Monday, August 21, 2017

Event Alert: All the Great Books (Abridged) talk and scene preview on Wednesday, Augustus Rose with his Duchamp-inspired thriller on Tuesday, plus Robert Vaughan, Ben Tanzer, Caitlin Scarano, and Lee L. Krecklow tonight for "Mircro & Memoir, Poetry & Prose"

Monday, August 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Micro & Memoir, Poetry & Prose: Robert Vaughan, author of Funhouse, Ben Tanzer, author of Be Cool, Caitlin Scarano, author of Do Not Bring Him Water, and Lee L. Krecklow, author of The Expanse Between


Micro: Robert Vaughan leads roundtables at Red Oak Writing in Milwaukee. He also teaches workshops in hybrid writing, dialogue, and playwriting at places like The Clearing in Door County. He was the co-founder of Flash Fiction Fridays, a radio program on WUWM, where he premiered local flash fiction writers, and also featured writers from America and abroad. His new collection Funhouse is a delightful creative take on the form of short stories. Kirkus Reviews calls Funhouse “a highly entertaining and thought-provoking read.”

Memoir: Chicago-based Ben Tanzer is the author of Orphans, which won the 24th Annual Midwest Book Award, Lost in Space, and The New York Stories. He has also contributed to Punk Planet, Clamor, and Men's Health, serves as Senior Director, Acquisitions for Curbside Spendor. Tanzer’s Be Cool turns the microscope on the human phenomenon of being cool. With snapshot looks and comical insights into why humans are always stressing their cool factor, Tanzer explores his own experiences in a work that Wendy Ortiz calls “fresh, deep, funny, and unexpected.”

Poetry: Caitlin Scarano is from Milwaukee, at least for now, where she is completing a PhD in poetry. She has an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in the Best New Poets 2016 and The Best Small Fictions 2016 anthologies. Her forthcoming collection, Do Not Bring Him Water, focuses on the lines that separate life’s clashing dualities and how delicious and dangerous it can be to walk them.

Prose: Milwaukee-area writer Lee L. Krecklow’s debut novel is The Expanse Between. Krecklow earned the 2016 South Million Writers Award for his short story “The Son of Summer and Eli.” Other stories have appeared in Oxford Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and The Madison. His new novel tells the story of a reclusive writer desperate for inspiration. The writer obsessively begins to watch his neighbor for details of her life, but when her life takes a turn he doesn’t like he’ll take matters into his own hands to keep the story on track.

Tuesday, August 22, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Augustus Rose, author of The Readymade Thief

A thriller inspired by the works of Marcel Duchamp? Why not? Duchamp changed the course of modern art by submitting a urinal to an influential art show. While rejected, that urinal was then photographed by Alfred Stieglitz, helping make the said urinal a cause celebre. You can read the whole story here.

So it's not hard to imagine that one of Duchamp's other artworks might contain untold secrest. Augustus Rose tellst the story in The Readymade Thief, which was named an Indies Introduce title for summer/fall 2017. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, 17-year-old Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the facade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.

We’ve had four great reads on The Readymade Thief, with our buyer Jason calling it “such a great journey!” and Boswellian Kay praising it as “a very unusual, totally engaging thriller.” In addition, Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore wrote: "The Readymade Thief is my favorite kind of book: an improbable one. The novel is a map of things - urban exploration, secret societies, the city of Philadelphia, Marcel Duchamp, very possibly the Home Alone movies - and if those things don't seem to fit together, well, that's the magic of the improbable book, and the transmutation of obsessions, by energy and intellect, into something wholly new: a novel that's unexpected, uncategorizable, unputdownable."

About the Author: Augustus Rose is a novelist and screenwriter who teaches fiction writing at the University of Chicago.

Wednesday, August 23, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
In Tandem Theatre prevents a talk about and scene preview of All the Great Books (Abridged)

After hosting two playwrights this summer, it's time to get serious about fall theater. Here's a little more about a particularly bookish production.

Join us for a scene preview from In Tandem Theatre as they present All the Great Books! (Abridged). An English class eagerly awaits graduation until they realize they haven’t passed their final exam! The drama professor, student teacher, and gym coach team up to get them through all the great works of literature – in 90 minutes flat - as the literary canon explodes in this hilarious, high-energy comedy!

All the Great Books (Abridged) opens at the Tenth Street Theatre on Thursday October 5th 2017. The play is directed by Chris Flieller and features actors: Ryan Schabach (professor), Chris Goode (student teacher), and Doug Jarecki (coach). Purchase tickets for the play here.

