If you’ve ever wished there was a way to mix the quiet solitude of writing with the blood-thristy spectacle of an MMA throw-down, (and who hasn’t?) don’t miss the first ever Prose Bowl. The event’s Facebook page calls it “one part literature, one part blood sport, one part American Idol.” It pits a lineup of writers against one another for a competition as fierce as it can get for literary types, which with booze, the audience’s cheers dictating the winner, and the promise of more free booze for the victor–who knows?– could be a lot. Each competitor gets five minutes to read a 900 to 1,000 word piece of fiction. Tuesday, August 18, at 6:30 p.m. Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer Street (Williamsburg).
The state of Barry Yourgrau’s Queens apartment had gotten pretty bad at the time his girlfriend unexpectedly dropped in because she had locked herself out of her own apartment. She hadn’t been inside his apartment for a long time because, as it turned out, Yourgrau’s home was overflowing with plastic shopping bags, liquor boxes, and other junk he thought he might one day need. His girlfriend demanded he clean up his act, and his new memoir, Mess, is all about how he sought the help of a professional declutterer, a Lacanian shrink, and Clutterers Anonymous in an effort to resolve his issues. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. Strand Books, 828 Broadway (NoHo). More →
TONIGHT Overcoming the past is a key theme in young authors’ Edan Lepucki and Mira Jacobs debut novels, both published last year to great acclaim, so it seems natural that they would celebrate their paperback release with a discussion on the topic. Lepucki’s California tells the story of a couple living in the ruins of a dystopian America who must choose between freedom and security when they discover they are expecting a child. “Lepucki conjures a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision of the future,” said Jennifer Egan (Welcome to the Goon Squad). Jacob’s The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is about a daughter who returns to her childhood home to help with her unwell father, only to find herself confronted with strange looks from the hospital staff and a series of puzzling items buried in her mother’s garden. “When her plot springs surprises, she lets them happen just as they do in life: blindsidingly right in the middle of things,” said the Boston Globe.
Almost Famous, except about a girl. And set in the ’90s. And British. How to Build a Girl,described by the New York Times’ Dwight Garner as “a British version of ‘Almost Famous,’ delivered from a female perspective and set two decades later,” is celebrating its paperback release with a reading by author Caitlin Moran. She’s often compared to Tina Fey and Lena Dunham, “which is fair so far as it goes,” according to Garner, “though I’d add Amy Winehouse and the early Roseanne Barr to the mix.” Watch her read excerpts from her comic novel about a poor teen determined to reinvent herself as a rock critic in 1990s London. Tuesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway (East Village).
History buffs, take note: Battle Lines is not your ordinary Civil War read. This books is a team effort by graphic novelist Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and award-winning historian Ari Kelman, and it’s sweeping, full-color panoramas combined with Kelman’s nuanced understand of the period provide a whole new perspective on the topic. The authors will talk about the book with acclaimed graphic novelist Josh Neufeld (A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge) accompanied by images from Battle Lines on Greenlight’s big screen. Monday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (Fort Greene).
Tonight The Sellout, the latest novel by satirist Paul Beatty (The White Boy Shuffle), takes on some pretty big themes; it challenges “the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality–the black Chinese restaurant,” according to the blurb on the website for St. Mark’s Bookshop, where Beatty will read from his novel tonight. Evidently you don’t have to read much of The Sellout to be hooked; aNew York Times review stated it contains “the most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read in at least a decade.” April 14 at 7 p.m. St. Mark’s Bookshop, 136 East Third Street (East Village).
Stacy Wakefield’s new book The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, being published by Akashic in May, weaves together her experiences as a squatter in New York City back in the late ’90s. Though it’s a fictional account and the main character Sid, who makes her home in squats in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side, is based on a number of people, the book still offers a window into the waning years of what was once a vibrant squat scene.
We spoke with Wakefield, 43, about the book and what the squatting life was like before it all but disappeared.