My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora Titone book signing

Nora Titone will be at After-Words books on October 13 from 6 pm signing copies of her book My Thoughts Be Bloody.

The scene of John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre is one of the most vivid and indelible images in American history. The literal story of what happened on April 14, 1865 is familiar: Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, a lunatic enraged at the Union victory and the prospect of black citizenship. Yet who Booth really was—besides a killer—is less well known. The magnitude of his crime has obscured for generations a startling personal story that was integral to his motivation.
My Thoughts Be Bloody, a sweeping family saga, revives an extraordinary figure whose name has been missing, until now, from the story of President Lincoln’s death. Edwin Booth, John Wilkes’s older brother by four years, was in his day the biggest star of the American stage. He won his celebrity at the precocious age of nineteen, before the Civil War began, when John Wilkes was a schoolboy. Without an account of Edwin Booth, Titone argues, the real story of Lincoln’s assassin has never been told. Using private letters, diaries and reminiscences of the Booth family, Titone has uncovered a hidden history that reveals the reasons why John Wilkes Booth became this country’s most notorious assassin.

The details of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln have been well documented elsewhere. My Thoughts Be Bloody tells a new story, one that sheds light on Booth’s decision to conspire against the President by setting that decision in the context of a bitterly divided family—and nation. By the end of this journey, readers will see Abraham Lincoln’s death less as the result of the war between the North and South, than the climax of a dark struggle between two brothers who never wore the uniform of soldiers, except on stage.

Nora Titone studied American History and Literature as an undergraduate at Harvard University, and earned an M.A. in History at the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked as a historical researcher for a range of academics, writers and artists involved in projects about nineteenth-century America. She lives in Chicago. My Thoughts Be Bloody is her first book.


Everyone But You by Sandra Novack book signing

Local author Sandra Novack will be at After-Words books on September 15, 2011 from 6:30 p.m. reading from and signing copies of her book Everyone But You. Wine reception to follow.

Sandra Novack has earned great acclaim with her short fiction, which has appeared in more than thirty literary venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, and The Iowa Review. Now, in this new collection of stories, she further demonstrates her mastery of the form while exploring a universal theme: the desire for connection.

In “Cerulean Skies,” a wife must deal with her husband’s artistic calling while reexamining the loss of her own creative passion. A young woman is forced to confront the truth of her past, and its affect on her present love life, when she inherits her late dad’s possessions in “My Father’s Mahogany Leg.” In “Memphis” a man walks a delicate line between caring for his schizophrenic brother and keeping his new marriage afloat. “The Thin Border Between Here and Disaster” finds two married college professors faced with the fallout from their divorce, and a boy wrestles with his faith after the death of his mother in “Morty, El Morto.”

Fierce, sexual, and contentious, these moving tales place Sandra Novack’s prodigious talent on full display. Everyone but You illuminates the common truths behind some of the most profound moments in our lives.

Sandra Novack’s fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, and Mississippi Review, among other publications. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, and holds an MFA from Vermont College. She is the author of the novel Precious. Novack currently lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Phil, and many animals.


This Wicked Patch of Dust by Sergio Troncoso book signing

Sergio Troncoso will be at After-Words books on June 23, 2011 at 6 p.m. reading from and signing copies of his book This Wicked Patch of Dust (University of Arizona Press $17.95).  Reception to follow.

In the border shantytown of Ysleta, Mexican immigrants Pilar and Cuauhtemoc Martinez strive to teach their four children to forsake the drugs and gangs of their neighborhood. The family’s hardscrabble origins are just the beginning of this sweeping new novel from Sergio Troncoso.

Spanning four decades, this is a story of a family’s struggle to become American and yet not be pulled apart by a maelstrom of cultural forces. As a young adult, daughter Julieta is disenchanted with Catholicism and converts to Islam. Youngest son Ismael, always the bookworm, is accepted to Harvard but feels out of place in the Northeast, where he meets and marries a Jewish woman. The other boys--Marcos and Francisco--toil in their father’s old apartment buildings, serving as cheap labor to fuel the family’s rise to the middle class. Over time, Francisco isolates himself in El Paso, while Marcos eventually leaves to become a teacher but then returns, struggling with a deep bitterness about his work and marriage. Through it all, Pilar clings to the idea of her family and tries to hold it together as her husband’s health begins to fail.

This backdrop is shaken to its core by the historic events of 2001 in New York City, which send shockwaves through this newly American family. Bitter conflicts erupt between siblings, and the physical and cultural spaces between them threaten to tear them apart. Will their shared history and once-shared dreams be enough to hold together a family from Ysleta, this wicked patch of dust?

Troncoso is the author of The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, which won the Premio Aztlan and the Southwest Book Award, and The Nature of Truth, a novel about a Yale research student who discovers that his boss, a renowned professor, hides a Nazi past.

He graduated from Harvard College, and studied international relations and philosophy at Yale University. He won a Fulbright scholarship to Mexico and was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund's Alumni Hall of Fame. He is a member of PEN.  He writes the blog www.ChicoLingo.com, about writing, politics, and finance. Visit his list of recommended books at www.LiteraryLatino.com.

