Wisconsin Literary Luminaries: From Laura Ingalls Wilder to Ayad Akhtar (The History Press), by Jim Higgins
In Wisconsin Literary Luminaries, Jim Higgins acknowledges that others mining the Badger State for a similarly compact book on notable writers could have produced something entirely different. Although Wisconsin has never been recognized as especially fertile ground for literature, dozens of prominent writers in several genres can be cited. Higgins, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor, chose 10, from epochal environmentalist Aldo Leopold through Pulitzer-winning dramatist Thornton Wilder and provocative contemporary playwright Ayad Akhtar. Along with chronicling their careers, Higgins sometimes plays advocate—for example, arguing against Wilder’s dismissal by that great obscurantist, Harold Bloom. In at least one case Higgins’ fandom determined an inclusion—the superb science-fiction writer Cordwainer Smith, who may have been born in Bay View but had few memories of Milwaukee. Higgins’ enjoyable survey is valuable for showing how the work of some Wisconsin writers has been kept alive in the medium of theater, supported by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and other local companies.
Jim Higgins will discuss Wisconsin Literary Luminaries at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 6 at Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave.