The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled 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 email@example.com by the Thursday before publication for consideration.
“Going Places” Edition: November 15-28, 2004
11.15: Nelly Reifler reads with her father, October Snow author Samuel Reifler, and Hilton Obenzinger, who will be reading from his new novel, a*hole, at Housing Works Used Book Cafe. 7:00pm, FREE. Uptown, n+1 is doing its first public reading. And, Time book critic Lev Grossman writes in with a tip on Monday night’s spelling bee to benefit the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Competitors vying with him to rock the mic include Jonathan Ames, Kate Christensen, James Frey, Myla Goldberg, Francine Prose, Akashic Books publisher/rock star Johnny Temple, and many, many more. 7:00pm, $75 (tax-deductible). Also on Monday, Damian McNicholl, author of A Son Called Gabriel, reads at Junnos with Mike Daisey and Amy Sohn. Considering this account he wrote of the ups and downs of readings, would it kill you to go and tip the balance towards a sane majority at this one? 7:30pm, FREE.
11.16: About Last Night blogger, multi-talented critic and author, Terry Teachout, discusses his latest, All The Dances, with two fellow critics: “Robert Gottlieb and I will be appearing next Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Barnes & Noble on Union Square (the address is 33 E. 17th St.) to discuss the life and work of George Balanchine with Robert Greskovic, the dance critic of The Wall Street Journal. Gottlieb, the dance critic of the New York Observer, is the author of George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker, just out from HarperCollins.” 7:00pm, FREE. Also on Tuesday, John Kriskiewicz will discuss “the fine arts that can found in our subway system,” in a lecture entitled “Subway Style,” at the General Society. 6:00pm, $15.
11.17: Canadian press Coach House Books pushes forth with the first advance of its two-day storm to overtake literary Manhattan, and hopefully liberate us all. On Wednesday evening, Rob Benvie, Geoffrey Brown, Mark Truscott, and Robert Fitterman read from their work at Housing Works Used Book Cafe. 7:30pm, FREE. Elsewhere, the Writers’ Bloc Reading Series features fiction writers Richard Gilman and Christine Lombardi and poet Bakar Wilson — all graduates of the City College Creative Writing Program. At 11th St. Bar, 510 E. 11th (between A&B). 7:00pm, FREE. Also, Jordan Davis welcomes poet Lee Ann Brown (The Sleep That Changed Everything, Polyverse) to his “Million Poems Show” at the Bowery Poetry Club. 6:30, FREE. And, while “the cliche has it that artists are reared from broken, abusive homes…Bob and Todd beg to differ.” Says Todd, “We had a cotton candy machine in the kitchen.” Reminisce with How To Kick People, as B&T and talented friends celebrate the timeless refrain heard at holiday dinner tables everywhere: “I Am Not A Mistake!” 8:00pm, $7.
11.18: Coach House Books convenes the second half of its whirlwind tour at KGB to celebrate the launch of Biting The Error, “an anthology of experimental writing on narrative collected from the popular Narrativity website.” Eileen Myles, Mary Burger, Robert Gluck, Derek McCormack, Gail Scott, Renee Gladman, Douglas A. Martin and Camille Roy read from the collection of essays by 48 writers. 7:00pm, FREE. Elsewhere, Ursus Books fetes conceptual artist John Baldessari’s Yours in Food, an elegant new book that promises “meditations on eating” by Paul Auster, David Byrne, Dave Eggers, David Gilbert, Tim Griffin, Andy Grundberg, John Haskell, Michael More, Glenn O’Brien, Francine Prose, Peter Schjeldahl, and Lynne Tillman. 6:00pm, FREE. There’s a lot going on Thursday, and while I won’t tell you exactly what to do (It’s just so, I don’t know…fashmob-esque…and besides, what do I care, anyway? By Thursday evening, I’ll be in Paris, and, perhaps as my Dallas-bred stepsister would say, sur les “chomps-illy-ZEE!”), I will say that the readings at Freebird are worth checking out, and that Samantha Hunt, author of The Seas, and poet G.L. Ford, may be just the reason to go (noted: karaoke at Hope & Anchor follows). 7:00pm, FREE.
