Look! Look! – Books
October 25, 2011
Since its publication in 1960, Harper Lee’s classic has been presented in a variety of media: books, film, stage, radio, and digital forms.
By concentrating on the Halloween episode at the end of the narrative, this presentation and public discussion will explore how a particular understanding of Lee’s work is framed by its specific media presentation, and will include:
—A dramatic reading of the authorized play by Christopher Sergel presented by the UWM Theatre Department.
—A screening of the Halloween segment from the 1962 film directed by Robert Mulligan.
—An open, public discussion of how these presentations compare with Lee’s actual text.
This free event takes place on Monday, October 31 at 5:00 p.m. in Special Collections, 4th Floor, Golda Meir Library, 2311 E. Hartford Ave.
Moderated by Rebecca Holderness, Associate Professor, UWM Dept. of Theatre and Max Yela, Head, Special Collections, UWM Libraries.
Sponsored by Special Collections and UWM Libraries, the National Endowment for the Arts, and The Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
For more information or special needs, call 414-229-4345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 31, 2010
By Michael Timm
Edward E. Gillen Company, the Milwaukee-based marine contractor, would occupy 15 acres on two parcels of the approximately 30-acre former Grand Trunk Yards railway site if the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners approves a proposed lease agreement that was tabled at an Oct. 12 committee meeting.
The Grand Trunk Yards include at least 4.9 acres of wetlands, though the area identified as wetland on a Port of Milwaukee map would not be leased to Gillen.
Gillen would occupy 1.4 acres just off the 1900 block of S. Marina Drive for a 10,000-square-foot office complex to contain its consolidated headquarters.
Gillen’s yard complex would occupy 13.6 noncontiguous acres to the north and west, including the southwestern portion of the peninsula that juts into the Kinnickinnic River turning basin—the vacant land that can be observed when looking northeast from the Barnacle Bud’s patio.
Here Gillen would have dockside reception and a loading facility for rip-rap and other construction aggregate, according to the proposed lease. (The grain towers and land northeast of the existing railroad line that divides the peninsula are not part of the lease.)
The lease would also be contingent on the city cooperating with Gillen’s efforts to secure Harbor Grant funds or other public financing for the property improvements—possibly state, federal, or tax-incremental financing.
The proposed lease would run from June 1, 2010 through May 31, 2035, with the tenant having the option to extend two 15-year periods after that. The city would be required to provide three-year’s notice if it opted to replace Gillen as a tenant.
The proposed lease is for $13,588 per acre per year (just over $203,000 annually, assuming 15 acres), plus a throughput charge of $.40 per metric ton with the tenant agreeing to a minimum throughput of 7,500 metric tons per year (at least $3,000 annually), and wharfage at a rate of $1,800 a month.
No subleasing without city permission or hazardous materials storage would be permitted.
According to the proposed lease, “Tenant agrees that it shall not develop, build upon, or disturb those areas of the [p]roperty currently identified as state or federally protected wetlands.”
Relocation of Gillen from its current 218 W. Becher St. headquarters on the Kinnickinnic River to the Grand Trunk Yards site would happen in phases and should be completed by Dec. 31, 2012, according to the draft lease.
The Board of Harbor Commissioners’ Finance and Personnel Committee met Oct. 12 to consider the lease, among other items, but tabled the lease due to concerns over the financing deal not yet being worked out.
Attorney Fintan Dooley and Bay View resident Greg Bird disseminated a draft land-use plan for the Grand Trunk Yards site that would restore wetland hydrology and ecosystems.
Their map was generally compatible with the uses anticipated with the proposed lease to Gillen, with some exceptions, the main being that a “foliated fringe” along the waterway near S. Marina Drive was not identified as a natural area on the proposed lease.
Author Charles Damaske provides history overview of Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company System
August 19, 2010
The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company – System
Part of the Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World Traveling Exhibit
Join author Charles Damaske as he provides an historic overview of Milwaukee’s past interurban rail lines and some city service via the Milwaukee Street Car Line. This program includes information on the Burlington Line, East Troy Line, Lakeside Line, Milwaukee Northern Line, Rapid Transit Line, Watertown Line, West Junction to Waukesha Line, and the Milwaukee – Racine – Kenosha Line. Damaske is the author of Along the Right-of-Way, a series of books exploring events that occurred along the service routes of the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company. For more information on this program and the Franklin exhibit, click this.
