Algonquin Books

The worlds presented in novels is sometimes entirely invented, and sometimes based on very real people and settings.  But what many novels share in common lies in the characters who inhabit them.

Many of them are young – or at least relatively young and vital.  They’re at a pivotal point in their life – the transition from youth to adulthood, or young adulthood to middle age. But the protagonist in Jonathan Evison’s latest novel bucks that trend. 

We’re in a racially charged period in the country’s history – going from a high point – the nation’s first African American president –to a low, in the tensions that are mounting over the treatment of black people by some police forces in the country.

It is obviously not the first time race has been a contentious issue in the United States.  Wisconsin native Andrew Maraniss looks back at a little known story from the Civil Rights era in his new book.

Wisconsin writer Lesley Kagen applies a nostalgic look to difficult circumstances in many of her novels. In her latest title, The Resurrection of Tess Blessing, the difficult circumstances come fast and furious.

There’s mental illness, cancer, aging, loneliness and even marital stress. But through it all, Kagen maintains perspective, and often a lighter tone. 

UW Press

James DeVita has previously appeared on Lake Effect to talk about his role in An Iliad at the Milwaukee Rep.  This time, the core member of American Players Theater in Spring Green has taken on a new role as the author of a new mystery novel, called A Winsome Murder.

Macmillan Publishers

Many new parents know first hand the physical impact having a child can have on a woman's body, but a recent book by Julie Halpern looks at the bigger – and often funnier - picture of how childbirth impacts a fictitious new mother.

It was on this date, exactly 90 years ago that one of the classics of American literature was published. The Great Gatsby cemented the place of F. Scott Fitzgerald in the American literary tradition, and helped make a celebrity of Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. / Algonquin Books

History and present day has shown that America's anti-immigrant attitudes come and go in cycles. One major period in history where discrimination and fear was very present includes the plight of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime during World War II. This period was not only a major one for American foreign policy, but the birth of a new art movement: abstract expressionism.

The History Press

It was on this day, 74 years ago, that the Japanese bombardment of Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II.  There are several important Milwaukee names that have prominent connections with that war.

Few people can think about “Christmas bells” without humming along to the classic carol. However, the original poem the carol is based on has verses directly about the American Civil War that have been more or less overlooked since they were written, has been overtaken and excluded by Christmas spirit.

However for Madison author Jennifer Chiaverini, her interest was piqued when she discovered the often-forgotten stanzas about the Civil War in that poem so familiar to many Americans.

Ernesto Andrade, flickr

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is when a lot of us are giving thought to the food that’s on the table, whether it’s on our own dining table, someone else’s or at a restaurant.

But besides our own food traditions, we don’t always think about the cultural factors that led to that food showing up on the plate in front of us.

Random House

The last time Lake Effect spoke with writer Adam Johnson, his novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, had recently been released to some critical acclaim.

Since the turn of the century, Casey FitzRandolph and his family have seen the best and the worst life has to offer.  The Verona, Wisconsin, native won a gold medal in speedskating in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Just a few years later, his younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and eventually lost her fight to the disease.  Though the two stories have different endings, they have some interesting similarities.  They’re both representative of an attitude of doing whatever it takes to succeed.

Mitch Teich

The rise of actor Rainn Wilson to prominence should provide some comfort to awkward adolescents everywhere.  Wilson was a bassoonist, Dungeon-and-Dragons playing nerdy kid in Seattle before being nerdy was cool.

A move to the Chicago area in high school allowed him to break out of his earlier mold and pursue theater ( though he kept up with the bassoon).  While it didn’t happen overnight, Wilson connected with acting, and with comedy, and the most visible result was his character, the intense Dwight Schrute, on the long-running NBC comedy, “The Office.”

Curbside Splendor Publishing

Mental illness can take on many forms and create unique challenges for those who suffer from it, and for those who take care of the afflicted.

A new book by Milwaukee writer Dasha Kelly follows the journey of a young girl named CeCe as she cares for her chronically depressed mother while also caring for herself as she grows up.

Bonnie North

For the past 40 years, the University of Milwaukee’s literary journal, Cream City Review, has been publishing stories, essays, poems, reviews and artwork from around the world. The journal is run by volunteers and receives almost 4,000 submissions a year.