Monday, September 26, 2022

Five events this week: Tom Perotta (virtual), Toya Wolfe (in-person at Boswell), Matt Cain (virtual), Andrew Sean Greer (ticketed event at Boswell), Jeanée Sacken (in-person at Shorewood Public Library)

Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm
Tom Perrotta, author of Tracy Flick Can’t Win
in conversation with Daniel Goldin for a virtual event - click here to register

We’re pleased to host a virtual evening featuring Tom Perrotta for a chat about his latest, Tracy Flick Can’t Win, his Election sequel that offers a sharp, darkly comic, and pitch-perfect reflection on our current moment. In conversation with Boswell proprietor Daniel Goldin, who has read all ten of Perrotta's novels and story collections.

It's 2017 and Tracy Flick is the hardworking assistant principal at a New Jersey high school. Still ambitious but feeling stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job. But is she really a shoo-in for the principal job? Is the superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President's wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can't she ever get what she deserves?

Flick fans and newcomers alike will love this compelling novel chronicling the second act of one of the most memorable characters of our time. From The New York Times: "Even more piercing than its predecessor... With a lyric, polyphonic intensity, [Perrotta] poses a question to the class: What have we learned?" And from Esquire: "Told with Perrotta’s piercing wit, wisdom, and exquisite insight into human folly, Tracy’s second act delivers acerbic insight about frustrated ambition."

Tom Perrotta is author of ten works of fiction, including Election and Little Children, both of which were made into critically acclaimed movies, and The Leftovers and Mrs. Fletcher, which were both adapted into HBO series.

Wednesday, September 28, 6:30 pm
Toya Wolfe, author of Last Summer on State Street
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts an evening featuring novelist Toya Wolfe with her debut, Last Summer on State Street, a striking coming-of-age novel of friendship, community, and resilience, set in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes where Wolfe grew up. Great for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Brit Bennett. This is one of Daniel's top 10 books of 2022.

Felicia 'Fe Fe' Stevens lives with her family in a high-rise that’s next to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. Along with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, Fe Fe forms a tentative trio with whom she carves out a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls. As their beloved neighborhood falls down, so do their friendships and the structures of the four girls’ families. Decades later, Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.

Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one’s own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home - both in one’s history and in one’s self.

Toya Wolfe earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, and her writing has appeared in African Voices, Chicago Journal, Chicago Reader, and more. She is the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Short Story Competition, and the Betty Shifflett/John Schultz Short Story Award.

Thursday, September 29, 2 pm
Matt Cain, author of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle: An Uplifting and Unforgettable Story of Love and Second Chances
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a virtual event - click here to register

September’s Readings from Oconomowaukee is pleased to reach across the pond once again for an afternoon with British author Matt Cain and his latest novel, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle. Perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman and TJ Klune, this humorous, life-affirming, and charmingly wise novel tells the story of how the forced retirement of a shy, closeted postman in northern England creates a second chance with his lost love, as he learns to embrace his true self, connect with his community, and finally experience his life’s great adventure.

And be sure to order your copy of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle now, too! Click here to order from Boswell. Alternatively, click here and order from Books & Company.

Every day, Albert Entwistle makes his way through the streets of his small English town, delivering letters and parcels and returning greetings with a quick wave and a “how do?” Everyone on his route knows Albert, or thinks they do - a man of quiet routines, content to live alone with his cat, Gracie. Three months before his sixty-fifth birthday, Albert receives a letter from the Royal Mail thanking him for decades of service and stating that he is being forced into retirement. At once, Albert’s simple life unravels. So, rather than continue his lonely existence, Albert forms a brave plan to start truly living, to be honest about who he is, and to find George, the man with whom he spent one perfect spring and summer long ago.

The early praise for this one is outstanding. From Sir Ian McKellen, "This rollicking romance entrapped me! True in its detail and its scope, it is amusing yet heart-breaking." And from The Sun: "Albert is the most delicious character and you'll be with him every step of the way."

Matt Cain is an author and commentator on LGBT+ issues. As a journalist, he was Channel 4's first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, and won Diversity in Media's Journalist Of the Year award. Cain is an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month.

Friday, September 30, 6:30 pm
Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less Is Lost
in conversation with Liam Callanan, In-Person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts Andrew Sean Greer, who visits with his new novel, Less Is Lost, a follow-up to his Pulitzer-winning book Less. In this novel, the lovably awkward author Arthur Less returns for an unforgettable road trip across America. David Sedaris calls it "wildly, painfully funny." Greer appears in conversation with Milwaukee's Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book.

This is a ticketed event, and each ticket costs $23.20 (20% off the list price) plus tax and ticket fee. Each ticket includes admission for one to the event and a copy of Less Is Lost, available for pick up at the event. This event is cosponsored by Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library, and $5 from each ticket will be donated to the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation. So purchase your tickets now! 

