Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friends, former colleagues with Boswell Book Co. events this month

Book these, Milwaukee-area friends:

Ron Legro and Avi Lank, authors of The Man Who Painted the UniverseThe Story of a Planetarium in the Heart of the North Woods
Monday June 15, at 7:00 pm

As a young boy Frank Kovac, Jr. fell deeply in love with stargazing, painting glow-in-the-dark constellations on his bedroom wall and inviting friends to an observatory he built in his Chicago backyard. As he reached adulthood, Kovac did not let go of his childhood dreams of reaching the stars. He began scheming to bring the universe home. While working at a paper mill as a young man, Kovac tirelessly built a 22-foot rotating globe planetarium in the woods. Despite failures and collapses, the amateur astronomer single-handedly built a North Woods treasure, painting more than 5,000 glowing stars—dot by dot in glowing paints. Today, Kovac and his unique planetarium take visitors to the stars every day.

The Man Who Painted the UniverseThe Story of a Planetarium in the Heart of the North Woods introduces readers to the mild-mannered astronomy enthusiast whose creativity, ingenuity, fervor, and endurance realized a dream of galactic proportions. The story of this stargazer from Wisconsin's North Woods so inspired two longtime Milwaukee journalists, authors Ron Legro and Avi Lank, that they sought to document the story of the Kovac Planetarium for a new generation of stargazers and dreamers.

Ron Legro Bio: Ron Legro is a freelance writer and former reporter, columnist, and editor for the Milwaukee Sentinel daily newspaper. He was editor in chief of Wisconsin Reports, a weekly public affairs journal covering the state legislature. His freelance articles have appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sunday magazine, Milwaukee magazine, Corporate Report Wisconsin, and other publications. He was a speechwriter for numerous lawmakers and public officials and served as the City of Milwaukee’s director of telecommunications. A native of Antigo, Wisconsin, he is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, with his wife, Michele Derus.

Avi Lank Bio: Avi Lank is an essayist for Milwaukee Public Radio and panelist on the Interchange public-affairs program on Milwaukee Public Television. For almost 40 years he was an award-winning reporter, columnist, and editor at the Milwaukee Sentinel and later the Journal Sentinel. Born in Penn Yan in the Finger Lakes region of western New York State, he grew up in Rochester, New York, and holds degrees from Antioch College and the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University. He lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, with his wife, Dannette Lank.


Andrew Maraniss, author of Strong InsidePerry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South
Monday June 22, at 7:00 pm

Please join us at Boswell for an exciting evening talk and signing with the first-ever media relations manager for the Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Maraniss, presenting Strong InsidePerry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, his debut biography that tells the story of Perry Wallace, who during the turbulent late 1960s desegregated athletic competition in the heart of Dixie as the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.

Perry Wallace, now a professor of law at American University in Washington, D.C., made history at Vanderbilt University in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, a city that during his youth had been the site of some of the first, dramatic scenes of the civil rights movement. Wallace had entered kindergarten the same year that Brown v. Board of Education upended "separate but equal." As a 12-year-old in 1960, he sneaked downtown to watch the sit-ins at Nashville’s lunch counters. In 1963, he entered high school a week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech. While in high school, he saw the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, and his Pearl High basketball team won Tennessee’s first integrated state tournament. The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt recruited him, Wallace courageously and in some ways reluctantly accepted the assignment to desegregate the SEC. In Strong InsidePerry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, Andrew Maraniss digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a singular, complicated, and profound story of sports pioneering and civil rights.

"In a magnificently reported, nuanced but raw story of basketball and racism in the South during the 1960s, Andrew Maraniss tells the story of Perry Wallace’s struggle, loneliness, perseverance, and eventual self-realization. A rare story about physical and intellectual courage that is both shocking and triumphant." —Bob Woodward, Washington Post associate editor and author

About the Author: Formerly the associate director of media relations at the Vanderbilt athletic department and the first-ever media relations manager for the Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Maraniss is now a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville. Andrew, the son of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Maraniss, attended Vanderbilt on the Fred Russell–Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship.

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