The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled and written by Lauren Cerand, that appears Mondays and highlights the best of the week to come. Special favor is given to New York’s independent booksellers and venues, and low-cost and free events. Please submit details to firstname.lastname@example.org by the Thursday prior to publication, with the date of the event in the subject line.
MONDAY, 10.24: Rick Moody takes the stage for a conversation with Bill Goldstein as part of Miller Theatre’s “Theatre of Ideas” series. Potential topics to be discussed may include last year’s controversial National Book Awards (a brief re-cap of the media coverage: “Holy *#$@! There’s a 100% chance that the book that wins will have been written by a woman — where’s the panic button on this thing!?”), and whether key parties are poised to be swept up in the impending revival of ’70s culture, as evidenced in Madonna’s new look. And of course, Moody’s latest novel, The Diviners. 8:00pm, $15. Also, “Australian author David Francis will read from his astonishing debut novel The Great Inland Sea at Barnes & Noble, 396 Avenue of the Americas (8th St.), New York, NY 10011 (tel: 212 633-4067). Set between the Riverina in New South Wales and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as a ‘story of love and loss in a sunburned country,’ The Great Inland Sea is an ‘an extraordinary achievement, an evocation of a devastated boy and his resilience, it marks Francis as an exceptional talent and a stirring new literary voice.’ Published as Agapanthus Tango in the United Kingdom, then launched at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in Australia and acclaimed as the best Australian novel of the year in the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘Best of the Best’ edition, The Great Inland Sea has already been published in translation in Germany, Italy, Holland and France. A haunting and evocative story of grace and compassion, of a boy’s loss and enduring hope as he valiantly endeavors to forge connections with the world around him. The Washington Post recently lauded this exceptional first novel as “‘a bowl of ripe cherries: graceful and unaffected — We should all be grateful for stories of this scale, crafted by writers of this skill.'” 7:30pm, free. It sounds like a fascinating debut and it certainly helps that I am c-r-a-z-y about the Eastern Shore of Maryland! Seriously, I want to marry it. Highly recommended. [Thanks to The Elegant Variation for the tip]
TUESDAY, 10.25: Alan Hollinghurst, author of The Line of Beauty (Maybe you’ve heard of it?), stops by the lovely, lovely 192 Books to read from his novel. 6:00pm; free, but reservations are requested: call 212.255.4022. Highly recommended. Also worth noting, “‘The Jonathan Ames Show‘ is on again this Tuesday, October 25th, at Mo Pitkin’s, 34 Avenue A (between 3rd and 2nd). Doors open at 8:30, show starts at 9:00. Cover charge is $12.” And, The WYSIWYG Talent Show is guaranteed to terrify with a seasonally-themed edition and a line-up that includes one of the fearless chroniclers of life at the Hotel Chelsea and a critic of the criticism of New York Times restaurant reviewer Frank Bruni as well as the author of this knowingly awful poetry, which will probably win a major prize in our lifetime. 7:30pm, $7. Additionally, Martha Wainwright and Sarah Blasko play Bowery Ballroom. 8:00pm, $13.
WEDNESDAY, 10.26: I asked Happy Ending Reading Series director Amanda Stern to take part in Smart Set Q&A #1, a juicy + exclusive interview commissioned for your reading pleasure:
The Smart Set: Your Happy Ending Reading Series is one of the most consistently excellent and acclaimed series in New York — how do you keep it “fresh” after so many great events? Are there any surprises in store?
Amanda Stern: Well first, thank you for the excellent compliment. That’s great to hear and I hope it’s true. I approach each show as an event, creating themes in my head that drive my choices. I put a lot of thought into the combinations of people I bring together on stage. Sometimes I wish there was a formula to follow because it’d make my life a lot easier, but there isn’t, so I just kind of make it all up as I go along.
And yes, there are a few surprises in store. The first one is that Lisa Loeb is playing November 9th and it will be filmed for E! Entertainment television. The others I can’t unveil quite yet.
The Smart Set: Is there a public risk that no one has taken yet that you can’t wait for someone to attempt?
Amanda Stern: I am excited to see more people showing off their hidden talents. We recently had someone ride a unicycle and I’m hoping to see more of that kind of risk in the future.
The Smart Set: Who is your dream “get” author (& musician)?
Amanda Stern: Getting James Salter was fairly dreamy. Never in a million years did I think I could get him. I suppose if I had to pick one more dream author to book, it’d be Denis Johnson.
As far as musicians go, I actually booked Moby last year, which was a total coup, but he wrote down the wrong date and went to a Mary J Blige concert instead. He was very apologetic and I forgave him.
I have two dream musicians I’d love to get: David Byrne and Liz Phair. I’d beg David Byrne to play Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” as his cover.
This week’s edition of the Happy Ending Reading Series features Nick Flynn, Craig Clevenger, Holiday Reinhorn, and Terry Iacuzzo, with music from Marykate O Neil. 8:00pm, no cover. Recommended. Also, How To Kick People features “Lulu Eightball” creator Emily Flake. 7:30pm, $8. Also recommended.
THURSDAY, 10.27: A genuinely hot party has three elements: Satirical political definitions (“Peace–The short interval between wars.”), a new, unused book about thrifting, and free PBR. With that in mind, Ig Publishing hosts a celebration for its latest releases, The Real Republican Dictionary and Thrift Store, at the Small Press Center. The beer is practically guaranteed to keep flowing ’til your underage date pukes on your vintage Marimekko shift and passes out on the coat pile. 7:00-9:00pm, free.
FRIDAY, 10.28: Admit it: you couldn’t resist mentioning The Master and Margarita on your Friendster profile. Post your IM “away” message and step offline (and outside) on Friday afternoon to embrace the possibility of a grand adventure. Perhaps it begins with the exploration of the mythic charms (& masterworks) of the alternately earthy and ethereal East, on display at two gems of new york: Russia @ the Guggenheim, and Prague: The Crown of Bohemia @ the Met. Check respective sites for details. Both are highly recommended.
SATURDAY, 10.29: Beauty, brains, talent…. sabotage, shame, despair…. Audrey Niffenegger strolls into Coliseum Books with a veritable handbag borrowed from Pandora clutched under her arm as she reads from and discusses The Three Incestuous Sisters: A Novel in Pictures, blessed with her many artistic gifts, at Coliseum Books. 4:00pm, free.
SUNDAY, 10.30: I’ve been fond of the unbelievably underrated Steve Buscemi ever since I saw his writing and directorial debut, Trees Lounge, which more or less explores what his life might have been like if not for acting. The scene where he smokes a joint with a very teenage Chloe Sevigny while driving his an ice cream truck around the dismal neighborhood he wants desperately to escape is priceless. At any rate, on Sunday he appears at Magnetic Field to read from “the William S. Burroughs novel, Queer, for which he is currently writing a screenplay,” along with David Ohle, who reads from “The Age of Sinatra (Soft Skull 2004), the long awaited sequel to his first novel, the 1972 cult classic Motorman.” 7:30pm, no cover. Highly recommended.