The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled by Lauren Cerand, that 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, 1.19: LitPAC’s Progressive Reading Series boasts a sexy, star-studded lineup, with Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, Ariel Levy, Colson Whitehead, and Sean Wilsey reading at Coda to benefit underfunded progressive candidates in key elections nationwide. With host Stephen Elliott, who is charming and funny and would be worth the $30 donation alone. Highly, highly recommended, as is buying tickets in advance. 8:00pm.
TUESDAY, 2.20: Writer Christen Clifford performs her culturally fashion-forward one-woman show, Babylove (she had me at “Ljubljana”), adapted for the stage from her Nerve.com essay. As part of the terraNOVA Collective’s Solo Arts Festival. 8:30pm, $12. And, jen bekman presents “Meditations in an Emergency,” a group exhibition of work in various mediums inspired by and interpreting Frank OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢HaraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poem of the same name. Participating artists, all of whom are represented by jen bekman, include Agnes Barley, Mara-Bodis Wollner, Christine Callahan, Christine Collins, James Deavin, Benjamin Donaldson, John Glassie, Anne Hall, Addie Juell, Holly Lynton, Dana Miller, Katie Murray, Leon Reid, Eliot Shepard, Tema Stauffer and Jeffey Teuton [full disclosure, as always: I am the gallery’s PR director]. Join us for an opening reception with the artists from 6:00 – 8:00pm, FREE.
WEDNESDAY, 2.21: Barnes & Noble launches a new event series, “Upstairs at the Square,” to be held at the Union Square Barnes & Noble. The series features journalist Katherine Lanpher in conversation with established and emerging authors and musicians, who will read and perform their work. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Wednesday evening’s guests are Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia and singer-songwriter Jen Chapin, whose new album, Ready, will be released next month [full disclosure, as always: I am the PR consultant for this project]. 7:00pm, FREE.
THURSDAY, 2.22: Monica Ali makes a rare appearance stateside in support of her new novel, Alentejo Blue, at Barnes & Noble Astor Place. 7:00pm, FREE. At Makor, contributors to Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales From Interfaith Homes, edited by Laurel Snyder, take up the question of whether someone can be half-jewish, one example of Soft Skull Press’s foray into publishing books exploring the intersection of religion, culture and society. Snyder is joined by Jeff Sharlet, Katharine Weber, and Maya Gottfried [full disclosure, as always: I am working with Katharine to promote her new novel, Triangle]. 7:00pm, tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 at the door.
FRIDAY, 2.23: Director Lila Cecil sends “a heads up about our next Paragraph reading. It’s going to be hosted on the roof deck of Clay, the fancy gym next door to us, with two fantastic readers who are also talented singers.” With Mohammed Naseeu Ali (The Prophet of Zongo Street) and Wyn Cooper (Postcards From the Interior). 6:30pm, FREE.
SATURDAY, 2.24: Why, it’s the Mermaid Parade, for sirens and their friends, celebrating “the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and mythology of Coney Island, Coney Island pride, and artistic self-expression.”
SUNDAY, 2.25: Last weekend I discovered Girls Write Now, “a nonprofit volunteer mentoring organization that has been matching bright, creative teenage girls from New York CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s public high schools with professional women writers in the community since 1998,” via Sunday Salon, which turned its 4-year anniversary party into a benefit for GWN. On Sunday, Girls Write Now presents its annual spring reading and bookfair fundraiser, “Behind My Eyes: Class of 2006 Girls Speak Out,” with Def Poetry Star Staceyann Chin at Barnes & Noble Astor Place (see invitation for details, including how to support GWN with your book purchases all weekend). 4:00 – 6:00pm, FREE. Sunday evening, Katharine Weber reads from Triangle, with Scott Snyder (Voodoo Heart) and Anthony Giardina (White Guys). 7:00pm, FREE.