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James P. Lenfestey

Thursday, October 9
6:30 pm at The Reader's Loft

James P. Lenfestey

Help us welcome James P. Lenfestey to the store for a reading from his new book, Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain
(available September 9, 2014 -Milkweed Editions)


Publisher's comments:

When award-winning poet and essayist James P. Lenfestey stumbled upon Han-Shan’s Cold Mountain poems in 1974, he found more than just literature, he found the medicine his spirit desperately needed. So thirty years later, when he decides to depart from his career in advertising and journalism to travel across the world to find the location of the legendary Cold Mountain cave, he embarks upon an inner journey as well.
 
Exploring the history of Chinese poetry and religion as he goes—from the enormous chanting hall of ten thousand Buddhas in Bailin Temple to the birthplace of Confucius—Lenfestey’s road-trip across China is a pilgrimage through language and landscape. His journey reveals his desire for calm reflection along with his unbridled curiosity and passion for knowledge. In the end he discovers not only the cave he seeks, but also the transformative power of poetry, the best tool we have for expressing the “incomprehensible joy” of our brief and precious lives.
 
Interspersed with poems by the author and Han-shan, Seeking the Cave is a journey suffused with humor and deep honesty that will appeal to lovers of poetry and travel writing alike. 

James P. Lenfestey is an award-winning academic, advertising executive, and journalist. He has published five books of poetry and a collection of essays. He currently chairs the Literary Witnesses poetry series and lives in Minneapolis.

Mark Allister

Saturday, October 11
2-4 PM at The Reader's Loft

Mark Allister

Mark Allister joins the Reader's Loft to share the story behind his upcoming book, Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story
(available October 1, 2014 - University of Minnesota Press)

Publisher's Comments:

During the past decade, Minnesota-grown band Cloud Cult has become one of the most inspirational indie bands, with a deeply devoted fan base and an approach to music and the environment that is hard not to admire. Beyond a musical biography, "Chasing the Light "tells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band known by music lovers as the least cynical and most idealistic band in the country.

Tracing Cloud Cult's rise to critical acclaim, author Mark Allister details the band's defining moments, beginning with the death of Craig and Connie Minowa's two-year-old son and the hundreds of songs that grew out of the tragic loss. Allister describes the band's unique philosophy and principles, including how Minowa created a zero carbon footprint for the band's recording and touring, adopting DIY and green-sustainable practices well before the ideas became mainstream. Allister also presents a first-person account of a day in the life of a quintessential indie band and conveys the immense emotional impact of Cloud Cult's albums and live shows. Described by a fan in the book as "the anthem for the soul searcher in us all," Cloud Cult's music and message are both stirring and sincere.

Featuring rarely seen photos from Cloud Cult's history and passionate testimonials by fans, "Chasing the Light" is a testament to the profound influence one band's personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados in search of beauty, meaning, and redemption.

Mark Allister is professor of English, environmental studies, and American studies at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He hosts a weekly radio show, "Prof Rock with Mark Allister."
Mark Wheat is a regular host on Minnesota Public Radio's The Current.



Manuscript Found in Accra

Tuesday, October 14
6:00 pm at The Reader's Loft

Manuscript Found in Accra

A Reader's Loft Book Club Discussion

Publisher's Comments:

The great wisdom of life is that we can be masters of the things that try to enslave us.

“There is nothing wrong with anxiety. Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible. Or to drive away whatever is causing fear. Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it — just as we have learned to live with storms."

1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, women and men of every age and faith have gathered to hear the wisdom of a mysterious man known only as the Copt.

As the wise man speaks of loyalty, fear, bravery and solitude, of love, sex, beauty and elegance, his words offer truth and guidance, and reveal the human values that have endured throughout time — then as now, his words reveal who we are, what we fear and what we hope for the future.

Lorna Landvik

Thursday, October 16
6:00 pm at The Reader's Loft

Lorna Landvik

Up Close and Personal with Lorna Landvik, comedian and author of Best to Laugh and Mayor of the Universe

 

Lorna Landvik is the author of nine novels, including the best-selling Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Oh My Stars, and The View From Mt. Joy.

Raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Landvik had wanted to be a writer from the time she learned how to read in the first grade. She was encouraged in these efforts by her parents and teachers, particularly her sixth grade teacher, who would send her poems to a radio program that broadcast student work.

The summer after high school graduation, she worked in a plastic spoon and fork factory to pay for a trip to Europe with her best friend. For nearly a year, they hitchhiked through the continent, supplementing their income by working as chambermaids in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Upon her return to the U.S., she briefly attended the University of Minnesota, before departing for San Francisco, where she performed stand-up comedy. 

In Los Angeles, she continued to perform improvisational and stand-up comedy at The Comedy Store, The Improv and many other clubs. To earn the living that performance wasn’t yet providing, she waitressed and temped, working at movie studios and record companies, and, for several very interesting months, at the Playboy Mansion. (It was strictly a clerical position.) 

