about Allie Rowbottom's Jell-o Girls: A Family History in Shelf Awareness: "With candid and unflinching descriptions connecting the history of Jell-O, feminism and her mother's unpublished writings, Rowbottom makes a case that the curse wasn't physical, emotional or confined exclusively to their family. (Pearle Wait, the original holder of the Jell-O patent, went bankrupt shortly after the sale.) Instead, the curse was a repressive societal attitude 'reflected by the messages about women and their worth that her family sold with each box of Jell-O.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
2. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
3. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
4. Beautiful Music, by Michael Zadoorian
5. Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart (Tickets for Wed, Aug 22 event here)
6. Delicious, by Ruth Reichl
7. Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
8. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
9. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward (In-Store Lit Group discussion Mon Aug 27, 7 pm)
10. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

It's almost time for our event with Amy Stewart on Wednesday, August 22, 7 pm (tickets here). While Girl Waits with Gun has been a regular on our bestseller, one of our options for ticket holders is getting the brand new Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit, which releases on September 11. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy where I note: "Stewart’s excellent fourth entry in this historical series is just the right blend of thrills and humor, and you’ll no doubt be incensed by the period treatment of women. And yes, all the cases are based on true events." And Publishers Weekly wrote: "The blend of practicality, forthrightness, and compassion in her first-person narration is sure to satisfy series fans and win new admirers."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Little Walks, Big Adventures, by Erin Buhr
2. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothsein
3. Sacred Fire, by Roland Rolheiser
4. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsberg
5. Long Players, by Peter Coviello
6. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
7. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
8. Meaty, by Samantha Irby
9. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
10. Prarie Fires, by Caroline Fraser

Joining current bestseller You Can't Spell Truth without Ruth, a book of quotes, and a long run for The Notorious RBG is Ruth Bader Ginsberg's collection of writings and speeches, My Own Words, written with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, now in paperback. From Stav Ziv in Newsweek: "Ginsburg wrote the book’s preface, while Hartnett and Williams contextualize each part and the selections, which include law review articles, speeches, briefs and dissents...It’s Ginsburg’s first book since she became a justice two decades ago."

Books for Kids
1. Illegal, by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano (Register for Thu, Sep 13 event here)
2. The Lifters, by Dave Eggers
3. The Inventors at No. 8, by A.M. Morgen
4. Toaff's Way, by Cynthia Voigt
5. The Legend of Greg V1, by Chris Rylander
6. The Unicorn Rescue Society V1, by Adam Gidwitz
7. The Basque Dragon V2, by Adam Gidwitz
8. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
9. If You Had a Jetpack, by Liesl Detlefsen, with illustrations by Linzie Hunter
10. A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade, with illustrations by Melanie Demmer

The squirrel can be a polarizing animal in a bookstore. While one Boswellian has been known to openly proclaim squirrel aversion, our buyer Amie Mechler-Hickson is quite fond of a book that features Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. Just out is Toaff's Way, written by Cynthia Voigt and illustrated by Sydney Hanson. The advance reviews agree. Publishers Weekly writes: "Fans of Voigt's Davis Farm books will relish this newest animal adventure featuring Toaff, a gray squirrel whose curiosity gets him in trouble as much as it brings happy surprises." Kirkus called it "a brilliant, bushy-tailed bildungsroman." I should note that Kirkus did forget to note whether the squirrel was Red or Douglas.

Journal Sentinel TapBooks page back next week.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Display Focus: What to Read After A Gentleman in Moscow

It's been almost two years since the release of A Gentleman in Moscow, and still Amor Towles's second novel continues to show up on hardcover bestseller list. Paperback publication is 2019 at the earliest. And when a book makes that sort of cultural impact, it's time to come up with a "what to read after" list.

This sort of list is very popular on websites that are filled with lists. Here's one that just appeared in Pop Sugar on books to read after Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects. And then another list appeared three days later on Hello Giggles. It's not that I don't use other people's lists to make our list. I cribbed like crazy for our Afrofuturism table*. But when it comes to A Gentleman in Moscow, there are lists on Book Browse and of course Goodreads, but nothing really thought out about what makes A Gentleman in Moscow tick. And I wanted something besides other books that are well written and people like, like Beautiful Ruins. After I thought about it, I saw how Pachinko might fit, but it's not on my list. Here's Indian Prairie Public Library's list.

