Arts Fuse critics select the best in theater, visual arts, film, music, author events, and dance for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
If you prefer your presidents via bio-pics, Oliver Stone’s first two presidential profiles are playing in back-to-back evenings. JFK is based on some of the controversial theories regarding the Kennedy assassination. Paranoia is rampant, but there’s a great cast, including Kevin Costner as DA Jim Garrison, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gary Oldman as a very convincing Lee Harvey Oswald. Nixon stars Anthony Hopkins as the beleaguered president. It claims, puzzlingly, to be “based on numerous public sources and on an incomplete historical record.”
Screening on September 11, 14, and 15
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Ronald Reagan’s winning conservative charisma (if that is how you would characterize it) began with his rise to movie stardom. The MFA is featuring several of his best films in a series called Reagan in Hollywood: Origins of a Political Icon (September 8 through 20). One of Reagan’s favorite acting roles was that of Drake McHugh in 1942’s Kings Row, co-starring Betty Field, Charles Coburn, Robert Cummings, Ann Sheridan, Judith Anderson, and Maria Ouspenskaya. Leonard Maltin opines that the melodramatic film “retains its sweep of life in pre-WW1 Midwestern town, with the fates of many townsfolk intertwined. Beautiful Erich Wolfgang Korngold music score backs up plush production, fine characterizations. Notable, too, as Reagan’s finest performance.” Editor’s note: Where’s Bedtime for Bonzo in this series?
Those Who Feel the Fire Burning
September 12 at 8 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
The DocYard series begins its season with a documentary directed by Morgan Knibbe. He was present in October 2013 at the aftermath of the sinking of a ship that was carrying over 500 refugees off the coast of the Italian island Lampedusa. He made an acclaimed short film, Shipwreck, which chronicles the tragedy’s survivors, grieving over the 360 coffins as they were loaded onto a transport vessel.That short has been incorporated into this feature, becoming one story among many in an examination of the lives of Africans and Middle Easterners who have fled their homelands in search of safety, often finding the journey to be but the beginning of their hardship. Unconventional and poetic in form, the film documents a serious social problem: the hopeless situation of refugees who actually manage to make the crossing alive. The director will attend the screening in person.
— Tim Jackson
The Destruction of Memory, directed by Tim Slade. At the Harvard Art Museums, Menschel Hall, 32 Quincy Street Cambridge, MA on September 9 at 2 p.m. Free.
Based on the book of the same name by Robert Bevan, this 2016 documentary is about the escalating war on culture and the efforts of individuals to stop the destruction. “In Syria and Iraq, the ‘cradle of civilization,’ millennia of culture are being destroyed. The push to protect, salvage, and rebuild has moved in step with the destruction. Legislation and policy have played a role, but heroic individuals have fought back, risking and losing their lives to protect not just other human beings, but our cultural identity. Following the screening, director Tim Slade and author Robert Bevan will be in conversation with Andras Riedlmayer, bibliographer in Islamic art and architecture at Harvard’s Fine Arts Library and a key interviewee in the film.
College, directed by Buster Keaton and James W. Horne. At the Aeronaut Brewing Company, 14 Tyler Street, Somerville, MA, September 11 at 8 p.m.
An unusually athletic Buster Keaton silent film comedy: the 1927 movie “follows the story of a hopeless university bookworm (Keaton) forced to become a star athlete to win the attention of his dream girl. Can Buster complete the transformation in time to woo her from his rival? And along the way, can he also rescue the campus from sports-related shame?” This screening “marks two years of Aeronaut’s hosting of Jeff Rapsis, one of the only musicians in the United States to specialize in improvising music of this era.” Not one of Keaton’s masterpieces — but still wonderful.
— Bill Marx
Online viewing: Friday, September 9 at 8pm through Saturday, September 10th at 8 a.m.
Live performances: Saturday, September 10 at 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.
The Dance Complex
There’s only one 24-hour choreography festival in all of America, and it’s held annually right here in Cambridge! Hop online to watch the choreographic process unfold overnight, then head to the Dance Complex the following afternoon to view the six newly finished works, as 50 local dancers and creators lock themselves into this historic building to create something fresh in just 24 hours.
— Merli V. Guerra
Or, by Liz Duffy Adams. Directed by Alice Reagan. Staged by Shakespeare & Company in the Tina Packer Playhouse at 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA, through September 4.
