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Boswell Book Company Newsletter          March 17, 2016, Day 2541.

And now for another great event announcement. We're hosting a signing with actress, writer, and creator of the Geek and Sundry blog Felicia Day for her paperback edition of You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), Monday, April 25, 7 pm, at Boswell.  Her new book is a "relentlessly funny and surprisingly inspirational" memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and how she embraced her weirdness to find her place in the world. 

Tickets are $17 each, include all taxes and fees, admission for one to the signing line, and a paperback copy of You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Ms. Day will sign copies of her memoir, and will personalize If you'd like a photo of Ms. Day signing your copy, bring your phone or camera; booksellers will be on hand to accommodate requests. Each ticket holder will also be able to get one other item signed, either another book or some sort of memorabilia. 
Ever candid, Felicia Day opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer's block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety and depression, and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming. Showcasing her "engaging and often hilarious voice," You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should celebrate what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now, even for a digital misfit.

Poet John Koethe Reads From His New Collection at Boswell, Friday, March 18, 7 pm.

We're honored to host the launch reading for John Koethe, presenting his tenth collection of poetry, and his first for Farrar Straus Giroux, The Swimmer His new collection investigates the capricious nature of everyday life. The poems luxuriate in the questions that punctuate the most humdrum of routines, rendering a robust portrait of an individual: complicated, quotidian, and resounding with truth.

Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at UWM, he has received the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, and the Frank O'Hara Award. He was also the first Milwaukee Poet Laureate. As Jim Higgins notes in the Journal Sentinel: "There's nothing hermetic about the poems in The Swimmer: no personal mythology or private vocabulary required to unlock their secret meanings, just the patient and persistent attention you'd give a friend explaining something subtle - especially if the friend was a retired professor of philosophy."

On WUWM's Lake Effect, Mitch Teich talked to Koethe in the studio, where the author revealed himself to be a practical romantic. Teich noted "Many of his poems reflect a look back at how things have changed during his lifetime, and not always for the better." Koethe thinks "disillusion" might be the word, but without perjorative connotations. Enjoy this evening of poetry on Friday, March 18, 7 pm. (Photo credit Kevin Miyazaki.)
Veteran Writers Brian Castner, Matthew Hefti, Ross Ritchell Together on Saturday, March 19, 2 pm, at Boswell.

Marquette alum Brian Castner first won acclaim for his memoir, The Long Walk Home in 2012. Now he returns with All the Ways We Kill and Die: An Elegy for a Fallen Comrade, and the Hunt for His Killer. Castner, an Air Force explosive ordnance disposal officer who commanded bomb-disposal units in Iraq, chronicles the life and death of his friend, Matthew Schwartz, in Afghanistan. He wonders if the bomb maker who killed Matt is the same man American forces have been hunting since Iraq, known as the Engineer? Castner's newest is also a meditation on how the technology we develop can also be used against us. Publishers Weekly called this "a fast paced, personal tale" written in the style of a thriller. 

Madison writer Matthew Hefti's novel, A Hard and Heavy Thing, chronicles the friendship of Levi and Nick. First Levi saved Nick's life during an ill-fated ambush, but when Levi returns home and Nick's life spins out of control, it is Nick's turn to do the saving, by listening to Levi's story. Hefti, also an explosive ordnance disposal technician, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, has won praise with this starred review from Booklist: "his depiction of life and death in the misbegotten Iraq invasion will stay with readers for a long time."

Ross Ritchell was a soldier in the United States Special Operations Command direct-action team, conducting classified operations who, following his tours of duty, received his MFA from Northwestern University. His novel The Knife, now in paperback, is part thriller, part meditation on war. The late Alan Cheuse offered praise on NPR's All Things Considered: "In two pages reminiscent of...The Things They Carried, we get an inventory of what Dutch himself carries in his kit...Ritchell packs this novel in the same way - the land, the weather, the men, their lives and, in some cases, their deaths, all in under 300 pages. Put this one in your own kit. The best novel yet about life at the point of the knife in these times of overlapping foreign wars."

We should note that both Castner and Ritchell made Michiko Kakutani's reading list of war stories in The New York Times, along with former Boswell guests Kevin Powers and Jen Percy. Had Hefti come out when it was written, he'd be there too! Come listen to all three at Boswell on Saturday, March 19, 2 pm.
Jacquelyn Mitchard Returns to Milwaukee for Her Latest, on Sunday, March 20, at 3 pm.

