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Monday, April 28, 2008

Interview with Paul McComas

The Planet of the Dates is an alien and sometimes hostile territory, but Phil Corcoran, the teenage protagonist of Milwaukee-native Paul McComas’ new book, is determined to conquer this unfamiliar habitat. He talks about how he combined autobiographical elements and fiction in this humorous and engaging look at adolescence.
Monday, April 28, 2008

Missing out on the blues

Just 11 pages into In Search of the Blues (Basic Books), author Marybeth Hamilton comes right out and attempts to shatter accepted visions of Mississippi Delta blues purity. She desperately wants to play the iconoclast. “In fact,” she begins, “the Delta blues was not born in the bars and dance halls of Mississippi. That Robert Johnson and Charley Patton came to dominate blues history owes more to elusive mediators and shapers of taste.
Monday, April 28, 2008

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux), by Ben Ratliff

John Coltrane took jazz as far as it ever reached before his death in 1967. He remains a touchstone for young musicians and the subject of many books. The latest, by New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff, is true to its name. The Story of a Sound isn’t a compendium of anecdotes about the saxophonist’s life, but a thoughtful . . .
Monday, April 21, 2008

Local author cracks the case

Elizabeth Hewitt awakens with a strange sensation at the start of the novel Separated at Death (Berkley Prime Crime). What she feels is the close and unfamiliar banding of an engagement ring snug around her finger. She pauses to consider: Settling down with one man had never been tops on her to-do list. Hewitt isn’t the star of a romance novel, however, and the homicide detective/protagonist in the third Elizabeth Hewitt murder-mystery thriller is about to be thrust into more than marriage. Her Milwaukee author, Sheldon Rusch, has spun a web of dangerous marital discord involving unhappy couples, relationship counselors and murder victims decoupled from their heads.
Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book Preview

The unmitigated awe that nature can inspire in the youthful imagination has been a subject of reflection for countless poets and authors. Transcendentalists like Walt Whitman ascribed an almost pious relevance to a child’s discovery of nature. It’s this sense of awe and wonder that writer Richard Louv believes is at stake in today’s youth, resulting largely from a dwindling contact with nature and an immersion in electronic media and structured play. In 2005 he published Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, enumerating the many ills that arise when children are gradually divorced from the natural world.
Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book Review

A Student’s Guide to Music History might make a good textbook. It’s inexpensive and handy enough to slip into the pocket of a parka. It’s also entertainingly opinionated, even when the opinions are goofy. Many of us will take exception to a certain slant in the Australian writer’s perspective: He seems to put the NEA under the same heading as Axis cultural agencies. Paleo-conservative politics aside, Stove is a witty writer and . . .
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Preview

In spring 1988, Milwaukee’s observance of Earth Day was bolstered by the city’s first ever Earth Poets Celebration. A group of 10 ardent and inspired poets, handpicked by author and UW-Milwaukee instructor Jeff Poniewaz, assembled at The Coffee House on 19th Street to perform poetry that centered on environmental concerns. Twenty years later, they’re still going strong. Each annual event boasts a talented lineup of local poets that includes four of the original group members: Poniewaz, Harvey Taylor, Suzanne Rosenblatt and Louisa Loveridge-Gallas.
Monday, April 14, 2008

African Americans’ active role in 20th-century migration

The 20th-century history of African-American migration to the urban North is often told as a tale of declension. Leaving the repressive South, blacks soon found that life was little better in Northern cities, where discrimination, bitter poverty and unmitigated segregation continued to inform the African-American experience. Acts of resistance are often noted in this narrative, and attention is paid to the legal and political gains that African-Americans made in the face of such severe oppression, including 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet the story almost always ends with African Americans falling victim to the city, the field of play for the modern condition. Deindustrialization, white flight and the rise of the black “underclass” all serve to underscore the high price that modernity has exacted on the black community. Within this narrative, African . . .
Monday, April 14, 2008

(Holy City Press), by Olde Godsil

“Holy City of the Sweet Water Seas” is a Beat poet way of describing Milwaukee. For social activist/professional roofer/part-time poet Jim Godsil, Milwaukee is a Promised Land of potential, a shining city on the bluffs above Lake Michigan. In his latest chapbook he dreams of the once-reviled Milwaukee . . .
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tonight @ the Brookfield Schwartz Bookshop - 7:00 PM

Older women may not get the most exciting roles in television and film, but in the novels of Mary Doria Russell, they’re glamorous heroines. Russell’s latest historical novel, Dreamers of the Day follows a woman of a certain age who, having survived the 1919 influenza, heads to Cairo, where she crosses paths with . . .