In Tandem Theatre partnering with Literacy Services of Wisconsin (LSW) to collect books during the production's run. Illiteracy is no laughing matter, but donating great books can be a fun way to help support non-readers in our community.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Annotated Boswell bestsellers (including one that isn't quite out yet), week ending August 19, 2017

Here's what's been selling at Boswell this past week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Girl on the Leeside, by Kathleen Anne Kenney
2. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
3. House of Spies, by Daniel Silva
4. The Readymade Thief, by Augustus Rose (event at Boswell Tue Aug 22, 7 pm)
5. Sleeping in the Ground, by Peter Robinson
6. Mrs. Fletcher, by Tom Perrotta
7. The Late Show, by Michael Connelly
8. The Store, by James Patterson
9. The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
10. Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka

Danya Kukafka's day job is assistant editor at Riverhead Books, which can help if you're looking for folks to read your book early. Among her champions are Brit Bennett, Owen King, and Lee Child, who calls Girl in Snow "A sensational debut--great characters, mysteries within mysteries, and page-turning pace. Highly recommended." The story chronicles the death of a Colorado teen from the perspective of two fellow students and the policeman investigating the case. Boswellian Todd Wellman noted that this book is a great YA crossover, and Kakafka notes that her earlier work was even more YA focused, per this piece in Shelf Awareness.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Long Haul, by Finn Murphy
2. Why Buddhism Is True, by Robert Wright
3. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
4. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
5. The World Broke in Two, by Bill Goldstein (event at Boswell Mon Sept 11, 7 pm)
6. We Have No Idea, by Jorge Cham
7. Caesar's Last Breath, by Sam Kean
8. Everybody Lies, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
9. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
10. We Thought This Was a Good Idea, by Alyssa Mastromonaco

From the award-winning science writer andauthor of The Disappearing Spoon comes Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us. Of this latest, Kirkus Reviews call this "a witty book that turns the science of the stuff we breathe into a delightful romp through history." Finally, someone writing for chemistry majors - why should physics and biology folks have all the fun?

Paperback Fiction:
1. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
2. The Trespasser, by Tana French
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. The Stone Sky, by Nik Jemisin
6. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
7. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
8. Underground Airlines, by Ben Winters
9. Man of Shadows, by Jeff Noon (SF Book Club, Mon Nov 13, 7 pm)
10. Escapology, by Ren Warom (SF Book Club, Mon Sep 11, 7 pm)

Like Louise Penny, it sometimes appears that Tana French's reviews get better than better. The Trespasser hit many best-of lists for the year, and we're not talking about "best mystery" but "best novel" here. Among its champions are Maureen Corrigan and Stephen King. Boswellian Sharon Nagel had the Indie Next quote for this one, which you can read in full on our link. Janet Maslin noted in The New York Times: "When you read Ms. French — and she has become required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting — make only one assumption: All of your initial assumptions are wrong."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Beer Lover's Wisconsin, by Kathy Flanigan
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi
4. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, by Helen Odessky (event at Boswell Sun Sep 17, 3 pm, with REDgen)
5. Thousand-Miler, by Melanie Radzicki McManus
6. Rand McNally Road Altas 2018
7. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
8. Against Everything, by Mark Greif
9. Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski
10. Optimism Over Despair, by Noam Chomsky

Beer Lovers Wisconsin is not quite out yet but we took advance orders. Usually I unsell these into an advance sale item code and release the sales when the book comes out, but in this case, I did not. The point is that we're taking preorders.

Speaking of great reviews, Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America got many of them, and also recieved the National Book Award for nonfiction. Among his admirers is David Olusoga, who cautions in The Guardian that Kendi's work does not hesitate to call out racial thinking in abolitionists and even Civil Rights heroes: "Perhaps what is most disturbing about Kendi’s work is that it shows how the same racial ideas, dressed in different period costumes, have been repeatedly used to explain away the deaths of generations of African Americans, slaves, victims of Jim Crow lynchings and, in the 21st-century, casualties of police shootings."

