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Boswell Book Company

2559 North Downer Avenue at Webster Place

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211

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Boswell Book Company Newsletter               Friday, January 4, 2014, day 1738

Welcome to 2014. Exciting, so far, isn't it? Our holiday season was a bit colder and snowier than it's been the last few years and it appears that this forecast is continuing into January. It's a great time to hunker down with a good book, right? And while the last month has been a bit slow on new releases, the publishing industry comes to life on January 7, when all sorts of new books come out.

The book we're most anticipating that comes out on January 7 is Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings. It's the #1 Indie Next pick for January, meaning booksellers all over the country have recommended it as the best thing they've read this month. They join Oprah Winfrey, who made The Invention of Wings her next pick for the Oprah Book Club 2.0. And the big news is that Milwaukee is on Sue Monk Kidd's tour. She'll be appearing at Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall on Monday, February 10, 7 pm. (For those of you concerned about parking, the surface lot across Wisconsin Ave. will be offering $5 parking for this event.)

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Sue Monk Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful's cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. From the starred Booklist review: "Kidd is a master storyteller, and, with smooth and graceful prose, she immerses the reader in the lives of these fascinating women as they navigate religion, family drama, slave revolts, and the abolitionist movement."

We are co-sponsoring this event with the Milwaukee Public Library and 89.7 WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. It's just one of the great events this winter. Let's hope they avoid as many snowflakes as possible.
M. Evelina Galang, author of Angel de la Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery, Tuesday, January 7, 7 pm

Recently named as one of the one hundred most influential Filipinas in the U.S. by Filipina Women's Network, Galang, who is also director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Miami, has been described by Edwidge Danticat as "a masterful storyteller" with "brilliant voice and craft." She goes on to describe Angel de la Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery as "...a beautifully told, and at times, heartbreaking coming of age and coming to America story." 


When Angel's mother descends into a deep grief, the rebellious young teen latches onto the 2001 Philippine People Power revolution. Impassioned, she seeks out the elder women of her community to learn more about her beloved island nation's history, but what she learns of their experiences in WWII only encourages her involvement in the protests. Seeking a new framework for life in the wake of the revolution, Angel's mother marries a somewhat conservative man who moves the family to cold, snowy Chicago, where an entirely new reality must be assessed. Galang juxtaposes poetic descriptions of place with heartbreaking history in order to reveal a story not of politics, but of quiet miracles, forgiveness, and the deep love of family.


Just nominated for a Teen Choice Book of the Year Award by TeenReads, Angel de la Luna offers an "intimate storytelling style will appeal to teenage readers and adults."  We agree, and although not technically a "kids" event, we enthusiastically recommend it for readers aged 12yrs and up.  


Here's Jim Higgins' interview with M. Evelina Galang in Sunday's Journal Sentinel. And because of weather conditions that might affect our event, if you are coming to Tuesday's event, please call ahead. 

Jon Kolb Launches His Debut Novel, Wednesday, January 8, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Milwaukee-area short-story writer and playwright Jon Kolb was inspired to take up crime writing after the owner of Von Trier's was killed when shot with an arrow near his home. "I was in a writing group at the time," Kolb explains, "and we challenged each other to try and capture that strange, tragic event in a novel. I had written short stories and plays, but this was something new for me. I finished a draft and then went on to write a follow-up story that eventually became the basis for The Summer of Rain."  


Kolb pits a young private eye against corrupt politicians, cynical funeral directors, assassins, and beguiling rich women. With his hometown engulfed in a crime wave, Bobby Broyles struggles to protect his family and stay alive.


"Whether it's Milwaukee or Marinette, the challenge of a young man growing up and finding moral compass in a changing world that includes drugs and corruption is part of contemporary life. That's the battle my hero faces." Kolb says.

An Evening of Edgy Hilarity with Samantha Irby, Saturday, January 11, 7 pm.

The "best thing to happen to passionate admirers since binoculars," according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Samantha Irby is the smart, saucy, foul-mouthed blogger behind the notoriously hilarious blog, B!tches Gotta Eat. Her new essay collection, Meaty, is crafted with the same scathing wit and poignant candor thousands of loyal readers have come to expect from her.