Of course in this case, we certainly recommend that fans go back to his first novel, Rules of Civility. But as booksellers, we've got to do better than that. I brainstormed with Jane and we came up with three broad categories.

First up - books that have hotels as their centerpieces. I'd been thinking about this table off and on for about a year, but I think one of the things that got me to act was our store's growing passion for Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. The book is being passed from one bookseller to another with ever-increasing enthusiasm. I was just speaking to Nancy, my former Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops colleague who would conspire with several us to sell lots and lots of copies of books we loved, like The History of Love (which you probably know) and Astrid and Veronika (which you likely don't if you're not an old Schwartz customer). I said, "You would love this book," and she said, "I already read it, and I do." That's paraphrased.

Several other books came to mind. There's Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac and Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. But the book that's really taken off from this table in this category is Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel. Baum was an Austrian Jewish writer who was a prolific and popular writer in the twenties (while she was also an editor at a German publishing house). Grand Hotel came out in 1929, was translated into English by Basil Creighton, and became an MGM movie starring Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, and received the 1933 Best Film Oscar. OF the book, Shelf Awareness wrote "Grand Hotel prefigures Downtown Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs by examining multiple characters from different classes (both guests and the hotel staff) in a single-setting microcosm of society and lives up to its reputation as a modern classic."

For a while, Jane kept pointing out how hot Russian literature and history was in inspiring contemporary fiction.Some of the recent releases which had a place at our (display) table :
--The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden (recommended by Jen)
--I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhon
--The Noise of Time, by Julian Barnes
--Patriots, by Sana Krasikov
--The Revolution of Marina M., by Janet Fitch
--The Romanov Empress, by C.W. Gortner.

And finally, a more generalized theme that we selectively used to draw from was the idea of perseverance. We were discussing this when Kathleen Rooney came to visit for Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk***.  I told her about the table I was working on (yes, this was two months ago) and she told me that fans are continuously coming up to her to say that they thought that Lillian was a great follow up to Gentleman. And when I pitched this to Jane, she said, "Absolutely!"

*And convinced a publisher to release an old book in paperback due to its appearance on multiple lists. But that's for another post.

**Thematic resonance. I'm reading a 2019 novel with a similar revelation.

***Speaking of Nancy, she told me that Lillian is still the best book she read this year. I am working on my top 5 for 2018 for Jason (don't ask) and since we're allowed to put one reprint on, I cam close to including this. I always read books on paperback publication, which I'm told is a bit unusual for a bookseller, but between our paperback events and the book club I lead, I find it very useful. Plus my taste can be all over the place in hardcover - sometimes it's better for me to know what other people are generally coalescing around.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

History vs Story: What Did the In-Store Lit Group Think of Killers of the Flower Moon?

Killers of the Flower Moon is one of those books you don't need to hear more about. David Grann tells the little-known history of the Osage Tribe and what happened to them after they resettled in a little-wanted piece of Oklahoma, which happened to be oil rich. Having read the book, the comparison to Devil in the White City is more apt than ever  - the true crime lures you in, and the history comes along for the ride. And while the second half of the story, about the birth of the FBI, is fascinating, it's this unburied story of America's treatment of Native Americans that is vital to our understanding of the present.

As one person said, you start out thinking it's a whodunit, and by the end you're wondering "Who didn't dunnit?"

Grann had great success with his previous history, The Lost City of Z, also a national bestseller and the source of a 2018 film. But Killers of the Flower Moon reached a whole new level of fame, shortlisted for the National Book Award and reaching #1 on the paperback New York Times bestseller list.

Here's Greg Curtis writing about the book in The Wall Street Journal: "Reading Mr. Grann’s writing has long given the same pleasure as reading a stylish, finely crafted detective story. It’s no accident that a collection of his stories from The New Yorker and other magazines is titled The Devil and Sherlock Holmes : Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession. And like a master of the detective story, Mr. Grann knows to save the best for last. That is where his meticulous, patient, detailed and often inspired research finally penetrates through the fog of lies and conflicting evidence to the hard ground of truth."

