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Boswell Book Company

You wouldn’t know it from looking at us, but there is a certain portion of our staff that is fairly obsessed with sports (our city league basketball team is 3-0 and could wipe the floor with those pesky scrubs  from Poor Claudia). This week being all things Super Bowl, we asked our pal (and 2011 Workshop faculty member) Benjamin Percy to take us clubbing in the home state of the Green Bay Packers, the team most of us wish to see victorious. In these parts, we will take a pitcher of Pabst over Iron City any day of the week. Twice on Sundays!

Wisconsin—where the beer is cold and the woods thick and piney, where you get high-fived by complete strangers for wearing green and gold, where winter makes you into a thing half-alive and cheese is never far from the hand—yes, Wisconsin!—is also home to one of the finest bookstores in the country, Boswell Book Company, located on the east side of Milwaukee.

The store opened in 2009, based on the earlier footprint of Harry W. Shwartz. The 8,000-square-foot store has an ideal location:  cozy neighborhood—close to Lake Michigan and UW-Milwaukee—busy with hipster bars and hipster restaurants and hipster coffee shops and a hipster indie theater, which results in the kind of foot traffic that thins the carpet and the bookshelves.  The store hosts several readings a week and has a loyal following of NPR-listening types who fill the seats and collect autographed hardcovers.

And hey, if you’re looking for good company, you could do worse than the lovely Stacie Michelle Williams, who always has a smile for a customer and might as well be a reference librarian (she has apparently read everything that has ever been written, from Blood Meridian the Clifford’s Scary Halloween Adventure).

And the owner, Daniel Goldin?  How good is he? So good (and so funny) that NPR calls him up regularly for commentary on what’s what in literaryland.

For three years this was my neighborhood bookstore, and I miss it desperately. This is big-hearted bookselling, folks. Get your ass to Boswell, as a reader hungry for books and as a touring author hungry for an audience.

Benjamin Percy is the author of two novels, Red Moon (forthcoming from Grand Central/ Hachette in 2012), The Wilding (Graywolf, 2010), and two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf, 2007) and The Language of Elk (Carnegie Mellon, 2006). Be sure to check out his upcoming interview with Wisconsin native, Peter Straub, in Issue #47 of Tin House.

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Comments: 2

(29) Comments

  1. Chris Roberts says:

    “Get your ass to Boswell,” No, actually you need to get your ass out of Boswell’s before you wreck their business. Telling someone to get their ass down isn’t hip or irreverent, but ass backwards, Simon says Simple.

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