This week our events series welcomes Marc Solomon, a campaigner for marriage equality; Tasneem Zehra Husain, a string theorist trying her hand at fiction; the second coming of Reif Larsen, author of the celebrated The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet; a slippery legal thriller from Tim Dorsey; and a visit from Rebecca Pacheco, a thoroughly modern yogi tying to help us cultivate deep roots.

The Small Press Book Club will be reading Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey on Thursday, March 19th at 7pm. The Club picked it based partly on this passage from this glowing review: "..Dear Thief is a beautiful, tentative success, a novel with no interest in conformity. Harvey’s book is propelled not by the usual structures of novel writing but by the quality of its author’s mind, by the luminousness of her prose, and by an ardent innocence of speculation that is rare in contemporary fiction..." For more about this pick and the Small Press Book Club, contact lydia@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Thursday February 26th at 7:00 pm
POLITICS/LGBT
Marc Solomon
Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won

Ten years ago no state allowed same-sex couples to marry, support for gay marriage nationwide hovered around 30 percent. Today, same-sex couples can marry in seventeen states, polls consistently show majority support, and nearly three-quarters of Americans believe legalization is inevitable. In Winning Marriage Marc Solomon, a veteran leader in the movement for marriage equality, gives the reader a seat at the strategy-setting and decision-making table in the campaign to win and protect the freedom to marry. With depth and grace he reveals the inner workings of the advocacy movement that has championed and protected advances won in legislative, court, and electoral battles over the decade since the landmark Massachusetts ruling guaranteeing marriage for same-sex couples for the first time.

   

RESCHEDULED Friday February 27th at 7:00 pm 
Tasneem Zehra Husain
Only the Longest Threads

Only the Longest Threads is the fiction debut of string theorist Tasneem Zehra Husain. July 2012. When the decades long search for the Higgs Boson comes to a triumphant end, Leo, a science writer, and Sara, an aspiring string theorist, are among the jubilant crowd at CERN. As they discuss this historic event and the emotions it evokes, Leo suddenly experiences a moment of clarity - he realizes  the true experience of science can never be communicated by words which fail to reflect the passion of the endeavor. He makes it his goal to write a reimagined history of physics; one that captures the excitement and essence of moments that changed, forever, our perception of the universe and our place in it.

   

Monday March 2nd at 7:00 pm
Reif Larsen
I Am Radar

In 1975, a black child named Radar Radmanovic is mysteriously born to white parents. Though Radar is raised in suburban New Jersey, his story rapidly becomes entangled with terrible events in Yugoslavia, Norway, Cambodia, the Congo, and beyond. Falling in with a secretive group of puppeteers and scientists—who stage experimental art for people suffering under war-time sieges—Radar is forced to confront the true nature of his identity. In I Am Radar, acclaimed novelist Reif Larsen—the author of The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet—delivers a triumph of storytelling at its most primal, elegant, and epic.

   
Tuesday March 3rd at 7:00 pm
Tim Dorsey
Shark Skin Suite

Bottom feeders beware: the Sunshine State’s favorite psychotic killer and lovable Floridaphile Serge Storms has found a new calling, legal eagle, and he’s going to make a killing as a crusading attorney in this madcap escapade from the insanely funny New York Times bestselling author Tim Dorsey. When it comes to swimming with the sharks, there is no bigger kahuna than Serge Storms. Binging on a marathon of legal movies set in Florida, Serge finds his calling: the law. Never mind law school or that degree, Serge becomes a freelance fixer involved in schemes of hilarious mayhem as only Tim Dorsey can whip up.

 

 

Wednesday March 4th at 7:00 pm
Rebecca Pacheco
Do Your Om Thing

While the practice of yoga encourages fitness, its benefits extend far beyond the physical. In order to have a beautiful, fit body, a yoga practitioner must understand and respect its inextricable link to mind and spirit. Master yoga teacher, athletic model, and writer Rebecca Pacheco is the ultimate twenty-first-century yoga ambassador. In Do Your Om Thing, she shows readers how to benefit from the ancient wisdom and philosophy of yoga without repudiating its modern attributes.
 