Books for Kids:
1. Handbook of Mortals, by Lani Sarem
2. The Absolutely Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
3. Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
4. Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
5. Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson
6. Empty, by Suzanne Weyne
7. The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
8. Orphan Island, by Laurel Snyder
9. The Gauntlet, by Karuna Riazi
10. Prisoner 88, by Leah Pileggi

Wonderstruck is releasing to the general public on October 20. Here's what Variety noted: "Haynes’s film stars Julianne Moore in the story of two children — one in the 1970s, one in the 1920s — whose stories overlap on separate journeys to Manhattan. The New York Film Festival is considered a key launchpad for films that become a part of the awards-season conversation, and the high profile slot for Wonderstruck there could boost the title as it hits the campaign trail. Hayne’s last film, Carol, screened at NYFF in 2015 and was nominated for six Oscars. Wonderstruck is based on a 2011 novel by Brian Selznick, whose previous book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, was the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s 2011 movie Hugo, which got its first public showcase as a secret screening at NYFF that year."

The lead review in the Journal Sentinel TAPbooks section is for a beloved Nobel Prize winner. Critic Mike Fischer writes: "On the surface, Orhan Pamuk's latest - a fable masquerading as a novel entitled The Red-Haired Woman - is an explorationn of 'the enigma of fathers and sons' that has always tangled love-hate relationship that Freud, in an essay referenced here, viewed as mysterious." Later on Fischer notes that "Turkey's slide toward dictatorship under Recep Tayyip Erdogan's nominally democratic regine is very much on Pamuk's mind..."

Bill Daley looks at What She Ate: Six Remarkable Woman and the Food That Tells Their Stories. The Daley details: "Learning Larua Shapiro's new book on women and food includes the stories of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt was marked by some of the worst White House meals ever; Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's mistress; and Helen Gurley Brown...left me startled. It's sort of like klaudinng the Lucrezia Borgia of poisonous legent for a deft hand with seasoning." But he notes the book turns out to be quite fun. This review originally appeared in Chicago Tribune.

And finally, Marion Winik called Tom Perrotta "the Jane Austen of 21st-century sexual mores" in her review: "I loved the characters of Tom Perrotta’s new novel, Mrs. Fletcher, but I was worried about them. After all, they’re in a social satire by the author of The Leftovers, Little Children, and Election, and they’re making mistakes and misbehaving right and left — surely they’d have to pay. So convinced was I that comeuppance was at hand that the surprise happy ending almost brought me to tears." Likewise, this review kind of brought me to tears. Originally published in Newsday.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bookstore road trip: A visit to Seminary Coop and Robie House

This summer my niece Jocelyn was in Chicago for some field training. What a great opportunity to meet up! If I were able to convince her to do a bookstore visit, so much the better.

Being that her program was at the Illinois Institute of Technology, she thought it might be fun to go to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, especially as we’ve already done some Frank Lloyd Wright tourism together, coordinating a trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park, and another to Fallingwater outside Pittsburgh.

Since we were already close, we decided to head to Seminary Coop first, and then figure out how to get to Robie House afterwards. I had been to the Coop in their old location underground, but this was my first visit to the now-not-so-new store. We wound up having a little tea and a snack in the café, where we almost immediately ran into Jeff, the director. And then we started looking for Robie House, only to realize it was right next door. We were actually staring at it.

There are lots of great bookstores in Chicago that are worth a side visit, but Seminary is a bookstore where I could see many a book lover planning a trip to Chicago and a side-trip to Chicago to see everything else. They continue to have great depth in their academic sections. If you like history, philosophy, theology—any number of disciplines—you will likely find a number of gems in your field of interest that you didn’t previously know about. While we spent a lot of time browsing, I spent extra time looking at urban planning (or maybe it was studies), mathematics, and foodways (which I think is the academic way of saying cooking literature). We spotted this copy of The Eater’s Guide to Chinese Characters, a University of Chicago Press book from 2004, which we had to highlight, being that Jocelyn and her family have a lot of connections to China.

One thing I loved about their fiction was their attention to series. Their Library of America case was quite imposing; it was something we had at Harry W. Schwartz back in the 1980s, but I think I understand more the importance of the series. In these days of disposability, the Library of American hardcovers are printed with high quality paper that will last when other books’ pages yellow and crumble.

Similarly, I have admired the P.G. Wodehouse hardcover titles from Overlook, and while I passed on them when I was a buyer, I am thinking about them differently, and wonder if they might just work as a collectible. I was just as surprised to see a very nice assortment of David Lodge’s novels, these being in paperback. I wondered how well they were selling to a book friend and he considered Lodge is the probably the favorite writer of academics of a certain age. Nobody really captured the quirks of the profession better.

