Proselytizing feels effortless when you love a work of fiction. But at least as often, writers are asked to blurb things they’re not wild about or read manuscripts on impossibly short notice or participate in dreary and interminable luncheons, and their responses to those requests are trickier than, but just as telling as, spontaneous outpourings of support. Below Thompson, whose Throw Like a Girl appears next week, reflects on the realities of the writerly favor economy.
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 YorkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s independent booksellers and venues, and low-cost and free events. Please send details to lauren [at] maudnewton.com by the Thursday prior to publication, with the date in the subject line.
TUESDAY, 5.29: Not long ago, I was sitting with a friend who said, “It’s amazing that people think there are no single men in New York.” I gently pointed out that we were sitting in a record store at 11:30 on a Wednesday night and the so single men out front were also so smoking pot. And probably not getting up so early if you know what I mean. Less questionable types may congregate at “The Jeffrey Leonard Invitational,” aka New York Sports Trivia Night on Tuesday evening. I specifically asked guest host Bryan Keefer [full disclosure, as always: my favorite ex-boyfriend] for a literary Ron Mexico reference but instead got, “You can say something like “I’m told there may be a question involving David Beckham’s grammatically suspect sexy texting.” And so I am. 8PM, FREE. Plus, The Reader’s Room at Mo Pitkin’s presents a special Tuesday evening edition of the always excellent series, this week with Rich Cohen (Sweet and Low) and Ian Frazier (Gone to New York). 7PM, one-drink minimum.
WEDNESDAY, 5.30: This kind of breaks my heart, but it’s a must-do: “This month will be the last How To Kick People for quite some time. After three and a half years, Bob and Todd will be taking a much-needed hiatus from the (cut-throat!) world of reading humorous things off of a page in front of people. So join us on May 30th for “Parting Advice,” the final installment in the How To Kick People Reading Series. To say goodbye, we’ll be joined by an unusually huge lineup of old friends and first-timers we’ve been dying to have on the show, including: Brian Stack (writer/actor, Late Night with Conan O’Brien), Tom Shillue (Comedy Central Presents Tom Shillue), Christian Finnegan (Best Week Ever, Comedy Central Presents Christian Finnegan), Amelie Gillette (writer, The Onion’s ‘AV Club’), Chris Deluca (former writer, The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn), and a video from Steve Burns (former host of Blue’s Clues, current musician) & Paul Ford (associate editor, Harpers.org; author, GARY BENCHLEY, ROCK STAR).” Go, or hate yourself forever. 7:30pm, $8. And, I haven’t seen it yet, but Once is getting some great buzz.
THURSDAY, 5.31: It figures that the Book Expo-related party I’m most looking forward to doesn’t even have an open bar (why else would one go?) — but it’s because all the BEST people will be there. Join members of the Lit Blog Co-op to discuss “the best of contemporary fiction, authors, and presses” and, noted per one invitation, “Discussion of books will be condoned only if you bring juicy gossip that can’t be substantiated.” Mais oui. At the Kettle of Fish, 59 Christopher St. at 7th Avenue. 8-11PM, FREE.
FRIDAY, 6.1: And, an invitation from our friends at A Public Space and Tin House, “The Brooklyn Independent Press Party With A Public Space, Akashic Books, Archipelago Books, Bomb Magazine, Cabinet Magazine, Soft Skull Press & Tin House. Hosted by powerHouse Books, MTV Books & Vice Books at the powerHouse Arena.” Warning for those with delicate sensibilities: the Misshapes are involved. 7-10PM, FREE; RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org. For those attending BEA, check out Bud Parr’s panel discussion, “Blogs: Is Their Growing Influence a Tastemakers Dilemma?” 10AM.
SATURDAY, 6.2: On Saturday at BEA, Our very own Maud converses with author Shalom Auslander. Elsewhere in New York, New Orleans big band Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship disembark at ABC No Rio for a much-anticipated show. 3PM. And if you are not at BEA, or in New York on Saturday, well then I dare you to listen to Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races” just once and not relentlessly over and over again like I have been for the last hour.
SUNDAY, 6.3: Also at BEA, Maud discusses The Crisis in Newspaper Reviewing. 10AM. Elsewhere, “Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era” is on at the Whitney. Check out “the unprecedented explosion of contemporary art and popular culture brought about by the civil unrest and pervasive social change of the 1960s and early ’70s, when a new psychedelic aesthetic emerged in art, music, film, architecture, graphic design, and fashion.” Or, fast-forward a few decades and subscribe to Arthur.
A bookstore owner whose books were rejected by libraries and thrift stores is burning his overstock to protest “diminishing support for the printed word.”
ZZ Packer, Laura Miller, and I will be on Talk of the Nation this afternoon for a segment devoted to summer reading.
I don’t naturally think of books in terms of seasons, but in the past few years I’ve realized that my most manic reading experiences tend to happen in warm weather. See, e.g., Books that make you stand at the bus stop.
This year is no exception. Week before last, just as highs were getting up into the 80s, I spent 3 1/2 days racing through all of Kate Christensen’s funny, gripping, and very smart novels. They are, in order of publication:
- In the Drink, which appeared during the summer of Bridget Jones and led to Christensen’s immediate and wrongheaded coronation as a chick lit author.
- Jeremy Thrane, which chronicles the travails of a married actor’s kept boyfriend and is possibly my favorite of the four novels. Unfortunately, the book appeared around September 11, 2001, and the world was too shellshocked to heap acclaim upon it.
- The Epicure’s Lament, in which our narrator has sequestered himself from his family, friends, and, really, everyone except underage cashiers, with the aim of smoking himself to death. Thanks to a rare illness, he will in fact die — and soon — if doesn’t quit the cigarettes.
- The Great Man, in which competing biographers try to piece together a dead artist’s secrets and artistic motivations by interviewing his wife, his mistress, his daughters, and the sister who hated him. This one isn’t officially published till August, so I won’t say much about it until then.
If you’re around, tune in for more.
Image of the Coral Gables Branch Library, which enabled my childhood binge-reading habits, is taken from the MDPLS site.
Until all this family memorabilia came my way, I didn’t know that many picture postcards sent in the early 1900s were photos of people’s relatives.
Last week’s shot of a scowling Martha Caroline and her barefoot granddaughters is an example, though it wasn’t actually mailed.
Here’s a cheerier one, of Alma Kinchen, my great-grandmother, holding three puppies. She didn’t send it via post, but she did inscribe it: “The increase in my family — Aunt Alma.” (The giant wart on her chin is just a discoloration.)
More postcard history: An Arcadia Publishing series traces the evolution of U.S. communities through postcards.
Graham Greene said Capri “isn’t really my kind of place,” but he kept a house there for 40 years because “in four weeks I do the work of six months elsewhere.”
Are bedside books a warning when your lover is a writer?