Coming Attractions: August 26 Through September 9 — What Will Light Your Fire
Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual arts, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
Town Hall, The Marquis Theater and Middlebury College
The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival focuses on filmmakers early in their careers, with first or second movies under their belt. There will be about 90 features and shorts across all genres, as selected by Artistic Director Jay Craven. Many will be Vermont or New England premieres — including several World Premieres.
The NY Cat Film Festival
September 6 at 7:30 p.m. and September 9 at 12 noon
Regent Theater, Arlington, MA
Do you love your cat? Then this festival is for you. For the second year these popular screenings return with two completely different programs — each a medley of films celebrating the love between cats and their owners. Note: “These films can be watched by all members of the family but are intended for adult audiences — with sophisticated ideas and subtle themes. Best for children who are mature and accustomed to “foreign-type” films.”
New York Dog Film Festival
September 7 at 7:30 p.m. and September 8 at 2 p.m.
Regent Theater, Arlington, MA
Do you love your dog? Don’t feel left out. The Regent has a festival for you, too. The 1st & 2nd Annual New York Dog Film Festivals feature four completely different programs — each features a medley of films that celebrate the love between dogs, their owners, and the animal welfare groups that bring them together.
September 7 at 9 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
Become reacquainted with the great films of Ingmar Bergman by attending — often — the Harvard Film Archive fall series Darkness Unto Light: The Cinema of Ingmar Bergman. Tonight’s treat: The Magician, a “brilliantly conceived tale of chicanery that doubles as a symbolic portrait of the artist as a deceiver. Max von Sydow stars as Dr. Vogler, a nineteenth-century traveling mesmerist and peddler of potions whose magic is put to the test in Stockholm by the cruel, eminently rational royal medical adviser Dr. Vergérus (Gunnar Björnstrand). The result is a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny, shot by Gunnar Fischer in rich, gorgeously gothic black and white.” (Criterion)
The Godfather: Part II
August 27 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA
The Big Screens Classics Series presents the opportunity to see this masterpiece the way it was meant to be seen. The cinematography of Gordon Willis brings the romantic grit of Francis Ford Coppola’s second tale of the Corleone family to life in what many consider the best sequel ever made.
The Night is Short, Walk on Girl
August 31 through September 4
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
Some critics have drawn parallels between Masaaki Yuasa’s work and the paintings of the “Superflat” artists, but his influences are more eclectic than that. Night Is Short includes references to Yellow Submarine, Spirited Away, West Side Story, Tex Avery cartoons and M.C. Escher engravings. The film is alternately intriguing and frustrating. The visuals are often strikingly handsome and oddly funny. The film won the Japanese Film Award for Animation earlier this year. This is not a conventional animated feature by any means; it is a highly original work by an artist who follows his own vision — wherever it leads.
— Tim Jackson
Man on Land
August 26 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
All three of the estimable players in Man on Land contribute writing to the band, emphasizing “melody, narrative, atmosphere, and interaction.” Lyrical tunefulness, harmonies, and rhythms vary according to the story being told in originals like “Northwest Passage,” “Listen,” “Praise Be the Mammal,” and the particularly agitated portrayal of some angry birds in “Arctic Terns.” The players — all regulars on the Boston scene — are pianist Brian Friedland, bassist Greg Loughman, and drummer Austin McMahon (“man on land,” get it?)
Daniel Hersog Jazz Orchestra
August 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
The all-important subtitle here is “feat. Noah Preminger & Frank Carlberg.” Preminger is one of the most exciting young tenor saxophonists and conceptualizers on the scene, and Carlberg is an indispensible veteran, whose “Monk Dreams, Hallucinations, and Nightmares,” with his Large Ensemble, was one of the best albums of 2017. Hersog, who identifies himself as “Vancouver jazz composer and trumpet player,” promises that Carlberg and Preminger’s “staggeringly beautiful musical chemistry and a commitment to spontaneity . . . will be on display throughout the compositions,” joined by “a band full of Boston’s best.”
August 31 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Lavelle’s resume includes studies with Ornette Coleman, membership in the quartet of the late guitarist Bern Nix, and a recording with the storied Giuseppi Logan, as well as numerous other collaborations in the music’s avant-garde wing. Lavelle’s Cambridge Quartet includes pianist Dave Bryant, bassist John Voigt, and drummer Syd Smart.