Tod Randolph stars in this historical drama, which centers on a hectic time in the life of seventeenth century playwright Aphra Behn, known to history as the first credited female playwright. She “has one opportunity to have her play produced and fulfill her desperate desire to leave the spy trade behind her. The catch? She must finish and deliver her play by morning all while fighting off distracting romantic temptations, attempting to win a pardon, and trying to save the life of royalty. Her hectic antics unfold into a night of hilarity, passion, and self discovery that tells a story that transcends time.”
Broadway Bounty Hunter, Music and lyrics by Joe Iconis, Book by Lance Rubin and Jason SweetTooth Williams. Choreography by Jeffrey Page. Directed by Leah C. Gardiner. Staged by Barrington Stage’s Musical Theatre Lab at the St. Germain Stage, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA, through September 4.
This sounds as if it could be fun: “Inspired by the Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s (think Shaft), this exciting new musical is about a down-on-her-luck actor Annie (SAG Award Winner and Broadway veteran Annie Golden) as she’s asked to become a bounty hunter and capture a South American drug lord. With a score rich with R&B and Funk (and a splash of ‘80s Rock ‘n’ Roll), the musical follows a woman of a certain age as she tries to find the inner strength she needs to save theatre and realize her true badass identity.”
Sotto Voce by Nilo Cruz. Directed by Daniel Gidron. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, through September 11.
“In 1939 the MS St. Louis set out in search of homes for the hundreds of Jewish refugees aboard, only to be turned away by Cuba and the United States. Decades later, a young Cuban-Jewish man named Saquiel seeks out Bemadette Kahn, a famous, reclusive writer who was separated from her Jewish lover when he boarded the MS St. Louis all those years ago. The result is three seemingly disconnected souls brought together in a fantastical relationship fueled by the power of memories.” The cast includes Annette Miller.
Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, created, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith. Music composed and performed by Marcus Shelby. Directed by Leonard Foglia. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through September 17.
Anna Deavere Smith’s performance piece “outlines the civil rights crisis currently erupting at the intersection between America’s education system and its mass incarceration epidemic.” Arts Fuse review
Whatforward Circus, written and performed by Bread and Puppet Theater on the Cambridge Common, Cambridge, MA, September 4 at 3 p.m.
In true Bread and Puppet fashion, Whatforward Circus follows the tragicomic escapades of a group of stone age technology puppeteers, brass players, and percussionists as their members, according to director Peter Schumann: “check out the prominent forward moving passions and politics of our capitalist culture, and make real and unreal against-the-grain proposals to identify and fight the anonymous monster, the big fat Wrong.”
Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, created and directed by Carrie Mae Weems. At Yale Repertory Theater’s University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven, CT, September 9 and 10.
Part of Yale Rep’s ‘No Boundaries’ series, “acclaimed photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems presents a powerful and provocative new work—rooted in poetry and her stunning projections and featuring music, song, and spoken word—that examines themes of social justice, race, and identity in the context of our historical moment.” The cast includes composer/musician Craig Harris, composer James Newton, poet Aja Monet, writer and theatre artist Carl Hancock Rux, dancer Francesca Harper, and singers Alicia Hall Moran, Imani Uzuri, and Eisa Davis.
The Return to Morality by Jamie Pachino. Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon Staged by the Titanic Theatre Company at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, through September 25.
“An uncannily timely satire on the power of speech in politics and how political attitudes can be radically altered by the media.” The script details “the comedic unraveling of a well-meaning liberal, who becomes caught in a media whirlwind when his satirical book on right-wing extremism is embraced by the very groups he’s lampooning.”
Lucky Stiff Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Based on “The Man Who Broke the Bank At Monte Carlo” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Stephen Flaherty. Staged by Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham, MA, through September 25.
“Musical murder mystery farce that will leave you dying of laughter!” Boy, how often have I heard that one. Here is the set-up for the alleged hilarity: “When mild-mannered Harry Witherspoon discovers he stands to inherit six million dollars from a recently deceased uncle he never met, there’s only one catch: he has to bring his embalmed uncle on a vacation to Monte Carlo.”
Significant Other by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Paul Daigneault. Staged by the SpeakEasy Stage Company in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through October 8.