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London

Mohsin Hamid
HC, $27.95
Shame and the Captives

Thomas Keneally
HC, $26
P53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code

Sue Armstrong
HC, $27
Lucky Alan: And Other Stories

Jonathan Lethem
HC, $24.95
The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

David Graeber
HC, $26.95

I Am Radar
Reif Larsen
Penguin Press
Hardcover, $29.95

 

I'll admit, I am stealing our event team's copy for this review. If you've already read the entry above, feel free to skip ahead.
In 1975, a black child named Radar Radmanovic is mysteriously born to white parents. Though Radar is raised in suburban New Jersey, his story rapidly becomes entangled with terrible events in Yugoslavia, Norway, Cambodia, the Congo, and beyond. Falling in with a secretive group of puppeteers and scientists who stage experimental art for people suffering under war-time sieges, Radar is forced to confront the true nature of his identity. In I Am Radar, acclaimed novelist Reif Larsen - the author of The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet - delivers a triumph of storytelling at its most primal, elegant, and epic.
Reif Larsen will be reading here next Monday, March 2nd at 7pm.
 

A Higher Form of Killing: Six Weeks in World War I
That Forever Changed the Nature of Warfare

Diana Preston
Bloomsbury
Hardcover, $28

 

The way we fight wars is increasingly clandestine, removed, and often legally and morally questionable, on both sides of any given conflict. Let's not kid ourselves, war has never been a squeaky clean, play-by-the-rules affair. But the cost of war in human lives has been the same since time immemorial; only the methods change. In A Higher Form of Killing, acclaimed historian Diana Preston digs deeply into one moment of devastating change in warfare, when Germany threw away the rule book in World War I. During April and May, 1915 the world witnessed the introduction of poison gas to the battlefield, the torpedo attack and sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania, and the first aerial bombardment of London.

 

The Dirty Dust
Máirtín Ó Cadhain
Yale University Press
Hardcover, $25
 
Colm Tíóibín (Brooklyn, Nora Webster) calls this "...the greatest novel to be written in the Irish language, and is among the best books to come out of Ireland in the twentieth century." The Dirty Dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain and translated from the Irish by Alan Titley, is a satiric masterpiece, a boisterous story entirely narrated by the dead. In this life they say you can't take it with you, unless your body ends up in this particular graveyard in the west of Ireland, and the "it" is a lifetime's worth of grievances, grudges, rumors and gripes. Máirtín Ó Cadhain (1905-1970), described in the introduction as "both traditional and experimental as he willed", has long remained hidden from the English speaking world, but his singular voice is finally uncovered for modern readers.
 

The New Small Person
Lauren Child
Candlewick Press
Hardcover, $17.99

 

My son was so sweet and excited for two weeks after his little sister was born, and then he had a complete breakdown the likes of which we had never seen before. Things are better now. But if they hadn't gotten better, it would be a blessing to have Lauren Child's newest picturebook to broach the subject of tolerance with a resentful older sibling. Child 's story of a "new small person" trampling all over the perfect world of an until recently only child is pitch perfect and beautiful to look at.

 


Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
Sean Taylor, Jean Jullien
Candlewick Press
Hardcover, $15.99

 
Hoot Owl is an apex predator in his own mind, narrating his clumsy attempts to catch his prey with hilarious grandiosity. "The night has a thousand eyes, and two of them are mine. I swoop the bleak blackness like a wolf in the air."  Everyone knows that owls are silent and smart, but this one isn't content to fall back on those stale tricks. He fancies himself a master of disguise!
Suffice to say, nobody is fooled.
 


The Golden Bunny

Margaret Wise Brown, Leonard Weisgard
Golden Books
Hardcover, $16.99

 
It was after the second blizzard, or was it the third? Whatever, it was some morning in February that I backed my car up in order to shovel out the rest of the spot, and revealed the tracks of one chilly bunny which had sought shelter from the storm under there. Margaret Wise Brown's long out-of-print tale of bunnies in all seasons, originally published in 1954, is a delightful hodgepodge of Brown's poetry and storytelling, and crowded with Weisgard's timeless illustration style.
 
 

The Independent Entertainer: How to Be a Successful Clown, Juggler, Mime, Magician or Puppeteer
Happy Jack Feder
Prentice-Hall, 1982
Used Paperback, $3.50

 

"The only way to stay ahead of the press is to be aggressive. Get in touch with them early in your career, before they have a chance to find out about you on their own. Notify them that you'd like them to do some sort of story on you. Be forward and direct. First get in touch with the feature editor. After that, speak separately to the feature writers and photographers. Make sure each of them knows who you are and what you are interested in, and that you wish to be notified ahead of time as to when they would like to interview you and take photographs."
That's a piece of self-promotion advice from Happy Jack Feder. Happy doesn't perform anymore, but in what I have to assume is an atypical second act for retired professional clowns, he has kept himself busy writing a rambunctious series of opinion pieces for The American Spectator online.

