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Boswell Book Company

2559 North Downer Avenue at Webster Place

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211

(414) 332-1181,

Our Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 9 pm, Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm

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Boswell Book Company Newsletter             November 27, 2015, Day 2430

While you are shopping at Boswell this holiday season, please say hi to our volunteer gift wrappers. They are raising money for organizations such as East Side Senior Services, Alice's Garden, St. Ann's Center, and Literary Services of Milwaukee. Boswell provides all paper and ribbon; all tips go straight to the organization. Don't forget, we offer free gift wrapping for purchases made at Boswell, but for those who want to wrap at home, we also offer a great selection of packaged wraps. 

Boswell Benefits is a wonderful way to earn coupons any time of year. Don't forget that during our shopping nights, you can choose to have your purchases go to the sponsoring organization (and that is at 10-15% of your qualifying purchases, instead of the 5% you accrue through benefits. But there's another option; you can designate your coupon amount to be donated to our featured charity, which is currently Sojourner Family Peace Center.

We also want to give a shout out to Aaron Boyd, the amazing local artist who has given us the illustration that is featured in our 2015 holiday newsletter. His newest book is Luigi and the Barefoot Races. And lastly, thanks to all of you who asked us to update your address. Don't forget that mailed newsletters have a special coupon, and you must bring it in to use it. 
Jessica Kaminski Signs MKE Beard During Small Business Saturday, November 28, 12 Noon, at Boswell.

This is a great holiday for regional titles, and one of the quirkiest and yet most beautiful has to be MKE Beard Book, the project from photographer Jessica Kaminski. As she notes, beards are having a major moment, and the book sets out to capture a cross-section of people to capture the cultural zeitgeist. 

This project is a labor of love, from the Kickstarter fundraising to a portion of every book's sale going to benefit No-Shave November, a project to raise funds for cancer research and prevention Models include Tarik Moody, Sean Raasch, and Kristopher Pollard (KPolly). Kate Foster at The Refinery Photo Studio has spearheaded this project, juggling schedules, sets, props, and production along the way. 

Read more about the book's creation in this M Magazine article. And then come out to meet Kaminski and get a copy of MKE Beard signed on Saturday, November 28, between noon and 1 pm.  Please note that this is a signing only.
Buy Local Gift Fair, Sunday November 29 at the Mitchell Park Domes.

The Buy Local Gift Fair is part of Local First Milwaukee's mission to get folks to move more of their holiday purchases to local vendors. Of course it's well nigh impossible to buy everything local, and even if you could, shopping local is just one of the many factors in everyone's shopping formula. That said, there's a good amount of research that shows that dollars spent on local vendors have a greater impact on helping your community. Here's a 2012 study that looks at shopping local's impact on Milwaukee

The Buy Local Gift Fair is now at the Mitchell Park Conservatory, also known as The Domes. Hours are 9 am to 4 pm and vendors featured include locally-based storefront and internet business, nonprofits, and a good amount of food and beverage vendors as well. The featured sponsor is Stan's Fit for Your Feet, with locations in Glendale, Greenfield, and Brookfield.

Other vendors include Clock Shadow Creamery, The Waxwing, Cream City Soap Company, Brew City Botanicals, Wellspring Organic Farm, Anodyne Coffee, Plushzilla, Lit Milwaukee (they make candles!), Indulgence Chocolatiers, Rishi Tea, Outpost Natural Foods, and more. Admission is $7 but parking is free. Hope to see you there.
Kevin Keefe Celebrates Trains Magazines Archives, Monday, November 30, 7 pm, at Boswell. 

Milwaukee loves trains! Why just in the past few weeks there's been Trainfest at State Fair Park and the Chris Van Allsburg event at the Milwaukee Public Library that brought close to 400 people, many of whom spent much time viewing the wonderful Lionel Railroad Club display. This Thursday brings the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train to Milwaukee, and that is one of the reasons why we moved our event with Kevin Keefe to Monday, November 30, 7 pm. When the Christmas train comes, you get out of the way!

