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Boswell Book Company Newsletter                                 June 3, 2011 (day 791)



It's officially time for the June 2011 Indie Next Picks, that list of top titles recommended by independent booksellers around the country. We're excited because we've got events with three highlighted titles. Kate Levinson speaks about Emotional Currency at the Milwaukee Public Market on Friday, June 10, 6 pm, Ann Patchett appears at Boswell on Wednesday, June 22 for State of Wonder, and Rebecca Makkai is Boswell bound on Wednesday, July 20. Here are some other pick highlights--three books that are on my list to be read, but as always, I'm remiss.


Silver Sparrow, a novel by Tayari Jones (Algonquin). "The unconventional, morally troubling relationships at the core of Jones' Silver Sparrow illustrate the universality ofSilver Sparrow the human quest for acknowledgment, legitimacy, love, and loyalty. As Chaurisse and her secret half-sister, Dana, move toward adulthood, they must shed idealistic notions of romantic and familial love to face difficult truths. A complex family drama, a richly crafted coming-of-age story, and a meditation on the nature of love and forgiveness, this is a gripping story with characters you will not soon forget." -- Libby Cowles, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO (This Boswell's Best title was specially priced at $19.95, making it a real value at the Best price of $15.96)


vaclav and lenaVaclav & Lena, a novel by Haley Tanner (Dial). "Vaclav and Lena are both children of Russian immigrant families that have settled in contemporary Brooklyn. Seldom have the variables in immigrant experiences been written about so beautifully, resulting in a book that is both a charming love story and a dramatic page-turner. You will fall in love with both Vaclav and Lena -- five years old when we first meet them and 17 when Tanner's narrative ends. A wonderful debut!" -- Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA (Also a Boswell's Best title, making our price $20, or you can download the Google ebook for $12.99)


tolstoy and the purple chairTolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, by Nina Sankovitch (Harper). "This graceful memoir describes a true love affair with books. After losing her 46-year-old sister to cancer, Sankovitch embarks on a year of reading: one book every day for a full year. Her project, complete with daily book reviews, becomes an ongoing conversation with her sister and provides insight into her own past and contact with bibliophiles across the world. This is the best description of the power of books that I have ever encountered!" -- Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA (The book is 23.99 at Boswell, or you can download the Google ebook for $14.99)


Please pick up one of our Indie Next brochures next time you're at Boswell. We've also got the summer 2011 Indie Next picks for kids, and that one has recommendations from Boswell, Next Chapter, and Books and Company too.

Have Lunch with Darin Strauss and Me.


half a lifeWe're hosting the second in our hope-to-be-a-series lunches with a literary author.  This time our honored guest is Darin Strauss, author of the novels Chang and Eng and More than it Hurts You, and particularly of the newly-released-in-paperback memoir, Half a Life. The story of Strauss's high school brush with a classmate's death, and the implications that lasted for decades, was originally featured on This American Life. Listen to the segment now.


The McSweeney's hardcover was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award (because the writing is simply incandescent) and the Random House paperback is the perfect book club choice (because in addition to its other virtues, Half a Life is short enough that nobody in your club will have a valid excuse for not finishing). 


Join us for lunch at Cafe Hollander on Tuesday, June 21, 12 Noon, with Strauss for adarin strauss three course meal (yes, one of them is vegetarian, and by that, I don't mean tuna) that includes tax, tip, nonalcoholic drinks, interesting conversation, and a copy of Half a Life, all for $40. Strauss is charming, accessible, and very, very smart.  In short, the perfect lunch partner. You can buy your ticket(s) in person, by phone, or on our website.  Alas, no  ticket holds on this event, due to the limited availability. If your lunch card is full, head to Next Chapter the evening before (June 20, 7 pm) for a traditional talk.  Needless to say, we're hoping both events are big successes.

The June Event Lineup (Well, Most of It)


Friday, June 3, 7 pm. Chris Christie, author of This American Family: Growing Upchris christie as a Red Diaper Baby. Local writer Chris Christie tells of a childhood under the shadow of anti-Communist repression in the 1950s. From Ellen Bravo: "With searing honesty and moving detail, she describes the collateral damage when those in power decide that standing up for equality is "un-American."


rrralphSaturday, June 4, 4 pm, Friendly, well-behaved dogs are welcome to this reading. Lois Ehlert, author and illustrator of Rrralph. Rrralph is a very special dog.  Ask him his name and he can tell you, "Rrralph ralph."  Where are you, Rrralph? "Roof, roof." How smart is that? Kirkus offers this praise: "Bold and bright, filled with kid-pleasing riddles and collage illustrations, this is a perfect offering for new readers and storytime."

