Whispers in the Driftless: book talk held at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

Debut novelist Maggie Ginsberg chats with prize-winning author Nickolas Butler

Maggie OBrien

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February 28, 2024

Photo by Charlotte Becker

Maggie Ginsberg and Nickolas Butler discussing “Still True”

The newly reopened L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library held a book talk with debut novelist and Madison Magazine editor Maggie Ginsberg and prize-winning author Nickolas Butler on Wednesday, Sept. 29. 

The book talk, titled Whispers in the Driftless, was focused on Ginsberg’s debut novel, “Still True,” in which Ginsberg and Butler discussed craft, reader engagement and writing about place. A Q&A and book signing took place after the discussion. 

Whispers in the Driftless took place in the Riverview Room in the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library and all ages were welcome. 

“The timing of my launch coincided with the grand reopening of the library and Nickolas Butler had talked about me coming up here when the book came out,” Ginsberg said. “The stars all kind of aligned to have Nick be in conversation with me for this event.”

During the book talk, Ginsberg said that it felt surreal for her novel to be published and explained that she first drafted “Still True” in 2017. 

“I think that a community of readers and writers is really valuable, really important,” Ginsberg said. “The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild and the library and all of the people that support books, I just hope they know that it’s a really big deal, that it really matters.”

Ginsberg said the newly reopened L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library wowed her with its wonderful brightness.

According to Isa Small, programming and communications services manager at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, just about everything within the outer walls of the library is new. 

“The vast majority of customers, when they walk in the library, their first response is ‘wow’, and they kind of take a moment to soak it all in,” Small said. 

Small said the space has changed quite a bit for most of the people who have been long-time customers and it’s also drawn in customers who had never been to the library before. 

“There are new services, new spaces, more accessibility and a lot more opportunity for expanding programming,” Small said of the expansion.

Small said the expansion and renovation of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library were able to provide these new highlights of what the library has to offer to the surrounding community.

“This (book talk) is one of the many programs that we have partnered with the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild on,” Small said. 

Small said the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild assists the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library with finding up-and-coming authors, as well as very established authors to come in and speak to the library’s community of authors.

B.J. Hollars, founder and executive director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, said the book talk with Ginsberg and Butler was the kickoff event for the fall for the CVWG. 

Hollars explained that this book talk offered a chance to combine forces with a well-known author in Eau Claire and a new author, who people are hopefully looking forward to getting to know. 

“We wanted to bring together a local writer with a national following, Nick Butler, alongside an out-of-town writer who is becoming better known every day with her debut novel, Maggie Ginsberg,” Hollars said.

Hollars said this event offered a chance to have the inaugural literary event in the refurbished library. 

“The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild is excited to continue offering free public programming for the community and students alike,” Hollars said. 

For more information about upcoming local events at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, check out the events calendar.

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]