For many years, Jacquelyn Mitchard's writing was featured in a Milwaukee Journal column. She wrote a first novel. And then it happened - that book, The Deep End of the Ocean, was featured as the first pick in the Oprah Book Club. Now, after writing several novels for teens, she's back with her first novel for adults in five years with Two if By Sea, a gripping new family drama. 

Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, former police officer Frank Mercy pulls a boy from a submerged car, saving the child's life. In that moment, Frank's own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up, to train horses. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary telepathic gift, but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. He meets Claudia, a champion equestrian, someone with whom he can share his life and his fears for Ian. But there's a sinister group who want to get Ian back, and Frank and Claudia are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their new family intact, whatever the cost. 

Reviewers are noting that Mitchard's latest has the same qualities that made earlier stories beloved, but with a supernatural twist. Diana Andro in the Fort Worth Star Telegram calls it "a sweet story of one man's road to recovery and the challenges he faces to protect the people he loves." Kirkus Reviews also offered its take: "A troubled protagonist, beset by disaster and malefaction, is touched by magic as he develops new emotional connections." See you on Sunday, March 20, 3 pm, at Boswell. 
Thomas Frank on Liberal Ideology and the Democratic Party, Tuesday, March 22, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Thomas Frank, former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper's, and founder of The Baffler, returns with Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, which draws on years of research and first-hand reporting to point out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. With his trademark sardonic wit and lacerating logic seen in his bestselling book, What's the Matter with Kansas?, Listen, Liberal lays bare the essence of the Democratic Party's philosophy and how it has changed over the years. 

Carlos Lozada explains it a little more in his Washington Post review, which also focused on Bill Press's Buyers Remorse: "Over the past four decades...the Democrats have embraced a new favorite constituency: the professional class - the doctors, lawyers, engineers, programmers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, financiers and other so-called creatives whose fetish for academic credentials and technological innovation has infected the party of the working class." And continues: "Now it's all Google and Uber rather than Goldman and Citi, but the Democrats' worship of disruptive innovation is just as detrimental to working-class interests as their respect for financial engineering, Frank cautions."

Want to hear more? Frank will explain it all to you on Tuesday, March 22, 7 pm, at Boswell. 
Raymond Arroyo With His First Book for Kids at St. Monica Parish, Tuesday, March 22, 7 pm.

Raymond Arroyo is best known as the lead anchor and news director for EWTN, and the author of several books about Mother Angelica, including a biography, and several books of devotions and sayings. But he's also authored a book for kids, Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls

Booklist offers this enthusiastic take in their recent review, which they compared to the exploits of Percy Jackson or a young Indiana Jones: "Will hatches another harebrained scheme and sets out to steal an ancient relic, a bone of Saint Thomas that has healing powers. However, Will's theft unleashes demons on his town of Perilous Falls, thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy and revealing his own destiny. With the help of the Brethren, led by Will's aunt Lucille, Will learns he is the one who must lead the Brethren to defeat the evil forces rising in Perilous Falls."

From an interview with Arroyo in America: The National Catholic Review: "As a journalist, I have always been fascinated by relics and the reaction they provoke in people. The question arose in my mind: What if these relics had supernatural powers? What if they were collected by Will's great grandfather from all over the world and housed in a single museum of antiquities at the center of Perilous Falls?". Arroyo will be appearing on Tuesday, March 22, at 7 pm, at St. Monica Parish on 160 W. Silver Spring Dr, at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. Parking is available behind the church. 
Memoirist and Musician Rob Roberge at Boswell on Wednesday, March 23, 7 pm.

A writer teaching at the university level who also plays in a punk band called The Urinals? An addict struggling with recovery, fighting mental illness, and coping with the repercussions of numerous concussions? It's all there in Rob Roberge's new memoir, recommended to us by Gina Frangello, who has now appeared at Boswell events as a publisher, anauthor, and a character in someone else's book.

Here's Boswellian Daniel Goldin's take on Liar: A Memoir: "When Rob Roberge's memory starts to go from all the drugs and alcohol and psychotic episodes and five or more concussions that have led to lasting brain damage, including my favorite (can you have a favorite?) when a big can of fudge fell on his head while working at an ice cream shop, can you blame him for trying to furiously write down his memories, from the age of five onward, with the results being a little random? But no, they are not random at all! For in that jumbled order, they convey the dislocation of a man who's been through just about everything, the poster boy for sex (all over the map) and drugs (varied, including lots of alcohol) and rock and roll (mostly punk). It's an edgy tale with a lot of impact!"