 lois ehlert

I'm so pleased to be hosting this special event at a special time.  Bring your friendly, well-behaved dog, in addition to your friendly, well-behaved family.  Ms. Ehlert, in fact, is bringing her friendly, well-behaved brother Dick, who will be providing the voice of our hero for this event.


alan heathcockMonday, June 6, 7 pm. Alan Heathcock, author of Volt. Have you read Stacie Michelle Williams's piece on short in fiction in Fiction Writers Review?  She riffs off Alan Heathcock's NPR essay, Three Books to take to a Fistfight , including his Volt as one story collection "that makes you feel like you just lost a boxing match."  Here's a list of writers that Stacie puts on that list: William Gay, Edith Pearlman, Ron Rash, Tom Franklin, and Lydia Peelle. If you like them, we think you'll like Heathcock's Volt, a series of stories set in an imaginary town on the Northern Plains called Krypton. "Blistering" is also a good adjective to describe them.


Tuesday, June 7, 7 pm. Arthur Plotnik, author of Better than Great: A Plentudinousarthur plotnik Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh SuperlativesPoets are pizzazzical over Plotnik. Authors exclaim that Arthur is aces high. And word lovers? Better than Great has got them simply wiggy!  You can be wiggy too this Tuesday, June 7, at 7 pm, when Arthur Plotnik discusses his new book. Read this interview with Daphne Gray-Grant, a XXXL fan of Plotnik's, to get a feel for his fabled fashionings.  And no, he is not over the moon about alliteration. That's just a Boswell thing.


danielle sosinWednesday, June 8, 7 pm. Danielle Sosin, author of The Long-Shining Waters. Three women in three centuries navigate the uncompromising tides of Lake Superior in this lovely and mournful novel that was awarded the Milkweed Prize. Mike Fisher wrote in the Journal Sentinel of these "amazingly textured" stories that "give voice both to the Great Lake itself and to the drowned." Read the complete review here. And if you'd like to read more about what Carl and I thought about the book, here's our blog post in Boswell and Books.

 dean bakopoulos

Thursday, June 9, 7 pm. Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness. Zeke is the head of a crumbling arts council, desperate to get married so that he can gain custody of his orphaned niece and nephew. It's a funny-sad novel, his second after Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, set in a funhouse-twisted version of Madison, Wisconsin.  Want to read more?  Enjoy this essay in the Boswell and Books blog.

 milwaukee public market

Friday, June 10, 6 pm, at the Milwaukee Public Market, co-sponsored by WWIBC. Kate Levinson, author of Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with MoneyUsing real-life examples from her workshops, Dr. Kate Levinson helps women come to terms with their family's financial history, kate levinsonreveals how old habits and ideas affect present-day spending and saving patterns, and offers strategies to help women triumph over common obstacles related to earning, investing, budgeting, spending, saving, inheriting, and losing money. And not only is the author a financial expert, she's a bookseller too. Check out the website for Point Reyes books.


two kisses for maddyFriday, June 10, 7 pm, late addition! Matthew Logelin, author of Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Love and Loss. High school sweetheats Matt and Liz Logelin settled together in Los Angeles with a life that would be envied--a great marriage, a nice home, and a baby on the way. But just after they welcomed Madeline into the world, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly. Coping with devastating grief while raising a new daughter, Logelin faced his new life head on, documenting his challenges on a blog that apparently connected with many fans, including Oprah Winfrey. Read more for yourself.

 lynn peril

Saturday, June 11, 2 pm. Lynn Peril, author of Swimming in the Steno Pool. The author of Pink Think and College Girls offers her unique take on "femorabilia." Featuring an array of fabulous illustrations promoting office equipment and office girls alike, native Miwaukeean Peril delivers a feisty, witty celebration of the women who've been running the show for decades. As Kirkus notes: "The author highlights the challenges women faced at the office, and the problems women must still reckon with even in the most forward-thinking companies of this era--including the seemingly insignificant question of whose responsibility it is to put on a pot of coffee." Her blog is Passport to Peril.


art milwaukeeSunday, June 12, 2 pm. Community Artreach. Come explore the ART of Words with ART Milwaukee's Community ARTreach event. This month we plan to discover how much fun words can really be! Children and families are invited to take part in the Sunday afternoon of activities, which will include storytelling, spoken word, puzzles, poetry, comic-book drawing, calligraphy lessons and mini-canvas drawing.