Boswellian Mel led the early charge in our three-bookseller-rec for Irby: "Samantha Irby has a  potty mouth, doesn't miss a detail, and is an equal-opportunity trash-talker. Which means she's probably my soulmate. At any rate, she'll convince you that she's--at the very least--your mom's soulmate in this eye-popping collection of essays. You will learn new words. You will laugh until you wee. And you will want to read passages aloud to friends, lovers, family members, and complete strangers. Don't miss your opportunity for some seriously Meaty reading: this is a collection to savor!

Arnie Bernstein Discusses the German-American Bund, Tuesday, January 14, 7 pm Conversation, at Boswell.


In the U.S. in the 1930s, a small but powerful group of people began a national movement with the aim of creating a fascist dictatorship based on Hitler's model. But others who were going to fight it. Joining Bernstein will be his former publisher, Sharon Woodhouse, of Everything Goes Media.


"Swastika Nation is the frightening, compulsively readable story of the rise of the German-American Bund of the 1930s. Arnie Bernstein chronicles the unlikely coalition of crusading politicians, moonlighting Hollywood icons, and tough-guy Jewish mobsters who found common cause in fighting the specter of homegrown Nazism at a time when it really could have happened here. His book is a vivid and enlightening look at a largely forgotten episode of American his  tory."-Gary Krist, New York Times bestselling author of City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago


This event is co-sponsored by the UWM Sam & Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies , the Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC, and the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center

Food and Friendship from Novelist Stacey Ballis at Boelter SuperStore, Thursday, January 16, 6 pm.


The Chicago-based author of several foodie novels, including Inappropriate Men, and Off the Menu, Ballis' new novel about friendship and food, Out to Lunch, has been described as "Heartfelt and hilarious" by humorist Jen Lancaster.


For most people, the reading of a will means hearing that someone or another receives a particular heirloom or sum of money. In Out to Lunch, however, Jenna receives care of her best friend's widower, Wayne. A Star Wars-obsesessed perpetual entrepreneur with some wild ideas (that don't always financially pan out in the black), Wayne is nothing but a burden for Jenna as she tries to cope with the grief of losing her best friend and business partner. It isn't until the two begin to see what Aimee saw in each of them, that they are able to truly begin healing. 


Feel free  to use the recipe index in the new novel as a shopping guide while you wander the aisles of Boelter SuperStore, gathering together professional knife sets or slick measuring tools, striking and elegant place settings for your next dinner party or a new blowtorch for your latest attempt at creme brulee. 


Boelter SuperStore is located at 4200 N. Port Washington Rd., in Milwaukee. Their normal hours are 8:30 am to 5 pm but they are staying open late for this special event. 

Winter Small Press Speculative Fiction Night* Featuring B.J. Hollars, Ben Tanzer, and Joseph Bates Jan 17th at 7pm.   

From three up-and-coming Midwestern authors come three new works of fiction (two short story collections and a novel) to lose yourself in: twisted takes on classic coming-of-age stories that include Bigfoot believers and Civil War reenactors, a slim novel set in near-future Chicago about intimate lives controlled by corporations, and darkly humorous stories set in bizarre places such as a 1950s amusement park slated for demolition or a parallel universe where one can live happily ever after with an ex-lover.

B. J. Hollars, author of Sightings.
In  addition to his genre-bending debut story collection, B.J. is author of two works of nonfiction focusing on race, violence and desegregation in American history. He is also editor of three literary collections, and is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at UW-Eau Claire.

Ben Tanzer, author of Orphans.
Ben is a prolific novelist and an Emmy Award-winning public service announcement writer. He currently lives in Chicago with his family, the same city where his new novel is set. Publishers Weekly calls the slim dystopian novel that is Orphans, a "bleak, powerful book...a harrowing cautionary tale about a future that threatens to overwhelm human individuality."

Joseph Bates, author of Tomorrowland.
Bates, who te  aches in the creative writing program at Miami University in Ohio, is author of The Nighttime Novelist and numerous works of short fiction published in such journals as Identity Theory, South Carolina Review, The Rumpus, and Shenandoah.
His new stories have been labeled as "quirky, sly, brilliant, playful" by George Singleton, who suggests they belong "between Barthelme and Saunders."