The Dream Detective by David Mills book signing

David Mills will be at After-Words Books on June 23, 2011 at 6 p.m. reading from and signing copies of his book The Dream Detective (Straw Gate Books, $15).  There will be a wine reception following the reading.

The Dream Detective is a small press best seller.  It is David Mills’ first poetry collection.  The gift of these poems is not only their comic timing but also their adventuresome joyousness.  They reel you into a world that the author has invented from the random associations often conjured in ones dreams. The poems regale us with fantastic puns, double-entendres and sexual humor as much as tackling serious subject matter.

David Mills has a Masters in creative writing from New York University and is a cum laude grad of Yale University. His poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Aloud Poets from the Nuyorican CafĂ©, Harvard University’s Transition Magazine, and Hanging Loose Press to name a few.  His book reviews have been published in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone. He also lived as writer-in-residence in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home.

He is a 2010 Queens Poet Laureate Finalist and has won awards from NYFA, Breadloaf, Henry James, Brio, and PALF.  He has traveled to Poland to write poems about the Holocaust on a grant from the Soros Foundation. His poetry has also been recorded on RCA records with jazz artist Steve Coleman.


Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre by Jonathan Shailor book signing and presentation

Jonathan Shailor, Curt Tofteland and Meade Palidofsky will be at after-words books on Thursday, February 24th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. signing copies of their book Performing New Lives.  There will be a wine reception following the presentation.  Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Paperback, $37.95)

Performing New Lives draws together some of the most original and innovative programs in contemporary prison theatre. Leading prison theatre directors and practitioners discuss the prison theatre experience first-hand, and offer valuable insights into its role, function, and implementation. A wide range of prison theatre initiatives are discussed, from long-running, high-profile programs such as Curt Tofteland's Shakespeare Behind Bars in LaGrange, Kentucky, to fledgling efforts like Jodi Jinks' Arts Aloud project in Austin, Texas.  Here in Chicago we have Meade Palidofsky’s Storycatchers Theatre.

This book is essential reading for drama therapists, theatre artists, and prison educators, as well as academics. Excerpts of interviews with inmates, and a conversation between practitioners in the final chapter, reveal the impact that prison theatre programs have on the performers themselves, as well as audience members, and the wider community.

Three national leaders in prison theatre will read from their new book, and will discuss how their theatre programs function behind prison walls as vehicles for prisoners' reintegration into society.

Jonathan Shailor (editor and author) has been teaching and facilitating The Theatre of Empowerment in Wisconsin prisons for over 15 years.  Jonathan's work has been celebrated in The New York Times and on Wisconsin Public Radio.  

Curt Tofteland (author) is a professional producer/director/actor and award-winning playwright, and the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars (SBB) program (now in its 16th year). SBB has been featured in an award-winning documentary which premiered at the Sundance Festival: Shakespeare Behind Bars.  

Meade Palidofsky (author) is an award-winning playwright, lyricist, director, youth development specialist.  Meade is the Founding Director of Storycatchers Theatre (formerly Music Theatre Workshop) now in its 27th year.  It is dedicated to the healing and development of youth in juvenile detention centers and prisons in the Chicago area.  Storycatchers has been featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary, Girls on the Wall.


The Futures by Emily Lambert book signing

Emily Lambert will be at After-Words books on January 13, 2011 from 5:30-7:30 pm signing copies of her book and interviewing Bill Henner, a trader who was featured in her work The Futures: The Rise of the Speculator and the Origins of the World’s Biggest Markets.

Over the past century, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange flourished and transformed the way the world does business, and some might argue that these advances helped create the worst financial crisis of our lifetime. With The Futures, Lambert shows how the unique culture and limits of the Mercantile Exchange can serve as a useful blueprint for how exchanges ought to work—and perhaps a tonic for our current financial ills.

In the book, Lambert tells the story of how the men (and a few women) of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange struck it rich on butter and eggs, pork bellies and soybeans—and created a formidable competitor to the New York Stock Exchange. The result is an unexpectedly funny, fascinating account of the flesh-and-blood personalities behind this institution, not to mention the inspired business deals they made on their way to either fabulous wealth or utter penury (depending on how well they played the market).

Kirkus Reviews raves, “[Lambert] devotes loving attention to a parade of outrageous risk-takers… Although she provides lucid explanations of how the market works and how the various money-making strategies collide, the charm of her fast-paced, informal history comes from the book’s animating insight: ‘Finance is like biology: Everything is intertwined.’…A full-blooded introduction to an arcane world.”

Emily Lambert is senior writer for Forbes magazine, where she covers finance and trading. She has also written for the New York Post. She lives in Chicago.

Bill Henner is a third generation Chicago futures trader. He has spent over 25 years on the trading floors of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. Bill has traded foreign currencies, metals, interest rates, and equity index futures over the course of his career. You can hear him every day at 8:05 am CST with his "View from Chicago" report in the Value Zone Trading Room. www.valuezonetrading.com

Please join us for wine and beer on Thursday, January 13, 2011 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  The author will be signing following her interview with Bill Henner.