Here's some more information on Art Milwaukee, the sponsoring organization. Thanks to our Paolo Giordano event, we crossed paths with Angela Damiani, which led us to Jeremy Fojut.  They are doing some great things, like Art Jamboree, Gallery Night Art Bus, and Project F.E.E.D.  You can read all about them on their website.

 douglas jacobson

Monday, June 13, 7 pm. Douglas W. Jacobson, author ofThe Katyn Order. This classic espionage novel takes place in World War II Warsaw. An American operative turned resistance fighter teams up with another covert operative to find the Katyn Order, a Soviet document authorizing the murder of 20,000 Polish army officers and civilians. If they can find the Order before the Russians do, they can change the fate of Poland. Library Journal calls this novel "Two impressive historical thrillers in one, while the starred Booklist review raves, "Don't miss this one."  


george bush psychological portraitTuesday, June 14, 7 pm. Dan P. McAdams, author of George Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait. Dan P. McAdams is professor of psychology and human development at Northwestern University and an internationally recognized authority in personality science. Drawing on his background, he offers a provocative analysis of the life and presidency of George W. Bush, with a focus on explaining his fateful decision to invade Iraq. Here's what Publishers Weekly has to say: "McAdams upends thedan p mcadams conventional wisdom regarding Bush's relationship with his father, finding that the son most often expressed admiration and love, turning the invasion of Iraq into more of a demonstration of filial devotion than an attempt to upstage his dad. Pay no heed to the ponderous title; this accessible and engaging psychobiography easily moves into a must-read tier of works on George W. Bush." And if you're looking to buy online, we're the same price as the A word on this book.


Wednesday, June 15, 7 pm, co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Independent Film Society and the Milwaukee Short Film Festival. Robert K. Elder, author of The Film robert k elderthat Changed my Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark. Film columnist and editor Elder, who last joined us for his talk on Last Words of the Executed, offers a classic pairing of director and influential film, from Peter Bogdanovich and Citizen Kane to  Bill Condon and Bonnie and Clyde to Neil LaBute and The Soft Skin.  What films do the Johns (Landis, Woo, Waters) credit as inspiration points?  Their answers might surprise you.  Well, John Waters's choice might not.  It's The Wizard of Oz.  And mark your calendars now for the Milwaukee Short Film Festival--it will be held November 4 and 5 at the Milwaukee Art Museum's Lubar Auditorium.

 brian tuohy

Thursday, June 16, 7 pm. Brian Tuohy, author of  The Fix Is in: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR. If you were wondering whether big sports and big media make covert deals together, you'll probably be interested in Tuohy's findings. Tuohy calls himself the nation's most skeptical fan and #1 sports conspiracist.  Tuohy's website documents various clandestine arrangements, focusing on the NFL, NBA, and the NCAA.


ann patchett by melissa ann pinneyWednesday, June 22, 7 pm, co-sponsored by WHAD/Wisconsin Public Radio. Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist, is sent to Brazil to track down her montor, who has disappeared in the Amazon while working on a valuable new drug.  And the last person who was sent to find her has also died. Needless to say, Singh isn't exactly excited about her new charge.

 state of wonder

On the floor of Book Expo, Ann Patchett's new novel came up time and again as a bookseller favorite. Kirkus called State of Wonder "thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures--even better than Patchett's breakthrough Bel Canto." So pay no attention to Janet Maslin in yesterday's New York Times; there are lots of folks out there who beg to differ.


jeffrey merrickThursday, June 23, 7 pm, co-sponsored by the Cream City Foundation. We're proud to co-sponsor a talk with Professor Jeffrey Merrick, celebrating his career at UWM, his co-founding of the UWM LGBT studies program, his tenure as chair of the History Department, and his work on the national committee on LGBT history.  Merrick is also the author or co-author of numerous books, including Family, Gender, and Law in Early Modern France and Homosexuality in French History and Culture. Note that our prices for these titles may differ from the website, depending on textbook code status.

New Tee Shirts


support your local bookstoreWe've gotten a lot of great response to our Kpolly's "The Book was Better" and our classic Heather Maroon tees, with the biggest query being, "How can I buy these shirts if I don't live in Milwaukee?" Good question.  You could call us up and we'd jump through all available hoops, but that's just not your style.  You're on the run, buying online and downloading apps by the byteload.


Good thing Carl's been hard at work and has linked both styles on our website forheather maroon tee purchase, with a different link for each available size. We've also got Aaron's Blue Fishy tee, and a new design from our friends at Brew City, the "Support Your Local Bookseller" tee in charcoal or pink. 

In addition, we've started to index our popular Out of Print book jacket tees as well.  So far just a few styles are uploaded, including our recently-added tee style, Lord of the Flies.  If we sell some this way, we'll add more. See all the tee shirts available here. And don't forget, all our custom tees have the retro-modern Boswell Book Company logo on the back.