Friday, September 10 – 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Central Library, 1st Floor Meeting Room
August 19, 2010
Author Visit: Megan E. Daniels
Join author Megan E. Daniels as she talks about the history, ethnic roots and architectural trends that played a role in the variety of Milwaukee architecture. Her book Milwaukee’s Early Architecture uses photographs from the collections of the Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission. Books will be available for purchase, and Daniels will sign them upon request. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library and Boswell Book Company, and is free and open to the public.
Tuesday, September 7 – 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Central Library Krug Rare Books Room, 2nd floor
April 1, 2010
By Gareth Stevens
The KNACK: Make It Easy guides are a series of in-depth but simply presented books on subjects ranging from Baby’s First Year and a Diabetes Cookbook to Rock Climbing and Treehouses. Bay View resident Dan Gray’s Canoeing for Everyone (published May 2009) is the first book in the series that I have examined closely. I’m impressed.
As a book for beginners-and aimed at the recreational paddler-it is hard to fault. The explanations are clearly written and the photographs (by Stephen Gorman and Eli Burakian) are not only crisp and bright, but also well composed to clearly show what’s being illustrated.
With only a couple of minor exceptions the coverage of topics is comprehensive. Dan, Stephen, and Eli give a good basic introduction to the parts of a canoe and the gear you will need before taking to the water. They cover safety and hazards well, and have very good-and extensive-coverage of paddling techniques: how to move the boat in easy water and maneuver it in more challenging conditions, too. These techniques are all more than just handy to learn (and practice and master) if you want to control your destiny on the water.
What I like about canoeing is that, if I do tip, the water is a lot kinder on my body parts than the pavement when I come off a bike-at almost any speed. But there are dangers, and not many of them are intuitive to the beginner, so pay attention to the safety sections in this book.
I like this book’s emphasis on safety: the carrying and wearing of life jackets (in every photo on the water!); proper clothing for hot and cold weather; keeping hydrated; and chapters on hazards, rescues, handling emergencies, first aid, communications, reading maps, using a compass, and repairing your canoe.
But I do have a few nitpicks.
That alcohol and canoeing don’t mix might have been emphasized a little more strongly on page 97. Sadly, more boating mishaps including deaths are associated with alcohol than any other cause. Both “alcohol” and (proper) “hydration” should be indexed under “A” or “H” and as subcategories under “Safety.”
On page 101, there is nice description of a horizon line-an important visual clue that a dam (or waterfall) is coming up. This was not indexed either, and a photograph illustrating the horizon-line effect would have been useful.
In fact, had I been editor, I would have added a few more pages to teach how all these river hazards can be read from a canoe as you approach them. Understanding how to read the river and learning to anticipate hazards well ahead of them are key skills to develop.
Gray’s advice on page 102 to scout-check from the bank before you try on the water-any section that looks potentially troublesome is well given. But what does “scouting” (also not indexed) mean? I knew, but would a beginner? The beginner would eventually learn on page 145, where there is an excellent description and a photo of paddlers scouting some rapids. A quick cross-reference on page 101 would have been handy.
And I would have liked to have seen a couple of spreads on competitive canoe sports, to introduce the reader to other possibilities of canoe fun: everything from adventure racing (nearly every adventure race has a paddling leg) and marathon canoe racing to whitewater, slalom, and Olympic sprints. I would also have liked some mention of river cleanups and encouragement to participate in them, whether from a canoe or from the bank.
But don’t let this short list of nitpicks color my assessment of the book’s value as a whole. This is quite the best introduction to canoeing I have seen. I recommend it unreservedly.
Gareth Stevens is founder and was, for many years, publisher at Gareth Stevens Children’s Books. He is currently editor of United States Canoe Association’s Canoe News magazine, webmaster for uscanoe.com, and creator of the online Worldwide Paddling Event Calendar (uscanoe.com/EventsResultsRegions.cfm). And he canoes a lot.
Canoeing for Everyone: A Step-by-Step Guide to Selecting the Gear, Learning the Strokes, and Planning Your Trip
Daniel Gray and Stephen Gorman
Knack: Make It Easy (May 5, 2009)
Paperback – 256 pages
In April 2010, Canoeing for Everyone will be joined by a companion title:
Kayaking for Everyone: Selecting Gear, Learning Strokes, and Planning Trips
Bill Burnham, Mary Burnham, Stephen Gorman, and Eli Burakian
Knack: Make It Easy (April 13, 2010)
Paperback – 256 pages.
April 1, 2010
Bay View workshop produced published novelist
By Michael Timm
Kirk Farber’s Postcards from a Dead Girl is a cute book, but that’s not necessarily bad. After all, any author who cites Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury as among his literary influences deserves some attention. Farber does some credit to his heroes, evoking levity, pseudoanthropological perspective, and emotional heft-sometimes skillfully all at once and other times only adequately here and there. The text also contains a few gracious nods to Adams, a structural similarity to Vonnegut, and rapid-fire dialogue akin to Bradbury.