Hoover! It's fascinating what he did with the FBI. You can see how his attempt to bring law and order to the West also planted the seeds for his future problems. And the story is fascinating in how much change happens in the story. Tom White enters the FBI a cowboy and leaves a paper pusher. In that way, I was reminded of the changes the Akhar people went through in a few short years in Lisa See's The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. We think we're dealing with change at a greater magnitude than the past, but history is filled with this kind of thing.

Can I just say that Tom White was an amazing person? I think I was almost more stunned by the way he handled the Kansas prison riot after he left the FBI than I was by his tenaciousness in pursuing the killers of Mollie's family.

So did the In-Store Lit Group like the book? Yes, it was almost unanimous and we had one of our biggest turnouts of the year. But it was the remark of one of the attendees who had mixed feelings that got me thinking. Killers of the Flower Moon is so successful because it manipulates the structure of the story for maximum effect. The coda of the story, at the Osage History Museum, is actually the beginning. People who turn out to be criminals are described in less than heinous brushstrokes. Clues are sprinkled into the story, not piled on. Is that bad if it got us to not only read the book, but recommend it to others?

Contrast this book to an equally worthy tome that just came out, The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality. Historian Anna-Lisa Cox has been unpacking a story even more forgotten than Grann's. At least in Grann's case, the Osage still remembered. In the case of Cox's, historians have greatly underestimated the number of black pioneers and what led them to disappear into history. But unlike Grann, she had to cut her story to fit a smaller page count. There is more academic explanation, and there needed to be room for notes and references. I found the story fascinating, and passed my copy to friends at the America's Black Holocaust Museum. Cox's version of history much better explains the rise of the KKK in Indiana and environs.

The truth is that The Bone and Sinew of the Land has a story no less fascinating, uncovering history that needs to be told. But the style is for a completely different audience. I said to Cox "There's a trade book in this source material for you to write" and one day she might write it.

Upcoming In-store Lit Group discussions at Boswell:
--Monday, August 27, 7 pm - Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
--Tuesday, October 2, 7 pm - The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
--Monday, November 5, 6 pm - The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason
--Monday, December 3, 7 pm - Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
Please note the next three meetings all involve a change of date or time.

Upcoming Sci-Fi Book Club discussions at Boswell:
--Monday, September 10, 7 pm - The Space Between the Stars, by Anne Corlett
--Monday, October 8, 7 pm - An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon
--Monday, November 12, 7 pm - Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz
--Monday, December 10, 7 pm - The Freeze-Frame Revolution, by Peter Watts

Upcoming Books and Beer Book Club discussions at Cafe Hollander:
--Monday, August 20, 7 pm - Mister Monkey, by Francine Prose
--Monday, September 17, 7 pm - Bannerless, by Carrie Vaughan
--Monday, October 15, 7 pm - The Impossible Fortress, by Jason Rekulak
I will be attending the Mister Monkey discussion. I just finished it!

Upcoming Mystery Group discussions at Boswell:
--Monday, August 27, 7 pm - Death in Nantucket, by Francine Mathews
--Monday, September 24, 7 pm - The Dry, by Jane Harper
--Monday, October 22, 7 pm - Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke

Links to all the books on our Boswell-run book club page.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Event alert: Peter Coviello and Michael Zadoorian, Still Waters poets, Erin Buhr

Wednesday, August 15, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Peter Coviello, author of Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs, in conversation with Michael Zadoorian, author of Beautiful Music

Peter Coviello, whose previous work tackled Steely Dan, Prince, and the history of sexuality, memoir joins Michael Zadoorian, author of the novel that became this year’s film from Sony Pictures Classics, The Leisure Seekers for an evening of music-inspired fiction and

Coviello’s memoir Long Players considers grief and the things that keep us alive, namely sex, talk, and dancing. It’s about the different ways we have of falling in love: with bands and songs and books, but also with our friends, lovers, the families we imagine, and the families we make. It’s a story of heartbreak, (ex)stepparenthood, and the limitless grace of pop songs for anyone who has loved a record like their life depended on it.

