Madison Public Library and its foundation have transformed the Wisconsin Book Festival into a yearlong feast of stellar storytelling and intriguing ideas. With many events at the Central Library, the main portion of the fest (Oct. 16-19) is also a chance for attendees to enjoy the new building's art, gathering spaces and, of course, books. Here are some of the events we're most excited about.
Superstar scribes and other luminaries
Bending the Frame
Chazen Museum of Art, Oct. 16, 4 pm
The dean of the school at the International Center for Photography discusses photos' power to spur social change, the topic of his excellent book Bending the Frame.
To Dwell in Darkness
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 16, 7:30 pm
The bestselling author reads from her latest thriller, about two London detectives trying to crack a murder case while keeping their marriage intact.
We Make Beer
Great Dane Pool Hall, Oct. 17, 5 pm
Could there be a more perfect setting than the Great Dane for a discussion about craft beer-making? While writing his first book, Lewis discovered that many microbrewers consider beer-making an extension of themselves.
Underground: New and Selected Poems
Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 17, 7 pm
Often compared to former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, Moore pens accessible poems that explore life's wonders in deep and memorable ways.
Daring: My Passages
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 17, 7:30 pm
Sex and the City's central question -- as a woman, is it possible to have it all: family, friends, romance and a fulfilling career? -- is much older than the hit HBO series. Sheehy tackled it with gusto in Passages, her New York Times bestseller about her life as a female journalist in the 1960s. She finds new answers to the question in Daring: My Passages, which chronicles her relationship with the founder of New York magazine and some of her most daring work as a political reporter.
Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 18, 1:30 pm
Galaviz-Budziszewski finds beauty in urban decay on Chicago's South Side in his new graphic novel about a 14-year-old immigrant who suspects he can restore life to the dead.
The Innovative State
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 18, 1:30 pm
In town for the Wisconsin Science Festival, along with plant expert Sir Peter Crane (Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Oct. 16, 3:30 pm), the country's first chief technology officer presents his plan for tackling some of America's biggest problems, from costly health care to an anemic economy. Hint: Government officials need to embrace more new technologies and shed some old habits.
Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 18, 2:30 pm
The oddball characters in Further Joy, novelist Brandon's first collection of short stories, exist on the edge of possibility. Surreal settings -- haunted deserts, alligator-filled swamps, forgotten towns in nameless states -- and impromptu endings make reading these 11 stories an adventure, while Brandon's deadpan humor and dark style make them memorable.
House of Coates Revisited
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 18, 5:30 pm
Zellar discusses his work and travel with noted photographer Alec Soth, subject of MMoCA's current "From Here to There" exhibition. He'll also chat about his interactions with the reclusive protagonist of the book House of Coates, who may or may not be a real person.
All the Light We Cannot See
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Oct. 18, 6 pm
Doerr spent a decade on his latest novel, an epic story of, in his words, "radio, propaganda, a cursed diamond, children in Nazi Germany, puzzles, snails, the Natural History Museum in Paris, courage, fear, bombs, the magical seaside town of Saint-Malo in France, and the ways in which people, against all odds, try to be kind to one another." No wonder it runs 530 pages.
Richard Axsom with Warrington Colescott
Storybook: Warrington Colescott's Venice
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Oct. 16, 12:30 pm
Axsom, a MMoCA curator, chats with Colescott, a printmaker and emeritus UW professor, about a collection of etchings inspired by Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice. Attendees can view Colescott's work at the museum afterward.
Barracuda in the Attic
Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 16, 5 pm
A New York native, Wisconsin resident and UW-Madison alum, this author is also the son of novelist and screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman. His memoir is a lively romp from Broadway to Hollywood, featuring encounters with funnyman Groucho Marx and mobster Crazy Joey Gallo.
How Not to Be Wrong
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 16, 5:30 pm
If you like to know "why" instead of just "what," you'll enjoy this presentation by a UW-Madison professor and Slate contributor. His book pays homage to the power of mathematics and refutes its reputation as arcane and specialized. In nimble, entertaining prose, Ellenberg helps you understand enough math that you can draw your own conclusions about statistics in the news and elsewhere. Ellenberg also hosts Nerd Nite (Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery-Town Center, Oct. 18, 8 pm) and the fest's High School Friday presentation (Central Library, Oct. 17, 9 am).
First Wave with reg e gaines and Chinaka Hodge
Passing the Mic Hip-Hop Showcase
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, Oct. 16, 8 pm
First Wave, UW-Madison's pioneering spoken-word and hip-hop program, teams up with two of the country's foremost purveyors of rhythm and rhyme. This wordplay extravaganza also features performances by poetry-slam champs from across the Midwest.
Terese Allen, Ron Faiola and Robin Shepard
Science of the Supper Club
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Oct. 17, 6 pm
Billed as a one-of-a-kind event that could only happen in Wisconsin, this celebration (tasting stations at 6 pm, presentations at 8 pm) will highlight the food, culture and history of the state's storied supper-club tradition. The featured presenters are Wisconsin authors Allen (The Flavor of Wisconsin: An Informal History of Food and Eating in the Badger State), Faiola (Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience) and Shepard (Isthmus beer writer).
Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 18, 10:30 am
This ambitious local attorney somehow finds time to run an Etsy boutique and write novels. Set in Madison, at a vintage clothing shop, her debut revolves around three fascinating women who help each other solve impossible-seeming problems.
Curtis Sittenfeld, Susanna Daniel, Michelle Wildgen and Mary Kay Zuravleff
Sisterland and more
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 18, 11:30 am
Wondering what writers think about when they write? Nationally acclaimed writer Sittenfeld (Prep, American Wife) reads from her latest novel, Sisterland, then joins Zuravleff and local writers Daniel and Wildgen to talk about the writing process, especially subjects the group find most difficult to write about. Zuravleff (also reading at Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 18, 4:30 pm) is the author of Man, Alive! -- about a psychiatrist struck by lightning while inserting a quarter into a parking meter. Daniel (Sea Creatures, Stiltsville) and Wildgen (Bread and Butter, You're Not You) founded the Madison Writers Studio, where they run small-group workshops on writing fiction and creative nonfiction, memoirs and screenplays.
The Sleeve Waves
Central Library Bubbler Room, Oct. 18, noon
Though she teaches at an urban college -- Milwaukee's Marquette University -- Sorby built her latest book around a pastoral poem sung by sheep. Her presentation should be a visceral exploration of sights and sounds, filled with energy, irony and perhaps a few well-placed bleats.
My Family and Other Hazards
Wisconsin Historical Museum, Oct. 18, noon
If you grew up in Wisconsin during the 1980s, miniature golf probably represented a good chunk of your social life. For Melby, whose family owned and operated a mini-golf course in Door County when she was a kid, the game became her life. She writes about her love-hate relationship with the course and her surprising reaction years later upon learning that her parents planned to sell it.
A Room of One's Own, Oct. 18, 1 pm
Birdsall's gripping novel centers on Alyx, an intersex child raised as a boy but intent on expressing herself as a girl. After her father's death and a violent experience, the 15-year-old moves to Milwaukee to begin her new life as a female.
Seventh Generation Earth Ethics: Native Voices of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Historical Museum, Oct. 18, 3 pm
The documentary filmmaker and UW-Madison professor has spent her career giving voice to issues surrounding identity, history and sovereignty among Wisconsin Native Americans. Her new book introduces readers to important figures in Wisconsin Native sustainability, including anti-mining and treaty rights activists, artists, educators, and historians who are advancing ecological values in Wisconsin.
A Room of One's Own, Oct. 18, 5:30 pm
A modern retelling of Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel of dark secrets and windswept coastlines, Alena moves the action from Cornwall to present-day Cape Cod, but otherwise remains true to the spirit of the original. Creepy and at times veering off into camp, it revisits a familiar tale from a new angle. Pastan is a former Madisonian and Isthmus writer.
Marketplace of the Marvelous
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Oct. 18, 4 pm
A local historian and Wisconsin Public Radio producer shares her excellent book, which contains thrilling stories about odd medical therapies developed in the 19th century, and how some of these treatments led to wisdom we now consider commonsense.
The Liar's Wife
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 18, 7:30 pm
Through four novellas, Gordon, an on-and-off Madison resident, introduces stories of Americans abroad and Europeans in America. Readers meet characters like a teacher from the 1940s, a German who fled his home country in the wake of World War II and a Yale graduate student with a thirst for Italian art.
Perimeter: A Contemporary Portrait of Lake Michigan
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 19, 9:30 am
This Wisconsin photographer drove 1,800 miles around Lake Michigan's shores -- through four states -- to capture images of the water and the people who use it. The result is a stark and stunning collection of portraits captured in his portable studio, featuring individuals as diverse as scientists, artists, athletes, commercial fishermen and surfers.
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 19, 11 am
After penning a series of charming nonfiction books about living, loving and learning in rural Wisconsin, Perry heads in a new direction with The Scavengers, his first novel -- one that introduces tween readers to a colorful dystopian world inhabited by likable heroine Ford Falcon. In Perry's evocative words, it reads like "Little House on the Prairie meets Mad Max."
The Dog Year
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 19, 12:30 pm
Don't be misled by the Dalmatian on the cover of The Dog Year, which is about people, mostly. The UW-Whitewater professor's second novel is a tale of loss and healing set in southern Wisconsin and served up with a side of unconditional dog love. Funny and bittersweet, it's a reminder that you can find compassion and understanding at the dog park, and not just from the dogs.
The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County
Central Library Community Room, Oct. 19, 12:30 pm
A fishing trip to northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters sparked the idea for this Wisconsin-born-and-bred author's latest novel. The story chronicles what happens when a company proposes a frac sand mine in the fictional Wisconsin village of Link Lake, throwing residents into a tizzy.