Slated to begin previews on Broadway in February, the script (which is receiving its New England premiere) tells “the story of Jordan Berman, a 29 year old single gay man whose life up until now has revolved around BFF’s Kiki, Laura, and Vanessa. But as singles nights suddenly turn into bachelorette parties, Jordan starts to worry about his romantic prospects, and sets out on a journey to find his own Mr. Right.” The cast includes Boston acting stalwarts Greg Maraio and Kathy St. George.
45 Plays for 45 Presidents by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg. Directed by Sean Daniels. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through October 2.
“In just two hours, through nearly every theatrical device imaginable, we see the highs and lows our country has hit over decades and centuries. With each commander-in-chief in the spotlight for two minutes, we experience not only their lives, but the distinctive American eras in which they served. And ultimately, we appreciate that our nation’s story is one that we all have written—and continue to write—every time we vote.”
Eight by Tenn by Tennessee Williams. Directed by David J. Miller. Staged by Zeitgeist Stage at the Boston Center for the Arts, through October 8.
An evening of eight short plays by a great American playwright: The Lady of Larkspur Lotion, Portrait of a Madonna, Auto-Da-Fe, This Property is Condemned, Something Unspoken, A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot, The Unsatisfactory Supper, and The One Exception.
Regular Singing by Richard Nelson. Directed by Weylin Symes. A New Repertory production in association with Stoneham Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, the Charles Mosesian Theater, Watertown, MA, through September 25.
“On the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the Apple family gathers to celebrate the life of an ailing relative: talking, eating, laughing, and singing. This slice-of-life snapshot shows how our family histories can intersect with the history of our country. Featuring the same cast of Boston-area favorites that audiences have adored in the first three Apple Family plays, Regular Singing is the triumphant conclusion to Richard Nelson’s American epic.”
Sunday in the Park with George, Book and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Boston University Theater, Avenue of the Arts, Boston, MA, through October 16.
One of Stephen Sondheim’s most admired musicals — it won a Pulitzer Prize — centers on enigmatic painter Georges Seurat and his search for love, inspiration, and “the art of making art.” Huntington Theatre Company Artistic Director Peter DuBois is at the helm — as he was for the acclaimed production of A Little Night Music last season.
Company, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by George Furth. Directed by Spiro Veloudos, Music Director, Catherine Stornetta, Choreography by Rachel Bertone. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through October 9.
A ground-breaking musical about contemporary romance when it premiered in 1970, this Sondheim musical is “a prescient, insightful, and often hilarious look at modern relationships. Directing the show for the first time, Spiro Veloudos brings the story of Bobby’s 35th birthday up to the present day, illuminating the vitality of this mature, intelligent, and wildly funny affirmation of marriage, relationships, and ‘being alive.’” Arts Fuse review
Blasted by Sarah Kane. Directed by John Kuntz. Staged by Off the Grid Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St. Boston, MA, through September 18.
Kane’s mighty transgressive script still carries considerable visceral punch: “Violent, unrelenting, and brutal conflict manifests both in and outside of a small hotel room where three individuals grapple with their own cruelties, fears, desires, and basest instincts.” Note: This play contains graphic scenes of physical and sexual violence and nudity. Not intended for audience members under age 17.
Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Staged by the Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theater, September 8 through October 9.
Sounds like a premise for a Twilight Zone episode — and I really liked the show. “In the not too distant future in the time of artificial intelligence, 85-year-old Marjorie, a woman whose memory is fading, is kept company by a handsome, younger version of her husband Walter, programmed to talk with her about her past. What would we choose to remember – or forget – about our life, if given the chance?” The cast includes Nora Theatre artistic director Lee Mikeska Gardner, Barlow Adamson, and Sarah deLima.
The Totalitarians by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. Directed by Jeff Zinn. Produced by Gloucester Stage, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, through September 24.
A New England premiere: “Gloucester Stage Managing Director Jeff Zinn makes his Gloucester Stage directing debut with this off-the-wall-satire of the zany world of politics. Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has written a not-so-tall-tale of an oligarchic takeover led by a Palinesque Manchurian candidate, and possibly thwarted by a hapless one-man commando squad…in Nebraska? This raucous dark comedy is about the state of modern political discourse, modern relationships, and how easy it is to believe truths without facts.” Strong language – mature audiences only.
— Bill Marx
Paul Galbraith, guitar
At the Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA
On the program: a Bach suite, preludes by Scriabin, three pieces by Albeniz, and Galbraith’s own ground-breaking arrangement of a Mozart piano sonata.
