The Smart Set: a weekly events listing by Lauren Cerand

The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled by Lauren Cerand, that appears Mondays 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 submit details to, with the date of the event in the subject line.

MONDAY, 5.16: Paul Muldoon, reads from his work, along with fellow poet Maureen Thorson, at Pete’s Big Salmon. Note: The reading is followed at 10 by Paul’s band, Rackett. Highly recommended. 7:30pm, FREE. And, enjoy the fruits of her labor as Roxana Robinson reads from her novel, Sweetwater, at The Half King. 7:00pm, FREE. Also, it’s fitting that an event lauding a writer whose contribution to dandyism has been the focus of scholarly inquiry would take place in the Meatpacking District. Attend a talk on J.K Huysman, in conjunction with Turtle Point Press’s publication of a new translation of Downstream, or just stay home and read “Dandyism: Beyond Fashion“, a highly informative and engrossing article by one Chevalier d’Hamilton. Gents, put on your spats (Perhaps a blowout and that so-ubiquitous-it-might-as-well-be-Old-Navy Balenciaga bag for modern gals – and Olsen twins) and stroll right down to 5Ninth Restaurant, 5 9th Ave. at Little West 12th and Gansevoort Sts., 3rd Floor, for Vincent Katz’s it’s-just-too-perfect discussion of “the author that inspired Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Grey.” 6:00pm, FREE.

TUESDAY, 5.17: Dr. Edith Grossman, who considers her “primary obligation as a literary translator is to recreate for the reader in English the experience of the reader in Spanish,” gives a lecture entitled, “Translating Don Quixote,” with a reception to follow, at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute. Highly recommended. 6:00pm; FREE, but reservations requested – call (212) 628.0420. And, no matter what your taste or age, it seems that we are all raised these days to think of things in the short and punchy lexicon of imaginary t-shirt slogans. Lately, I’ve been rather fond of “I Prefer Big Sur,” which is silly but true if obvious. I once bought a friend a customized t-shirt that said “Dutch is Clutch,” after listening to him complain for the thousandth time that the sort of women he dated never offered to pay their own way at dinner. Indulge your own inner pithy pop sensibilities with a session at the ABC N0 Rio Print Shop.

WEDNESDAY, 5.18: When a British friend with a wicked (literally) sense of humor tips you off on an event such as this one, you know it’s going to be good: Stephen Clarke reads from A Year in the Merde at 192 Books. Noted: “A hilarious, (almost) true account that is no French tale of runny Brie and a glass of rose, but instead the laugh-out-loud tale of one ex-pat’s misadventures in Paris–for Francophiles and Francophones alike. A bestseller in the UK and France, A Year in the Merde proves Clarke to be a Bill Bryson for a whole new generation of readers who can never quite decide whether they love–or love to hate–the French.” 7:00pm; FREE, but reservations requested – call (212) 255-4022. Also, as part of its “Recent Scandinavian Cinema” film program, Scandinavia House presents King’s Game (Kongekabale). Noted: “With an impressive script (winner of Best Screenplay at Viareggio Film Festival) and intelligent as well as involving performances, this political thriller simultaneously packs a punch and rings true. Starting a new job as a political journalist at a leading newspaper, Ulrik witnesses a brutal struggle for power in the government’s ranks. He gradually unearths a ruthless conspiracy involving the incumbent prime minister and becomes obsessed with bringing the truth to light.” In Danish with English subtitles. 6:30pm, $8. And, Albert Murray (The Magic Keys) and John Edgar Wideman (God’s Gym) discuss their work in conversation with each other as part of Housing Works’ excellent author2author series. 7:00pm, FREE.

THURSDAY, 5.19: The wait is over, kind of: John Banville makes a hotly-anticipated public appearance at Barnes & Noble Union Square to celebrate the New York Review of Books Classic Series [via Chekhov’s Mistress]. 7:00pm, FREE. And, New York finalists of the 17th Annual Lambda Literary Awards read from their nominated work at the New York LGBT Center. Rachel Kramer Bussel (Up All Night), Allison Smith (Name All The Animals), and Damian McNicholl (A Son Called Gabriel), are among those scheduled to appear. 6:30pm, FREE. Also worth mentioning is “Trip the Light Fantastic” a psychedelia-themed benefit party for public art projectors Creative Time. 8:00pm, $200.

FRIDAY, 5.20: Banville is back again, for an event at Three Lives. 7:00pm, FREE. On a different note, the New York Burlesque Festival kicks off its annual weekend of “three days of Glitter and Glamour in Gotham.” Also, “All Wear Bowlers,” a show I enjoyed so much the first time ’round that I may go again, only has a few performances left before it closes later this month. 8:30pm, $20. And: I can’t really TiVo without a TV, so I’ll be busy searching for the mythical bar of my dreams, where the Jane Birkin documentary on the Sundance Channel plays on multiple giant plasma screens, cute French waiters trip over each other trying to light my cigarettes, and there’s a mint green scooter parked out front with my name on it [via La Depressionada].

SATURDAY, 5.21: Catch the last day of “3x Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing,” an exhibition at the Drawing Center that highlights the work of Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin. Noted: “This major touring historical exhibition, co-curated by Catherine de Zegher and Hendel Teicher, will present the work of three pioneering women artists: Hilma af Klint (Sweden, 1862–1944), Emma Kunz (Switzerland, 1892–1963), and Agnes Martin (b. 1912, Canada; U.S. citizenship 1950).” Saturday hours are 11:00am-6:00pm.

SUNDAY, 5.22: The Studio Museum in Harlem presents its Sunday Salon, a program that is “dedicated to highlighting local musicians, poets, singers, writers, thinkers and performance artists” and “celebrates the spirit of Harlem’s historic parlor scene.” Writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts – whose essays and criticism have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Boston Globe,, The Nation, TRACE, and Transition – reads original work about Harlem, likely drawn from her current project,”a trilogy exploring black utopias.” Highly recommended, along with the museum’s always excellent exhibitions (e.g. the current show of watercolors by Chris Ofili). 3:00-5:00pm, FREE.


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