We just hated to imagine that folks wouldn't come out for this event celebrating Railroad Visions: Steam Era Images from the Trains Magazine Archive. Milwaukee has long been a train enthusiast hub, and one of those reasons is that Trains Magazine is published by Kalmbach Publishing in Waukesha. Kevin Keefe is the former editor and publisher of Trains and is now a director of the Center for Railroad Photography and Art. He  wrote the text for this beautiful new book, so who better to talk about it? Of course the event will feature a slide show from the book as well.

While you can't take the train to Boswell, you can walk, drive, or bus on over for our event on Monday, November 30, 7 pm. Don't forget to mark this new date and time for the event. 
B.A. Shapiro's Art History Adventure at Boswell, Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm.

Over the past few years, The Art Forger has won numerous fans, with its mix of art history and mystery, with close to 200 of you buying the book at Boswell. We were thrilled to hear of the new release from Shapiro, The Muralist, and we're particularly excited that she'll be at Boswell on Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm.

This time Shapiro turns to the Abstract Expressionists, many of whom worked on WPA projects while they were struggling to get attention for their own work. To the mix of real-life artists such as Jackson Pollack, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, and Willem Dekooning, Shapiro adds the fictional Alizée Benoit, a French-American who along with Krasner, gets a commission to paint an abstract mural at the New York Public Library.

Benoit's had a hard life. Her parents, both scientists, are dead, and so while she is a citizen, all her family is still in Europe, in France, Germany, and Belgium, desperately trying to get out to escape the Nazis. But when several try to come to the United States through Cuba on the St. Louis, they are turned away. While Alizée is fighting with authorities to consider abstract over representational art for projects, she's also desperately trying to get visas, knowing that there are people in the state department who want to keep Jews out of the United Sates. The story winds up having real-life parallels that Shapiro probably didn't imagine when she wrote The Art Forger. For a real-life take on the tragic voyage of the St. Louis, see the event for Martin Goldsmith's Alex's Wake below.)
Art Forger
But there's a contemporary mystery at work here as well. At a present day auction house, Benoit's grand-niece, Danielle Abrams, ponders the fate of her aunt, who disappeared during the war. While working on some new pieces, she comes across a small square attached to the back of a well-known artist's work, and it seems eerily familiar to another small work that has been passed down to her that's been said to be one of Benoit's surviving paintings. Could this new work help unlock her aunt's story?

Daniel Goldin, who recently finished The Muralist, wrote: "Like most historical fiction, there's been quite a bit of research that has gone into Shapiro's story. One also has to understand that there's been quite a bit of fictional tweaking to the narrative. It would have been amazing if there were a real-life Alizée Benoit, but the fictional character is the next best thing, and brings the period to vibrant life. The Muralist is an exciting page-turner with great historical detail - it reminded me quite a bit of Tatiana De Rósnay's Sarah's Key." Mark your calendar for Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm. and please note we're offering The Muralist at the Boswell Best price of 20% off.
Eric Jarosinski Says Yes to Adorno, Nein to Most Everything Else, Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm, at UWM's Curtin Hall. 

Nein. A Manifesto is the brainchild of Eric Jarosinski, the self-described failed intellectual behind the hugely popular @NeinQuarterly: a Compendium of Utopian Negation that uses the aphoristic potential of Twitter to plumb the existential abyss of modern life and finds it bottomless. Stridently hopeless and charmingly dour, Nein. A Manifesto is an irreverent philosophical investigation into our most urgent questions. And the least. Inspired by the aphorisms of Nietzsche, Karl Kraus, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno, Jarosinski's short-form style reinvents philosophy for a world doomed to distraction. 

Michael Robbins writes in The Chicago Tribune: "Nein is a smart, slight novelty item, produced, the author informs us in his afterword, while he was failing to write an academic book. But it will have performed a valuable service if it sends more readers to the work of its presiding spirit, who you might have discerned is the German critical-theorist Theodor W. Adorno, whose cartoon image adorns Jarosinski's cover."

This free event with Jarosinski is being held on Tuesday, December 1, 7 pm, at 175 Curtin Hall, 3243 N. Downer Ave. It is sponsored by the UWM German Program, with the support of the MA Program in Language, Literature, and Translation; the Center for International Education; and the Year of the Humanities.
John Gurda Celebrates the Neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Wednesday, December 2, 7 pm, at Boswell. 

