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Boswell Book Club Newsletter               October 14, 2015, Day 2417

Reading is great by yourself, but there's something extra special in being able to talk about it afterwards. Boswell provides great book club services, including suggestions from staff and even other book clubs and a 10% discount for upcoming selections that also qualify for Boswell Benefits. All we ask in exchange is that you let us know what you are reading. 

If your book club picks titles a season at time, please get your selections to Anne or you can just reply to this email, if that's easier, and we can try to have your next selection in stock. And if you pick one book at a time, may we suggest picking two meetings ahead instead of one? It helps us get the books in a timely manner, and allows folks who use the library more time to source the title too. But best of all, it gives everyone in the group more flexibility - sometimes you have time today but not tomorrow. 

We've had a great season of book club favorite authors this fall, including Celeste (Everything I Never Told You) Ng, Adam (The Orphan Master's Son) Johnson, and Jennifer Chiaverini - at least one group I talked to was reading Chiaverini's Christmas Bells for their December meeting. We even have several groups tackling Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings. It's over 700 pages and partly written in Jamaican patois, but hey, it was one of the best reviewed books of 2014 and recently won the Man Booker prize. You know what we say about long books - if the group takes a one to two month break, a long book is perfect for when meetings reconvene.
Ren�e Rosen at the Lynden Sculpture Garden on Monday, November 16, 7 pm (reception), 7:30 (presentation).

Last year we hosted Ren�e Rosen at Boswell for her novel, What the Lady Wants, a novel about Marshall Field the man, as well as Marshall Field and Company, the store. When we found out that Rosen would have a new book out this fall, we knew we wanted to have her back. So we hooked up with Margy Stratton, producer of Milwaukee Reads, and booked her into the Women's Speaker Series at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.

Rosen, who has become the go-to writer for Chicago-based historical novels, this time focuses on the world of journalism in the 1950s in White Collar Girl. Jordan Walsh is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and while she wants to take on the big stories, she's relegated to the society page. Walsh struggles to be taken seriously, until she finds an inside source at the newly-elected Mayor Daley's office. But as you can imagine, that only makes her life more complicated. Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants and At the Water's Edge, called White Collar Girl an "unforgettable novel" while Shelley Noble, author of Whisper Beach, praised the "impeccable storytelling."

For our event, on Monday, November 16, 7 pm, Boswellian Jane Glaser and I will be opening for Rosen with our popular book club presentation. The White Collar Girl program that follows will include a slide show that talks about the factual basis of the story. Tickets are $22, $18 for Lynden members, and includes a copy of the new book. There will also be wine and refreshments, courtesy of Milwaukee Localicious, and as always, the Women's Speaker Series is cosponsored by Bronze Optical
Edgar Finalist Allen Eskens at Boswell on Saturday, November 21, 2 pm.

Many mysteries and thrillers have discussable themes, and it's not unusual for the stories to be based on real-life events. But there is an inhibiting factor in groups choosing mysteries; lots of folks don't want to walk in on the middle of an extended plotline that you sometimes see in series novels. And many series don't hit their stride until several books in - not every novel can be shortlisted for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery.

But of course some novels do get chosen, and one of those is Allen Eskens's The Life We Bury. Anne was a huge fan of this first title and we sold over 50 copies of the book in its first year of publication, many of them to book clubs. It's the story of a college student who visits a nursing home for a project, and realizes that the man he's interviewing might not be guilty of the heinous crime for which he was convicted. This novel was also shortlisted for an Edgar Allen Poe award.

And now Eskens second novel, The Guise of Another has been released, another stand-alone, this time featuring a Minnesota detective whose downward spiral might be stopped by a lead in a traffic accident; the victim might not be the person he was identified as. It turns out there's a major conspiracy at work, and before it gets unraveled, the bodies are going to pile up. Recent Edgar Award winner William Kent Krueger writes: "Allen Eskens has conjured up a marvelously black spirit of a novel. It's a taut, intelligent, heart-ripping story that explores the darkest places in the human psyche. After each unexpected twist, you ll tell yourself things can't get any worse. And then they do. "

Allen Eskens will be at Boswell on Saturday, October 21, 2 pm. When you're having trouble getting the book club to finish the book, maybe it's time to get the gang reading something that's compulsively readable.
B.A. Shapiro at Boswell on Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm.