Here's my take on Beautiful Music: It’s late 1960s Detroit and young Danny Yzemski listens to CKLW on his radio. Dad loves music too, but his sound of choice are the beautiful music instrumentals that we now call elevator music. And mom? She sits on the couch drinking and ranting. Danny has to swerve to avoid the bullies at school and work both, and only his friendship with a tall kid with a white boy Afro who shares his taste for Iggy Pop, NME, and secret record runs to Korvettes (a discount department store), keep him sane. Let’s just say that things get worse before they get better, with the family disintegrating and racial tensions ratcheting up at school. Beautiful Music (told in rat-a-tat, diary-like entries) is both funny and poignant, nostalgic and surprisingly of the moment. Danny messes up sometimes, but you’ve got to give this kid props for trying." (Daniel Goldin)

Peter Coviello, Professor of English at University of Illinois at Chicago, has written about Walt Whitman, Mormon polygamy, and Prince, and his work has appeared in The Believer, Raritan, and Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as in several books, including Tomorrow's Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America. He was also a 2017-18 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Michael Zadoorian the author of The Leisure Seekers, Second Hand, and The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit. Zadoorian is a recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and the Michigan Notable Book Award. His fiction has appeared in the Literary Review, American Short Fiction, and North American Review.

Thursday, August 16, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Still Waters Collective Anthology Contributors to Runs Deep

The Still Waters Collective anthology celebrates our community and writing craft. This event features reading from eight contributors, including Nikki Jansen, Lisa Williams, Isaiah Furquan, Rap Kamasutra,Lybra Olbrantz, Cameron Robertson, Ryeshia Farmer, Nia Mooney, Robert Parker, and DIVA.

Runs Deep is a showcase of poetry and stories inspired by workshops from various Still Waters Collective sponsored programs including: PENtastic, FoxTales, The Write In, Voltage, and High School Slam League. The anthology includes 60 pieces to enjoy, written by teens and adults that tell tales of identity, women’s empowerment, Milwaukee neighborhoods, racial justice, family, love, and more!

Still Waters Collective began as an adult open mic at a Milwaukee nightclub called Mecca. From four poets standing sharing their work around a tall cocktail table, the Still Waters series grew to a weekly institution that nurtured a community for more than a decade.

Friday, August 17, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Erin Buhr, author of Little Walks, Big Adventures: 50+ Ideas for Exploring with Toddlers

Erin Buhr comes to Boswell to take us on little walks that contain big adventures and help parents and guardians teach toddlers about their surroundings through fun and adventurous local explorations, outdoor games, and activities that promote and enhance learning.

While most activity books encourage indoor explorations, countless adventures and learning opportunities await outside! Going for a walk or exploring the local community can bring about much more than just exercise.

Intended for parents and caregivers of children ages 10 months to 3 years, Little Walks, Big Adventures provides at-home or at-school activities that correspond to outdoor explorations, extending the learning opportunities after you return from your adventures. Sections of beautiful photography illustrate various outdoor concepts, from home and community to vehicles to animals.

Erin Buhr has a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education and over 15 years of experience working with young children. More upcoming events on our upcoming events page.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Not-quite-back-to-school bestsellers at Boswell, week ending August 11, 2018

Not-quite-back-to-school bestsellers at Boswell, week ending August 11, 2018

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Lost Family, by Jenna Blum
2. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
3. Dear Mrs. Bird, by AJ Pearce
4. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
5. The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
6. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
7. Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
8. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh
9. The Incendiaries, by Ro Kwon
10. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

The #1 Indie Next pick is The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon and it also makes its first appearance on our top 10. From The New Yorker, Laura Miller offers: "Faith - ts loss, its kindling, and its susceptibility to being twisted into something monstrous - is Kwon’s theme here, but so is grief, which often drives us into faith’s arms. All of the young characters in “The Incendiaries,” students and ex-students at a liberal-arts college in the Hudson River Valley, are, like Will, in mourning, but none more flamboyantly so than John Leal. John, the sort of oddball character who often ends up kicking around college towns - he walks everywhere barefoot - gradually assembles a band of disciples who will, in the course of the novel, morph from a community of Christian seekers into a cult capable of extraordinary violence."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Calypso, by David Sedaris
2. The Fall of Wisconsin, by Dan Kaufman
3. Educated, by Tara Westover
4. Indianapolis, by Lynn Vincent
5. The Soul of America, by Jon Meacham
6. The World As It Is, by Ben Rhodes
7. Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda
8. Dopesick, by Beth Macy
9. You're on an Airplane, by Parker Posey
10. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan

Nowadays, there are so many celebrity memoirs that it's hard for them to stand out. According to Laura Adamczyk in The A.V. Club, You're on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey is the rare celebrity memoir worth reading: "Incorporating goofy collages (many of her dog, Gracie), tossed-off puns ('Being a vampire sucks'), and the occasional recipe (one for a Manhattan with an Atomic Fireball in it), You’re On An Airplane exemplifies Posey’s wry, devil-may-care sensibility, all while describing hobbies like yoga and ceramics, meaningful points in her wide-ranging career, apartments she’s lived in, and her upbringing in Louisiana and Mississippi."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward (In-Store Lit Group discussion Mon Aug 27, 7 pm)
2. Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
3. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
4. Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
5. The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry (In-Store Lit Group discussion Tue Oct 2, 7 pm)
6. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
7. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
8. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
9. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
10. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney

The film Crazy Rich Asians opens this week. Joey Nolfi notes in Entertainment Weekly: "Crazy Rich Asians is enjoying a wealth of adoration from critics as it helps usher in a resurgence of the romantic comedy genre. The Jon M. Chu-directed feature - featuring a predominantly Asian cast including Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, and Awkwafina - has vaulted to an impressive 100 percent fresh rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, notching 21 total positive reviews (with zero negative) thus far."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
3. The Death of Life in the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
4. Black Klansman, by Ron Stallworth
5. They Can't Hunt Us until They Kill Us, by Hanif Abdurraquib
6. The Long Haul, by Finn Murphy
7. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
8. Little Walks, Big Adventures, by Erin Burh (event at Boswell, Fri Aug 17, 7 pm)
9. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
10. Democracy in Chains, by Nancy MacLean

Another big opening this week is Spike Lee's Blackklansman, based on the 2014 book Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime. DeNeen L. Brown spoke to Stallworth for The Washington Post: "Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, was scanning a local newspaper in October 1978 when he spotted a classified ad placed by the Ku Klux Klan: 'For more information,' the ad said, 'contact P.O. Box 4771, Security, Colorado.' Stallworth responded to the ad with a short note," and that was the beginning of the story.

Books for Kids:
1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
2. Illegal, by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano
3. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
4. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
5. Click, Clack, Quack to School, by Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin
6. Endling V1, by Kathleen Applegate
7. A Tale of Two Kitties V3, by Dav Pilkey
8. Encyclopedia of Immaturity, from Klutz
9. Out of the Wild Night, by Blue Bailiett
10. Nightbooks, by J.A. Whie

While Out of the Wild Night, the latest from Blue Bailiett, came out last spring, to me, it's a classic fall title, perfect for Halloween tables. Here's Julia Keller in the Chicago Tribune: "If ghosts were ever to unionize - and can’t you just imagine Local 187 of the International Brotherhood of the Writhing and Shrieking Deceased? - among their demands would be a requirement that Out of the Wild Night be inserted into the backpacks of children everywhere. That’s because the new novel for young readers by Blue Balliett is more than just ghost-friendly. It is passionately, poetically and profoundly pro-ghost. It shimmers and shivers with beautifully wrought passages that turn ghosts into superstars."

Here's what's happening on the Journal Sentinel Tap book page.

--Mary B., by Katherine J. Chen, reviewed by Mark Athitakis (USA Today): "Once Chen leaps past Austen’s plot, Mary B becomes more fully inspired and free to upend Austen’s novel. Darcy’s storied estate, Pemberley, becomes a gilded cage for Elizabeth; Mary’s impetuous sister Lydia, who eloped to London, learns what little support society has for a woman without money or education."

--How to Love a Jamaican, by Alexia Arthurs, reviewed by Jennifer Kay (Associated Press): "A timely exploration of multigenerational waves of immigration, the impact separating families has on children and the desire to be included."