For Arthur Less, life is going surprisingly well: he is a moderately accomplished novelist in a steady relationship with his partner. But nothing good lasts: the death of an old lover and a sudden financial crisis has Less running away from his problems yet again as he accepts a series of literary gigs that send him on a zigzagging adventure across the US. With all of the irrepressible wit and musicality that made Less a bestseller, Less Is Lost is a profound and joyous novel about the enigma of life in America, the riddle of love, and the stories we tell along the way.

Early praise for Greer's latest is glowing. How about this, from Booker-winner Marlon James: "Only Arthur Less could be both frustratingly stuck, yet on the move. Let loose, yet totally lost. Full of wit, but without a clue. And while he runs from himself, finds himself at the same time. Put all of that on a wild road trip through a wilder America, and you end up with something hilarious, affecting, and unforgettable." And then there's this, from Circe author Madeline Miller: "It is a deep pleasure to return to the adventures of Arthur Less and his beloved Freddy. Greer is a brilliant storyteller as always, and the joyfulness of this book is a balm. I loved reading it." And if that's not enough, how about this amazing profile in The New York Times and this enthusiastic review in The New Yorker. Greer and Callanan are both writers of wit and charm - can you imagine them together?

Andrew Sean Greer is author of six works of fiction, including The Confessions of Max Tivoli and The Story of a Marriage. He has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, been a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, and been a recipient of a NEA grant and Guggenheim Fellowship. Liam Callanan is Professor of English at UWM and author of three novels.

Monday, October 3, 6:30 pm
Jeannée Sacken, author of Double Exposure
In-Person at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave - click here for more info

Shorewood Public Library presents an evening with Jeannée Sacken for Double Exposure, the sequel to her American Writing Awards Book of the Year, Behind the Lens.

Seasoned war photojournalist Annie Hawkins is under investigation for an incident that happened six months earlier in Afghanistan. Her best friend's daughter is still missing, apparently with her Taliban boyfriend. Her own daughter is fundraising to rebuild the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls and expects Annie to deliver the money. To make matters worse, she and the love of her life are no longer speaking. When Annie returns to Afghanistan to cover peace talks between the government and the Taliban, she takes a side trip to Wad Qol, where she discovers that not everyone wants the new school. Sabotage delays construction, and when a worker ends up dead, it's clear the militants are to blame. It's also obvious that they know exactly where Annie is.

Love in Provence author Patricia Sands says: "Fast-moving, unpredictable, and at times heart-stopping. Sacken’s prose is brilliant." And Maggie Smith, author of Truth and Other Lies, says Double Exposure is full of: "smart narration, nuanced characters, and thought-provoking situations reminiscent of Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns."

Jeannée Sacken is an author and photojournalist who travels the world documenting the lives of women and children. A former English professor, she lives in Shorewood and is currently President of the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library. 

Photo credits
Tom Perotta by Beowulf Sheehan
Andrew Sean Greer by Kaliel Roberts
Liam Callanan by Patrick Manning

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 24, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 24, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lucy by the Sea, by Elizabeth Strout
2. Less Is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer (Tickets for September 30 event here)
3. The Bullet that Missed V3, by Richard Osman
4. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
5. The Old Place, by Bobby Finger
6. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews
7. The Ski Jumpers, by Peter Geye (Register for today's 2 pm event here until 1 - limited walk-up registration available)
8. Fairy Tale, by Stephen King
9. Ink Black Heart, by Robert Galbraith
10. Marple: Twelve New Mysteries inspired by Agatha Christie (no editor listed - I'll do more sleuthing)

Bobby Finger debuts this week with The Old Place, complete with advance blurbs from Emma Straub and Rumaan Alam. Kirkus writes: "In his first novel, New York-based journalist and podcaster Finger delves into the intricate entanglements of a small Texas town with flinty, sharply observed affection. Yes, everyone knows everybody's business in Billington, where gossip is the currency; yes, much of the town's social life during the week in August 2014 when this novel takes place revolves around the annual church picnic; and yes, outsiders are the exception in Billington, where traditional values hold sway. But do not expect cowboy swagger or cartoonish hayseeds from Finger, who grew up in Texas...A surprising page-turner - homey, funny, yet with dark corners of anger and grief."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg
2. What If 2, by Randall Munroe
3. I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
4. The Divider, by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
5. The Mosquito Bowl, by Buzz Bissinger
6. Catching Excellence, by Chuck Carlson
7. The Constitution in Jeopardy, by Russ Feingold and Peter Prindiville
8. Sacred Nature, by Karen Armstrong
9. Indigenous Continent, by Pekka Hämäläinen
10. An Immense World, by Ed Yong

After a relatively light summer of nonfiction (I guess publishers don't see these books for beach reading), serious nonfiction heats up in September. This week saw the release of Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America from Oxford University scholar and Bancroft Prize-winner Pekka Hämäläinen. From Kirkus: "A vigorous, provocative study of Native American history by one of its most accomplished practitioners." And Publishers Weekly: "This top-notch history casts the story of America in an astonishing new light."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Witches of Moonshyne Manor, by Bianca Marais
2. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
3. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
4. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
5. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
6. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
7. This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger
8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9. The Kiss Curse, by Erin Sterling
10. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black