The store was doing major section moves over the summer. There were very nice notes explaining where the sections were moving, and sometimes why.

We enjoyed browsing the tables of their bargain books and finally settled on two for Jocelyn – Eugenia Cheng’s How to Bake Pi and Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman. And then it was off the fifty feet or so to Robie House. The tour is great, filled with lots of history. Unlike some tours of this sort, the work is in progress with the room sometimes a bit bare. Philosophical guessed there is some hesitancy of using reproductions, but more practically, the space might still be used for university functions and needs to be regularly cleared out. Tickets are $18, with discounts for students. Can you imagine there was a time when you could rent a Robie House apartment?

Back at Boswell the next week, I was chatting a customer (Steve) who had just special ordered a Loeb Modern Classic. I asked if this was his first, and said no, he’d completely fallen in love with the series after studying Greek. I asked if he’d been to Seminary Coop. He said no. I showed him a photo of the store, specifically the case of Loeb titles. He said, “I’m going tomorrow.” And you know what? I haven’t seen him since; I think he moved in under the floorboards.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rick Riordan tickets on sale today, plus a reminder about tickets for Nancy Pearl with Kathleen Dunn, Kate DiCamillo, and Alexander McCall Smith

If you don't subscribe to our email newsletter or read the Journal Sentinel or follow social media or keep up with Rick Riordan's website, you may not have caught that tickets for Rick Riordan go on sale today for our event with Riordan on Sunday, October 8, 4 pm.

That's 12 Noon CDT. Today.

Right now, there are four ticketed events up and running that are not sold out, as of Noon.

Saturday, September 9, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Nancy Pearl, author of George & Lizzie, in conversation with Kathleen Dunn
Tickets are $29 and include tax and ticketing fees.
This event is cosponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio.
There are no signing restrictions for this event.

Sunday, October 8, 4 pm, at the Italian Community Center:
Rick Riodan, author of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead
Tickets are $24 and include tax and ticketing fees.
This event is presented with the help of Bartolotta Catering and Events at the Italian Community Center.
There is no post-event signing or meet-and-greet for this event. There are also no signed copy requests for this book.

Sunday, October 29, 2 pm, at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
Kate DiCamillo, author of La La La
Tickets are $22 and include tax and ticketing fees.
This event is presented with Books & Company of Oconomowoc and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center.
This event has signing restrictions.

Thursday, November 16, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Alexander McCall Smith, author of The House of Unexpected Sisters
Tickets are $29 and include tax and ticketing fees.
This event is presented by Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library and is the launch of the Fill the Shelves progam.
This event has signing restrictions.

Alas, Stephen King and Owen King in conversation on September 30 is sold out. If you don't want to miss out on our events, you might want to make sure you are signed up for our email newsletter. And one other piece of advice - don't forget to open them. We just had a customer who is signed up for our newsletter who asked us when we might host Daniel Silva. And the answer was...2015! And it was quite successful.

We have at least two more large events to announce, plus a really great calendar of free events for fall. Plus August hasn't been too shabby either. What a great time we had with Finn Murphy, author of The Long Haul, last night!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Boswell event preview: Trucking wtih Finn Murphy Tuesday, Kathleen Anne Kenney's Irish tale on Wednesday, Kathy Flanigan's Wisconsin beer tales on Thursday, plus previews for events next Monday and Tuesday

Tuesday, August 15, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Finn Murphy, author of The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road

Boswell is pleased to host the 45’ Wrapped Truck Tour. Finn Murphy offers up a long-haul mover's rollicking account of life out on the Big Slab. Since the time Murphy dropped out of college thirty years ago, he’s covered more than a million miles packing, loading, and hauling people's belongings all over America. And boy has he got some stories!

Murphy offers a trucker's eye view of America on the move. Going far beyond the myth of the American road trip, he whisks readers down the I-95 Powerlane, across the Florida Everglades, in and out of the truck stops of the Midwest, and through the steep grades of the Rocky Mountains. As he crisscrosses the country, Murphy recounts with wit, candor, and charm the America he has seen change over the decades, from the hollowing-out of small towns to changing tastes in culture and home furnishings.

Michael Perry, author of Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, and the forthcoming Montaigne in Barn Boots, offers this recommendation: “Finn Murphy is my kind of intelligent roughneck. He deploys a keen eye, frank tongue, and muscular thought to show us how the upper class and the working class are acting when they think no one is watching.”