Farber sets a brisk pace in 72 microchapters covering only 256 pages, delivering the escapades of the witty, neurotic, broken-hearted young American everymale-Sid, a travel package telemarketer with a fondness for carwashes. The world’s postal services have failed to deliver postcards from his now-dead girlfriend Zoe in a timely manner-they arrive a year after their postmarks-which eventually launches Sid on a quest to try to follow in Zoe’s footsteps.
Chapters 1-11 are filled with exposition and character introduction rather than action that shows us these things, which initially casts Sid as a weak, dominated protagonist. Things only really get rolling in Chapter 13.
His unsubstantiated hope is that either Zoe is sending him messages from beyond the grave or that her death was actually a joke and she’s still alive, out there, somewhere, somehow. Sid has projected his ideal woman onto Zoe, whose loss has crippled him emotionally. It’s not until the book’s climax that we learn the nature of her death and Farber provides a narrative rationalization for Sid’s reluctance to let go of her. Things get tied up perhaps too nicely, but the ensuing resolution is satisfying, natural, and inevitable nonetheless.
Sid’s grief sounds heavy, but it isn’t because he takes us on a brief tour of the Western world in the process of not facing it-from a New Jersey combination oil change/car wash/Laundromat/bar to a Barcelona discotheque to an office of the French postal service to a hospital CAT scan room to a mud bath spa to a freeway filled with cell phone-distracted drivers. But this book is no travelogue. Farber spends little energy on creating a sense of place beyond that which Sid immediately inhabits in his present action or his recollections.
Farber captures the essences of various occupational types Sid encounters-postal worker, yoga instructor, medical receptionist, oil change mechanic-but he spends less energy confronting Sid’s own family. Sid’s father is dead. His mother is dead and Sid believes her spirit resides in an old wine bottle and talks to him occasionally. Sid’s pregnant sister, a doctor, seems to exist only on the other end of a phone line. And we don’t even learn the occupation of Sid’s love interest.
But much of modern life is on display in Farber’s pageant of light satire, from Sid’s credit failure and his poor cell phone reception to the vagueness of medical diagnoses and even falling space debris. While Sid’s story is about coming to terms to life without Zoe and his mother, he exhibits a larger restlessness that pokes playfully at the little corners of our civilization.
Postcards is the debut novel for the Oconomowoc, Wis. native, who attracted the attention of an agent last year on his birthday after being a semi-finalist in Amazon.com’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest. He now lives in Colorado and credits the Bay View Redbird Writers Workshop for his success.
This novel should share the same kind of success enjoyed by last year’s film (500) Days of Summer. In almost the same way, it’s an avowed story about love, but not a love story. And it works. But it’s cute. I don’t imagine it will become a classic, but it’s light beach fare for the intelligent reader who enjoys flipping pages and laughing about every three.
My creative writing professor once advised us that every story is better if you put a dog in it. Sid’s loveable dog Zero, who also plays an important role in Farber’s plot and Sid’s character development, makes the case for fictional dogs even stronger.
Ultimately, this book is about learning to process the grief that comes with loss, making it part of your own identity, and discovering the freedom within, a message Harper Perennial knew they could bank on.
More on the author: kirkfarber.com.
Pros: Lots of funny moments and lines. Likeable protagonist. Swift progression. Snappy dialogue. Consistent voice.
Cons: Poor cover design. Too little story in opening chapters. Heavy use of flashback. Nothing new is learned.
Postcards from a Dead Girl
Harper Perennial (Feb. 16, 2010)
Trade Paperback – 272 pages
February 28, 2010
By Katherine Keller
The unique patterns of Italian and Sicilian emigration are writ large in Anthony M. Zignego’s new book, Milwaukee’s Italian Heritage: Mediterranean Roots in Midwestern Soil, as are the social, economic, and political forces in Italy that impelled the Italian diaspora in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Based on his UW-Milwaukee master’s thesis, the academic underpins Zignego’s narrative. However, his text is colorful, infused with stories and anecdotes of Milwaukee’s Italian immigrants drawn from oral history and newspaper accounts, letters and memoirs, and supported with data from church and census records. The text is richly illustrated with photos, some that will make Bay View hearts flutter.
A distinguishing feature of the Italian communities in North America, Zignego stresses, was their transient nature. Chain migration and return migration characterize the pattern of many Italians who traveled and worked in Milwaukee, Chicago, Buffalo, and New York City. Some worked in the United States for part of the year, and then returned their native village. Others made several trips back and forth.