Only one new release this week - The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling. It continues the march of witchy fiction that has come to define Spooktember. Booklist is enthusiastic: "This glittery romance featuring the cousin and brother of Vivi and Rhys from The Ex Hex is truly a delight."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Growing Up Little Chute, by John M Van Lieshout
2. Owning Grief, by Gael Garbarino Cullen (Register for November 11 event here)
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. Invisible Child, by Andrea Elliott
7. Fever of Unknown Origin, by Judith Ford
8. Tacky, by Rax King
9. Fuzz by Mary Roach
10. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake

The Book of DelightsRoss King's exuberant collection of essays, was released in paperback in April after three years, just in time for his newest collection, Inciting Joy, which has a pub date of October 25. From the new book's Kirkus review: "A prizewinning poet's thoughts about grief, gratitude, and happiness... Gay, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, ruminates about joy in a warm, candid memoir composed of 12 essays. In prose that veers between breezy and soulful, the author reflects on a wide range of topics, including basketball, dancing, skateboarding, couples' therapy, music, masculinity, and his father's cancer."

Books for Kids:
1. Best Wishes V1, by Sarah Mylnowski
2. Shot Clock, by Caron Butler and Justin A Reynolds
3. Upside Down Magic, by Sarah Mlynowski
4. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker (signed copies available)
5. Fairest of All V1: Whatever After, by Sarah Mylnowski
6. Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
7. Spy School Project X, by Stuart Gibbs
8. The Girl from the Sea, by Molly Knox Ostertag
9. Moving to Mars, by Stef Wade
10. Noodle and the No Bones Day, by Jonathan Graziano/Dan Tavis

We recently did a virtual school visit with Sarah Mlynowski for Best Wishes, her latest. From Kirkus, a bestseller annotator's best friend, so it appears: "Be careful what you wish for. Becca, who lives on New York City's Upper West Side, is planning a sleepover for her 10th birthday. But her best, and only, friend, Harper, seems uninterested, admitting that she has a new best friend. After the two have a falling out, Becca is truly friendless. Everything changes when she receives a mysterious box containing a magic bracelet with a poem saying that the bracelet will ease her sadness and will provide a single wish. She is instructed to mail the bracelet forward when it is no longer needed...A coming-of-age tale told with humor, compassion, and more than a touch of magic."

Monday, September 19, 2022

Eight events this week: Marie Kohler (in-person), Elizabeth Strout (virtual), Bianca Marais (ticketed in-person), John M Van Lieshout (in-person), Mark Bergen (virtual), Judith M Ford, Francie Dekker, and Peter Geye (all in-person)

Monday, September 19, 6:30 pm
Marie Kohler, playwright of Boswell
in-person scene reading at Boswell - click here to register until 5:30 pm.

Milwaukee-based playwright Marie Kohler visits Boswell for a presentation and dramatic scene-reading from her play titled, aptly for us, Boswell. This event is a special preview to the play’s Off-Broadway run.

Kohler’s Boswell is set in the 1950s when an American graduate student discovers lost journals from James Boswell’s wild and woolly Tour of the Scottish Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. She falls in love with the lively narrative and the possibility of a more authentic life.

The Edit gives Kohler’s play 4 stars, and calls it: "an excellent example of history being brought to lifeand it undoubtedly is a fabulous platform for the talent it showcases." And from Broadway Baby, which also gives the play 4 stars: "There is an infectious energy and clear commitment to detail in this production: it is very well loved and immaculately researched...and playwright Marie Kohler certainly seems to enjoy the opportunities to draw out elements of bawdiness and humour to lighten the earnest literary tone."

Marie Kohler is a director, writer, actor, dramaturg, and award-winning playwright. Kohler is a co-founder of Renaissance Theaterworks, where she served as Co-Artistic Director from 1993-2012 and Resident Playwright from 1993-2020. She is a freelance writer for local and national publications and has been Playwright Respondent and Director Respondent at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She was named Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board in 2005, and Friend of the Arts in 2020.

We are close to capacity on this event. Much of the store will be closed to browsing after 6 pm.

Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm 
Elizabeth Strout, author of Lucy by the Sea
a ticketed virtual event - purchase a ticket here

Boswell is happy to join a group of independent bookstores around the country to present a special virtual launch event for Elizabeth Strout, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of novels such as Olive Kitteridge, My Name Is Lucy Barton, and Oh William!. Strout appears to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, Lucy by the Sea. In conversation with Pico Iyer. 

Tickets start at $28 plus ticketing fee and include access to the virtual event and a copy of Lucy by the Sea, which can be picked up at Boswell Book Company or, for an additional fee, shipped via USPS media mail. A very limited number of autographed copies are available to the first folks to purchase tickets! 