Jim Higgins offered his take on The Long Haul in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wednesday, August 16, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
An Irish Fest Literary Corner preview with Kathleen Anne Kenney, author of Girl on the Leeside

The Irish Fest Literary Corner always offers a great selection of Irish and Irish-American authors. This year’s lineup features Tony Macaulay, author of the memoir Paper Boy; Rex Owens, with Out of Darkness, a thriller set during the troubles; Valerie Biel with a YA trilogy based on Celtic mythology; John Sexton and his memoir Big Yank; and Michael McCarthy, with a saga about the Irish immigrant experience. Tonight we’re featuring one of those authors, Kathleen Anne Kenney, with a special preview event.

Siobhan Doyle grew up with her Uncle Kee at their family pub, the Leeside, in rural Ireland. Kee has been staunchly overprotective of Siobhan ever since her mother's death, but now that she's an adult, it's clear that in protecting her, Kee has unwittingly kept her in a state of arrested development. The pair are content to remain forever in their quiet haven, reading and discussing Irish poetry, but for both Siobhan and Kee, fate intervenes. A visiting American literary scholar awakens Siobhan to the possibility of a fulfilling life away from the Leeside. In the face of these changes, Siobhan reaches a surprising decision about her future.

Edward Rutherfurd says, "In its hauntingly evocative Irish setting, this is a book suffused with poetry--real poetry. It is a book of awakenings of every kind, and of moving surprises. Like all good stories, as this local tale unfolds it becomes universal."

And Katie Noah writes in Shelf Awareness: "Quiet, lyrical and sprinkled with verses of the Irish poetry Siobhan loves, Girl on the Leeside is a slim, beautiful debut about one woman taking her place in the world."

Former Wauwatosa resident Kathleen Anne Kenney is an author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her writing has appeared in Big River, Coulee Region Women, and Ireland of the Welcomes. Her play New Menu was a winner in the 2012 Rochester Repertory Theatre's national short-play competition. She is currently at work on a novel based on her 2014 stage play, The Bootleg Blues.

Thursday, August 17, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Kathy Flanigan, author of Beer Lover's Wisconsin: Best Breweries, Brewpubs and Beer Bars

It looks like we're cutting it very close for Beer Lover's Wisconsin. The books may not arrive in time, but we're going to host the program anyway.

Quality beer producers are popping up all over the nation, but you don't have to travel far to taste great beer. Some of the best stuff is brewing right in your home state. Beer Lover's Wisconsin features breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars statewide for those seeking the best beers the Badger State has to offer - from bitter, citrusy IPAs to rich, complex stouts.

Written by a beer expert, Beer Lover's Wisconsin covers the entire beer experience for the local enthusiast and the traveling drinker alike, including information on breweries and beer profiles with tasting notes, must-visit brewpubs and beer bars, top annual festivals and events, and city pub crawl itineraries with maps.

Kathy Flanigan is a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and TapMilwaukee.com, for which she covers the region’s craft-beer community.

Monday, August 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell: Micro & Memoir, Poetry & Prose: Robert Vaughan, author of Funhouse, Ben Tanzer, author of Be Cool, Caitlin Scarano, author of Do Not Bring Him Water, and Lee L. Krecklow, author of The Expanse Between


Micro: Robert Vaughan leads roundtables at Red Oak Writing in Milwaukee. He also teaches workshops in hybrid writing, dialogue, and playwriting at places like The Clearing in Door County. He was the co-founder of Flash Fiction Fridays, a radio program on WUWM, where he premiered local flash fiction writers, and also featured writers from America and abroad. His new collection Funhouse is a delightful creative take on the form of short stories. Kirkus Reviews calls Funhouse “a highly entertaining and thought-provoking read.”

Memoir: Chicago-based Ben Tanzer is the author of Orphans, which won the 24th Annual Midwest Book Award, Lost in Space, and The New York Stories. He has also contributed to Punk Planet, Clamor, and Men's Health, serves as Senior Director, Acquisitions for Curbside Spendor. Tanzer’s Be Cool turns the microscope on the human phenomenon of being cool. With snapshot looks and comical insights into why humans are always stressing their cool factor, Tanzer explores his own experiences in a work that Wendy Ortiz calls “fresh, deep, funny, and unexpected.”

Poetry: Caitlin Scarano is from Milwaukee, at least for now, where she is completing a PhD in poetry. She has an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in the Best New Poets 2016 and The Best Small Fictions 2016 anthologies. Her new collection, Do Not Bring Him Water, focuses on the lines that separate life’s clashing dualities and how delicious and dangerous it can be to walk them.