*Indeed, a mouthful of an event title.
William P Jones, co-sponsored by the UWM Dept. of Urban Studies, on Monday, January 20, 7 pm, at Boswell.

It was at the end of the long, hot day that was August 28, 1963, when the hundreds of thousands on the Washington Mall would hear the voice of a young preacher raised four words, in repetition, to the crowd: "I have a dream." The speech capped the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and would echo throughout history.  And what better day to celebrate this event than on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? 


In The March on Washington,  William P. Jones, a professor of history at UW-Madison who specializes in civil rights and labor history, strives to go beyond King's dazzling speech to explore the background story of the march, profiling its founders and planners, and offering a comprehensive history of the broader movement it inspired. As his uniting force, Jones gives us A. Phillip Randolph, a trade unionist who first called for a march on Washington in 1941. It was his continued fight for equal opportunity that would bring together the ten civil rights, religious, and labor groups that would plan the 1963 march. Randolph also delivered the first speech of August 28; his egalitarian vision of economic and social citizenship a thread running through the full history of the March on Washington movement, ultimately sustained by immense grassroots organizing across the nation.


Click here to view archival footage from the March, along with numerous other photos, video & audio clips, and documents about the 1963 march, available online as part of the Civil Rights Movement timeline created by the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. 

Jennifer Chiaverini on Mrs. Lincoln's Rival, at the Brookfield Public Library, Monday, January 20, 7 pm.

The Brookfield Public Library is located at 1900 N. Calhoun Rd., in Brookfield.


Though mostly recognized for her bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, Jennifer Chiaverini also excels at using fiction to memorably chronicle the lives of extraordinary yet little-known women in history: Elizabeth Keckley in Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and Elizabeth Van Lew in The Spymistress. Now, in Mrs. Lincoln's Rival, she introduces us to Kate Chase Sprague.    


Born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Kate Chase was the second daughter to the second wife of lawyer Salmon P. Chase, who was appointed secretary of the treasury in Lincoln's cabinet. A smart, fierce, patriotic young woman, Kate positioned her widowed father as a future presidential candidate. In doing so, Kate would find herself the social (and political) rival to Mary Todd Lincoln. When she would eventually marry William Sprague, the wealthy young governor of Rhode Island, her wedding would be considered the pinnacle event for Washington society. Even the president came. His wife, however, did not attend. 


This event is co-sponsored by Patched Works Quilt Shop.

Jennifer Percy and Dr. John Liebert, co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Friday, January 24, 7 pm, at Boswell.

What were you doing 65 minutes ago when a U.S. military veteran committed suicide? What will you be doing 65 minutes from now when another veteran takes his or her own life?  


Forensic neuropsychiatrist John Liebert is joined by author Jennifer Percy in sharing complementary journeys into PTSD: one through scientific research and practice; the other through the complexities of the human heart. This profound combination of journalism, compassion, new scientific discoveries, and bold ideas, offers a vital approach to addressing the rapidly growing epidemic affecting ever greater numbers of returning veterans, their loved ones, and our communities. 


Percy's unforgettable, affecting work of nonfiction, Demon Camp: A Soldier's Exorcism, reveals to us the human side of PTSD, with intelligence and compassion. Caleb Daniels is a Special Ops soldier who loses his best friend and seven members of his unit when a Chinook helicopter that he should have been on, crashes in Afghanistan, killing all sixteen men on board. Upon returning home, he struggles with dark visions--memories colliding with the ghosts of his comrades--while trying to adjust to daily life among family and friends. Haunted by what he refers to as the "Black Thing," Caleb sets out to find healing, eventually landing in a tiny Georgia town where deliverance from demons is part of daily life. Percy's clear, direct prose, supplemented by the heartbreaking stories of other soldiers, brings the terror of Caleb's reality clearly into ours. Dexter Filkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Forever War praises Demon Camp, calling it "a tale so extraordinary that at times it seems conjured from a dream...a great narrative about redemption, loss and hope." Boswellian Stacie has been talking this one up for months. 


