Writer Sara Baume visited Milwaukee recently to promote her first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither. It was published to critical acclaim in her home country of Ireland.
Its release in the United States came a year later. The book is written in an unusual style - the narrative second person, told by the main character Ray, to his dog, One-eye. Over the course of the novel, Ray and One-eye hit the road for reasons we won't give away here. The story was actually inspired by Baume's own dog Winky, who she adopted because of his missing eye.
"I've always been attracted to damaged things. When I was a kid, I always wanted that cuddly toy that had an ear missing or a bit of fluff, 'cause I felt sorry for it. I felt no one else is going to buy it, if I don't rescue it now - then in later life, I applied this logic to my first dog," says Baume.
The main character Ray is an unlikely protagonist. He's a troubled loner whose back story is not at all clear as the book opens in a gritty small town on the Irish coast.
"There are people that we all steer around and are suspicious of and I wanted to get inside the mind of someone who really was perfectly harmless and kind and interesting in his own way. But was just so afraid of interacting with people because he was so used to being brushed aside by them," she says.