The Village Voice's Top 5 Book Events This Week, May 29-June 4, 2013

Categories: Books, Lists!

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2pac v. Biggie: the epic battle.
101 Classic Cookbooks
92Y Tribeca
Wednesday, May 29, 7:30 p.m., $15
Here's one for the foodies--or really anyone who cherishes the cookbook as more than just a batter-stained instructional manual. Like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for baked goods, 101 Classic Cookbooks (Rizzoli) is the Fales Library anthology of 501 recipes lifted from a the great defining cookbooks of the 20th Century, as chosen by an expert panel. Tonight some of these judges and honored authors will discuss how the book was compiled and the rationale behind certain selections. Hear archivists Marvin J. Taylor and Clark Wolf talk with writers Marion Nestle, Madhur Jaffrey, and Rose Levy Barenbaum about how cookbooks serve as a reflection of broader American culture, not to mention saving your ass when you have to bring something to a dinner party.

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The Village Voice's Top 5 Book Events This Week, May 15-21, 2013

Categories: Books, Lists!

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James Gulliver Hancock, among art.
Fiona Maazel and Peter Trachtenberg
Pete's Candy Store
Thursday, May 16, 7:30 p.m., free
In reality we've already got G-, Facebook-, Skype-, and every other type of non-synchronous chat option imaginable, but Fiona Maazel's new novel explores a more extreme quick-fix remedy for feeling alone. The protagonist in Woke Up Lonely (Graywolf) founds a cult that promises to cure loneliness for good through a program of low-risk speed-dating and hyper-managed socializing. But as with all cults, things start going south when hostages and Kim Jong-il get involved. Hear Maazel read excerpts from her alternately hilarious and heartbreaking story tonight. She'll be joined by Trachtenberg, author of the memoir Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons (Da Capo Press), who recounts the mildly crazy but genuine affections of a "Cat Lady," or in this case a "Cat Gentleman." Is there such a thing as commiserative loneliness? We think so.


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Read Up!: Our 5 Favorite Book Events This Week

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Alida Nugent, looking spiffy.
Edward Albee and Paul Auster
The Strand
Thursday, 7 p.m., $15-$30
Every time somebody even mentions a play by Samuel Beckett, we become immediately suspicious that they're about to pull some kind of clever existential farce. Such is the whole "gotcha!" nature of postmodernism. But unlike Godot, we think these writers are actually going to show up. Literary heavyweights Albee and Auster lead a discussion about the late Irish avant-garde author and his diverse body of work. They'll be joined by special guest Jeanette Seaver, who played an integral role in introducing Beckett to America way before European absurdism was all the rage on this side of the pond. Don't miss this rare chance to hear a couple of New York greats talk about a common influence.


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Spring Reading: Top 5 Book Events of the Week

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Internet killed the video star: the original VJs.
Julia Solis
Spectacle Theater
Thursday, 8pm, $5
There aren't any actual deaths in the ghost story Solis tells, but it's still mighty chilling. In her new photography collection Stages of Decay (Prestel), she chronicles the fallen grandeur of abandoned theaters across America and Europe, affectionately depicting stadiums once--literally--full of life, now succumb to decomposition. While it's hard to imagine the same grisly fate for, let's say, the just recently Jay-Z-launched Barclays Center, the empty spaces she scouts are haunting mementos of everything's inevitable downfall. Tonight she'll read and present a slide show at Spectacle--a theater successfully resisting decay--to remember stages of yesteryear, previous hosts to the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Johnny Cash, and the Who. She'll be joined by militant theater revivalists Lazar Kunstmann and Jon Lackman, of Les UX, who salvage ruined spaces to create underground cinemas.


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This Week's 5 Can't-Miss Book Events: For Rebels and Birdwatchers Alike

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Jen Kirkman: A fan of the Ramones, not children.
Animal Farm: 2013, 1998, 1954, 1946, 1879
Molasses Books
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., free
This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy wrote a politically charged parody a mere 14 delicate days after the 9/11 attacks and barely sidestepped legal action, but not without a menacing proverbial fist-shake by way of the Orwell estate. John Reed was just such a piggy. Snowball's Chance (Melville House), his controversial 2002 follow-up to George Orwell's Animal Farm, concerns what happens when one particular swine returns to the farm and takes over, preaching the word of unchecked capitalism. As part of Molasses's monthly lecture series, Reed will discuss the history/legacy of Orwell's novella, charting its influence across time and nations with fellow New School professor Nicholas Birns.