September 5 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The São Paulo-born guitarist and composer Chico Pinheiro has won accolades from the likes of Brad Mehldau and Bob Mintzer, and has included Mintzer and singer Dianne Reeves on one of his own recordings. He matches his deft picking and deep knowledge of Brazilian and American jazz traditions, with agile, affecting vocals. He plays Scullers with bassist Eduardo Belo and drummer Alexandre Kautz.
George Colligan Trio
September 6 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The highly regarded 48-year-old pianist George Colligan teams up with a pair of heavy elders, bassist Buster Williams, 76, and drummer Lenny White, 68. Colligan, who also plays trumpet, has a broad reach, which means that an intro to “You Don’t Know What Love Is” can stretch into Debussyian ruminations before settling into pointed jazz swing.
September 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Becca Stevens, who gained some early attention singing with the Björkestra — yes, a jazz big band that specializes in Björk music — has remained blissfully unclassifiable, playing ukulele, singing original songs that straddle folk, jazz, and pop, and doing it all brilliantly. (Think of her in a camp of like-minded post-jazz vocalists like Kate McGarry and Gretchen Parlato.) She plays this show at the Regattabar with the superb jazz pianist Taylor Eigsti and bassist Chris Tordini.
Donald Harrison, Dave Holland & Billy Cobham Trio
September 8 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
In the past, we’ve seen listings for alto saxophonist Donald Harrison and drummer Billy Cobham with bassist Ron Carter. With Dave Holland on board – with a musical personality as strong as Carters’ — this should be another thing entirely.
— Jon Garelick
A Double Bill: Mimi Rabson & The String Theory Trio and Neil Haverstick
September 7 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA
An evening of music “Contemporary, Compositional, Improvisational.” Rabson & The String Theory Trio explore, with exhilarating bravado, “the fine lines between compositions and improvisation.” Haverstick is a celebrated ‘alternative’ guitarist.
— Bill Marx
Laurent Hours: History Imagined
At Childs Gallery, 169 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
August 23 – October 21
Seemingly ‘borrowed’ from a Renaissance collection in a history museum, the small scale works of Laurent Hours present whimsical interpretations of images of ancient cities, mysterious figures, and architectural wonders. Demanding that we suspend our disbelief, his work incorporates detailed drawings done in sepia ink, handwritten notes, handmade papers, and antique stamps.
Born in Paris in 1946, this internationally exhibited artist was steeped in a love of classical art from an early age and spent many hours at the Louvre, where his mother was a curator.
La Victoria: Resilience & Creativity
Urbano Project, 29 Germania Street, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
August 30 through October 5
“Art no longer wants to respond to the excess of commodities and signs, but to a lack of connections.” — Jacques Rancière
The words above are central to the philosophy of civic engagement that drives the Urbano Project, which is located in Jamaica Plain. In an exhibition that explores the themes of resilience and sustainability, the organization showcases the photography of the SALTO Collective (Lincoyán Parada, Arthur Conning, Teodoro Schmidt, Oliver Hartley, and Samuel Shats). Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the settlement La Victoria in Santiago, Chile, the works display colorful kaleidoscopic visions of the place where these artists call home.
Somerville Toy Camera Festival
Nave Gallery, 155 Powderhouse Boulevard, Somerville, MA
Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg Street, Somerville, MA
Washington St. Gallery, 321 Washington Street, Somerville, MA
September 3 through October 13
Continuing a fun-filled artistic tradition, Somerville welcomes the fascinating, the curious, and the quirky with its 6th annual Toy Camera Festival. Shown at three different galleries, the experimental work exemplifies what happens when local, national, and international artists allow themselves to break free of their inhibitions and break some rules. The artists find new, unexpected, and playful ways to make high art.
