Margo Jefferson and Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah August 23, 7pm at Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway at 12th Street.
Margo Jefferson’s acclaimed memoir Negroland, which The New York Times called “powerful and complicated,” explores her upper middle class childhood growing up in the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s while deftly avoiding racial and socioeconomic landmines. She deftly describes the racial identity politics inherent in her community’s attempt to be considered the exception to how other blacks were viewed by the white elite of her Chicago milieu. In order to celebrate the release of the memoir’s paperback edition, Jefferson will be joined by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, a New York Times Magazine contributor and essayist whose writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The Believer, Bookforum, and more.
The Prose Bowl XII July 19, 6:30pm at Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer Street at Richardson Street, Williamsburg.
The Prose Bowl (billed as “one part literature, one part bloodsport, one part American Idol”) is a sort-of nerdy battle royale for writers to win fame, glory, recognition… or just a free drink. On the third Tuesday of each month, four writers compete to see who has the best short story. Since it’s an open-mic affair, the writers’s names are randomly picked from a hat beforehand and are then subjected to the scrutiny of a panel and the audience. Each story is about five minutes long, and can include poetry or prose. Then there’s the lightning round, where the panel picks two of the competing writers, who then have to come up with quick stories, after which a winner is selected. It’s rowdy, it’s fun, it’s often hilarious, and it’s during happy hour, if you need any other incentives.
Book Launch: Rich Cohen’s The Sun and the Moon and the Rolling Stones
May 10 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, 126 Crosby Street Rich Cohen seems to have his mind plugged into the tempos of the past–a co-creator of HBO’s Vinyl and a Vanity Fair contributor, his new book reconsiders the history and impact of one of the greatest bands to ever shake up the music scene. His telling of the ups and downs of the Rolling Stones benefits from his close relationship with the band since the 1990s. The story charts their course from their beginnings in 1961 to their golden run through the 70s, drawing readers into the defining moments that left a lasting imprint on music and our culture. No, the Rolling Stones themselves won’t be on hand at the launch–but luckily there will be music in the form of the dance band argonaut&wasp.
Kia Corthron + Robin D. G. Kelley Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m. at The Strand, 828 Broadway Kia Corthron, playwright and writer for The Wire, tackled an American saga for her debut novel. The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter begins on the eve of WWII with two white brothers coming of age in the rural Alabama klan, and two black brothers preparing to navigate the country’s shifting civil rights era in Maryland. The two narratives continue into the 21st century, culminating in a devastating encounter between the two families. Corthron will discuss with Robin D. G. Kelley, expert on African American studies.
Elvis Costello Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street (Union Square).
Hear the story of little Declan Patrick MacManus and how he grew up to become Elvis Costello in the musician’s long anticipated memoir written entirely by Costello, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink. In it he writes about his family, his songwriting, and his fellow musicians (the book’s description name drops Johnny Cash, The Specials, Van Morrison and The Clash, to name a few). The memoir will be accompanied by a two-disc “soundtrack album” culled from his expansive catalog. Rolling Stone recently reported that Costello himself curated the 38-song collection, which includes two previously unreleased tracks. Don’t miss your chance to meet one of rock’s greatest, most unlikely elder statesmen.
At first glance, PEN America’s Lit Crawl 2015 might look like a family-friendly affair, with innocuous activities like face painting and board games. But take a closer look and it’s got a bit of edge, and not just because of the booziness. This year’s Lit Crawl, on October 21, promises to be a hammed up, carnival-esque affair. Hosted by graphic storyteller Mira Jacob and BuzzFeed Books editor Isaac Fitzgerald (a former “biker-bar employee”, according to the New York Times), how could it not be?
Rachel B. Glaser’s debut novel Paulina & Fran is celebrating its launch with readings from the author and special guests Leopoldine Core (Veronica Bench) and Mark Leidner (The Angel in The Dream of Our Hangover: Aphorisms). The novel is described as “a story of friendship, art, sex and curly hair.” It’s Glaser’s first full length work of fiction, but she’s already an accomplished writer with a published short story collection and book of poetry; her work has appeared in the anthologies 30 Under 30 and New American Stories, and Nylon has cited her as one of the “Coolest Female Poets to Know Right Now.” The conversation will be led by author Elisa Albert (After Birth). Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby Street (Nolita).
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 →
Meet the faces behind some of your favorite TV shows at Real Characters, a regular series hosted by Andy Ross (contributor to The Onion and writer and performer of the one man show “Melancomedy”) featuring some of New York’s best humor writers, stand-ups and performers. This month’s lineup includes Bruce Eric Kaplan (Girls, The New Yorker, author of I Was a Child: A Memoir), Allison Silverman (The Colbert Report, Portlandia, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Issac Oliver (Ars Nova Theater, author of Intimacy Idiot) and Sandi Marx (The Moth). Wednesday, July 22 at 7 p.m. McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers, 52 Prince Street (Soho).
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).