Late June and Most of July Event Preview


We're partnering with Outpost Natural Foods for an event at their brand new school for my villagecommunity room at the Capitol Drive location.  Welcome Kelly Dorfman on Monday, June 27, 7 pm, author of What's Eating Your Child: The Hidden Connneciton Between Food and Childhood Ailments.


Tuesday, June 28 at 7 pm, we're hosting Jackson Kaguri, author of A School for My Village: A Promise to the Orphans of Nyaka.  You may know this book by its hardcover title, The Price of Stones


Jeffrey N. Gingold discusses updating his important book, Facing the Cognitive Challenges of Multiple Sclerosis, on Tuesday, July 5, 7 pm.


Turn of MindAt Mount Mary College (9200 Menomonee River Parkway, Dining Hall), Boswell partners for the launch of Sister Josephe Marie Flynn's Rescuing Regina: The Battle to Save a Friend from Deportation and Death, on Wednesday, July 6, 6:30 pm. Details in the next newsletter.


Alice LaPlante's stimulating novel, told through the perspective of a woman with Alzheimers is winning raves from booksellers.  She'll discuss and read from Turn of Mind on Wednesday, July 13, 7 pm.


Jennifer Shaw's Milwaukee Homecoming (Thursday, July 14, 7 pm) is a celebration of creating dairylandHurricane Story, a poetic objet d'art that chronicles a New Orleans life in the time of Hurricane Katrina.


On Tuesday, July 19, 6:30, we're co-sponsoring Edward Janus at the Milwaukee Public Library's Krug Rare Books Room for his talk on Creating Dairyland: How Caring for Cows Saved Our Soil, Created Our Landscape, Inspired Our Conservation Ethic, and Still Shapes Our Way of Life in Wisconsin.

The BorrowerWednesday, July 20, 7 pm is Rebecca Makkai's event for The Borrower, the tale of a road trip undertaken by a librarian and her young patron.


And on Thursday, July 28, 7 pm, McSweeneys contributor Christopher Howard discusses and reads from Tea of Ulaanbaatar, a novel about a Peace Corps volunteer whose mission takes some unintended detours.


I expect we'll have a couple more events booked for July in the next week or so.  Keep alert for updates.

A Special Ebook Offer from Our Friends at Unbridled Books


green age of asher How are ebooks going for us?  I'm glad you asked.  We've sold three so far, two to an Ipad and one to a Nook. Our website works for pretty much everything except Kindles, which is akin to owning a Betamax, I guess. They work very well on Ipads and most smartphones, and also function on Nook and Sony readers.  You do have to go through some extra steps to buy from us, which is perhaps the electronic equivalent of having to parallel parking when you visit us.


You may want to see what all the fuss is about without a lot of investment. Problem solved! We're taking part in a three-day promotion with our indie publisher friend Unbridled Books, who is offering 25 ebooks for 25 cents each over three days next week. From June 9-11, if you purchase any of these titles from our website, your cost is a quarter (plus, as a retailer that is proud to support the services and infrastructure of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we also collect a penny tax).  I'll try to put links up for all the titles on the Boswell and Books blog next week.  Here are just a few titles and their links:


The Singer's Gun

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, by Elise Blackwell, a beautiful novel about the 1927 New Orleans floods.


The Singer's Gun, by Emily St. John Mandel, about a reformed thief whose attempts to go straight hit a number of roadblocks. This novel is a former #1 Indie Next Pick.

The Green Age of Asher Witherow, by M. Allen Cunningham, a fine historical novel of the boom and bust years of a California mining town that was also a #1 Indie Next pick.

Don't forget that this offer is good for three days only.  If you download before or after, the cost is $9.99 plus tax, and unlike books, ebooks are not returnable. There's more info on this press release and I don't think anything here is a secret.

I think I mentioned that it would take at least two people to replace Jocelyn, and I'm a man of my word. This summer I'm happy to have Alex working with us.  She'll be helping out at the register, on the floor, and particularly in the kids section, where we're hoping toThis is a book have a summer storytime. She's of course a great reader, and I'm looking forward to featuring her recommendations.
Don't forget that tickets to Demetri Martin are now available at the Pabst Theater on Saturday, June 18, at 8 pm.  For attendees, he'll be signing copies of his hilarious new collection, This is a Book, after the show.  Laugh more here at the Boswell and Books posting on Mr. Martin.
As Always, Thanks for Your Patronage.
Daniel Goldin, with Alex, Amie, Anne, Beverly, Carl, Conrad, Greg, Jason, Mark, Pam, Shane, Sharon, and Stacie.