Between 1905 and 1920, more than 50 percent of Italian immigrants in America returned to their homes in Italy, often in November. They stayed in Italy until spring when they returned to the States with one or more family members. Astonishingly, 13 million people left Italy between 1880 and 1915, Zignego writes, the largest emigration from any country in recorded history.
Zignego points out that the majority of Italian immigrants settled in the Third Ward, migrating from southern Italy and Sicily, while another, considerably smaller population settled in Bay View, migrating predominantly from central Italy and the Piedmont in northwestern Italy. In 1910, there were 4,788 Italians in the Third Ward and over a thousand in Bay View. Among the Bay View settlers were Giocondo Groppi, who opened a grocery story at Delaware and Russell avenues in 1912; Remigio (Charlie) and Eleanora Cialdini, also grocers, whose store was on Delaware Avenue; and Baptiste Gardetto, who established a bakery on St. Clair Street in 1932 (which grew and grew and was sold to General Mills in 1999).
Zignego devotes three of the book’s five chapters to the experience of Milwaukee’s Italian immigrants, exploring the neighborhoods, living conditions, work, and the social tensions between those in the Third Ward and Bay View. He delves into family life within the Italian community, including an exploration of the role of women in the development of the Italian culture in Milwaukee, both inside their own ethnic community and among other ethnicities via their roles as shopkeepers who served their neighbors. The final chapter demonstrates how the first and second world wars served to solidify Italian immigrants’ identity politically as Americans while retaining their cultural identity as Italian. During that same period, feste celebrations became popular, which celebrated aspects of their American and Italian identity and heritage.
The book is a fascinating exploration of the Italian migration, including the transient nature of thousands of those émigrés, which disguishes their immigration pattern. Especially appealing are the sections about the establishment of their communities in Bay View, Milwaukee’s Third Ward, and in the Brady Street neighborhood.
Regrettably, the publishers did not include Zignego’s index, which diminishes the book’s utility as a reference work. Despite that lamentable omission, the work is a rich contribution to our knowledge of Milwaukee history, and a fine tribute to the legacy of the people of Italy and Sicily who made Milwaukee their home.
Zignego’s forebears emigrated from Portovenera, Italy (in Luguria, on the Mediterranean, south of Genoa). He grew up in Milwaukee. Leroy Zignego and his brother Vernon Zignego (the author’s grandfather and great uncle) established Zignego Company, Inc. in 1955, a construction company in Waukesha. See calendar for his forthcoming appearances at Boswell Book Company and the Italian Community Center.
Milwaukee’s Italian Heritage: Mediterranean Roots in Midwestern Soil
Anthony M. Zignego
The History Press
January 28, 2010
By Katherine Keller
No time to write your memoir?
You’re wrong: just six words required.
Skeptical? Perhaps the 1,000 examples in It All Changed in an Instant-More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, the second volume in this hyper-truncated genre developed by SMITH Magazine, edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith, and published by Harper Perennial, will change your mind.
Launched in 2006, SMITH is an online magazine specializing in storytelling, with a penchant for personal narrative. The editors developed the six-word genre based on the real or apocryphal tale where Hemingway wins a challenge (in a bar-where else?) to write a novel in six words. His nano-narrative, according to the legend was, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Many of these mini memoirs are more aphorism than life story, but among the 1,000 tiny tropes readers will find the witty, sardonic, bitter, sweet, and ironic. A few examples:
- Cloudy with chance of sun. -Julie Beman
- Former boss: “Writing’s your worst skill!” -Amy Tan
- I turned eleven. No Hogwarts letter. -Laura Murray
- He knew about her peanut allergy. -Saaleha Mamjee-Mayet
- From bar singer to Halloween costume. -Taylor Hicks
- Most dying is done at work. -Cameron Vest
- Ending our relationship on Facebook? Classy. -Quin Browne
Not for everyone, It All Changed in an Instant is for those who enjoy collections of jokes, wit, inspirational verse, quotations, and meditations. A subject/theme index is included.
The first book in this series, Not Quite What I Was Planning was on the New York Times bestseller list for six weeks in 2008.
It All Changed in An Instant-More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
Edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith
Harper Perennial; 978-0-06-171943-1; Paperback; $12
January 3, 2010
By Katherine Keller
There’s a bill currently in the Wisconsin Legislature that, if passed, will place a new symbol, along with the badger, violet, and robin, in the state’s pantheon. The lucky little life form being looked at by the Legislature is Lactococcus lactis, the one that helps convert milk to cheese.