The Poetry of Nature: Hudson River School Landscapes from the New-York Historical Society
Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA
September 8 through November 25
Landscape painting — a genre oftentimes shunned as outdated in today’s contemporary art scene — is placed front and center in this majestic historical exhibition. The show celebrates work from the first exclusively American art movement, which took place during the early 19th century. On view are over 40 paintings of the Hudson River School from the renowned collection of the New York Historical Society. One of the exhibition’s seminal works is Thomas Cole’s “Catskill Creek, New York” – a masterfully detailed, idyllic depiction of a waning creek basking in the warm light of a sunset.
Tuesday Smillie: To build another world
Rose Art Museum, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA
September 7 through December 2
Opening its doors for the fall season, the Rose exhibits the profoundly moving work of Brooklyn-based artist Tuesday Smillie, who recently received the museum’s prestigious Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award. Seen from the perspective of transgender politics, the contemporary work investigates the relationships between the individual and the group. From afar, “Street Transvestites 1973” (48″x83″, 2015) appears to be a violently slashed protest banner — a closer look reveals the details of its construction out of black lace and sheer fabric, sequins, sparkly buttons, and shiny bits.
At the Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
Through October 14.
Curated by artist Jeannie Simms, this is a well-timed show featuring seven artists whose lives have embodied the themes of migration, community, and identity. The subjects in the exhibition are wide ranging, from deportation, ICE detention, and national migration policies to protest banners, a Queer electronic zine, and a Dominican barbershop. One particularly energizing work, “Trespassers,” consists of a LED wire installation by Parisian artist Daniel Assayag, who was born in Morocco of Arab and Berber-Jewish heritage. Placed in a darkened room, the installation glows green and red, the colors of the Moroccan flag.
– Aimee Cotnoir
The Black Clown Adapted from Langston Hughes poem by Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter. Music by Michael Schachter. Music Direction by Jaret Landon. Choreography by Chanel DaSilva. Directed by Zack Winokur. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, August 31 through September 23.
“A world premiere music theater experience that fuses vaudeville, gospel, opera, jazz, and spirituals to bring Langston Hughes’ verse to life onstage and animate a Black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression.” Note: “This production contains racial slurs and stylized representations of violence, particularly related to slavery, as well as haze and bright lights.”
The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, August 31 through October 6.
The Huntington Theatre Company PR: “a black student and a white professor – both brilliant, both liberal – meet to discuss a paper about slavery’s role in the American Revolution. A polite conversation becomes a powder keg of race, history, and power, and neither woman will ever be the same.” Explosive? Who knows? Here is the Arts Fuse review of the Portland Stage production of the script last season.
Larry’s Show: Journey To The Center Of The Stage by Larry Coen, Directed by Davis Robinson. Staged by Beau Jest Moving Theatre at the Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown, MA, September 6 through 16.
An homage to the late, and much missed, performer, Larry Coen.”An immersive back-stage comedy that takes you behind the scenes of a theater to experience some of the gossip, humor, superstitions, joys and sorrows of being an actor. In ten short scenes, audiences travel on a journey throughout the theater. At its heart, the play is a love poem to all the dreamers and aspirers seeking that small moment of immortality that “theater people” chase after in their time on stage.”
MbI – US by Lyubov Mulmenko. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Ave, Needham, MA, September 7 through 9.
We are seeing a welcome movement that puts the words of real people on stage — an alternative to re-cycling commercial formulas tailored for Broadway. “A documentary theatre piece based on 213 immigrant accounts from our very own Russian/American community. These personal stories deal with the issues of identity, home, assimilation. Every word in this play is a verbatim recording of an immigrant that has shared their views and/or stories of their existence in the new homeland. These are recognizable and not recognizable members of our community that open their soul in interviews and general recordings. Play is in Russian — with English subtitles.”
Kiss of the Spider Woman, Book by Terrence McNally, Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Based on the novel by Manuel Puig. Directed & Choreographed by Rachel Bertone
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez. Staged by the Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, August 31 through October 7.
A revival of the Kander and Ebb musical from the early ’90s that the Lyric Stage PR suggests will give us a little bit of everything: “a harrowing tale of persecution” and “a dazzling spectacle” that “juxtaposes gritty realities with liberating fantasies.” Imprisonment? Sexual persecution? You will leave the theater inspired ….
Our Dear Dead Drug Lord by Alexis Scheer. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by Off the Grid Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion in the Boston Center for the Arts, Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston, MA, through September 1.