Strout's latest is a poignant, pitch-perfect novel about a former couple (Lucy Barton and her first husband William) in lockdown together - and about the love, loss, despair, and hope that animate us even as the world seems to be falling apart. As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Here's Daniel Goldin's take on Lucy by the Sea: "Starting moments after the close of Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout’s latest finds Lucy Barton in lockdown with her first husband William in a small town in Maine. The joy of Lucy is in her astute observations; the peril is that her heightened sensitivity and sometimes passive nature can lead her into many a fraught relationship. I loved the way Strout showed that Lucy is a citizen of Strout’s Yoknapatawpha, with appearances not just by Bob Burgess, but also Olive Kitteridge’s aide at the assisted living center. Reading Lucy by the Sea recaptures every small memory of early COVID, from the panic about surfaces and the desire to escape urban environments to the eventual politicization of the virus, so beautifully that I was willing to relive them."

Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books such as Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize, Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. Her most recent novel, Oh William!, was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize.

Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm reception, 7:30 pm event
Bianca Marais, author of The Witches of Moonshyne Manor
in conversation with Christina Clancy, in-person at Shully’s Across the Street, 143 Green Bay Rd, Thiensville - click here to purchase a ticket

Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company present a special evening with Bianca Marais, author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, for a conversation about her magical, feminist new novel, The Witches of Moonshyne Manor. Marais will be in conversation with Christina Clancy, the Wisconsin author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.

This is a ticketed event, and each ticket costs $45 plus tax and fee. Each ticket includes admission, a glass of wine, light appetizers, and a copy of The Witches of Moonshyne Manor

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor is a funny, tender, and uplifting feminist tale of sisterhood featuring a coven of aging witches who must unite their powers to fight the men determined to drive them out of their home and town. In a race against time, five octogenarian witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but fear their aging powers are no match against increasingly malicious threats. As the deadline approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

We've got a great staff recommendation for Marais's new novel from Tim McCarthy. Here's his take: "Oh, man! By that I mean oh, how does a man review a book like this!? Let's start (and end) with the fact that I loved every minute. I loved the characters, and the plot twists, and the very verbal crow. Most of all, I loved the sense that Marais was having as much fun writing as I was reading about a sisterhood of glorious old witches with a long history in a town that’s been mostly ok with them, until something changes. Now their manor and their popular distillery are being attacked by a mob of irrational townsmen (go figure), and reliving their own tragic past could offer them either salvation or destruction. They’re not sure which. So take a break from our very strange real world and pour yourself into this spellbound concoction of laughter and full-blown feminist power, mixed with suspense and dashes of potent wisdom likely to fly into my thoughts forevermore."

Bianca Marais is author of Hum If You Don't Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh. Sheteaches at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies and runs the Eunice Ngogodo Own Voices Initiative. Marais also hosts the podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing.

Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 pm
John M Van Lieshout, author of Growing Up Little Chute
in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 5:30 pm on the day of the event.

Boswell hosts an evening featuring Milwaukee attorney and Wisconsin native John M Van Lieshout, author of Growing Up Little Chute, his memoir of coming of age in a small Wisconsin river village.

Van Lieshout’s Growing Up Little Chute is his memoir of life in a small village in

northeastern Wisconsin in the 1960s and 70s. He recalls things like soda pop caps imprinted with pictures of NFL stars, pagan baby cardboard coin collectors, Bic pens turned into blow-guns, games of Red Rover, and hanging from the monkey bars, and all of it set to the strains of "Stairway to Heaven."

John M Van Lieshout was born in Little Chute, WI. He earned a BA from Marquette University and a JD from Marquette Law. He’s published scholarly articles in National Environmental Enforcement Journal, Wisconsin Lawyer, and Hofstra Property Law Journal. He is a Shareholding Attorney at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

Thursday, September 22, 7 pm
Mark Bergen, author of Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube's Chaotic Rise to World Domination
in conversation with Chris Lee for a virtual event - click here to register!

Boswell hosts a virtual evening featuring leading tech and business journalist Mark Bergen for a conversation about his new book, Like, Comment, Subscribe, in which he offers a definitive and deeply reported account of YouTube, the company that upended media, culture, industry, and democracy. In conversation with Chris Lee of Boswell.

Across the world, people watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube every day. YouTube invented the attention economy we live in, forever changing how people are entertained, informed, and paid online. Everyone knows YouTube, yet virtually no one knows how it works. Now, Bergen offers a riveting, behind-the-scenes account of YouTube’s technology and business, detailing how it helped Google, its parent company, achieve unimaginable power, a narrative told through the people who run YouTube and the famous stars born on its stage.