Prose: Milwaukee-area writer Lee L. Krecklow’s debut novel is The Expanse Between. Krecklow earned the 2016 South Million Writers Award for his short story “The Son of Summer and Eli.” Other stories have appeared in Oxford Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and The Madison. His new novel tells the story of a reclusive writer desperate for inspiration. The writer obsessively begins to watch his neighbor for details of her life, but when her life takes a turn he doesn’t like he’ll take matters into his own hands to keep the story on track.

Tuesday, August 22, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Augustus Rose, author of The Readymade Thief

Boswell presents an evening with Augustus Rose, the first novelist whose debut was named an Indies Introduce title by the American Booksellers Association. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, 17-year-old Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the facade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.

We’ve had four great reads on The Readymade Thief, with our buyer Jason calling it “such a great journey!” and Boswellian Kay praising it as “a very unusual, totally engaging thriller.” In addition, Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore wrote: "The Readymade Thief is my favorite kind of book: an improbable one. The novel is a map of things--urban exploration, secret societies, the city of Philadelphia, Marcel Duchamp, very possibly the Home Alone movies--and if those things don't seem to fit together, well, that's the magic of the improbable book, and the transmutation of obsessions, by energy and intellect, into something wholly new: a novel that's unexpected, uncategorizable, unputdownable."

Adam Morgan writes in Chicago Magazine that The Readymade Thief is one of the best novels of the year from a Chicago writer. From his profile: "Augustus Rose has seen a lot of weird stuff. Driven by an obsession with hidden secrets, the University of Chicago professor has climbed through city drainage tunnels, snuck into Roman necropolises, and explored abandoned islands off the coast of Maine. But the strangest thing he’s ever seen hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: a giant, inexplicable sculpture called The Large Glass by the father of 'readymade' art, Marcel Duchamp."

Augustus Rose is a novelist and screenwriter. He was born in the northern California coastal town of Bolinas, and grew up there and in San Francisco. Rose teaches fiction writing at the University of Chicago.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Boswell annotated bestsellers for the week ending August 12, 2017 - literary psychological suspense with Lawrence Osborne, the case for mindfulness and meditation from Robert Wright, plus Journal Sentinel book reviews

Here's what's been selling at Boswell this past week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Dark Net, by Benjamin Percy
2. Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero
3. Ten Dead Comedians, by Fred Van Lente
4. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
5. House of Spies, by Daniel Silva
6. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck
7. Mrs. Fletcher, by Tom Perrotta (today's front page NYTBR)
8. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
9. Beautiful Animals, by Lawrence Osborne
10. Seven Stones to Stand or Fall, by Diana Gabaldon

Summer seems to havev a grip on the hardcover fiction bestseller list as full half the titles are either funny (comic) or scary (horror) or both. I don't include thrillers and psychological suspense here, because those genres dominate bestseller lists year-round. I was looking at Lawrence Osborne's Beautiful Animals, his 14th novel, and I noted how strong the advance reviews were, with a starred Booklist and a very positive Kirkus ("beautifully crafted and psychologically astute") though no star. A review of a previous novel compared him to early Ian McEwan, while Katie Kitamura's positive review in The New York Times Book Review for his latest notes that "Osborne is a startlingly good observer of privilege, noting the rites and rituals of the upper classes with unerring precision and an undercurrent of malice."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Innovation Code, by Jeff DeGraff
2. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
3. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
4. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
5. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
6. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
7. Why Buddhism Is True, by Robert Wright
8. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
9. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
10. Chuck Klosterman X, by Chuck Klosterman

Ah, a new entry! Robert Wright is known for The Moral Animal. Now he returns with Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. Shelf Awareness notes that the book is not a polemic but more of an inquiry into mindfulness and meditation. Kirkus Reviews writes: " While critical readers may take issue with the logic underlying some of his contentions, the author presents a well-organized, freshly conceived introduction to core concepts of Buddhist thought. A cogent and approachable argument for a personal meditation practice based on secular Buddhist principles." Wright was also featured on Fresh Air.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Love Reconsidered, by Phyllis Piano
2. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
3. The Wangs vs the World, by Jade Chang
4. They May Not Mean To, But They Do, by Cathleen Schine
5. Perdition, by R. Jean Reid
6. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
7. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
8. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave
9. Tuesday Nights in 1980, by Molly Prentiss
10. A Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman
11. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
12. Roots of Murder, by R. Jean Reid
13. The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O'Brien
14. Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn (In-Store Lit Group Tue Sep 5, 7 pm, at Boswell)
15. Miss Jane, by Brad Watson