 


After the Fall
Victoria Roberts
Norton, 2013
Used Hardcover, $13

 

Pops is a mad genius millionaire eccentric, and Mother is an Argentinean croquet wizard. Alan and his kid sister Alex generally look to their housekeeper for advice in navigating their home turf, New York's Upper East Side. It's good they've got her around, because when the family fortune goes up in a puff of smoke, the family and all of their belongings wind up in Central Park, where the strain of trying to continue living in the manner to which they have become accustomed becomes almost too much for Mother and Pops to bear. Can the children save the day? You might recognize Victoria Roberts' illustrations, as she's been moonlighting for years as a New Yorker cartoonist.

 


ReadyMade: How To Make {Almost} Everything
Shoshana Berger, Grace Hawthorne
Clarkson Potter, 2005
Used Hardcover, $25

 
There are definitely some innovative alternatives in here, but they are sprinkled in with the whimsically useless as well. A spare bicycle wheel attached to an exposed beam gives a respectful nod to Marcel Duchamp but the authors admit that it fails to cool down a stifling apartment. Still, you don't have to look far for the truly innovative, like a super simple coat hanger wine rack, or the whimsical takeout cutlery chandelier. ReadyMade is all about using what you've already got to create what you need.
 

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction
David Quammen
Scribner, Paperback
Orig. $22, Sale $6.99
 
David Quammen has carved out his place in the proud lineage of science and nature writers. His work connects the dots between evolution, genetics, infectious disease, and the stories of the people who have pushed the boundaries of what we know about all three. In The Song of the Dodo, Quammen considers islands as naturally occurring laboratories, making use of their conveniently closed systems to examine the history of evolution and extinction.
 

The Other Typist
Suzanne Rindell
Berkley Books, Paperback
Orig. $16, Sale $4.99
 

A typist for the NYPD, Rose Baker bears witness to the most gruesome and tragic confessions that the city's criminals can bring themselves to offer up. But outside the station, she does her best to bury that knowledge and carry on as a proper lady. 1920s New York really comes to life in the pages of Suzanne Rindell's debut novel when a new officemate pulls Rose into the burgeoning underworld of speakeasies and jazz clubs, where Rose finds her personal and professional lives colliding in a dangerous, but thrilling manner.

 


Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker
Stanley Crouch
Harper, Hardcover
Orig. $27.99, Sale $5.99

 
No musician has lived a more transformational, or tragic, life than Charlie Parker, one of the most talented and influential musical figures of the twentieth century. Drawing on decades of original interviews with peers, collaborators, and family members, Stanley Crouch reveals Parker as he was: from the dance clubs of late-night Kansas City, where he learned his craft, to the ballrooms of wartime Harlem, it offers a window into the world life of the young genius.
 
 

Those are some wise editorial moves at the end there.
 
Check out the bookcase full of great deals on kitchenwares in Aisle 1! Towels, colanders, glasses, mugs, kitchen timers, pot holders, gourmet salts, and more can be found for 50% OFF while supplies last.
 
   

Next book club meeting
Monday, March 9th @ 7:30pm

Family Life
Akhil Sharma

No need to sign up, just show up!

 

Boston's 39th Annual Israel Folkdance Festival Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 3:00 PM Kresge Auditorium at MIT in Cambridge, MA An annual showcase of Jewish and Israeli dance performed by dance troupes from across North America. The Israel Folkdance Festival has its roots in the Israeli folk dance community at MIT, and has helped it to grow for over thirty years, passing the tradition down through several generations of folk dancers. Find out more about the Festival and get your tickets here.

The Coolidge Corner branch of the Brookline Public Library is committed to this community, and is eager to understand and adapt to the evolving needs of its patrons. How is the Library doing, and what can it do better? Change the course of history in Coolidge Corner in just a couple minutes of your time by taking this survey before February 28th.



It was fantastically cold at our friends' house up in Vermont this weekend, which meant a long three days of staying in and reading book after book with the kids, rarely venturing farther than the chicken coop in the -20 degree early mornings. My daughter, almost six, always quotes Elsa ("the cold never bothers me anyway!"), so to prove it she and I took an almost hour long morning trek around the back yard, picking the remaining frozen apples off the branches and making nests for them lower down where the animals can get to them easier.

Thanks for reading,
Paul

currently reading Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill.
currently listening to Fou Lee, by the Blue Scholars, produced by Sabzi from Made In Heights. This one goes out to the father and son in the neighborhood who have such good taste in music.

email me, if you'd like to make this a conversation.



 
 

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