A Far Cry
September 10 at 4 p.m.
At St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1 Roanoke Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA
September 11 at 1:30 p.m.
At Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA
The group’s program is entitled “Point of View” and features Ayano Ninomiya on violin. The pieces include Reich’s Clapping Music, Haydn’s Symphony No. 22 “The Philosopher,” Vaughan Williams’s Lark Ascending, Dello Joio’s Meditations on Ecclesiastes, Jones’s LDMT.
Inmo Yang, Beethoven’s Eroica symphony
September 11 at 3 p.m.
At Faneuil Hall, 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, MA
The program for the Bach Beethoven Brahms Society concert: Bach’s Air, Brahms’ Violin Concerto, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”).
— Susan Miron
Yinka Shonibare MBE
through December 11
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT
Born in London to a professional family, recently arrived from Lagos, Nigeria, Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) blends his African colonial heritage, expressed in sculpture, film, installation, photography, and his use of African printed cotton, with the grand tropes of the High British Empire. (The “MBE” he lists after his name means he is a “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,” a honorific British title conferred by the Queen, and the “RA” tags him as a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, founded by George III.) The Yale Center presents this exhibition as a complement and counterpoint to its frankly imperial Spreading Canvas: Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting, opening later this September. The exhibition’s selection will center, in particular, on Shonibare’s fascination with one of the great icons of Empire, Admiral Lord Nelson, famous for his naval victories during the Napoleonic Wars and for his final triumph and apotheosis at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Facing the World: Modernism and Splendor in Meiji Japan
through April 16, 2017
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
For more than two centuries, until the 1850s, Japan was one of the most isolated nations in the world. All foreign trade and contact with the outside world was strictly limited and regulated by the central government. When American gunboat diplomacy finally broke through those barriers, the effect on Japanese society was intense. The Meiji Period (1858-1912) restored power to the emperor as Japan frantically modernized and industrialized to catch up with its new competitors in Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, Japanese arts and crafts, once almost unknown outside Asia, astonished artists and collectors in the West. This exhibition features the luxurious lacquerware that Meiji Japan presented at International expositions along colorful Japanese woodblock prints that documented the rapid changes that had overtaken the country.
1863 Jane Stickle Quilt
through October 10
Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT
Turin may have its Holy Shroud and Paris its Mona Lisa, but Bennington has the 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt, magnetic core of a pilgrimage cult that extends around the country and the world. The fragile quilt, which contains a total of 5,602 pieces organized into 169 five-inch blocks and a scalloped border, has been the subject of a book and numerous references in the quilting literature. It can only be shown for a few weeks each year, when quilters flock from near and far to see it.
Bloom and Doon: Visual Expressions and Reform in Vienna 1900
September 6 – December 11
Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middleburg, VT
As the 19th century turned into the 20th, a broad cultural reform movement spread across the world, rejecting the machine-made aesthetic of the Industrial Age and attempting, within each nation, both to restore native artistic traditions and move art into the modern world. The short-lived Viennese Secession was this movements manifestation in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a brief “blooming” that ended with World War I and the dismemberment of the empire that fallowed defeat. Organized partly by students in collaboration with the Sabarsky Foundation, which has made works from its collection of German and Austrian art available to Middleburg faculty for teaching, the exhibition features lesser-known work by Gustav Klimt and Egon Shiele along with prints, drawings, and posters, other members of the Secession, who attempted to unite art and life in the “total work of art.”
— Peter Walsh
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Stirring up rock, soul, and R&B and invariably throwing in references to horror B-movies, UK quartet The Heavy has created a rather distinct sound and image since releasing it first album in 2007. Among the artists to whom the band has drawn comparisons are Little Richard, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Isaac Hayes, MC5, Prince, and Gnarls Barkley. With their new album Hurt and the Merciless to promote, The Heavy will land at The Sinclair on September 5.
Ian McCulloch has frequently spoken in hyperbolically reverent terms of the band that he has fronted for almost 40 years. “[W]e were better than New Order or some other crap,” he said in a 2009 interview. “I think we are the best group of all time.” He has also described the band’s song “The Killing Moon” as “the greatest song ever written” and calling it “my ‘To be or not to be’.” Although I am not prepared to wholeheartedly agree with either of these of these assessments, I would also not be the slightest bit surprised if a scientifically foolproof test were able to definitively establish the accuracy of both. McCulloch and fellow lifelong Bunnyman Will Sergeant will mesmerize the House of Blues on September 8 with a setlist that is sure to irrefutably demonstrate that they were—if nothing else—one of the preeminent British bands of the 1980s.