If you doubt the microbe’s merit, consider the alchemists who rely on it-hundreds of Wisconsin’s cheesemakers who produce more than 600 varieties of cheese.*
Forty-three of the state’s consummate cheese artisans are deftly and articulately profiled in a new UW Press release, The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin.
Self-proclaimed cheese lover James Norton, a food writer, and Becca Dilley, a photographer, roamed the state to interview 43 master cheesemakers who create varieties ranging from “ordinary” cheddar, feta, Swiss, and Parmesan to the not-as-ordinary chèvre, Crescenza-stracchino, Finnish juustoleipa, SarVecchio, Gorgonzola, and Limburger.
In his introduction, Norton relates the genesis of the state’s master cheesemaker program. The impetus that drove its creation was threefold: the desire to collect, preserve, and transmit cheesemaking knowledge, to provide a research site and opportunities, and to develop a branding and marketing program to promote quality Wisconsin cheese, which would result in financial returns to the state.
Created in 1994 by the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, the two-year Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program was patterned principally after the rigorous Swiss model. Part of their mission was to recognize and preserve the talent and knowledge of the state’s cheesemakers. Establishing a certification program that would confer master status to program grads was a goal. Another was marketing the cheesemakers and their products via the program’s trademarked “Master’s Mark.”
Earning the program’s master cheesemaker credential entails meeting stringent standards. Before would-be masters can apply, they must have been in possession of Wisconsin cheesemaking licenses for 10 years and been making the cheese for which they seek certification for five years. Only after meeting those qualifications, are they permitted to take the strict oral exam conducted by program board members. Following admission, there are two years of courses, and “constant testing of [their] cheese and evaluation of [their] plant,” culminating in a written final exam.
Program participants choose one or two cheese varieties to “master” during their training, and upon completion of the program, receive their certificate and medal, the master title, and permission to use the Master’s Mark on labels of cheese they produce for which they’re certified. Norton notes the program has graduated only 50 masters to date (as of November 2009).
Folded into the main body of the text that’s comprised of the cheesemakers’ profiles are informative elements about the history of Wisconsin cheesemaking, and the art, science, and lore of the complex craft, often enlivened with entertaining anecdotes.
For example, in the profile about Jeff Wideman and Paul Reigle (Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, Wis.), Wideman explains how the old Monroe dairy co-op, and many like it, operated. In 1922 there was a network of 3,000 small co-ops throughout the state that produced Wisconsin’s cheese, but which dramatically declined mid-20th century when mass production replaced the small, local producers. Wideman related how the co-op system operated, citing the Monroe dairy co-op. Milk was delivered to the cheese plant from local farmers, who like the cheesemakers, were co-op members. The milk was transformed to cheese, graded, and sold to a single buyer. The co-op invoiced the buyer, who sent payment to the co-op’s bank. Those proceeds were deposited, by percentage, into the respective farmers’ and the cheesemakers’ accounts.
Another example of what can be gleaned from the profiles is a description and photo of a fascinating water purification system developed by cheesemaster Robert Wills (Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Wis.). Wills’ system is comprised, in part, of 10-2,600 gallon water vats full of plants, leeches, frogs, blue gills, algae, and mosquitoes that clean the plant’s wastewater and significantly reduce water usage and overhead.
Sidebars embellish the main text. Some, entitled “flavor notes,” describe less well-known cheeses. There’s a history timeline that summarizes Wisconsin cheesemaking, another that describes the cheddaring process, and one that demystifies processed cheese.
The end matter includes an instructive glossary. The index is adequate but not perfect. (If you want to find all the chèvre or mozzarella producers referenced in the text, highlight them as you read because you won’t find them in the index.) A flaw that I encountered was not all instances of text relating to co-ops were cited in the index entry, “co-ops, dairy.”
Cheesemakers can also be used to construct a tour of the featured plants. It’s divided into five geographical regions, each with an excellent map indicating the location of the featured master cheesemakers.
The volume is beautifully designed with judicious, generous white space, engaging photographs, and lucid text, including those passages about cheese chemistry and production. One can read the entire work in a couple of hours but there’s so much information I would expect many will file it on the locavore shelf of their home library’s reference section.
*Not all varieties of cheese rely on Lactococcus lactis, but some that do are cheddar, Camembert, Edam, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Muenster, feta, and Gorgonzola.
The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin
James Norton and Becca Dilley (Madison, Wis. natives, currently Minnesota residents)
University of Wisconsin Press
Trade Paper $24.95
At local bookstores and uwpress.wisc.edu