The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled by Lauren Cerand, that usually appears Mondays at 12:30pm 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 send details to firstname.lastname@example.org by the Thursday prior to publication, with the eventÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s date in the subject line.
MONDAY, 5.15: LitPAC’s Progressive Reading Series-New York presents its second event, featuring an all-star line-up of boldface names: Mary Gaitskill (Veronica), Rick Moody (The Diviners), David Rakoff (Don’t Get Too Comfortable), Jim Shepard (Project X) and Amanda Stern (The Long Haul). At Galapagos Art Space. 8:00pm, $10 – $20 sliding scale. Meanwhile, The Reader’s Room, on of my favorites, presents Teresa Svoboda (Tin God) and Rene Steinke (Holy Skirts) at Mo Pitkin’s. 8:00pm, FREE. And, Roy Kesey (Nothing in the World) and Pia Z. Ehrhardt are among the next-big-things presented by Opium at The Back Room. 7:30pm, FREE.
TUESDAY, 5.16: “Since it first went to press in 1996, BlackBook has established itself as an arbiter of style, and a forum for new and dynamic writing. The Revolution Will Be Accessorized: BlackBook Presents Dispatches from the New Counterculture gathers many of the magazine’s strongest pieces, and the result is a star-studded collection that addresses the intersection of pop culture, the arts, politics, and fashion, with provocative contributions from many of today’s best writers, including Meghan Daum, Dirk Wittenborn, and Aaron Hicklin, who will all read from their contributions and discuss the project.Readings and signing.” At McNally Robinson. 7:00pm, FREE. For New Haven-area readers, the Ordinary Evening Reading Series is highly recommended. This month’s edition brings poets Ravi Shankar (Instrumentality) and Robin Beth Schaer to read at The Anchor BarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mermaid Room. 7:00pm, FREE.
WEDNESDAY, 5.17: The Poetry Society presents a “Reading and Discussion of Works by 20th Century Women Poets Writing in German,” featuring “the work of Rose AuslÃƒÂ¤nder, Ingeborg Bachmann, Nelly Sachs, and others will be read and discussed by poets and critics including Peter Filkins, Edward Hirsch, Glyn Maxwell, and Marjorie Perloff.” 7:30pm, $10. At the Goethe-Institut. Makor presents “Words on Fire: A Reading with Tiferet Magazine“, featuring Rachel Hadas (The River of Forgetfullness), Corie Feiner, Ronna Wineberg (Second Language), Dani Antman and Hal Sirowitz (Before, During, and After) [Full disclosure, as always: Ronna and I have worked together to promote her debut story collection]. 7:00pm, $12. At KGB, the Fantastic Fiction Series presents cult favorite Holly Black. 7:00pm, FREE. Uptown, author Toby Thompkins and photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. discuss The Real Lives of Strong Black Women: Transcending Myths, Reclaiming Joy, at Sette Pani, 196 Lenox Avenue (at 120th Street). 6:00-9:00pm, FREE.
THURSDAY, 5.18: Harold Aram Veeser discusses “The Influence of Edward Said” in a presentation at KGB: “Using photographs, images and sound-clips, Veeser raises some of the paradoxical elements that have made Said such a difficult figure to pin down: the Princeton man, the French avant-garde theorist, the Palestinian activist, the humanist intellectual, the pianist and the dandyesque man-about-town… In his presentation, Veeser ‘digs into the material substrata of faxes, meetings, presentations, phone calls: the morass of incidents that make up a life and person.’ He looks to the cult classics of biographical autobiography such as Terry CastleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commemoration of Susan Sontag, Wayne Koestenbaum on Andy Warhol, Kris KrausÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s experimental memoir, I Love Dick and Diane SouhamiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biography of famous lesbians with her own less glamorous lesbian life shuffled through as interchapters. Veeser has admitted to wanting to write the first lesbian biography of Edward Said. His presentation is not a biographical or autobiographical in the traditional sense, it is rather a theatrical, archeological investigation into two careers, one big, one smallÃ¢â‚¬Â¦” Highly recommended. 7:00pm, FREE.
FRIDAY, 5.19: Organized by the 2005-06 fellows of the Whitney Independent Study Program: Benjamin Godsill , Stamatina Gregory, Katy Rogers , and Susanne ÃƒËœ. SÃƒÂ¦ther, “Image War: Contesting Images of Political Conflict” is a new exhibition at The Art Gallery of the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. The gallery’s hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 6:00pm. Opening reception this Friday evening: 6:00-8:00pm, FREE. Downtown, in front of Dixon Place, “Any Closer, a site-specific dance-theater work for 12 dancers, turns a city sidewalk into a cramped apartment, a private refuge, and a battleground between rapt tourists and aggressive cellphone users. Choreographer Abigail Levine creates a shifting world of New York characters that reflects and interacts with passers by in the most public space in our city–the sidewalk. Guitarist Brian Mundy of San Francisco cult favorite Kooken & Hoomen accompanies the dance with an original score.” Highly recommended. 7:45pm, FREE. And The Kitchen hosts the first of two evenings with Aki Onda. On Friday night, “Japanese musician and composer Aki Onda, known for his work with hand-held cassette recorders and electronics, presents a concert evening with Aki OndaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Invisible Ensemble, a largely improvisational group that generates imaginary sonic landscapes featuring Onda, Miguel Frasconi on glass percussion, and Marina Rosenfeld on turntables, as well as a duet with vocalist/performer Shelley Hirsch.” 8:00pm, $10.
SATURDAY, 5.20: Saturday evening at The Kitchen, “Onda will perform his extended solo performance-installation, Cassette Memories, in which he plays back and manipulates selections from his vast collection of taped field-recordings he has made for more than fourteen years.” 6:00- 11:00pm, FREE. Also, Anthology Film Archives screens the second day of “CHINA’S CUTTING EDGE: NEW VIDEO ART FROM SHANGHAI AND BEIJING. China now is a vortex of change, where everything is being redefined. It’s an exciting time for Chinese artists, who are starting to make waves in the international arts community. Just twenty years ago, no one in China had telephones, and it was only five or six years ago that artists started getting access to cameras. Experimental film and video in China is quite young, but already artists there are doing sophisticated work. This new work grows out of a Chinese experience, and draws on a rich aesthetic tradition that is energized by new media and forms.” And, like Hilary Duff, Jen Bekman’s got youth and a whole lotta hits on her side. Stop by her eponymous gallery to check out the current exhibition, showcasing stars like Eliot Shepherd, Leon Reid, Agnes Barley and more [Full disclosure, as always: I am the gallery’s pr director]. Saturday hours are 12 – 6:00pm, FREE.
SUNDAY, 5.21: The Sundance Institute at BAM screens “Four Independents That Turned the Tide,” including Gas Food Lodging, cited for its successful attempt to shift “the focus of an increasingly male-dominated indie scene toward a female viewpoint in this offbeat portrait of a woman raising two teenage daughters in a small Southwestern town.” Four films screen simultaneously, followed by a discussion with filmmakers Allison Anders, Hal Hartley, David O. Russell, and John Waters. 12:00pm, $20. For those who sneer at the machinations of Indiewood, there’s Hell on Reels [Astoria Moving Picture Festival], “is a forum for the exhibition of unique and exceptional short-format moving picture works. The first installment of the festival is a FREE event to be held at Hell Gate Social… There is no drink minimum, but we do encourage you to have a good time and knock back a few while watching some truly amazing short films of all genres.” 8:30pm.