We had a very nice pop of paperback fiction sales due to the selection of titles for the year from one of our larger book clubs. This also comes as we updated our book club titles for the rear table. The Wangs vs. the World (which benefitted from both) just got a nice writeup from Entertainment Weekly in their paperback summer reads feature. The book had a lot of attention in hardcover, including this New York Times Book Review essay from Kevin Nguyen, Sylvia Brownrigg's essay in The Guardian, and Steve Inskeep's interview on Morning Edition.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Population 485, by Michael Perry (In-Store Lit Group Mon Oct 2, 7 pm, plus Perry's visiting Nov 14)
3. A Crowded Hour, by Kevin Abing
4. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
5. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, by Helen Odessky (event at Boswell Sun Sep 17, 3 pm, with REDgen)
6. Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, by Bryan Massingale
7. An Inconvenient Sequel, by Al Gore
8. Sad Riddance, by Chuck Hildebrand
9. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring
10. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is the book tie-in to Al Gore's new documentary. The Atlantic's Megan Garber has an essay about how the new film is as much reality television as it is a documentary. The real truth is that all the reviews are for the film, not the book. I don't think there were even any advance reviews in the trades.

Books for Kids:
1. Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
2. Worlds Collide, by Chris Colfer
3. Teacher's Pet, by Anica Mrose Rissi, with illustrations by Zachariah Ohora
4. Creepy Carrots!, by Aaron Reynolds, with illustrations by Peter Brown
5. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
6. Dark Prophecy, by Rick Riordan (tickets go on sale for his appearance on Oct 8 at the ICC on Aug 16)
7. Once and For All, by Sarah Dessen
8. Julia's House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke
9. Life on Mars, by Jon Agee
10. Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin, with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri

The school year is beginning soon, with some schools starting this week. Our school outreach coordinator Todd has been frantically booking authors at area schools. Some, like Jason Reynolds, have public events (he's scheduled for 6:30 at Boswell on Fri Sep 15) but others, like Aaron Reynolds, are doing more schools instead. Sometimes publishers ask us to book schools only, so that the author can travel to their next city in the afternoon/evening. Other times we get a choice, and make the decision based on whether the author will get more bang for their efforts with a public event or an extra school. Not in contact with Todd about our authors-in-school program? You should contact him now.

Creepy Carrots! is a Caldecott Honors book so it's very exciting that Reynolds and illustrator Peter Brown have created A Creepy Pair of Underwear, released this Tuesday. Booklist's starred review is notes "Returning to their Caldecott Honor Book world of Creepy Carrots!, Reynolds and Brown put young Jasper Rabbit through even creepier, more scream-inducing horror, now with a pair of glow-in-the-dark underpants that, like the cat in the famous song (or a number of horror staples), keep . . . coming . . . back."

You've got to watch the trailer for A Creepy Pair of Underwear!


In the Journal Sentinel TapBooks section, Jim Higgins reviews The Long Haul. He writes: "Murphy is a pointed social critic. Bedbugging (trucker slang for movers) gives him a diagonal view of American life. Murphy scoffs at misty notions of truckers as 18-wheel cowboys: 'I do not for a moment think I'm a symbol of some bygone ideal of Wild West American freedom or any other half-mythic, half-menacing nugget of folk nonsense.'" Murphy and his truck will be at Boswell on Tuesday, August 15, 7 pm.

Higgins also wrote a piece about the new book from American Girl, and guess what? It's not about American Girls: "Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys, published Tuesday, follows the success of American Girl's earlier book series The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls. Guy Stuff, like the earlier books for girls, was written by pediatrician Cara Natterson, mother of a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy."

From Mike Fischer comes a review of The Seventh Function of Language, a new novel by Laurent Binet, the author of HHhH. Fischer writes: "Walking home on Feb. 25, 1980 after lunching with future French president François Mitterand, Roland Barthes – one of the great French intellectuals of the last century – was struck by a laundry van, sustaining serious injuries. By late March he was dead. Barthes’ end has gone down as an accident. But what if he was actually murdered? That’s the question Laurent Binet asks in The Seventh Function of Language, a witty and playful novel true to the inquiring spirit of a critic who’d continually made clear that nothing we see is ever quite what it seems."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Searching for the next book to hand-sell from Candlewick

You may have just heard the news is that Candlewick Press is starting a Walker imprint in the United States. It turns out that Walker is a major player in children’s books around the world, but when they opened a United States division to sell their books instead of licensing them off, the Walker name as already taken, so they called their American publisher Candlewick.

