“The Fall of Wisconsin shows that the most important story in American politics was hiding in plain sight—how the progressive bastion of the upper Midwest turned into Alabama-with-snow. With elegant ferocity, Dan Kaufman tells a story that is both rooted in the soul of Wisconsin but relevant to the whole country as well.”
—Jeffrey Toobin, best-selling author of American Heiress
The untold story behind the most shocking political upheaval in the country.
For more than a century, Wisconsin has been known nationwide for its progressive ideas and government. It famously served as a "laboratory of democracy," a cradle of the labor and environmental movements, and birthplace of the Wisconsin Idea, which championed expertise in the service of the common good. But following a Republican sweep of the state’s government in 2010, Wisconsin’s political heritage was overturned, and the state went Republican for the first time in three decades in the 2016 presidential election, elevating Donald J. Trump to the presidency.
The Fall of Wisconsin is a deeply reported, searing account of how the state’s progressive tradition was undone and turned into a model for national conservatives bent on remaking the country. Dan Kaufman, a Wisconsin native who has been covering the story for several years, traces the history of progressivism that made Wisconsin so widely admired, from the work of celebrated politicians like Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette and Gaylord Nelson, to local traditions like Milwaukee’s “sewer socialism,” to the conservationist ideas of Aldo Leopold and the state’s Native American tribes. Kaufman reveals how the “divide-and-conquer” strategy of Governor Scott Walker and his allies pitted Wisconsin’s citizens against one another so powerful corporations and wealthy donors could effectively take control of state government. As a result, laws protecting voting rights, labor unions, the environment, and public education were rapidly dismantled.
Neither sentimental nor despairing, Kaufman also chronicles the remarkable efforts of citizens who are fighting to reclaim Wisconsin’s progressive legacy against tremendous odds: Chris Taylor, a Democratic assemblywoman exposing the national conservative infrastructure, Mike Wiggins, the head of a Chippewa tribe battling an out-of-state mining company, and Randy Bryce, the ironworker whose long-shot challenge to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has galvanized national resistance to Trump.
Dan Kaufman has written for the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. Originally from Wisconsin, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
Saturday July 28 | 3:00PM - 4:00PM
“A gifted female writer—one with a nearly Austenian gift for observing human nature and describing the quirks and foibles of the entire cast of characters one finds in the human drama….”—The National Review
“Riordan has a knack for making you want to sit down with her characters and root for them or despise them or just wonder what will become of them. North of the Tension Line is the equivalent of latter-day Jane Austen, but with contemporary humor. It’s engrossing and poignant.”—Mike Nichols, author of The Waking, and Just a Few Sleeps Away
A gorgeous literary series drawn from life in
Door County, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin author J.F. Riordan has been called “a latter-day Jane Austen” whose mesmerizing literary fiction makes the Great Lakes region one of the characters in this continuing series. The North of the Tension Line books (North of the Tension Line; The Audacity of Goats; and Robert’s Rules) represent a sensibility that is purely Midwestern, even though the small town politics and gossip will be universally familiar. Riordan celebrates the well-lived life of the ordinary man and woman with meticulously drawn characters and intriguing plots that magnify the beauty and mystery lingering near the surface of everyday life.
Kelli Maria Korducki
Thursday August 02 | 6:00PM - 7:00PM
From Jane Austen to Taylor Swift, a look at the surprising politics of romantic love and its dissolution.
Whatever the underlying motives – be they love, financial security, or mere masochism – the fact is that getting involved in a romantic partnership is emotionally, morally, and even politically fraught.
In Hard To Do, Kelli María Korducki turns a Marxist lens on the relatively short history of romantic partnership, tracing how the socio-economic dynamics between men and women have transformed the ways women conceive of domestic partnership. With perceptive, reported insights on the ways marriage and divorce are legislated, the rituals of twentieth-century courtship, and contemporary practices for calling it off, Korducki reveals that, for all women, choosing to end a relationship is a radical action with very limited cultural precedent.
Kelli María Korducki is a journalist and cultural critic. Her byline has appeared frequently in the Globe and Mail and National Post, as well as in the New Inquiry, NPR, the Walrus, Vice, and the Hairpin. She was nominated for a 2015 National Magazine Award for ?Tiny Triumphs,? a 10,000-word meditation on the humble hot dog for Little Brother. A former editor-in-chief of the popular daily news blog Torontoist, Korducki is based in Brooklyn and Toronto.
Monday August 20 | 7:00PM - 8:00PM
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune keep hitting beleaguered English professor Jason Fitger right between the eyes in this hilarious and eagerly awaited sequel to the cult classic of anhedonic academe, the Thurber Prize-winning Dear Committee Members. Once more into the breach…
Now is the fall of his discontent, as Jason Fitger, newly appointed chair of the English Department of Payne University, takes arms against a sea of troubles, personal and institutional. His ex-wife is sleeping with the dean who must approve whatever modest initiatives he undertakes. The fearsome department secretary Fran clearly runs the show (when not taking in rescue parrots and dogs) and holds plenty of secrets she’s not sharing. The lavishly funded Econ Department keeps siphoning off English’s meager resources and has taken aim at its remaining office space. And Fitger’s attempt to get a mossbacked and antediluvian Shakespeare scholar to retire backfires spectacularly when the press concludes that the Bard is being kicked to the curricular curb.
Lord, what fools these mortals be! Julie Schumacher proves the point and makes the most of it in this delicious romp of satire.
Julie Schumacher grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University. Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was published by Soho Press in 1995 and was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Her other books include the novel Dear Committee Members, a short story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and five books for younger readers. She lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.