Although the band gathers for a “Feat Fan Excursion” in Jamaica each year and longtime members Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett frequently perform live together, it has been quite a while since Little Feat toured together under that name. However, the group is currently doing just that, and will be playing at The Wilbur on September 8. The current membership consists of keyboardist Bill Payne, who has been in Little Feat since its 1971 debut; Barrere, Sam Clayton, and Kenny Gradney, all of whom first appeared on 1973’s Dixie Chicken; Tackett, who played on several Little Feat records before officially joining in 1988; and drummer Gabe Ford, who took the place of co-founder Richie Hayward after the latter’s death in 2010.
In 2011 and 2012, the readers of the now-defunct Boston Phoenix voted Walter Sickert Best Artist. He and The Army of Broken Toys have also earned a Boston Music Award nomination for Best Live Act. Find out—or be reminded of—what all the fuss is about when the self-described “SteamCRUNK” aggregate celebrates the release of its new album Come Black Magic at The Sinclair.
— Blake Maddux
Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio
September 8 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge MA.
The foremost jazz guitarist of his generation (he’s 45), Kurt Rosenwinkel plays this date with the electro-inclined Bandit 65, with Rosenwinkel and guitarist Tim Motzer “doubling” on electronics, and Gintas Janusonis playing, drums, percussion, and “circuit bent toys.”
September 8 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The former Living Colour drummer hits town to work his new CD, Celebrating Elvin Jones. He’s joined by saxophonist Antoine Roney, pianist Rick Germanson, and bassist Gerald Cannon.
Kenny Garrett Quintet
September 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Former Miles Davis sideman Garrett brings his powerhouse alto sax and a quintet (TBA) to the Regattabar for four shows, but don’t sit on it — he packs the house.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
September 9 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The granddaddy of living New Orleans brass bands brings that heavy second-line thing to Scullers for two shows.
David Hassell Quintet/Ben Whiting Quintet
September 9 at 10:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.
Bassist and composer David Hassell, winner of a 2016 ASCAP Young Composer Award, celebrates the release of As It Comes with trumpeter Jaimie Branch, saxophonist Dos Allen, guitarist and pianist Andrew Miramonti, and drummer Tiago Michelin. Hassell’s writing is smart and buoyant, in the post-post-bop manner. Sharing this double-bill is baritone saxophonist Ben Whiting and his band.
Bill Charlap Trio with Carol Sloane
September 10 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
No one understands the heart of the Great American Songbook better than pianist Bill Charlap, unless it’s the distinguished singer Carol Sloane.
Luther Gray Trio
September 10 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio, Somerville, MA
Drummer Luther Gray is equally at home with jazz swing, free jazz, and rock (his gigs have included stints in beloved indie-rock band Tsunami and, currently, with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi). Sometimes, his mix of influences come together in what might be called structured free improvisation. His estimable partners tonight — pianist Steve Lantner and saxophonist Allan Chase — will be game for anything.
September 10 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
The esteemed New York sessionman and polymath jazzman J.D. Parran brings his horns and his band Harlem Reunion — with bassist Larry Roland, pianist Alexi Marcelo, and Boston drummer Yedidyah Syd Smart.
September 15 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The former guitarist of the band that bears his name is these days digging into straightahead jazz and blues, playing guitar and trumpet. He fronts his “new all-star band From Blues to Bebop,” with keyboardist Bruce Bears, saxophonist and clarinettist Billy Novick, bassist Jesse Williams, drummer Marty Richards, and guest singer Tennie Komar.
— Jon Garelick
World Music and Roots
Rhythm and Roots Festival
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI
The region’s largest gathering of Cajun and zydeco dancers and bands long ago expanded its musical horizons. This year’s edition includes performances from Lucinda Williams, the David Grisman Sextet, and The Revelers, who were recently featured on The Arts Fuse. A fundraiser is planned for Louisiana musicians impacted by the flooding which devestated parts of the state this month.
Jamaican dancehall star Sizzla Kalonzi’s prolific output includes one of the greatest reggae LPs of all time, Black Woman and Child, as well as a slew of singles that advocate murdering gays. His homophobia has ruined his European career while visa woes kept him from touring the US until this summer. Reports are that at his first US show, at a high-profile California festival, he avoided his anti-gay material. Whether he’ll do the same when playing to the dancehall faithful remains to be seen.