Bergen, a top technology reporter at Bloomberg, might know Google better than any other reporter in Silicon Valley, having broken numerous stories about its successes and scandals. From Margaret O'Mara, author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America: "An absorbing, alarming, and essential modern history of Silicon Valley’s supersized platform age. YouTube has redefined celebrity, upended entertainment and politics, and unleashed the best and worst of humanity online. Mark Bergen’s deeply reported page-turner takes us on the company’s journey from scrappy startup to internet juggernaut, revealing the dark consequences of the pursuit of growth at any cost."

Mark Bergen writes for Bloomberg and Businessweek, and previously reported on technology and media for Recode and Ad Age. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker, and has frequently discussed his Google reporting on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, and NPR stations.

Friday, September 23, 6:30 pm
Judith M Ford, author of Fever of Unknown Origin: A Memoir
in conversation with Rochelle Melander, in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 5:30 pm on the day of the event.

Boswell hosts an event featuring Judith Ford, author of Fever of Unknown Origin, a memoir about a strange illness and the combination of Western medicine and shamanic journeys that saved her life. In conversation with author and writing coach Rochelle Melander. 

Judith Ford was a successful psychotherapist, runner, yoga-practitioner, dancer, and
writer living life fully when she came down with a mysterious illness that landed her in the hospital for a full summer and nearly ended her life. She recovered through a combination of Western medicine and shamanic journeys. A few years later she helped her parents through their final illnesses. This book is both her story and theirs, about how they held onto hope and sometimes despaired. It's about how they each suffered and rallied, laughed, loved, forgave, and let go. And it's about how all of us live in the shadows of the unknown and the unanswerable.

From Susannah Waters, author of Cold Comfort: "Fever of Unknown Origin tells the moving story of one woman's battle with a debilitating illness. Ford leads us through the bewildering ups and downs of this struggle, culminating in a recovery as richly surprising and nuanced as the illness itself, as well as a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully alive and present in this world. An inspiring read."

Judith M Ford’s writing has appeared in magazines including Connecticut Review, Evening Street Review, and Southern Humanities Review, and her work has been nominated three times for Pushcart prizes. She was a psychotherapist for thirty-five years and taught creative writing in a private elementary school, at the University of Wisconsin Extension, and in a teen runaway shelter. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Saturday, September 24, 4 pm
Francie Dekker, author of Our World of Dumplings
in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 3 pm on the day of the event

Milwaukee nature and nutrition educator visits Boswell with her debut picture book, Our World of Dumplings, a delicious story that celebrates the many different types of dumplings that exist in our world and how food brings people and cultures together! While this event will be kid-friendly, the presentation will be mostly focused for a grown-up audience.

An apartment complex is having a dumpling festival, and all the kids are excited to watch and help each family cook up different versions of the delicious treats. From kreplach to khinkali and Johnny cakes to jiao zi, each household has its own way of making dumplings, uniquely hand-crafted and based upon their culture. As the children wrap, cook, and eat all the different types of dumplings, they learn how dumplings are the ultimate labor of love!

Underscoring the power of food to both bring us together and help us celebrate our differences, Our World of Dumplings is a rich story that shows the tender relationship between food and company and its natural ability to create a sense of community and will leave you hungry for more.

Francie Dekker has been a contributing writer for Edible Milwaukee Magazine, where she wrote a quarterly "Kids Table" column that explored how gardening, food, culture, and youth intersect. In 2016, she received a Food Writing Fellowship from the Culinary Trust.

Sunday, September 25, 2 pm
Peter Geye, author of The Ski Jumpers
in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 1 pm on the day of the event.

Join us for an afternoon featuring Midwestern writer extraordinaire Peter Geye, author of novels such as Wintering and Northernmost, who joins us with his latest novel, The Ski Jumpers, about a former ski jumper facing a terminal diagnosis who takes one more leap - into a past of soaring flights and broken family bonds.

A ski jumper must be fearless - Jon Bargaard remembers this well. His memories of
daring leaps and risks might be the key to the book he’s always wanted to write: a novel about his family, beginning with Pops, once a champion ski jumper himself, who also took Jon and his younger brother Anton to the heights. But Jon has never been able to get past the next, ruinous episode of their history, and now that he has received a terrible diagnosis, he’s afraid he never will.

Early praise for this novel comes from Leif Enger, author of Virgil Wander: "Peter Geye writes full-hearted novels made for winter, and The Ski Jumpers is his best to date... Geye wraps his tale in prose that soars as we hold our breath, then brings it all home with the elegance of a Telemark landing. If you already know his work, this book will surprise and delight you; if you're new to Peter Geye, The Ski Jumpers is the perfect place to start."

Peter Geye is author of the award-winning novels Safe from the Sea, The Lighthouse Road, and Wintering, winner of the Minnesota Book Award. He teaches at the Loft Literary Center.