In Wounded Minds, Dr. Liebert (with his co-author, William J. Birnes) unravels the mysteries of the illness, explains why it is on the rise, and offers pragmatic solutions to stemming this epidemic both within the military and in society. Through dissecting several high-profile cases of violence by military personnel, the authors paint a clear pict  ure of the very real threat PTSD poses to individuals and society. They also explain how to diagnose and understand the brain abnormalities associated with PTSD, the diagnostic problems confronting military medicine today, and both immediate and ongoing medical solutions. Liebert, a practicing psychiatrist, served as a flight surgeon in the Vietnam War, as chief resident in psychiatry at the Seattle VA Hospital, and was retained by the US Army in 2008 to assess returning soldiers in "Fitness for Duty."


Take a moment to also visit the Veterans for Peace page on Facebook to see the latest work they are doing for returning vets.   

Music Critic Greg Kot talks about "Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers and the March Up Freedom's Highway," Monday, January 27, 7 pm, at Boswell.

One of the most enduring artists of popular music, Mavis Staples and her family fused gospel, soul, folk, and rock to transcend racism and oppression through song. From the Southern gospel circuit of the 50's to the main years of the civil rights movement, Mavis and the Staple Singers sold more than 30 million records, and were said to have inspired Martin Luther King Jr. himself.


In I'll Take You There, critically acclaimed biographer and Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot cuts to the heart of Mavis Staples's music, revealing the intimate stories of her sixty-year career. From her love affair with Bob Dylan, to her creative collaborations with Prince, to her recent revival alongside Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, this definitive account shows Mavis as you've never seen her before. Written with the complete cooperation of Mavis and her family, readers will also hear from Prince, Bonnie Raitt, David Byrne, Marty Stuart, Ry Cooder, Steve Cropper, and many other individuals whose lives have been influenced by Mavis' talent.

Click here to watch The Staples Singers perform "Come Go With Me" on Soul Train.

Or, check out NPR's Tiny Desk Concert with Mavis in 2012, backed by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Featuring songs and chatter, it's utterly charming! 
Patrick Ness, One of Our Favorite YA Authors, Visits Boswell for His New Novel for Adults on Wednesday, January 29, 7 pm, at Boswell (But YA Fans Can Come Too and Get All Giddy With Us).

Inspired in part by indie folk band The Decemberists' song, "The Crane Wife 1 & 2," The Crane Wife is a contemporary retelling of a Japanese folktale from an author John Green has praised as "An insanely beautiful writer." Boswellian Jen calls it "a beautiful tapestry...a story that does not truly end."


When a lonely, middle-aged American in London is awoken one night by a strange sound coming from his garden, his life is forever changed. George Duncan investigates, only to find a great white crane suffering from an arrow through its wing. He saves the bird's life, but not without a struggle. Shaken, he returns to his print shop the next morning, choosing to focus on his creative work-making cuttings from discarded books. When a beautiful woman appears, introducing herself as Kumiko, and asking for his help with her own art, George can't help but fall desperately in love with her. She seems to hold the potential to change his entire life, if he could only get her to reveal the secret of who she is and why she has brought her artwork to him.  


Boswellian Jen has called The Crane Wife "a beautiful tapestry" and "an ancient story magically woven into a modern setting full of primal human emotions, a story that does not truly end.


Ness, who has been awarded the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Costa Children's Book Award, and two Carnegie Medals, writes for both adults and young readers, and is a literary critic for The Guardian. Many of the Boswellians are fans of his books; and when they had the chance to meet him when he passed through briefly last year, they all became enormous fans of Patrick, too.


Click here to listen to "The Crane Wife, 1 & 2" by The Decemberists 

Ticketed Event with Malcolm Gladwell, Friday, January 31, 7pm, at the Helene Zelazo Center.

Presented in partnership with the UWM Bookstore.  


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, talks about his newest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. An engaging, dynamic speaker, Gladwell's intelligence and humor make for an unforgettable talk.

The ticket price of $32 includes all taxes & fees. The ticket includes admission to the event, as well as a signed hardcover copy of David & Goliath. There is no gift card option for this event. Attendees will also have the chance to win one of four year-long print & digital subscriptions to The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee 


Tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets. UWM students, faculty, and staff, may purchase discounted tickets at the UWM Bookstore (Note: ID required). If you are unable to utilize the web to purchase a ticket, please call or stop in to Boswell and a bookseller can assist you. 