John Gurda Have you seen Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods? It is a masterpiece, a celebration of the city in all its glory. It's inspired by neighborhood posters created by the Dept. of City Development in the 1980s, and is the first book project of Historic Milwaukee, Inc. In fact, HMI commissioned 11 new posters, which they are offering for sale. 

John Gurda is Milwaukee's historian bar none, and you can tell that he put years of research and writing and editing into this project. Jim Higgins writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "As Gurda points out, Milwaukee does not define its neighborhoods legally or formally as some cities do. Some of the neighborhoods he profiles, such as Pigsville, are clearly defined by their geography. A few of his other neighborhoods are more conceptual or aspirational, such as Avenues West, a designation for the Marquette University campus and outlying blocks west to 27th St."

Here is Gurda speaking to Brendan O'Brien in Urban Milwaukee: "It's about the neighborhoods. How they started, how they changed and where they are today. When you come down to it, any history is a study of change. The neighborhoods have transformed over time. In my old neighborhood on the South Side around Jackson Park, my grandparents had a hardware store on Lincoln Avenue for 50 years. When I was growing up and into the 1980s, that neighborhood was largely Polish and German and now it's Latino. That's incredible change in less than a generation. That's the nature of life in the city."

Want to order Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods? Buy two copies and you qualify for free shipping in the continental United States. And of course come to our talk with John Gurda on Wednesday, December 2, at Boswell. He'll also be at Bay View Library on Wednesday, December 9, 6 pm.
Martin Goldsmith Chronicles the Doomed Voyage of the St. Louis at the Samson Family JCC, Thursday, December 3, 7 pm.

Alex's Wake is a tale of two parallel journeys undertaken seven decades apart. In the spring of 1939, Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt were two of more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis, "the saddest ship afloat," per The New York Times. Turned away from Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the St. Louis returned to Europe, a stark symbol of the world's indifference to the gathering Holocaust. The Goldschmidts disembarked in France, where they spent the next three years in six different camps before being shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz. 

In the spring of 2011, Alex's grandson, Martin Goldsmith, followed in his relatives footsteps on a six-week journey of remembrance and hope, an irrational quest to reverse their fate and bring himself peace. Alex's Wake movingly recounts the detailed histories of the two journeys, the witnesses Martin encounters for whom the events of the past are a vivid part of a living present, and an intimate, honest attempt to overcome a tormented family legacy. For a fictional take on the tragic voyage of the St. Louis, please see our event info for B.A. Shapiro's The Muralist above.

Mike Freeman of the Providence Journal writes: "If all Holocaust stories are scarcely speakable, that of Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt is particularly so. In addition, it indicts people far beyond Nazi Germany, for their journey embarked on the S.S. St. Louis, boarded by German Jews fleeing the Third Reich. Infamous for its circuitous route, the boat was bound for an open-armed Cuba before its passengers were finally turned away. America was next, and while Franklin Roosevelt ultimately turned the ship back, Goldsmith details that decision in surprisingly forgiving terms given that it doomed his uncle and grandfather."

Goldsmith, the former host of NPR's performance today and now a classical music program host on Sirius XM Radio, appears at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center at 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay, Thursday, December 3, 7 pm. For questions, please contact the JCC at (414) 967-8200.
This May be Your Only Chance to Ever See a Musical Staged at Boswell. "The Story of My Life" Runs from December 3 to 13.

Tickets are still available for The Story of My Life, the joint production of The Milwaukee Opera Theatre and The Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, running for seven performances from Thursday December 3 through Sunday, December 13.

Here's John Schneider in the Shepherd Express writing about the production, specifically on it being set at Boswell: "What's easy to imagine is the powerful impact the bookstore setting will have on the material. This will be a site-specific musical theater event.