Steve Appleford reviewed the book for the Los Angeles Times. He writes: "The gifted author and indie-rock guitarist has titled his memoir Liar, which is more an admission of uncertainty than deceit. What follows all rings true, like anything told by a really good fabulist. Early on, he addresses himself, cautioning, 'Nabokov said that memory is a revision. Maybe you revised a lot of this wrong. You are honestly not sure.' What is sure is that Roberge will be at Boswell on Wednesday, March 23, 7 pm.
Stan Soocher With a Very Different Take on Beatles History, Thursday, March 24, 7 pm, at Boswell. 

Part Beatles history, part legal thriller, Baby You re a Rich Man begins in the era when manager Brian Epstein opened the Pandora's box of rock n roll merchandising, making a hash of the band's licensing and inviting multiple lawsuits in the United States and the United Kingdom. The band's long breakup period, from 1969 to 1971, provides a backdrop to the Machiavellian grasping of new manager Allen Klein, who unleashed a blizzard of suits and legal motions to take control of the band, their music, and Apple Records. The drama continues with a suit from Morris Levy, a standoff with Phil Spector, and with Lennon as the target of a deportation campaign by key aides of President Nixon.

Martin James in Times Higher Education writes that "This latest addition to the canon offers perspective on a band that is interesting as it is infuriating...infuriating because time after time, in Stan Soocher's obsessively detailed book, one is left with the feeling that as songwriters, The Beatles may have had rare talent, but as businessmen, they were naive to the point of stupidity."

Attorney and a journalist Stan Soocher walks us through all the legal tribulations of the classic band. The founding editor of Entertainment Law and Finance, he has also written articles on rock and roll for numerous publications. On Thursday, March 24, 7 pm at Boswell, allow Soocher to explain why the Beatles, it turned out, needed a little more than love to get them through their many legal entanglements. 

A Mother-Daughter Story From Mary Pflum Peterson at Boswell on Tuesday, March 29, 7 pm.

In the wake of her mother's untimely death, Mary Pflum Peterson dug deep to understand her mother's unraveling in White Dresses: A Memoir of Love and Secrets, Mothers and Daughters. With the trained eye of a journalist, the gift of narrative prose, and the unwavering empathy of a loving daughter, Mary explores the episodes that comprised her and her mother's lives through the prism of the white dresses that marked many life milestones. From the dress worn by Mary's mother when she became a nun, to the wedding gown she donned years later, to graduation dresses and christening gowns, these white dresses embodied hope and new beginnings.

Meredith Maran probes a little deeper in her Chicago Tribune review: "The book is far darker and far more interesting than its title and its marketing handle suggest. White Dresses is, in fact, a devastating profile of an explosive and ultimately exploded family. Pflum Peterson's father is both a rageaholic and a closeted gay man living a double life. Her mother, a former nun, suffers from escalating, debilitating depression and hoarding. We root for Pflum Peterson's redemption and we're not disappointed; somehow she manages to escape the sucking swamp of her parents' miseries, making a successful life for herself as a TV reporter and producer for Good Morning America, and a happily married wife and mother of four."

Mary Pflum Peterson is a veteran multi-Emmy-Award winning producer, whose work has taken her from the ravaged remains of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to the royal wedding in London,. Prior to GMA, Pflum Peterson was also a producer and reporter for CNN, where, from her post in Istanbul, she traveled in and out of numerous warzones. But she has a place in her heart for Milwaukee, the place where she got married. Join us to hear more of her story on Tuesday, March 29, 7 pm, at Boswell. 
To Harp or Not to Harp, with Novelist Andy Mozina, Wednesday, March 30, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Join us at Boswell as we welcome Milwaukee's own (and alum of Pius XI High School!) Andy Mozina for Contrary Motion, a bittersweet, comic, debut novel that Ann Patchett calls "a new and deeply original voice." And honestly, how many novels have harpist heroes? Sure, Matthew Grzbc is just your average newly divorced dad. He shares custody of his six-year-old daughter. He may still be in love with his ex-wife. He believes he probably doesn't deserve his sexy, successful, driven girlfriend. And he plays the harp - that's his job. When his father dies unexpectedly (he has a heart attack while listening to a meditation CD), Matt is forced to confront his own mortality and the fleeting nature of life - he questions everything, from his romantic attachments to his professional aspirations.

Of his newest, Publishers Weekly writes: "Mozina stays faithful to the notion that art rings truest at its most tense and least resolved. Readers will appreciate this wry take on a richly dysfunctional life." And Carla Jean Whitley in Bookpage notes: "Mozina's storytelling is easy and humorous, taking the stuff of everyday life and presenting it in a way that both entertains and draws out emotion."