11.19: “Green Map System is a global movement that promotes healthy, sustainable communities through locally-created maps of the natural and cultural environment, and includes the prolific Mapa Verde Cuba project, whose efforts in diverse communities is introduced in the new documentary Gotica a Gotica (or “Drop by Drop”). The film will be followed by presentations by the More Gardens Coalition and the Beehive Collective” (whose name intrigues me, although it probably has nothing to do with what I’m thinking about), at Bluestockings. 7:00pm, $3-5 suggested.
11.20: The second day of “Everyone Gets Lighter: The John Giorno Poetry Festival” – happening all weekend and promising “25 poets in 3 days” – gets underway at the Rubin Museum of Art, with a reading by Robert Creeley, Ed Sanders, Penny Arcade, Todd Colby, Bob Holman, and Meredith Monk. 7:00pm, $15.
11.22: Gregory Gilderman puts together another inspired tribute at Fez, this time to Philip Roth. With readings by Greg, Mike Daisey, Molly Jong Fast, Laura Grodstein, “Moth grand slam champion and NPR regular James Braly,” and others, the evening also includes a raffle to win copies of Roth’s books and a literally show-stopping performance by “burlesque sensation” (and the person who generally springs to mind when I think of a model New Yorker), Julie Atlas Muz. 7:30pm, $10; reservations recommended. Also on Monday, Pete’s Big Salmon hosts a reading by contributors to Bend, Don’t Shatter: Poets on the Beginning of Desire. 7:30pm, FREE.
11.23: Poets Shanna Compton (whose book Down Spooky just won the Winnow Press Open Poetry Award and will be published Fall 2005) and Puppy Flowers editor Chris Martin read at the new Battle Hill reading series, hosted by Tracey McTague at Kili. 8:00pm, FREE. Nick a blazer, fill your flask, and drag a comb through that hippie hair, because you’re all invited — just this once, of course — to the National Arts Club for the latest installment of the PAGE reading series, featuring Francisco Goldman (The Divine Husband), H.G. Carrillo (Loosing My Espanish), and Tsipi Keller (Jackpot). 7:00pm, FREE. Also, Samantha Hunt, Kelly Link, and Shelley Jackson read at the artsy space known as Dixon Place. 7:00pm, FREE. And just in time for the holidays, Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan discuss De Kooning: An American Master at 192 Books. 7:00pm; FREE, but reservations recommended.
11.24: “Form Follows Fashion, at The Museum at FIT, examines shape and structure, volume and proportion as they relate to fashion. The primary focus of this intriguing exhibition is how clothes may be considered as abstract, sculptural forms in the same way one would study a molded work of art … In contrast to narrative or representational fashion design, which is inspired by a theme, such as Anglomania, abstract fashions are primarily about formal qualities.” I personally find that concept so much more refreshing than the usual insular hilarity of statements like, “They carried over last season’s focus on feathers and metallics, but with a new theme that mixed surf, Arab, and African influences,” and all that nonsense. Wednesday: noon-8:00pm, FREE.
11.25: Happy Thanksgiving! Even if you can’t go home again, you can still have a great day.
11.26: Holiday? If so, enjoy your day off. If at work, remember: you have nothing to lose but your chains.
11.27: Just reading about the new exhibition of artist William Kentridge’s work makes me want to run the seven blocks from my apartment to the Met and check it out right now. “Kentridge, a native of Johannesburg (b. 1955), is an internationally acclaimed artist whose multimedia works present an arresting and forceful commentary on the contemporary cultural and sociopolitical issues in South Africa. Inspired by music, opera, literature, and banal or troubling everyday events, the artist creates highly personal and often haunting works in a variety of media.” While you’re there, it’s worth noting that although the tres petite collection of Parisian art deco objects on display includes only two or three books, the ones that are there certainly are gorgeous. $12 suggested; Saturday hours are 9:30am-9:00pm. [Where I’ll be on Saturday.]
11.28: Symphony Space screens Aventurera, as part of its “Mothers, Saints and Holy Whores” film series, which celebrates, “superbly crafted melodramas from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.” Aventurera, made in 1950, tells the story of a young girl on her own in the big city: “Forced to perform in a cabaret, Elena nurtures her plans for revenge. In the meantime she becomes a sensation as a dancer.” 1:00pm, $10.