"Thomas, the storyteller, is a 35-year-old successful novelist called upon to write a eulogy for his lifelong best friend, Alvin. Alvin had taken over his deceased father's independent bookstore and now has died unexpectedly and mysteriously at age 35, a possible suicide. Although as children and young men, these oddball book-loving friends saw one another through many challenging experiences, they haven't spoken in a while. Thomas has reached an impasse in his writing; by coincidence, the name of Alvin's bookstore, the only building on its city block, is The Writer's Block. As Thomas struggles for words to describe his beloved friend, he imagines Alvin there to help him tell their story.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre "The audience sees them interacting from age 6 to 35 while Thomas comes to understand that all of his experiences with Alvin helped him shape each book he's written. Since Thomas is only imagining his presence, Alvin can't tell him how or why he jumped from a bridge to his death; that's not the story that writers Brian Hill and Neil Bartram are interested in telling. 
The Story of My Life is not a melodrama. It's a eulogy, in fact: a sincere meditation on the meaning of friendship presented almost entirely in songs by two men and almost never in duets."

Milwaukee Opera Theatre's producing artistic director is Jill Anna Ponasik. The Story of My Life stars Doug Clemons and Adam Estes. C. Michael Wright is the stage director (also the producing artistic director of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre) and Anne Van Deusen is the musical director. Costumes are by Jason Orlenko and lighting design is by Antishadows. Here's another link to tickets.
More Events in December

Saturday, December 5, 11 am: Daniel Goldin discusses holiday books at the Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Ave. This holiday treat is offered three times, and it's the only public event. The other two are at The Woman's Club of Milwaukee and at St. John's on the Lake.

Tuesday, December 8, 7 pm: Patrick McGilligan, author of Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane. McGilligan returns to Boswell for his latest. Chris Foran offers praise in the Journal Sentinel: "The Welles that emerges in Young Orson is more complex and more straightforward than you've likely seen or read before. Which might be the portrait that Welles wanted to leave behind."

Wednesday, December 9, 7 pm: Margaret M. Goss, author of The Uncommitted.

Thursday, December 17, 7 pm: Acclaimed ukulele master, educator and author Lil Rev celebrates the release of Essential Strums & Strokes for Ukulele: A Treasury of Strum-Hand Techniques.  

Tuesday, December 29, 7 pm: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Jones, author of World War II Milwaukee
Six Books We Think Might Sell Out Before Christmas.

Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe. Explanations for life's interesting stuff using only the thousand most common words in the English language, accompanied by line drawings, from What If? and xkcd author.

The Nordic Cookbook, by Magnus Nilsson. More than 700 authentic recipes in a gorgeous book that unravels Nordic ingredients for cooks of all abilities. 

Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743, by Ross King and Anja Grebe. This is the most comprehensive book on the paintings and frescoes of Florence ever undertaken, with nearly 2,000 beautifully reproduced artworks from the city's great museums and churches.

The 50 States, by Gabrielle Balkan, with illustrations by Sol Linero. Explore 50 illustrated maps, each featuring state capitals, famous residents, and key historical moments. Includes a guide to the state flags and presidents of the United States of America. 

Counting Lions, by Katie Cotton. A spectacular, visually stunning celebration of wildlife - and gentle counting book - that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Picturepediafrom DK Publishing. Covering over 150 topics, featuring thousands of stunning photographs, full of images and information: a mini-encyclopedia on every page!

It's always hard to tell what's going to explode in sales, and of course we're not privy to print figures. All these books have a strong visual component and could be tough to reprint, and they are all picks from our buyers Jason (top three) and Amie (bottom three).
We're on Second-Hand Buying Hiatus.

Our annual second-hand book buying hiatus runs from now through the middle of January. Fortunately Sharon and Jason have bought lots of gently used titles to get us through the holiday season. Many books are under $10, and perfect for holiday gift exchanges. 
Don't forget that Boswell is more than just books. Jen has been buying a great assortment of gifts, including micro Cubebots (pictured). We've still got a great selection of boxed gift cards, and we're also given high marks on our assortment of holiday ornaments. We've got plush and kids games and puzzles (for adults and kids), all sorts of totes, and many, many, many adult coloring books, plus colored pencils from Kids Made Modern and Chronicle.
As always, thank you for your patronage and apologies for the typos,
Daniel Goldin with Amie, Anne, Barb, Carly, Chris, Conrad, Jason, Jane, Jannis, Jen, Mel, Olivia, Pam, Peter, Phoebe, Scott, Sharon, and Todd