Bloomsbury, who owned the rights to the Walker name, decided to consolidate their children’s division under the Bloomsbury brand, so when Walker made an inquiry to get the United States rights to the name, they were able to make a deal. Right now the idea is for Walker to focus on middle grade and YA fiction, which to me seems like a pretty crowded field, but if they can bring over their great UK authors, they’ll find a place. Here’s the Publishers Weekly article

To me, this is similar to what Holtzbrinck did when they got the American rights to the Macmillan name, which they already owned in the UK. Finally the answer of whether they were Holtzbrinck or von Holtzbrinck was either settled or swept under the rug.

I mention this for two reasons. Firstly, it’s interesting, and secondly, I was just in Somerville having lunch Boswell's good friend Elise, who oversees independent retail sales at Candlewick. For several years we have met up at Book Expo, where she’s shown me some of the titles on the list. In 2014, her recommendation of Before After, from Matthias Aregui and Anne-Margot Ramstein made my holiday recommendation list, and last year, I fell for Under Water Under Earth, the collaboration from Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.

One book that might be a pick for this fall is Botanicum, their newest entry in the Welcome to the Museum series, from Kathy Willis and Katie Scott. You probably know Animalium, but I think that there are less plant books than animal books, so I am intrigued. The publisher calls “Botanicum is a wonderful feast of botanical knowledge complete with superb cross sections of how plants work.” This book is already available at Boswell but I’m to take a closer look.

I was intrigued by Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki from Kevin Crossley-Holland (poet and author of The Seeing Stone, which won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize), and designer Jeffery Alan Love. It caught my eyes for several reasons, not the least of which is that our event with Rick Riordan (on October 8, tickets go on sale August 16) for The Ship of the Dead also incorporates Viking mythology, being the third volume in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Here’s a link to tickets.

Of course I had to take a peek at The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, the new collaboration from Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. I have a very important place in my heart for the team, being that they launched Sam and Dave Dig a Hole at Boswell (and by launch, I mean their first-day-of-sale event was at Boswell). But after reading this book, perhaps I should say that they have an important place in my stomach!

We talked about a lot of books, but I’ll just mention Red and Lulu, the new picture book from Matt Tavares. It’s about two cardinals who are separated when their favorite tree is cut down. Spoiler alert! The birds are reunited at the tree’s resting place in Rockefeller Center, where everyone can sing "O Christmas Tree" together. I noted to Elise that when I was the gift buyer, cardinals were the most popular icons on things we sold for the holidays, outpacing Santas, reindeer, penguins, doves, holly, and even Christmas trees. That bodes well for the book.

OK, just one more title. I would be remiss if I didn’t say a word or two about La La La, the new picture book from Kate DiCamillo and Jaime Kim. It’s a little girl on a journey, about which Publishers Weekly observed: “Everyone wants to be seen, and everyone wants someone to sing back to them.” Booklist writes: “DiCamillo and Kim combine their considerable talents in this almost wordless picture book that speaks to a universal longing: the hope that we are not alone. Adults could almost use this as a flip-book with children, so full of movement are the pictures. But the best use will be as a springboard for discussion about loneliness, life, and love.”

It’s a beautiful book and a powerful statement, but you’d expect nothing less from Kate DiCamillo. We’re so excited about our joint event with Books & Company at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 29, 2 pm. Tickets are available here.

One last book. For some reason this one’s hard to find. Elise was trying to find it in the Candlewick stockroom of upcoming releases (which is as magical as it sounds) and then I had trouble finding it in our wholesaler’s database. It’s called A World of Information and it comes from Richard Platt, whose Pirate Diary won a Kate Greenaway Medal, as well as designer James Brown. It’s positioned as a Schott’s Miscellany for Kids. I’m sure there are a lot of books of this sort. The text will have to be top notch, and if it is, the package will take it to the next level. I can’t wait to see it when it comes in on October 3.

Oh, and congrats to Hallie, who just started at Candlewick after bookselling stints at Andersons and Brookline Booksmith! I really, really really am going to read Shadow of the Wind in 2017.