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Sunday, September 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 61.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily


A Book A Week: The City & The City by China Miéville

In keeping with my quest to read mysteries set in exotic locations, I read The City & The City by China Miéville. He is a purveyor of urban speculative fiction that incorporates elements of fantasy, reality, and science fiction. In this book, two cities, Beszel (a rundown eastern European backwater) and UlQoma (flush with money from a booming high-tech industry) exist in the same physical space. >More
 My best fiction finds at the Madison Public Library in 2012

As a denizen of the library, I choose my books differently than I would if I were getting them all at a bookstore. Unlike a bookstore, where the newest titles are stacked in tempting piles, in the Madison Public Library, the newest titles are in circulation. Without advance planning, it's easier to find last year's hot titles, so that's why I am sometimes behind the curve when it comes to discussing the latest thing. >More
 Madison Public Library unveils plan for revamping Wisconsin Book Festival

The Wisconsin Book Festival would shrink to four days and focus on big-name authors under a proposal Madison Public Library director Greg Mickells announced at Thursday night's Library Board meeting at the Madison Senior Center. >More
 Readers rally around words, writers and the art of storytelling at Wisconsin Book Festival 2012

After last week's elections, Madison didn't want to relax and reminisce. It needed more action, pronto. Enter the Wisconsin Book Festival, a frenzy of readings, signings, discussions and other events dedicated to the printed word -- and the giddy feelings a good book can generate. >More
 A Book A Week: The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht is extremely good, better than most of what I've read this year. No wonder it won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, a British award for best novel written in English by a woman. It's very mature and covers a lot of ground: myth, immortality, family relationships, and war and its aftermath. >More
 Countdown to Wisconsin Book Festival 2012: An interview with Davy Rothbart

A boy plays a trick on his deaf mother to score some Soft Batch cookies. A man chases a scammer across the country to throw a bottle of pee at him. A drunk wakes up naked on a park bench, unsure how he got there, then walks through New York City in the buff. The protagonist of all of these stories is Davy Rothbart, author of the new essay collection My Heart Is an Idiot. >More
 Countdown to Wisconsin Book Festival 2012: An interview with Emma Straub

You may have heard the name Emma Straub lately. One of this fall's most buzzed-about authors, the Brooklyn, New York, author and her first novel, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, have been lauded by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and many other media outlets. Like the protagonist of the book, Straub also has a Wisconsin connection: She's a 2009 graduate of UW-Madison's MFA program in fiction writing. >More
 Countdown to Wisconsin Book Festival 2012: An interview with Michael Lowenthal

It's one thing for a fiction writer to take on large and knotty subjects like pedophilia, surrogacy, and the intersection of Judaism and sexual identity. It is quite another to tell these stories with the sort of nuanced and fully fleshed-out characters that make Michael Lowenthal and his work both important and eminently readable. During a recent phone call, I asked him about The Paternity Test, his new novel from the University of Wisconsin Press, about a gay couple who attempt to save their marriage by engaging a surrogate to have their baby. >More
 Countdown to Wisconsin Book Festival 2012: Jacqueline Dougan Jackson's The Round Barn is an extraordinary tale about a dairy farm

Jacqueline Dougan Jackson is a regional treasure. She's a prominent children's writer and the author of 12 books. One of them, The Taste of Spruce Gum, was a 1968 runner-up for the Newberry Medal. Now 84 years old, Jackson still produces important work that reveals the power and heart of Midwestern life. Her newest work of nonfiction, The Round Barn: A Biography of an American Farm, is a remarkable compendium of family life on a Wisconsin dairy farm. >More
 Countdown to Wisconsin Book Festival 2012: An interview with Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry likes questions. They "bring on a certain state of mind" and "in that weird opening, other stuff starts to happen," she says. Barry has an impressive resume of "other stuff": She's created a long-running comic strip, which used to appear in Isthmus; written tons of books; and is a powerhouse of an artist, writer and teacher. She's also a pretty cool person to have coffee with. >More
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