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, 5.29: “Whispering in the GiantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ear is William PowersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s story of working in the Bolivian Amazon after resigning from administrative posts in aid agencies. Powers takes the salary of a local & gives up his luxe apartment in La Paz to work for a local NGO whose focus is deforestation.” The author gives a public reading at The Half King on Monday evening. Recommended. 7:00pm, FREE. At IFC Center, Three Times tells three different interwoven love stories, of which New York Times critic A.O. Scott said, “This is why cinema exists — it creates an emotional and sensual effect that is something like falling in love.Ã¢â‚¬Â” Today’s showtimes are 3:40 and 6:15, $10.75.
TUESDAY, 5.30: KGB Non-Fiction Night presents an evening devoted to the pleasures of “Prison, Diamonds, Catfights,” with short readings by David Goewey (The Crash Out), Susan Shapiro Barash (Tripping the Prom Queen), and Tom Zoellner (The Heartless Stone). 7:00pm, FREE.
WEDNESDAY, 5.31: Michael Cunningham discusses his controversially received latest work, Specimen Days, in conversation at Symphony Space. Recommended. 7:00pm, $18. Downtown, Matthew Pearl reads from his latest novel, The Poe Shadow, at Barnes & Noble, Astor Place. Interestingly, the author also edited a trilogy of Poe’s detective stories, The Murders in the Rue Morgue. 7:00pm, FREE. In Brooklyn, Sheila Kohler reads from two of her novels, Cracks and Children of Pithiviers, newly reissued by Other Press, at BookCourt. 8:00pm, FREE. Additionally, the Media That Matters Film Festival screens “16 inspiring short films” at IFC Center. 7:00pm, $11.
THURSDAY, 6.1: Novelists Bruce Bauman (And The Word Was) and Darin Strauss (The Real McCoy) read from their work at Pete’s Candy Store. Recommended. 7:00pm, FREE. And, cultural impresario Cheryl B. presents the Poetry vs. Comedy Variety Show at Galapagos Art Space. 8:00pm, FREE. Additionally, at Bluestockings: “Through exposition, photography and illustrations, Inspired Lives: The best of Real Life Yoga from Ascent Magazine presents dynamic stories that distill the essential teachings of yoga into the art of living life. Featuring readings by Sparrow, author of America: A Prophecy, Michael McColly, author of The After-Death Room: Journey into Spiritual Activism, and Clea McDougall, the editor of Inspired Lives.” 7:00pm, FREE.
FRIDAY, 6.2: Better borough: Brooklyn or Queens? If you care, Gotham Girls Roller Derby will help you find out. 7:30pm, $12.50.
SATURDAY, 6.3: Video art offers some of today’s most astute and compelling social and political commentary. At The Kitchen, “New Video, New Europe is a survey exhibition of recent video work by more than three dozen artists from sixteen Eastern European countries stretching from the Baltic through the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The works in the exhibition reflect a variety of genres and approaches Ã¢â‚¬â€œ documentary, diaristic, ethnographic, and experimental Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and are broken up into a series of five programs which tackle different themes.” And, “Japan Society Gallery, along with other museums and galleries belonging to the Asian Contemporary Art Consortium, is taking part in the annual week-long and city-wide Asian Contemporary Art Week. This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exhibition — Fast Futures: Asian Video Art — presents single channel video works by leading and emerging Asian artists. Japan Society will present new works produced by Bea Camacho (The Philippines), Enclose; Hiraki Sawa (Japan), Trail; and several works by Koki Tanaka (Japan).” And then, of course, there’s Crumpler Beer for Bags 2006.
SUNDAY, 6.4: Our very own Maud, quite magnetic herself, reads from her novel-in-progress at Magnetic Field, with fellow “great Brooklyn writers” Donald Breckenridge (6/2/95) and Amanda Stern (The Long Haul), and a ukulele interlude by the charismatic Max Steele.” 7:30pm, FREE. As you may know, I am crazy about Russian everything. In fact, I was planning to post a note in this week’s Smart Set asking about the best Russian restaurant to have dinner at on my upcoming birthday but I think I’ve settled on Uncle Vanya. Anyway, I just got a note from Natasha Randall, “guest editor of a special portfolio on Russian writing that is coming out in the next issue of A Public Space (June 2006).” There will be a party at KGB on Sunday evening for the issue, including highlights such as “never-before-published treasures of 20th century Russian literature, some crazy Russian absurdists and some fresh young talent. There will also be a big feature on ‘Home-made Russian Inventions’ – strange and wonderful contraptions that Soviets concocted to get by…” 7:00pm, FREE.