This event is co-sponsored by The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Radio and WUWM 89.7 Milwaukee Public Radio.


The Zelazo Center is located at 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd., on the UW-Milwaukee campus. Parking for this event is available on the surrounding streets (we recommend heading east) or in the Union parking structure (entrance on the north side of Kenwood).  

Sign Up for World Book Night Now and Be a Book Giver Next April.

On April 23, tens of thousands of people across the U.S. will go into their communities and give away half a million free books to light or non-readers, and those who don't have regular access to books. You still have a chance to be one of them. 


How does it work? Givers (ages 16+) apply online, briefly proposing where/how/why they would like to give away books, and selecte their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd title preferences. Then, in early April, after having been notified in February, givers receive 20 copies of specially printed editions of a World Book Night title.


The books are a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, and kids' titles, to suit every taste. Several are also available in Spanish. Take a look at the titles librarians and booksellers across the nation helped select that will make it into new readers' hands this year. See one of your favorites but don't know who to give them to? Don't worry, get your enthusiasm and passion down on the application and work out the details later.


So, consider joining to help spread a love of books and reading! 


Apply to be a giver for World Book Night 2014.

An Evening of Murder with Classic Agatha Christie Sunset Playhouse.

Our friend Karen at the Sunset Playhouse clued us into a classic literary mystery. It's "Death on the Nile," an adaptation of her classic 1937 whodunit. To quote the Sunset, "this Agatha Christie feast serves up a delicious murder on an Egyptian pleasure cruise. The buffet includes a rich-girl, best-friend, poor-fiance love triangle, a snooty aunt and her idealistic niece, a globe-trotting cleric, a French maid, a wise-cracking English loafer, and an assortment of oddball characters. Christie cooks up a classic."

Sunset Playhouse Tickets range from $16-20. Show Dates & Times:
January 23-25, 29-31, February 1, 5-8  7:30pm
January 25, February 1, 8  4:00pm
January 26, February 9  2:00pm

For tickets call 262-782-4430 or visit The Sunset Playhouse website.
Note Changes to Our Hours for Inventory and Winter Cold Warning.

We'll be taking our inventory on Sunday, January 5, and will be opening later, at 12 Noon.

Due to the cold advisory, we will be closing early on Monday, January 6. Our hours will be 10 am to 6 pm. The in-store lit group's discussion of Liam Callanan's All Saints is moved to Monday, January 13, at a special time of 6 pm.  
Congratulations and Farewell to Stacie.

For eight years now, three at Schwartz and five at Boswell, Stacie M. Williams has been a bookselling dynamo on Downer Avenue, recommending titles, entertaining authors and audiences alike, creating over-the-top displays, coordinating panels at conferences, and finding the next big literary sensation ahead of the pack, to all our benefit.

I'm excited to announce that Stacie has been selected by Harper Collins for a sales coordinator position (I never get the title exactly right), working with reps and booksellers and authors and in-house folks, doing many of the same things she's done at Boswell, only now for the benefit of booksellers all around the country.

We congratulate her on this great move, and look forward to continuing to work with her. And what could be more appropriate than one last rec from her, and for an upcoming Harper book, no less? It's a novel coming in March called The Enchanted, by Rene Denfield. Here's her take:

"Denfeld's debut novel (though not her debut book) proves that it's possible to create a mosaic of horror and wonder that fractures the light of our preconceived notions into tiny, bloody pieces. Set mostly on death row, moving outside the prison walls only to give more brushstrokes to the portraits of those living and working in that dank place, The Enchanted features characters both named and nameless who embody the worst and best mankind has to offer. How a novel can be this devastatingly sad and so damn beautiful, I simply cannot say."

As a last gift to Boswell, Stacie put together most of this email. Much thanks!

And thank you for your patronage. Stay warm, and apologies in advance for any typos,

Daniel Goldin with Amie, Anne, Conrad, Greg, Hannah, Jason, Jane, Jannis, Jen, Mel, Pam, Sharon, Stacie, and Terrail