“In this rebellious and cheeky play, a gang of girls engage in normal teenage things: falling in love, experimenting with drugs, worshipping Pablo Escobar…okay, maybe not so normal. Suspended high above reality in a treehouse in Florida, the girls try to resurrect the spirit of Pablo. But are they just messing with each other, or could they actually be messing with a higher spirit?” Note: This play contains strong language and graphic content and is intended for mature audiences. This production includes the smoking of herbal cigarettes and the use of special effects blood. Ages 14+.
— Bill Marx
West Side Story, conception by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Directed by Julianne Boyd. Musical Direction by Darren R. Cohen. Choreographed by Robert La Fosse. Presented by Barrington Stage Company at the Boyd-Quinson MainStage, Pittsfield, MA, through September 1.
Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins would have celebrated their 100th birthdays this year and Barrington Stage’s production of West Side Story celebrates their genius. For those of us who grew up on the West Side of Manhattan in the 1950s, the musical is a piece of history, commemorating a decade before the construction of Lincoln Center gentrified the neighborhood. At that time gangs fought with switchblades rather than automatic weapons, battling under the West Side Highway rather than in intersections of busy streets. Women and girls wore skirts and stood by their men. The new immigrants in town were Puerto Rican, while previous groups (Irish, Italian, Polish) had not yet fully integrated into American society. Arts Fuse review
— Helen Epstein
The New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative City program announces Movements to Move the Marginalized from the Margins, a community arts project led by dancer and DeafBlind activist Kerry Thompson. Throughout the summer, Thompson’s non-profit organization Silent Rythms joined with MetaMovements at their summer Salsa In the Park series. Weekly, during each Salsa night, Thompson has invited folks from the DeafBlind community — as well as those of all abilities — to learn to salsa dance. The final event of the summer is this Monday; it is free and open to the public for all ages and abilities.
Jeanne & Elizabeth
August 31 and September 1 at 8 p.m.
Green Street Studios
Doppelgänger Dance Collective present Jeanne & Elizabeth. The performance consists of two separate works, each tells the story of a woman: one a secretary, the other a queen. “Men and Their Machines” is derived from an aria from the opera JEANNE, which is based on a libretto by James Swindell. “Elizabeth III” is choreographed by Doppelgänger Dance Collective’s resident choreographer Heidi Henderson and features a string quartet.
Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan
September 6 through 9
Performed at Ft. Adams State Park and on the deck of the tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry, RI
Families will particularly enjoy Island Moving Company’s site-specific Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan. It is an imaginative ballet theatre interpretation of the classic Peter Pan: the performers in this fanciful tale will travel the docks, decks, and rigging of a Rhode Island historic site.
— Merli V Guerra
Presented by Berkshire Opera Festival
August 28 and 31, 7:30 p.m.
Colonial Theater, Pittsfield, MA
BOF presents Verdi’s tragedy. Sebastian Catana sings Rigoletto; Maria Valdes is his doomed daughter, Gilda. Brian Garman conducts.
Presented by Boston Landmarks Orchestra
August 29, 7 p.m.
Hatch Shell, Boston
The Mercury Orchestra brings an all-Russian program to the last Hatch Shell concert of the summer. Channing Yu leads works by Borodin, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Song of Resistance: A Concert for our Republic
September 8 at 8 p.m.
At Pickman Hall/Longy School of Music, 27 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
“Musicians who have contributed to the fabric of Boston’s artistic life are now contributing their efforts to our democracy. Called “A Song of Resistance”, this concert aims to raise $10,000 for five candidates for Congress who will resist the corruption and cruelty of Donald Trump’s administration.
The eclectic program will feature works by American composers Harold Arlen, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and William Bolcom. It also will feature works of the Baroque and Renaissance, including a powerful a cappella set with music by the composers William Byrd and Giaches deWert.
Tickets are $35/$60/$100/$250/$500, and can be purchased via ActBlue.
Proceeds from the concert will be split between four US House candidates and one US Senate candidate (specific allocations can be customized by the contributor when buying tickets).”