To get a feeling for Andy's infectious sense of humor, we'll offer a brief excerpt from Mozina's blog, when he announced that he would have not one, but three launches in Kalamazoo for his novel (one super, one mega, and one climactic). "Condemnation of the unprecedented plan was swift and universal...'It's sad and annoying,' said Katie Henderson, a marketing professor at Western Michigan University. 'He thinks calling something super or mega makes it special.'" What do we know? Our super mega climactic non-launch is on Wednesday, March 30, 7 pm, at Boswell. 
An Evening with Lil' Rev Strumming and Stroking, Thursday, March 31, 7 pm, at Boswell. 

Lil Rev For those of you hoping for a return visit from Lil' Rev, your wishes are granted. We'll be hosting a special evening with the acclaimed ukulele master, educator, and author for Essential Strums & Strokes for Ukulele: A Treasury of Strum-Hand TechniquesLil' Rev will explain how he learned so many cool strum-hand techniques and who inspired him, as well as a grab bag of songs from which he'll demonstrate technique.

Lil' Rev is a world-class entertainer and steward of vintage song and lore. Performing with ukulele, harmonica, mandolin, guitar and banjo, Rev has an unmatched repertoire of both traditional and original song, poetry, storytelling, and humor. Audiences will sing along, clap, laugh, and maybe even shed a tear at a Lil' Rev performance. Both entertainer and educator, Rev is renowned as one of the preeminent ukulele instructors and performers in the nation, with seven instructional books to his credit.

Milwaukee raised Lil' Rev (Marc Revenson) has been called a Wisconsin treasure. He was named best folk singer by WAMI and inducted into the Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame. Join us for a Revved up evening on Thursday, March 31, 7 pm, at Boswell.
Meet Lauren Conrad on Friday, April 1, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Lifestyle and fashion icon Lauren Conrad has made a career of inspiring women to look and feel their best. Now that she's gotten everyone all dressed up and looking their most beautiful, she gives us somewhere to go with Lauren Conrad Celebrate, a lavishly-illustrated, elegant, and essential guide to entertaining through the year.

Whether you're planning a baby shower lunch or a Moroccan brunch, Conrad offers invites, bar ideas, a menu (of course), and tips for decor and dress. There's even an etiquette section. I'm sure you know someone in your family that would be thrilled to meet the star of The Hills and Laguna Beach. Conrad's last visit was a standout, and not just because we had a power outage during the signing. It was also because our guest was just about the most charming person we've ever hosted, gracious to guest and bookseller alike. 

Lauren Conrad will be appearing for a ticketed signing at Boswell on Friday, April 1, 7 pm. Tickets are $30, including all taxes and fees, and include a signed copy of Lauren Conrad Celebrate. You may bring up to two backlist books to be signed, but alas, there are no posed photos and no memorabilia will be signed.
More Boswell Events in April

Tuesday, April 5, 6 pm, at MIAD, 273 E Erie St: Barry Schwabsky, author of The Perpetual Guest: Art in the Unfinished Present.

Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 pm, at Alverno College Alumni Hall, and
Tuesday, April 12, 7 pm, at the UWM Union: Ellen Bravo, author of Again and Again.

Wednesday, April 6, 6:30 pm, at North Shore Library, 6800 N Port Washington Rd: Jesse Andrews, author of The Haters and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Thursday, April 7, 7 pm, at the Riverside Theater: a ticketed event with Nick Offerman, author of Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers.
Tickets are $20, plus taxes and fees. We are not able to get copies signed for this book for non-ticketholders.

Friday, April 8, 7 pm, at Boswell: John Nichols and Robert McChesney, authors of People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy.

Monday, April 11, 6:30 pm, at West Allis Public Library, 7421 W National Ave: Ally Condie, author of Summerlost, and Matched.

Tuesday, April 12, 7 pm, at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center:
a ticketed event with Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk and Shaler's FishTickets are $21 or $27, depending on which book you select.

Friday, April 15, 7 pm, at Boswell: Adam Carr, author of Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood, Our City.

Saturday, April 16, 2 pm, at Boswell, in collaboration with First Stage Milwaukee: Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted.
The First Stage show opens April 1. Tickets available here. Please note the author appearance at Boswell is free and unticketed.

Sunday, April 17, 2 pm, at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 111 E. Brown Deer Rd: Bill Berry, author of Banning DDT: How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin. This event is free with $8 admission to the grounds.

