books

kwamealexander.com

Kwame Alexander never doubted that there was an audience for his children’s books - sports books written in verse - even though publishers said girls won’t read books about sports and boys wouldn’t read poems.  But eventually, the first of those books, The Crossover, hit the shelves featuring both basketball and poetry.  And it was a smash hit, winning the 2015 Newbery Medal. A soccer book followed, then a book of guiding principles for young lives.

When it's closing time at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, co-owner Michael Gustafson runs through a checklist that, for the most part, is pretty routine. First, make sure all the customers have gone, lock the doors and take out the garbage and the recycling. Shelve any stray books, adjust the tables, turn off the music.

Wauwatosa writer Tom Matthews was inspired by a dream to write his latest novel, Raising the Dad. When Matthews was 10-years-old, his father died. Years later, he had a dream where a close family friend told him his father was still alive, but due to the massive trauma, his father's personality had changed. The book explores how the protagonist and other family members process that development.

How would you react if a member of your family suddenly died, and then you realized they didn’t?

That’s the conundrum faced by members of the family at the heart of Wisconsin writer Rebecca L. Brown’s new novel, Flying At Night. The book tells the story of a Madison woman named Piper; her son, Fred; and her very difficult father, Lance.

Brown joins Lake Effect's Mitch Teich to talk about her new novel, ahead of an event at Boswell Book Company.

courtesy Paul Noth

Cartoonist and Milwaukee native Paul Noth has typically created work for older audiences - animated shorts on "Saturday Night Live," a short video series with Jim Gaffigan and Conan O'Brien, cartoons in The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal.  But his latest work is the first in a trilogy of books for middle-grade readers, called How To Sell Your Family to the Aliens.

Noth returned to Milwaukee to share the story of his journey from Rufus King High School to the many creative outlets that fill his professional career.

Galaxy Publishing

Lawyer Jonathan Ficke isn't in the courtroom this week. That's because the Waukesha resident has been flown to Los Angeles to participate in the Writers of the Future writing workshop that leads up to the organization's annual awards ceremony on Sunday.

Ficke will be collecting an award for his short story, The Howler on the Sales Room Floor. The story is published by Galaxy Press, in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34.

Shorewood Public Library

The idea of community-wide common reads has been gaining steam in recent years. Several Milwaukee area schools - and towns - have organized months- or year-long efforts to get people together to read the same book.

In Shorewood, a successful effort a few years ago with Wisconsin writer Nick Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs led to another ambitious effort. This year, Shorewood Reads takes on the post-apocalyptic Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. 

http://www.emilymandel.com

The vision of the end of civilization in Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel would be chilling enough – a fast-moving plague from overseas wipes out nearly everyone it touches – even without the real-life Ebola outbreak killing people in Africa.

Her novel, Station Eleven, jumps back and forth between the time leading up to the deadly flu outbreak, and the time after, in which as much as 99 percent of the population is killed.

liamcallanan.com

If there are any themes that fiction readers have warmed to in recent years, they would include Paris and bookshops.  Sometimes, bookshops in Paris. But none of them have woven Milwaukee into that mix - until now. 

Wisconsin novelist Liam Callanan’s new novel features a Milwaukee woman married to a writer who suddenly goes missing.  She and her two adolescent children go looking for him in a journey that leads them to buy a bookshop in Paris.

Department of Commerce collection

Lawrence Baldassaro had been interviewing baseball players of Italian-American heritage for a while when a realization hit him.  "Here I am," he recalled thinking, "the grandson of four Italian immigrants, I teach Italian, I love baseball - why don't I write about Italians in baseball?

"It turned out that virtually nothing had been written about that subject," Baldassaro says.

www.samquinones.com

A report out earlier this month showed a 30% increase in overdoses from opioid use around the country in just the last year.  In Wisconsin, the numbers are even more striking - the state led the nation with a 109% increase in overdoses reported by emergency rooms.

READ: Jump in Overdoses Shows Opioid Epidemic Has Worsened

Sporting News Archives

Steve Rushin has covered thousands of professional and college athletes in his decades as a sportswriter and columnist.  But these days, he's spending a lot of time watching amateur athletes at work - his kids, as they play youth and high school basketball.  And Rushin has taken particular note of the fans around him.

Tony Kushner's 1993 play, Angels in America, is an angry, sprawling meditation on gay life at the height of the AIDS crisis. It won Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and it gave the world a new vocabulary with which to discuss being gay in America.

senteliaolga / Fotolia

Alzheimer’s and other related forms of dementia are increasingly prevalent in much of Western society, as people live longer.  A lot of attention has been paid to how genetics influence our predisposition to Alzheimer’s.  But Doctor Lisa Mosconi says there’s one key component of our environment that we are just beginning to connect more strongly to brain health - eating.

Mike Morbeck / Flickr

Anyone who watches sports - either in person or on TV - has seen them. The fans sitting in Lambeau Field on a 15 degree December day, with their shirts off, bodies covered in green and gold paint. Or the the guy driving down the street in a car painted in the Brewers’ color scheme.

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