Four debuts from Asian-American writers, reviewed by Grace Li (USA Today)
--If Your Leave Me, by Crystal Hana Kim: "Maneuvers between narrators in this intergenerational saga about the Korean War of the 1950s and the lives caught in it."

--A River of Stars, by Vanessa Hua: "A migrant narrative tenderly constructed around (main character) Scarlett’s quest to carve a life for her daughter and herself at the risk of deportation."

--The Book of M, by Peng Shepherd: "One day, a man in a market in India loses his shadow, and soon, his memory with it. Very quickly, more and more follow, and entire countries collapse as the new 'shadowless' forget their families, their names and their ability to perform basic functions, such as eating. Author Peng Shepherd examines the lengths afflicted loved ones will go to stay together – or split apart."

--Half Gods, by Akil Kumarasamy: "The Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009) serves as both a backdrop and a catalyst for Akil Kumarasamy’s debut, a short-story collection flooded with inspired detail."

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From the Boswell Book Club Newsletter - Hotel Silence

Did you know the Boswell book club flyer is right at your fingertips? The link is right here. Every season we look at new releases for books we've liked that are perfect for discussion. Of course we'd still love for you to visit Boswell to pick one up and browse our recommendations. Don't forget about our book club wall at the front of our store. It shows what registered book clubs around Milwaukee are reading next.

Here's one more book that we think every book club has to read that didn't make summer flier. Hotel Silence was discovered by Boswellian Lynn, the first to write a recommendation. Friend-of-Boswell (and one-time Boswellian) Melissa saw the rec and book and convinced her book club to read it. The book club includes Melissa's spouse Jason, who also happens to be our adult buyer. He passed it to me. I passed it to Jane. Jane passed it to Jen. Now we've got a copy going to Conrad.

The story begins with Jonas's life in tatters. His marriage has ended and his ex-spouse tells him his daughter is not his own. He decides to end his life and takes a voyage to a war-torn country, partly because he won't know anyone and maybe also because nobody will notice. He travels light, ready to finish the job off with his tool box. But after settling in to Hotel Silence, it turns out that tool box is going to change the course of his life. We love that Isabel Berwick in The Financial Times says "Olafsdottir's writing is at once profoundly Icelandic - focusing the reader on all the particularity of life on that isolated island - and universal."

It's also on our A Gentleman in Moscow table, and it's got some shades of A Man Called Ove, and not just because it's translated from Icelandic with the original title Ör. Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir has written a short but powerful, sometimes funny novel about connectivity and finding purpose, no matter where you are in life.

Read the rest of the Boswell book club newsletter here.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Just Because It's August Doesn't Mean There Aren't Book Events to Enjoy: Amy E. Reichert, Jenna Blum, Duane Scott Cerny

Just Because It's August Doesn't Mean There Aren't Book Events to Enjoy!

Monday, August 6, 6:30 pm, at Zablocki Library, 3500 W Oklahoma Ave: The Great American Read presents Amy E. Reichert, author of The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go.

It's time for the Great American Read Summer Reading Picnic at the Zablocki Branch of Milwaukee Public Library. Meet Milwaukee Author Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and other great novels. Amy loves to write stories that end with characters you'd invite to dinner. Reichert will talk about love and its influence on stories.

Bring your lawn chair or blanket, a picnic basket if you want to, and get ready to enjoy a spirited discussion on how books influence our own self-discovery and life journey. Bring any book you are interested in discussing as well. Register here.

This event is also cosponsored by Milwaukee Repertory Theater and and Literacy Services of Wisconsin. Don't forget that after you read (or reread) Pride and Prejudice, you'll want to get tickets for Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley. Get them here.

Thursday, August 9, 7 pm reception, 7:30 talk, at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 West Brown Deer Rd in River Hills:
A ticketed event with Jenna Blum, author of The Lost Family

Milwaukee Reads and Boswell welcome Jenna Blum as a part of the Lynden Sculpture Garden Women’s Speaker Series. Tickets are $32, $27 for Lynden members, and include admission to the event, autographed copy of The Lost Family, and light refreshments from MKE Localicious.

Tickets available for this event online, at

Manhattan, 1965. Patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its Brisket Bourguignon and admire its dashing owner. With movie-star good looks and a tragic past, Peter is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the women hoping to catch his eye. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of a Nazi death camp while his wife, the restaurant’s namesake, and his two young daughters perished.