Middle East, Cambridge, MA
That most iconic of Californian artists, surf guitarist Dick Dale, was actually born and raised in Quincy by his Lebanese-American family — which explains how his biggest hit is the Middle Eastern standard “Misirlou.” Today, Dale is as loud and cocky as ever, which is especially impressive given his myriad health issues.
In the long tradition of foreigners reviving long-forgotten American genres comes the Australian CW Stoneking. His “jungle blues” adaptation of ’20s and ’30s boogie and swing features a “primitive horn” section and a bevy of red hot mamas on background vocals.
— Noah Schaffer
The Art of Memoir
September 6 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, MA
Karr made her name with her enthralling memoir The Liar’s Club, which stayed on top of the bestseller list for over a year. Now she takes us behind the memoir craze, exploring the nuts and bolts of how a life can be reconstructed in prose.
Substitute: Going to School with A Thousand Kids
September 6 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
The miniaturist of The Mezzanine, Vox, and Check Point became a substitute teacher for public schools in Maine. He was exposed to stressed-out students, obsolete teaching equipment, and weary colleagues. His latest nonfiction details his experiences dealing with the American public school system.
Michael Cohen & Sarah Jaffe
American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division
September 7 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
If the constant media hullabaloo over Trump and Clinton have you feeling that the country is as polarized as the mainstream media would like us to believe, maybe a refresher course on some relevant American history is in order. Two veteran political journalists tell the story of the turmoil behind the 1968 presidential election and the social forces that made it that way.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Here I Am
September 8 from 6 p.m.to 10 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline MA
$28 tickets include copy of book
“Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C.,” Foer’s first novel in 11 years brings a Biblical intensity to “the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia Bloch and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the meaning of home―and the fundamental question of how much aliveness one can bear.”
Dingers: 101 Memorable Home Runs in Baseball History
September 8 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre MA
Baseball fans around the world are thrilled to see a home run at any time, but some dingers become legendary. A veteran sportswriter waxes lyrical and historical about the homers that changed the game.
The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership that Defined a Presidency
September 9 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
It’s a shame that there hasn’t been a biography yet of Missy LeHand, a crucial strategist and first female presidential chief of staff. With unprecedented access to original source materials, the journalist takes the reader through the life and times of the capable, loyal, and talented woman who helped change history.
The Hero’s Body: A Memoir
September 10 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
The novelist, critic, and Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast will read from his new memoir about growing up in the wake of his father’s motorcycle accident and the hyper-masculine body building ethos of his working class family and how all of these challenges taught him to survive through literature.
Noir at the Bar
September 11 at 7 p.m.
Osaka Restaurant, 14 Green St, Brookline, MA
Brookline Booksmith celebrates the classic American genre of noir fiction, with readings from crime fiction authors, raffle prizes, and straight bourbons available at the fine Japanese restaurant Osaka, conveniently located around the corner from the bookstore.
The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State
September 12 at 6 (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
$5 tickets, $29.75 for Ticket and Book
With numerous bestselling books of investigative journalism, Wright has established himself as an important voice in detailing world terrorism. His latest is a collection of pieces analyzing the growth of al-Qaeda into ISIS and what may follow globally afterward.
— Matt Hanson
The Pulitzer Centennial: Celebrating 100 years of Excellence in Journalism and the Arts at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, September 10 and 11.
“The event will be a weekend of performances, conversations and talks highlighting the accomplishments of more than 20 extraordinary Pulitzer Prize winners. They will explore the theme Power: Accountability and Abuse through the prize-winning work of the participants – journalists, poets, authors, playwrights, historians, musicians and other speakers. The all-star line-up on September 10 include Wynton Marsalis, Lynn Nottage, Robert Caro, Yusef Komunyakaa, Caroline Elkins, and many others. The event will be followed on Sunday, Sept. 11, by a day-long program of Pulitzer winners engaged in conversations, storytelling, and performances that highlight the work of those who give voice to the powerless and hold the powerful to account.”
NOTE: Going into my speaking truth-to-power mode — I don’t see any announced participants that represent arts criticism or cultural coverage. A telling indication of just how low writing on the arts, which could use the support, sits on the Pulitzer’s ladder of excellence.
— Bill Marx