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Free Reads: 5 Great Book Events That Are Giving It Away

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Augusten Burroughs: He's got milk.
Project Runway:The Show That Changed Fashion
The National Arts Club
Friday, 6 p.m., free
"Unwearable" was defined and redefined. Sewing got hip. We became frighteningly desensitized to the image of another human being crying. This is what 10 seasons of Project Runway will do. But at its best the series revealed the precise artistry and craftsmanship behind fashion, lifting the curtain on a fundamental but overlooked side of the industry--one that's often frantic, fickle, and not really all that glamorous. In Project Runway: The Show that Changed Fashion (Weinstein Books), author Elia Mells, along with commentary by Heidi Klum, provides insight into the show's development, most memorable moments, and widely popular reception through her interviews with the judges, designers, and producers. Tonight she will be joined by former contestants Andrae Gonzalo, Emilio Sosa, and Viktor Luna for a reading and discussion.


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Picture This: Our 5 Can't Miss Book Events Get Graphic

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Tamara Shopsin
Spoonbill & Sugartown
Wednesday, 7:30pm, Free
Shopsin's new memoir is arranged the way any harried artist's journal might be--in fragments, drawings, photographs, and asides--and surprisingly all the more cohesive for it. Mumbai New York Scranton (Scribner) highlights the underlying complexity and humor behind the graphic designer's line drawings, which are highly recognizable after frequent features in the Times and Newsweek. Here they tell the tale of Shopsin's journey to India, the return home to her native New York City, and finally a venture back out to Scranton, Pennsylvania (yes, like on The Office).

She and husband/sidekick/photographer Jason Fulford--who have been known to collaborate on quirky couple-y projects that involve holding a sign that says "Please give us the finger" out a car window in order to compile an album of all-too-eager takers--document these travels with the same creative eye. Tonight she'll take a break from pitching in at pop Kenny Shopsin's new Essex Market stand to read and sign.


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Oral Fixation: This Week's Book Events Give New Meaning to "Reader's Digest"

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Lady in red: Jami Attenberg
Jami Attenberg and Teddy Wayne
Pete's Candy Store
Thursday, 7:30 p.m., free
But speaking of eating yourself to death, the central character of Jami Attenberg's most recent novel The Middlesteins (Grand Central Publishing) struggles with just that very prospect. The morbidly obese Edie loses her job and her husband, not to mention health, due to excessive weight gain, leaving her--problematically, you might imagine--with food as her one remaining source of comfort. Far from a Lifetime channel horror show, Attenberg manages the subject with compassion and a non-mocking sense of humor. Instead she focusses on Edie's Jewish family and their strong ties in response to tragedy, creating an interwoven narrative that feels sort of epic in a stark-beauty-of-the-suburban-hellscape type of way. Tonight she'll read alongside Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (Free Press).



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Read All About It: Glowing Cats, Prince, and This Week's 5 Book Events

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Audubon Nature Institute
Mr. Green Genes.
Kristopher Jansma
PowerHouse Arena
Thursday, 8 p.m., free
Jansma, a New Jersey native and first-time novelist, seems to have constructed his debut around a pretty familiar and eye-twitchingly postmodern concept: namely, the curious propensity of writers to devote a whole lot more time to identifying themselves as writers than ever actually writing. He does this, however, through a method of storytelling that's warm and classic and just about as far from postmodern-sounding as you can get. In The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (Viking), his characters are blunt and honest, with personalities that build gradually. A group of literary-minded friends travel from New York to Iceland to Sri Lanka in search of their inner artists, reminiscent of Hemingway's Lost Generation. But instead of finding themselves, they only become further tangled up their own fictions. Jansma launches his book with a night of reading and whiskey.


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The Good Book: 5 Great Readings This Week

Categories: Books, Lists!

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Martin Schoeller/Comedy Central
Demetri Martin: The pages in the book will have drawings on them.
Jonathan Lethem and Jessica Hagedorn

Greenlight Bookstore

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., free
A quick word on Jonathan Lethem--he's awesome. That's it. Because this guy is one of our favorite native sons. The author of Motherless Brooklyn (Vintage) and The Fortress of Solitude (Vintage) has the ability to pogo from sci-fi to memoir to detective fiction to hipster lit and back again, but he's always been unshakably New York, in subject matter, support for Occupy Wall Street, outspokeness against the corporate renaming of Shea Stadium, etc. In September he's slated to release his next novel, Dissident Gardens (Random House), a family epic set in Queens, but tonight he'll talk with Long Island University professor and author Jessica Hagedorn about past work and his connection to Brooklyn.


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