The Smart Set: Lauren Cerand’s weekly events

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 lauren [at] by the Thursday prior to publication, with the event’s date in the subject line.

MONDAY, 2.26: At the Reader’s Room, one of the assuredly best literary evenings the city has to offer, Emilie Stewart and Leigh Newman present John Marks, author of Fangland, a “chilling reinvention of the Dracula epic, seen through the lens of today’s media saturated culture.” At Mo Pitkin’s. 7PM, one-drink minimum. And, “Books that Build is an organization that supports children’s literacy. Through an annual fundraising event, Books that Build teams with a charity of choice, along with friends and family and everyone they know, to throw a fantastic party raising money for children’s literacy. The 2007 beneficiary of this event is Reach Out & Read of Greater New York, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit, which puts books in the hands of children and their parents during regular medical checkups. 7PM, $120 (at door).”

TUESDAY, 2.27: The Center presents “Word Up – A monthly cocktail Party, Reading and Book Signing,” featuring Michael Lowenthal, author of Charity Girl, the story of Frieda Mintz, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants to Boston… [and] a story of how an American crusade for freedom overseas cost thousands of its citizens freedom at home. Filled with details that accurately evoke the atmosphere of life in America during World War I, the novel resonates with implications for modern times – mirroring recent atrocities such as the shunning of HIV-positive citizens, and the American government’s detention of suspected terrorists.” 6PM, $15. Also, the Mercantile Library presents a 2006 Sargent Prize (“created in 2006 to honor the best first novel of the year and carries with it a $10,000 prize”) Finalist Reading, by Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo: “Set in Namibia just after independence in the early 1990s, this novel chronicles the long days, short loves, and cold nights at Goas, an all-boys Catholic primary school.” 6:30pm, FREE.

WEDNESDAY, 2.28: Albert Stern says, “I just wanted to let you know that Mouthpiece will be performing on 2/28, at the D-Lounge on Union Square at 8 p.m. We’re a group of storytellers – most of us have worked on the Moth main stage, and James Braly is the only two-time Moth SLAM winner. His show ‘Life in a Marital Institution’ will debut Off-Broadway next fall and is being directed by Hal Brooks of Thom Pain fame. His book of essays will also appear late this year, and he is a frequent commentator on NPR. Andy Christie’s work has recently appeared in the NY Times, and his ‘Liar Show’ – where the audience has to determine which of four tales is fabricated – is a sellout hit at The PIT and Cornelia Street Cafe. I’ve had two one person shows at Westbeth and have recently published stories you can check out at and We have two other excellent storytellers working with us next Thursday, and would sure appreciate a mention. I think we’re doing the kind of work your readers might be interested in supporting – the price is right, just $8, with a two drink minimum.” Highly recommended. And, Jami Attenberg hosts her quarterly Class of 2007 Reading Series @ Boxcar Lounge with Joshua Ferris (Then We Came to the End, Annie Choi (Happy Birthday or Whatever, Min Jin Lee (Free Food for Millionaires) and others. 8PM, FREE [Full disclosure, as always: I worked with Jami to publicize her literary debut last summer, and I’m working with Min Jin this spring]. Plus, The Poetry Vs. Comedy Variety Show at Bowery Poetry Club, and Indie Press Night with Ig Publishing at McNally Robinson.

THURSDAY, 3.1: At Three Lives, Matthew Sharpe reads from his new novel, Jamestown: “Set in the indeterminate but not too distant future, JAMESTOWN chronicles a group of “settlers” (more like survivors) from the ravaged island of Manhattan, departing just as the Chrysler Building mysteriously collapses, heading down what’s left of I-95 in an armor-plated vehicle that’s half-schoolbus, half-Millenium Falcon. They are going to establish an outpost in southern Virginia, look for oil, and exploit the Indians controlling the area.” Highly recommended. 7PM, FREE.

FRIDAY, 3.2: On view (through March 18): “In partnership with Africa e Mediterraneo, a non-profit organization based in Bologna, Italy, The Studio Museum in Harlem is thrilled to present Africa Comics, the first-ever exhibition in the United States dedicated exclusively to comic art from across the continent. The work, which addresses issues as wide-ranging as corruption, human rights, immigration, and the plight of women, provides an unprecedented glimpse into modern Africa… Africa Comics includes 32 artists or 2-person artists’ teams from all over the continent of Africa, including Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Togo.” Highly recommended.

SATURDAY, 3.3: Aspiring memoirists, and um, bloggers in general, take note: “P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center is pleased to announce Jonas Mekas: The Beauty of Friends Being Together Quartet, an exhibition comprised of films and film stills by the celebrated artist. Mekas is considered an inventor of Diarist Cinema – an intimate first-person collision of poetry, fiction, documentary, and formal experimentation through which any autobiographical themes can be explored – and is also renowned for his extensive film archive. Such seminal and varied components of his oeuvre will be intimately presented in the Mini-Kunsthalle from February 11 through April 16, 2007.” And, at McNally Robinson: “Every Saturday at 12pm, Spanish Language Discussion Group (downstairs). Practice your Spanish with Javier Molea, our resident Spanish language literature expert. Javier owned a bookstore in Montevideo, Uruguay, where people gathered on Saturdays to discuss books. He has brought that tradition to our store. No preparatory reading is required; Borges, Cortazar, Fuentes, and all of the greatest Latin American writers are discussed.”

SUNDAY, 3.4: “Come on down” to Red Hook for a zeitgeist-y edition of Sundays at Sunny’s: “Novelist Michael Thomas had his debut reviewed favorably on the front page of the New York Times Book Review last week. Two-time Edgar Award winner SJ Rozan just received another nomination. Blake Nelson’s latest novel for young adults is now being turned into a film by Gus Van Sant.” Co-sponsored by BookCourt. Noted, “Sunny’s is a legendary old bar on the Brooklyn waterfront in Red Hook at 253 Conover Street (between Beard & Reed Streets). You can buy books and get them signed by the authors. Suggested donation: $3. The bar (cash) will be open. Free coffee and Italian pastries and cookies will be provided.” Also noted, the pastries are soooo good. 3PM. And, “Lannan Foundation and the Nation Institute present An Evening with Robert Fisk, Recipient of the 2006 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Prize for Cultural Freedom. In a rare New York City appearance, award-winning journalist Robert Fisk will discuss the politics, wars and civil upheavals of the Middle East. Fisk is the Middle East correspondent for The Independent (London) and the author of Pity the Nation (Nation Books) and The Great War for Civilisation (Knopf).” At Town Hall. Highly recommended. 7PM, $8-10.

This week’s soundtrack: Santogold, “You’ll Find a Way”.


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