books

lidiasitaly.com

Lidia Bastianich has offered a lot of advice to chefs and would-be chefs over the years. She’s hosted a half-dozen series of cooking shows on public television, authored almost a dozen cookbooks and owns Italian restaurants in three cities.

But she says her latest book offers something different. Comprised of a collection of recipes and lessons learned, Bastianich says her tenth book reflects what made her who she is.

Stoneboat Literary Journal

There are many different ways to write a poem, if you’re so inclined. There’s the sonnet. Or, if you lean towards the bawdy, there’s the limerick. Or if you’re wordy and think of yourself in ancient Greek terms, there’s the two-volume epic.

But for Milwaukee poet Mark Zimmermann, the form that has captured his fancy for the last decade is the lipogram. It’s a form in which the poet chooses to omit certain letters – like writing a poem without the letter B, for example. Zimmermann took it one step further and wrote poems about people that used only the letters in their names.

Viking Adult

Many glamorous heist movies have been made over the years, such as How to Steal a Million, The Thomas Crown Affair and Oceans Eleven.  They present an interesting quandary – the idea that you find yourself kind of rooting for people who are otherwise, well, breaking the law.

"I started to realize that real crime is not quite as glamorous as the stylized crime I so enjoyed as a kid. That was one of the main things that made me want to write what I'm going to paradoxically call a real heist story," says author Rebecca Scherm.

Rafael Ben-Ari / Fotolia

The Simpsons sang about their fictitious secret society, the Stonecutters, based on the very real group known as the Freemasons.  And it was the Masons that started Americans’ love affair with secret clubs.

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.

boswell.indiebound.com

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.

stewart-onan.com

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.

bashapirobooks.com / 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.

jenniferchiaverini.com

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.

Milwaukee Opera Theatre / facebook.com

There have been many stage plays, movies, and books that are about booksellers or people in the literary world.  But a new production by Milwaukee Opera Theater takes it to its logical conclusion.

The Story of My Life” is about friendships, writers, and books, and is set in a bookstore.  So it only made sense to actually stage the musical among the stacks at Boswell Book Company. 

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.

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