On Tuesday morning, I had the honor of speaking at Madison’s Homeless Book Club.  I give a lot of talks, mostly on Wisconsin history but also on writing, being a writer, apples, and whatever else someone somewhere thinks I know anything about. And while I’ve learned to enjoy giving talks, this one was particularly fun.

The group meets once a week to discuss a book in a local church. It’s a respite, an escape from the hardships of daily life. Everyone in the group had read my book, A Short History of Wisconsin. It’s always a different experience going in to a group already familiar with your work rather than trying to “sell” them on it through the caliber (really, how entertaining you are ) of your talk. They asked great questions about the choices I made as a writer in selecting what to include and exclude, and for more detail about certain topics. One person even suggested that the conclusion should have been the introduction, which was fascinating to me since the introduction and conclusion are the most handwringing parts of any writing project in my mind – it was also the first time in what must be more than 100 talks about this book that anyone has suggested that structural change.

The group has had an impressive roster of guest authors, including Michael Perry (Population 485, Coop, Truck: A Love Story), Luis Alberto Urrea (The Devil’s Highway, Queen of America) and Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), so it was a pleasure to be asked and included among this group. I had a great time and I hope they did, too!

Read about my visit on the “Streets of Madison” blog.

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