Photo credits
Christina Clancy by Kate Berg
Mark Bergen by David Paul Morris

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 17, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 17, 2022

1. Beyond Belief, by John Koethe (signed copies available)
2. Fox Creek, by William Kent Krueger (signed copies available)
3. Nona the Ninth v3, by Tasmyn Muir
4. Fairy Tale, by Stephen King
5. Lessons, by Ian McEwan
6. Last Summer on State Street, by Toya Wolfe (Register for September 28 in-person event here)
7. Carrie Soto Is Back, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
8. The Wheel of Doll, by Jonathan Ames (signed copies available)
9. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
10. The Rising Tide, by Ann Cleeves

Nona the Ninth is the third in the Locked Tomb series, which has been building steam since the first entry, Gideon the Ninth. I think this was originally projected as a trilogy, but based on the Kirkus review ("A deceptively quiet beginning rockets to a thrilling finish, preparing us for the next volume's undoubtedly explosive finale"), I think it's now at least a quartet. The Kelly Link quote: "If you've read the first two books in this trilogy, I don't need to say anything to persuade you to pick up Nona the Ninth. If you don't know Muir's characters and worlds yet, then, my god, I envy you. It's hard to think of anyone more inventive, more audacious - more fun! - who is writing science fiction now."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Crying in the Bathroom, by Erika L Sánchez (signed copies available - our website might say we are out, but it's complicated - we have books)
2. I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
3. Black Food, by Bryant Terry
4. Dinners with Ruth, by Tina Totenberg
5. What If 2, by Randall Munroe
6. The Mosquito Bowl, by Buzz Bissinger
7. Vegetable Kingdom, by Bryant Terry
8. Solito, by Javier Zamora
9. A Game Maker's Life, by Jeffrey Breslow
10. Slenderman, by Kathleen Hale (Register for October 13 event here)

Buzz Bissinger is getting some attention for The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II, his first book with him as lead writer* since 2012's Father's Day. From Kirkus: "A uniquely focused World War II history interweaving military heroics and college football. Many books describe the consequential Battle of Okinawa in 1945, but this one deserves serious attention. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, makes good use of his sports expertise to deliver a vivid portrait of college football before and during WWII, when it was a national obsession far more popular then professional leagues." Bissinger talked to David Bianculli about The Mosquito Bowl on Fresh Air

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
2. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna
3. Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins
4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
5. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
6. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover
7. The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
8. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9. Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger
10. The Witches of Moonshyne Manor, by Bianca Marais (Register for September 20 ticketed event here)

Could it be possible for a paperback reprint to break into the trade paperback bestseller list? According to our sales this week, Louise Erdrich's The Sentence might have a shot, but boy, it's been amazing how many reprints have not been able to break through the Colleen Hoover/Emily Henry/Taylor Jenkins Reid/Where the Crawdad Sings/one other lucky romance blockade. From Ron Charles in The Washington Post: "The coronavirus pandemic is still raging away and God knows we’ll be reading novels about it for years, but Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence may be the best one we ever get. Neither a grim rehashing of the lockdown nor an apocalyptic exaggeration of the virus, her book offers the kind of fresh reflection only time can facilitate, and yet it’s so current the ink feels wet."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Growing Up Little Chute, by John Van Lieshout (Register for October 21 event here)
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Llorando en el baño, by Erika L Sánchez
4. Ewaso Village, by Chip Duncan
5. Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry
6. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
7. Fuzz, by Mary Roach
8. Making a Good Script Great, by Linda Sieger
9. How to Focus, by Thich Nhat Hanh
10. Fever of Unknown Origin, by Judith Ford (Register for September 23 event here)

A new reprint breaking onto the nonfiction paperback bestseller list has been a rare thing for much longer. Unlike the fiction list, there are mostly reprints present, but they never leave. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days and Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law were both hardcover bestsellers,  but only Fuzz has popped onto the paperback list. Both authors did virtual events with us and should be available on our event archive. Publishers Weekly on Fuzz: "Roach's writing is wry, full of heart, and loaded with intriguing facts."

Books for Kids:
1. All Are Neighbors, by Alexandra Penfold, illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman
2. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker (Register for September 24 event here)
3. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (two editions), by Erika L Sánchez
4. What Feelings Do When No One's Looking, by Tina Oziewicz, illustrations by Aleksandra Zajac
5. All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold, illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman
6. Spy School Project X, by Stuart Gibbs
7. Shot Clock, by Caron Butler, illustrations by Justin Reynolds
8. Baby Monkey Private Eye, by Brian Selznick
9. Dog Man V8: Fetch, by Dav Pilkey
10. The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han

I was recently at the Spy Museum in DC and they have a large display of Stuart Gibbs's Spy School series and then I heard kids talking about the books and then I went back to Boswell and I heard more kids talking about the books and I thought to myself, how this series has grown since we hosted Gibbs for school visits years ago. I can only imagine how big a public event would be now. And you know you've made it when you get a graphic novel adaptation. It looks Spy School Project X was submitted for advance reviews - non listings. I did glance at Goodreads and saw a 4.73 rating out of 5. Let's just say that's better reviews than just about any book I have read and enjoyed.