So now we've talked about a historical and a thriller, but perhaps putting them together is the perfect match.  One of our most popular book club recommendations of the past several years has been B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger, the story of a young artist who is told to reproduce one of the stolen paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist of 1993, but she is beginning to suspect that this original Degas may itself be a fake.

In her new novel, The Muralist, Shapiro turns to the abstract expressionist movement to create the fictional artist Alizee Benoit, who hung out with Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollack, until her mysterious disappearance in 1940. Now seventy years later, her grand niece, Danielle Abrams, working at an auction house, takes up the cause as to what exactly happened. The story alternates between the two women, as Alizee gets caught up in a campaign to get her Jewish relatives out of Europe. 

Shapiro was interviewed by Mike Yawn for the Houston Chronicle about her new book. She explains the setup: "I've always wanted to write a book about the Depression, and as I explored this era, I was intrigued by the Works Progress Administration and the program's employment of artists. Among these artists were Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Mark Rothko. Once World War II began and the WPA closed down, they had all of these paintings that hadn't been placed, and many of them were just thrown out as trash. In The Muralist, a character discovers one of these boxes of WPA paintings, and there are pieces of a missing painting that turn out to be a mural hidden behind a Pollock, a Krasner and a Rothko. That's the beginning."

We can work with the publisher to provide good background material for your discussion of The Muralist or The Art Forger. Start by attending our event for B.A. Shapiro on Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm.. (Shapiro photo credit Lynn Wayne)
Boswell Book Clubs 

The in-store lit group tackles all kinds of books, from contemporary award winners to books in translation. They've read a young adult novel, several works of nonfiction, collection stories and novellas, and a graphic novel too. The group, run by Daniel, generally meets on the first Monday of the month, at 7 pm. Upcoming selections:
--Monday, December 7: Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
--Monday, January 4: Unbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm. Note that Scherm will be visiting Boswell on Friday, January 8.

There's also a special bonus meeting on Tuesday, November 24, 2 pm, to discuss Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies. Registration is not required for this group and note that the book is 20% off the cover price, instead of the normal 10% book club discount.

The sci fi book club meets on the second Monday of each month, at 7 pm.. For the most part, they stick to science fiction, not fantasy, though perhaps one selection per year will veer into sci-fantasy, which as Jason explains it, uses technology, but not technology that is theoretically possible. If this kind of discussion intrigues you, this is your group. No registration necessary for these upcoming meetings:
--Monday, December 14: Best American Science and Fantasy 2015, with guest editor Joe Hill
--Monday, January 11: Eon, by Greg Bear

In addition to helping coordinate your book club selections, Anne also runs the mystery book club, which meets on the fourth Monday of each month. The group reads a diverse assortment of crime fiction. They are not meeting in December, but here are their selections for November and January:
--Monday, November 23: The Guise of Another, by Allen Eskens (see above)
--Monday, January 25: to be determined on November 23!

In addition, several other book clubs meet at Boswell, including a nonfiction book club, Readers of the Lost Art, Milwaukee Page Turners, and the Shorewood Women's Club. While we are not able to schedule new evening clubs in store, due to our event schedule, we might be able to facilitate your group if it meets during the daytime.
Read a Book, See a Film.

Some of our favorite novels are upcoming film releases this fall. There's nothing more animated than a discussion about a book and film together. Here are some particularly promising parings:
--Room, by Emma Donoghue
--Brooklyn, by Colm T�ib�n
--The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff. More here!
--Deep, Down Dark, by Hector Tobar (renamed "The 33" for film)
--The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith (renamed "Carol" for film)
Don't forget, we'd love to help you select the titles for your upcoming discussions. If you can't attend our Ren�e Rosen event, we'll have another book club presentation at Boswell in the spring. And if your group wants to come to Boswell, we can often schedule a daytime presentation to five or more attendees. 

Here's one last tip for you. Every month, after our in-store lit group discussion, Daniel writes up how things went on the Boswell and Books blog. Last meeting we discussed Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton, one of Jane's picks. It was a huge hit - everybody fell in love with Florence, and the discussion was very animated. Why not try it?

As always, thank you for your patronage,
Daniel Goldin with Amie, Anne, Barb, Carly, Chris, Conrad, Jason, Jane, Jannis, Jen, Mel, Olivia, Pam, Peter, Phoebe, Sarah, Scott, Sharon, and Todd