In Los Angeles, she and her husband had their first daughter and her birth inspired them to become members of ‘The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.’ One thousand people began the march, but after funding fell through, over half of the marchers left, leaving 450 people to walk across the country in a grass roots movement. She considers the nine months she spent living in a tent a boot camp of sorts, although she was dazzled by the physical beauty of this country and the warmth of its people. She is also thrilled there has been no nuclear war.

Moving back to Minneapolis, where her second daughter was born, she began work on her first novel, the critically-acclaimed Patty Jane’s House of Curl.  She became a cast member of Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop, in Theater 911 and Mary Worth Theater. Every January she performs a one-woman, all-improvised show called, “Party in the Rec Room.” 

Orphan Doors

Tuesday, November 11
6:00 pm at The Reader's Loft

Orphan Doors

A Reader's Loft Book Club Discussion

Publisher's Comments:

When Bea Seidl was a young girl growing up in the Fox River Valley in northeastern Wisconsin, she was abruptly chaperoned in a fancy new dress to a new life. Before she could hardly make sense of what was happening, she was the newest resident of St. Joseph's Orphanage in Green Bay, where stern nuns, rigid regimens, and scant tenderness defined her days. She emerged from eight years there hard of heart and spirit but soon embarked on a life journey to rediscover the meaning of family in ways she did not imagine possible.

Orphan Doors is Seidl's inspiring, poignant memoir of survival and personal strength that is certain to resonate with anyone who believes in the resiliency of the human heart. Both deeply felt and delightfully humorous, her firsthand account of an abusive home and abandonment charts her beginnings in a dysfunctional family to her own attempts as an adult to forge a family of her own, a desire at times met with tragedy and ultimately with profound joy. In 1942, Seidl was given over to St. Joseph's Orphanage, with no explanation as to why her mother Glenda lost custody of her and her siblings. Most traumatic for the author was the loss of her older sister, who had long served as her protector in their chaotic household. At the punitive hands of Sister Edythe and other sisters at the orphanage, young Beatrice was given little comfort, immersing herself in schoolwork. However, she eventually found a rewarding life for herself in her beautiful and tender husband, Ken. It was not too long before fate intervened and a young, widowed Beatrice had to find a new path to a fulfilling, family life- and even a way back to the Catholic Church as a gratifying vocation.

As Seidl rises above dark days and emotional isolation, Orphan Doors offers an uplifting story of hope, happiness, and a good dose of plain silliness. It's a heartfelt testament to love, reconnection, and the healing power of laughter.

Kevin J. Miyazaki

Wednesday, November 12
6:30 pm at The Reader's Loft

Kevin J. Miyazaki

Perimeter: A Contemporary Portrait of Lake Michigan

Commissioned by the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University to create an artwork reflecting on the importance of freshwater, Milwaukee-based photographer Kevin J. Miyazaki embarked on a two-week, 1,800-mile drive around Lake Michigan. He traveled its perimeter, through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, to produce what he calls "a contemporary portrait of Lake Michigan." Miyazaki set up his portable studio on beaches, in parks, on boat docks, and in backyards, photographing those he met along the way. From residents, environmental scientists, and artists to a Native American water rights advocate, surfers, and commercial fishermen, Lake Michigan holds a powerful place in the life of each. Many shared their thoughts with him on why this body of water is important to all. Miyazaki also photographed the water as he went, creating waterscapes of the ever-changing lake affected by weather and time. Perimeter gathers these images together, creating a diverse portrait of both people and a place, encapsulating Lake Michigan's significance to those who are drawn to it.

Kevin J. Miyazaki is a Milwaukee-based editorial and fine art photographer. His work has appeared in such publications as Martha Stewart Living, Travel + Leisure, Midwest Living, and The New York Times Magazine. His series Camp Home, in which he documents the reuse of Japanese internment camp barracks from World War II, has been exhibited at the Photo Center NW and SOIL Gallery in Seattle, the RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and the James Watrous Gallery in Madison. Miyazaki’s work can be seen at

The Art Forger

Tuesday, December 9
6:00 pm at The Reader's Loft

The Art Forger

A Reader's Loft Book Club Discussion

Publisher's Comments:

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Claire makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she lets herself be lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting — one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the Gardner Museum — in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing Degas painting — the one that had been hanging for one hundred years at the Gardner — is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Claire’s search for the truth about the painting’s origins leads her into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life. B. A. Shapiro’s razor-sharp writing and rich plot twists make The Art Forger an absorbing literary thriller that treats us to three centuries of forgers, art thieves, and obsessive collectors. It’s a dazzling novel about seeing — and not seeing — the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.

Tara Meissner

Thursday, January 15
6:30 pm at The Reader's Loft

Tara Meissner

Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book. 


Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis 

This psychology memoir is about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, party palnning with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld. 

Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine. 

Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder.

                             

 

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