*under his name - he worked with Caitlyn Jenner on her memoir, so there may have been other projects I don't know about.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Six in-person events at Boswell: Jonathan Ames, John Koethe, Jeffrey Breslow, Erika L Sánchez, William Kent Krueger, and Marie Kohler

Monday, September 12, 6:30 pm
Jonathan Ames, author of The Wheel of Doll
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Novelist Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO’s Bored to Death, appears at Boswell for an evening featuring his latest novel, the second Happy Doll mystery, in which a badly scarred detective with a new philosophy takes on a fresh case. Ames visited us virtually last year for his first installment of this series and he’s a one-of-a-kind – check out the video of that event here.

Down to his last kidney after the previous caper, Happy Doll is back in business. When a beguiling young woman turns up at his door, it seems Doll’s past has also come knocking. Mary DeAngelo is searching for her estranged mother, a singular and troubled woman Doll once loved. The last he’d seen her she’d been near-death: arms slit like envelopes. She survived but vanished shortly thereafter. Now, Mary claims she’s alive and has made contact, only to disappear once again. Although his psychoanalyst would discourage it, Doll takes the case. But as the investigation deepens, there are questions he can’t shake.

Wholly original, this book follows Happy from LA to Washington and back again on a journey that gets wilder and woolier with each turn. Praise for the series includes this, from Lee Child: "Quirky, edgy, charming, funny, and serious, all in one. Very highly recommended." And from Boswellian Chris Lee: "This is crime fiction the way it was meant to be: sly, sad, and a little weird. And I love it."

In fact, Chris loves it so much that he wrote a whole blog post about his favorite west coast noir books - check that out here! He'll be chatting with Ames for the event as well, so it's an event you don't want to miss. 

Jonathan Ames is the author of I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, and novella You Were Never Really Here, which was adapted into the acclaimed film starring Joaquin Phoenix. He's the creator of two television series, Blunt Talk and Bored to Death, and has had two amateur boxing matches, fighting as 'The Herring Wonder.'

Tuesday, September 13, 6:30 pm
John Koethe, author of Beyond Belief: Poems
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Milwaukee poet and UWM Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus John Koethe visits Boswell for a celebration of the release of Beyond Belief, his latest book, which is a rich, meditative new collection that poses questions of time, language, and literature.

The eleventh book of poetry from America’s philosopher-poet is an intimate, searching collection that gives life to the mundane and lends words to our most interior and abstract musings. What makes a life real? Words on a page, the accumulation of moments and memories, or nothing at all? And what is it worth? Locked inside, have we lost our future and its promises or are we merely pressed to inhabit our present and ourselves? The award-winning poet invites us into his consideration of our world, as "an ordinary person sitting on his balcony on a summer afternoon, / Waiting patiently for someone to explain it to and meanwhile / Living quietly in his imagination, imagining the afterlife."

Jonathan Farmer, writing for Slate, says: "Koethe is a beautiful writer, one whose subtle inventiveness can give new life to persistent images, nail a complex feeling in just a few words, or make the basic tools of the poetic trade into sources of pleasure and persuasion."

John Koethe has published eleven books of poetry, and has received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the Frank O’Hara Award for Poetry. He has also published books on Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosophical skepticism, and poetry.

Wednesday, September 14, 6:30 pm

Boswell hosts an evening featuring author Jeffrey Breslow for an event featuring his memoir, A Game Maker’s Life, in which the former toy developer responsible for games like Operation, Simon, and UNO Attack! goes behind the scenes to tell the story of toys.

Millions of people around the world have played with games and toys Breslow and his partners invented. Now he shares his remarkable story, which charts how a flash of inspiration, followed by hard work and ingenuity, brought these wonderful games to life.

In his memoir, Breslow explains the game-creation process, a mix of Rube Goldberg, Santa’s workshop, and mass production. He recounts the toy industry’s transformation from using cardboard and plastics into electronics. And he tells the story of how he overcame a deadly workplace shooting to lead his shaken employees through the tragedy and back to running a thriving business.

Jeffrey Breslow graduated from the University of Illinois and spent more than four decades in the toy industry. Breslow was a Managing Partner at Marvin Glass and Associates and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1988. He now sculpts full time and his work has been displayed at the University of Illinois and the Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Friday, September 16, 6:30 pm 
Erika L Sánchez, author of Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir
in-person at Boswell for the Rose Petranech Lecture - click here to register 

Boswell hosts the return of the Rose Petranech Lecture featuring Erika L Sánchez, author of the National Book Award Finalist novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, for an evening featuring her first book for adults, Crying in the Bathroom, an utterly original memoir-in-essays that is as deeply moving as it is hilarious.

Growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago in the nineties, Erika Sánchez was a self-described pariah, misfit, and disappointment - a foul-mouthed, melancholic rabble-rouser who painted her nails black but also loved comedy, often laughing so hard with her friends that she had to leave her school classroom. Twenty-five years later, she’s now an award-winning novelist, poet, and essayist, but she’s still got an irrepressible laugh, an acerbic wit, and singular powers of perception about the world around her. In these essays, Sánchez writes about everything from sex to white feminism to debilitating depression, revealing an interior life rich with ideas, self-awareness, and perception. Insightful, unapologetic, and brutally honest, Crying in the Bathroom is Sánchez at her best.

Early praise comes from Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street: "A famous Latino comic told me - quoting either Chaplin or Cantinflas or both - that if you tell a story that makes people laugh, that’s great, but if you make them laugh and cry, that’s genius. Erika Sánchez tells her tale with a 'deluge of unidentifiable feelings that came out through my eyes.' It’s only after you’ve laughed that you understand the heartbreak beneath the laughter. I relished especially the stories she shares about being a wanderer savoring her solitude, a rare gift for a woman, but absolutely essential for any writer."

The Rose Petranech Lecture is dedicated to the memory of Rosemary Petranech, a long-time diversity officer at Marquette University who worked to expand opportunities to women and people of color. Rose’s love of reading and books made her a special friend of Boswell, and we are thrilled to partner on this series.

Erika L. Sánchez is a Mexican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her YA novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a New York Times bestseller, a National Book Awards finalist, and is now is being made into a film directed by America Ferrera. Sanchez was a Princeton Arts Fellow, a recipient of the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Please note that we may reach capacity on this event. Please register if you want to attend. 

Saturday, September 17, 4 pm
William Kent Krueger, author of Fox Creek
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

One of our favorite Minnesotans, the Anthony, Barry, and Minnesota Book Award-winning author William Kent Krueger, whose recent novels include of This Tender Land and Lightning Strike, returns to Boswell for an event featuring the nineteenth installment of his beloved Cork O’Connor series.

The latest installment of William Kent Krueger’s beloved series finds Cork O’Connor in a race against time to save his wife, a mysterious stranger, and an Ojibwe healer from bloodthirsty mercenaries. The ancient Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux has had a vision of his death and tries to prepare himself peacefully for the end of his long life. But peace eludes him as hunters fill the woods seeking a woman named Dolores Morriseau, a stranger who had come to the healer for shelter and the gift of his wisdom. On the last journey he may ever take into this beloved land, Meloux must do his best to outwit the deadly mercenaries who follow.

Boswellian Tim McCarthy is as big a Krueger fan as you can find. Here are his notes on the latest book: "This is the 19th volume in the Cork O'Connor mystery series, featuring the Northern Minnesota PI with both Irish and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) heritage. In Fox Creek, Krueger brings the focus back to Henry Meloux, a beloved Ojibwe friend and mentor to Cork who is well over 100 years old. A woman has come to Henry for help, not knowing that she’s been followed to his doorstep. He’ll need every ounce of his skill, vision, and enormous heart to lead her and the people he loves away from the forces on their trail. It may not be enough. Henry knows that one way or another his time to leave this life is near. When Krueger did a Boswell author event a few years back he told us that his indigenous fans say "not bad for a white man" about the way he develops Ojibwe characters. I laughed and felt relieved to hear validation of my true fondness for these fictional people. I’m a fan!"

William Kent Krueger is the New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land, Ordinary Grace, and the acclaimed Cork O’Connor mystery series.

Please note that we may reach capacity on this event. Please register if you want to attend. 

Marie Kohler, playwright of Boswell
in-person scene reading at Boswell
Monday, September 19, 6:30 pm - click here to register. 

Milwaukee-based playwright Marie Kohler visits Boswell for a presentation and dramatic scene-reading from her play titled, aptly for us, Boswell. This event is a special preview to the play’s Off-Broadway run.

Kohler’s Boswell is set in the 1950s when an American graduate student discovers lost journals from James Boswell’s wild and woolly Tour of the Scottish Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. She falls in love with the lively narrative and the possibility of a more authentic life.

The Edit gives Kohler’s play 4 stars, and calls it: "an excellent example of history being brought to life and it undoubtedly is a fabulous platform for the talent it showcases." And from Broadway Baby, which also gives the play 4 stars: "There is an infectious energy and clear commitment to detail in this production: it is very well loved and immaculately researched...and playwright Marie Kohler certainly seems to enjoy the opportunities to draw out elements of bawdiness and humour to lighten the earnest literary tone."

Marie Kohler is a director, writer, actor, dramaturg, and award-winning playwright. Kohler is a co-founder of Renaissance Theaterworks, where she served as Co-Artistic Director from 1993-2012 and Resident Playwright from 1993-2020. She is a freelance writer for local and national publications and has been Playwright Respondent and Director Respondent at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She was named Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board in 2005, and Friend of the Arts in 2020.

Please note that we may reach capacity on this event. Please register if you want to attend. 

Photo credits: 
John Koethe by Tom Bamberger 
Erika L Sánchez by Adriana Diaz