Then June Bouquet, an up-and-coming model, appears, piercing Peter’s guard. Over the next two decades, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways. Spanning three cinematic decades, from the explosive 1960s to the glittering 1980s, Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by grief, a wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born.

Blum’s novel, which People calls “an exquisite page-turner,” is positioned to be a perfect book club read, and has earned starred reviews from Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly.

Jenna Blum is the international bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers. She has taught novel workshops for 20 years at Grub Street Writers in Boston, where she earned her M.A. at Boston University. In addition to interviewing Holocaust survivors for the Shoah Foundation, Jenna is a public speaker and avid cook: she creates and tests all the recipes in her novels.

Friday, August 10, 3:00 pm, at Antiques on Pierce, 1512 W Pierce St:
Duane Scott Cerny, author of Selling Dead People's Things: Inexplicably True Tales, Vintage Fails and Objects of Objectionable Estates

Boswell and Antiques on Pierce are pleased to cosponsor a lively afternoon of stories from the dead. Duane Scott Cerny is co-owner of The Broadway Antiques Market, Chicago’s oldest and largest vintage shopping market. He’ll give a wry, behind-the-curtains peek into the world of antiques and their obsessive owners, in life and after their passing.

An amusing observer of the human condition, Cerny entertains in illuminating, scary, sad, or frightfully funny resale tales and essays. Whether processing the estate of a hoarding beekeeper, disassembling the retro remains of an infamous haunted hospital, or conducting an impromptu appraisal during a shiva gone disturbingly wrong, every day is a twisted treasure hunt for this twenty-first-century antiques dealer.

While digging deep into the basements, attics, and souls of the most interesting collectors imaginable, traveling from one odd house call to the curious next, resale predicaments will confound your every turn. Be careful where you step, watch what you touch, and gird your heart - Antiques Roadshow, this ain't!

Duane Scott Cerny’s writing has appeared across a myriad media forms, from essays in The New York Times to stage plays, poetry, and musical releases on nearly a dozen international record labels.

Wednesday, August 15, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Zadoorian (right), author of Beautiful Music 
Peter Coviello (left), author of Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs

Michael Zadoorian, author of the novel that became this year’s film from Sony Pictures Classics, The Leisure Seekers joins Peter Coviello, whose previous work tackled Steely Dan, Prince, and the history of sexuality, for an evening of music-inspired fiction and memoir.

Zadoorian’s novel Beautiful Music is a funny, poignant, novel about love, fear, death, race, music, and the intense passions of youth. In 1970s Detroit, Danny Yzemski listens to CKLW on his radio. Dad loves music too - the beautiful instrumentals we now call elevator music. Mom drinks and rants. Danny dodges the bullies at school and work, and things get worse before they get better, with the family disintegrating and racial tensions ratcheting up.

Coviello’s memoir Long Players considers grief and the things that keep us alive, namely sex, talk, and dancing. It’s about the different ways we have of falling in love: with bands and songs and books, but also with our friends, lovers, the families we imagine, and the families we make. It’s a story of heartbreak, (ex)stepparenthood, and the limitless grace of pop songs for anyone who has loved a record like their life depended on it.

Publishers Weekly praised both books, calling Beautiful Music a “raucous bildungsroman… full of energy, pain, growth, and great music,” and saying Long Players is “memorably passionate… a sprawling and tempestuous affair.”

Michael Zadoorian is also the author of Second Hand and The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit. Zadoorian is a recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and the Michigan Notable Book Award. His fiction has appeared in the Literary Review, American Short Fiction, and North American Review.

Peter Coviello, a professor of English at University of Illinois at Chicago, has written about Walt Whitman, Mormon polygamy, and Prince, and his work has appeared in The Believer, Raritan, and Los Angeles Review of Books. He was also a 2017-18 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

More on Peter Coviello's memoir:

--Jennifer Finney Boylan in The New York Times talks about how Coviello coming through his depression through music led her to make her own playlist.

--Large Hearted Boy maps out the Coviello playlist on his blog.

Find out more on our upcoming events page.