Sunday, April 17, 3 pm, at Boswell: Newbery-Medalistist Kwame Alexander, author of Booked and The Crossover.

Monday, April 18, 6 pm, at the Loos Room at Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St: Meg Jones, author of World War II Milwaukee.

Tuesday, April 19, 7 pm, at Boswell: Jessica Knoll, author of Luckiest Girl Alive, in conversation with Carole E. Barrowman. This event is cosponsored by Crimespree magazine.
Three Reviews From America's Independent Bookstores.

We have so many reviews written up for April and May, but March had a bit of a hole in it. No worries, as our fellow booksellers across the country have endorsed lots of titles in the Indie Next flier that we hand out each month. The big favorite this month was The Opposite of Everyone, the new novel from Joshilyn Jackson. Annell Gerson from The Bookmiser in Roswell, Georgia writes: "Paula Vauss, n�e Kali Jai, is complicated, with every right to be so. When she was a young girl, her mother landed in prison and Paula spent time in foster care. Kai, Paula's Southern, bohemian, Hindu story-telling, boyfriend-hopping mother, loves her, but circumstances surrounding the separation permanently alter their unique love and each spends time trying to make life work again. This is a poignant story of hurt and forgiveness, of secrets and courage, and ultimately of allowing love and family to make one whole again."

We know that there's always an interest in historical fiction. Danielle Dutton's Margaret the First fills the bill, with this recommendation from Liz Wright at Brazos Bookstore in Houston: "Dutton's novel takes the already extraordinary life of Margaret Cavendish - 17th century natural philosopher, author of The Blazing World, and Duchess of Newcastle - and transforms it into a stunning work of historical fiction. With women in the sciences a hot issue today, Margaret the First satisfies a craving for women's writing, women's voices, and women's stories, painting a portrait of a sensitive, thoughtful woman hungry not just for praise and recognition, but acknowledgment, affirmation, and validation. Margaret the First is a triumph!"

And finally, a nonfiction book that has been selling well at independents is Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, by Carlo Rovelli. Robin Dunn of Annapolis's St. John's College Bookstore writes: "With a deft sensibility associated more often with poetry than theoretical physics, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics not only makes understandable the transcendent physical discoveries of the past century, but also reveals their powerful relevance to the human spirit. A revelatory and concise account of quantum mechanics, relativity, and the delight in both finding answers and seeking new questions, this jewel of a book lyrically demystifies the extraordinary realities of the cosmos."

You can read the rest of this month's recommendations here.
This Year's Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Literary Lunch Features Curtis Sittenfeld, Tuesday, May 3.

It's time to start thinking about the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Literary Lunch. This once-a-year special event is being held at the stately Wisconsin Club on 900 W. Wisconsin Ave. And how fitting it is that this years featured speaker is Curtis Sittenfeld, whose new novel, Eligible, is an update of the beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice, a tale of money, manners, and marriage.

The Austen Project pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen's six complete works. For Jane Austen's best-known and most beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, the Project chose Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and Sisterland, to offer a new take on an old classic. The buzz on Eligible, transporting Austen's characters to contemporary Cincinnati, is great. Elle Magazine writes: "If there exists a more perfect pairing than Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Austen, we dare you to find it. . . . Sittenfeld makes an already irresistible story even more beguiling and charming."

Tickets to the Tuesday, May 3 luncheon are $70 and include a copy of Eligible, with Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library and Wisconsin Club members eligible for $60 tickets. Patron and benefactor seats are also available. There will be a signing starting at 11 am, with Sittenfeld also available after the lunch. More about the Austen Project on the Boswell and Books blog
A final note from Daniel! As most of you know, our daily doings are also chronicled in a blog, Boswell and Books, for those of you who feel like getting an email once every week or two is not enough Boswell in your in box. Our most popular post of recent vintage was on purchasing our new vacuum at Mequon Vacuum Center, an emporium with a very knowledgeable owner that also has a Museum of Old Vacuums. Someone suggested they had closed, but no, they just moved from Thiensville to 6619 W. Mequon Road. We bought a Riccar, a bagged model that allows large particles (like salt) to bypass the fan, and yes, is made in Missouri.
As always, thank you for your patronage and apologies for the typos,
Daniel Goldin with Amie, Anne, Barb, Caroline, Chris, Conrad, Jason, Jane, Jen, Kelli, Mel, Olivia, Pam, Peter, Scott, Sharon, Teasha, Tim, and Todd