Friday August 24 | 7:00PM - 8:00PM
The best-selling author of Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble continues her extraordinary journey into the real lives of the forgotten but fabulous Kopp sisters with
Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions.
Deputy sheriff Constance Kopp is outraged to see young women brought into the Hackensack jail over dubious charges of waywardness, incorrigibility, and moral depravity. The strong-willed, patriotic Edna Heustis, who left home to work in a munitions factory, certainly doesn’t belong behind bars. And sixteen-year-old runaway Minnie Davis, with few prospects and fewer friends, shouldn’t be publicly shamed and packed off to a state-run reformatory. But such were the laws—and morals—of 1916.
Constance uses her authority as deputy sheriff, and occasionally exceeds it, to investigate and defend these women when no one else will. But it's her sister Fleurette who puts Constance's beliefs to the test and forces her to reckon with her own ideas of how a young woman should and shouldn't behave.
Against the backdrop of World War I, and drawn once again from the true story of the Kopp sisters, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is a spirited, page-turning story that will delight fans of historical fiction and lighthearted detective fiction alike.
Amy Stewart is the author of nine books, including the new Kopp Sisters series, which began with Girl Waits With Gun and continues with Lady Cop Makes Trouble and Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions. The series is based on the true story of three remarkable sisters who lived in New Jersey a hundred years ago.
She loves to chat with book clubs on Skype, so if your club is reading one of the Kopp Sisters novels, please visit her website to find out how to get in touch!
Amy has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including the New York Times bestsellers The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential.
She lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer. They own an independent bookstore called Eureka Books, which is so independent that it lives in California while they live in Oregon.
Andrea Potos & Katrin Talbot - Poetry
Saturday September 08 | 3:00PM - 4:00PM
Friday September 28 | 7:00PM - 8:00PM
A new collection about violence and the rural Midwest from a poet whose first book was hailed as “memorable” (Stephen Burt, Yale Review) and “impressive” (Chicago Tribune).
“Austin Smith’s Flyover Country is a book of vital and generative reckoning, one that finds both the intimate knowledge held in large landscapes and the larger knowledges found within intimate places and acts. Smith travels the paths of the actual, the emotional, and the imaginative with a physical sureness; his words carry mystery, memory, stories personal and communal. These pages carry, too, Smith’s sustaining, taproot awareness: that what we put into this world and what we draw from it matter.”—Jane Hirschfield, author of The Beauty
Flyover Countryis a powerful collection of poems about violence: the violence we do to the land, to animals, to refugees, to the people of distant countries, and to one another. Drawing on memories of his childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois, Austin Smith explores the beauty and cruelty of rural life, challenging the idea that the American Midwest is mere “flyover country,” a place that deserves passing over. At the same time, the collection suggests that America itself has become a flyover country, carrying out drone strikes and surveillance abroad, locked in a state of perpetual war that Americans seem helpless to stop.
In these poems, midwestern barns and farmhouses are linked to other lands and times as if by psychic tunnels. A poem about a barn cat moving her kittens in the night because they have been discovered by a group of boys resonates with a poem about the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. A poem beginning with a boy on a farmhouse porch idly swatting flies ends with the image of people fleeing before a drone strike. A poem about a barbwire fence suggests, if only metaphorically, the debate over immigration and borders. Though at times a dark book, the collection closes with a poem titled “The Light at the End,” suggesting the possibility of redemption and forgiveness.
Building on Smith’s reputation as an accessible and inventive poet with deep insights about rural America, Flyover Country also draws profound connections between the Midwest and the wider world.
Austin Smith grew up on a family dairy farm in northwestern Illinois. He is the author of a previous poetry collection, Almanac (Princeton), and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, Ploughshares, and many other publications. He teaches at Stanford University and lives in Oakland, California.
Sunday October 21 | 2:00PM - 3:00PM
Tessa Fontaine’s astonishing memoir of pushing past fear, The Electric Woman, follows the author on a life-affirming journey of loss and self-discovery―through her time on the road with the last traveling American sideshow and her relationship with an adventurous, spirited mother.
Turns out, one lesson applies to living through illness, keeping the show on the road, letting go of the person you love most, and eating fire:
The trick is there is no trick. You eat fire by eating fire.
Two journeys―a daughter’s and a mother’s―bear witness to this lesson in The Electric Woman.
For three years Tessa Fontaine lived in a constant state of emergency as her mother battled stroke after stroke. But hospitals, wheelchairs, and loss of language couldn’t hold back such a woman; she and her husband would see Italy together, come what may. Thus Fontaine became free to follow her own piper, a literal giant inviting her to “come play” in the World of Wonders, America’s last traveling sideshow. How could she resist?
Transformed into an escape artist, a snake charmer, and a high-voltage Electra, Fontaine witnessed the marvels of carnival life: intense camaraderie and heartbreak, the guilty thrill of hard-earned cash exchanged for a peek into the impossible, and, most marvelous of all, the stories carnival folks tell about themselves. Through these, Fontaine trained her body to ignore fear and learned how to keep her heart open in the face of loss.
A story for anyone who has ever imagined running away with the circus, wanted to be someone else, or wanted a loved one to live forever, The Electric Woman is ultimately about death-defying acts of all kinds, especially that ever constant: good old-fashioned unconditional love.
Tessa Fontaine’s writing has appeared in PANK, Seneca Review, The Rumpus, Sideshow World, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is working on a PhD in creative writing at the University of Utah. She also eats fire and charms snakes, among other sideshow feats. She lives in South Carolina. The Electric Woman is her first book.
P.O. Box 905 102 East Jefferson St. Spring Green WI 53588 USA