Jared Golden (Maine 2nd district)
Annie Kuster (New Hampshire 2nd)
Democratic nominee fund (New Hampshire 1st; primary is on September 11)
Antonio Delgado (New York 19th district)
Beto O’Rourke (Texas, US Senate)
Musicians/program (subject to change):
Charles Blandy, tenor; Linda Osborn, piano
Copland: “Old American Songs”
Mara Bonde, soprano; Linda Osborn, piano
Songs by Harold Arlen
Peggy Pearson, oboe; Diana Walsh, piano
Works by William Bolcom and George Gershwin
Kendra Colton, soprano
Songs by John Harbison
Elise Groves, soprano; Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano; Jason McStoots, tenor; Charles Blandy, tenor; Paul Guttry, bass
Giaches DeWert: “Vox in Rama clamavit”
William Byrd: “Ne irascaris Domine”
“Non vos relinquam orphanos”
Jesse Irons, violin
Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello
September 8 at 7:30 p.m.
At First Church, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
A concert featuring the music of Amy Beach, G. W. Chadwick, William Billings, Puccini and others.
— Susan Miron
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Fantastic Negrito was born in Massachusetts (“rural” is the most specific that I can find as to exactly where) to orthodox Muslim parents. His family moved from the Bay State to the Bay Area (Oakland) in 1980, when he was 12 years old. His road to a career as a musician has been a long and bumpy one, but his first full-length album (2016’s The Last Days of Oakland) won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Fantastic Negrito offers up another brew of blues, funk, soul, and rock on this year’s Please Don’t Be Dead, which will be the focus his Wednesday night show at the Middle East. Boston’s Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys will open, so find a place to stand in time for that.
No one who heard the 1967 R&B smash hit “Tell It Like It Is” at the time was going to forget the voice of Aaron Neville anytime soon. More than 50 years later, Neville’s voice is still a thing of unsurpassed beauty, and his numerous albums of covers demonstrate an unparalleled gift for making anyone’s song his own. The Cabot will transform Beverly, MA, into the heart of New Orleans when the Henri Smith Trio opens for Neville (click for my 2016 interview with him) on Saturday.
The almost-end-of-summer celebration returns to Newburyport for the 17th year. The line-up this year features New England Music Award winners The Aldous Collins Band (12-1), Alabama-born soul singer Anderson East (1:30-2:30), American Idol victor Phillip Phillips (3-4), and ’90s superstars Barenaked Ladies (4:30-6)
The St. Louis indie rock group Foxing is earning rave reviews for its new album, Nearer My God. The band has co-headlined with The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and Worcester’s The Hotelier and opened for Brand New, Modern Baseball, and mewithoutyou. Having first reached lone headliner status in 2016, Foxing will do the same on Church Street in Cambridge on September 2.
60s R&B/soul stalwarts Willie Hightower (“It’s a Miracle,” “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” “Time Has Brought About a Change”) and Thelma Jones—who recorded the original version of “The House That Jack Built,” later at top 10 hit for Aretha Franklin—will be the main attractions of this sure to be unforgettable show that will be anchored by Brookline soul man Eli “Paperboy” Reed and also feature Somerville’s The Natural Wonders.
— Blake Maddux
Roots and World Music
Muscari and Shyam Nepali
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
The invaluable “Small World Big Ears” continues with the pan-Mediterranean Muscari plus Shyam Nepali, the Nepalese sarangi player whose collaboration with fiddler Alan Kaufman was one of the top Arts Fuse shows of 2017.
Blackstone Courtyard, 50 West Brookline St, South End, Boston, MA
Gabon, one of Boston’s salsa heroes, has been co-producing a free South End concert series this month, and he’ll be performing at the finale.
Rhythm and Roots Festival
August 30 to September 2.
Unquestionably the region’s top destination for fans of Cajun and Zydeco, and another one of our 2017 top events, this annual Labor Day weekend bash returns to Charlestown, RI. The lineup includes bluesman Taj Mahal, the Western swing of Asleep at the Wheel, and a very rare appearance by bluegrass pioneers Hot Rize. Several of last year’s best acts are back for encores, including the conjunto of Los Texmaniacs and the crazy blue-eyed soul band Shinyribs. The dance tent will be rollicking with Cedryl Ballou & The Zydeco Trendsetters and Feufollet. Free traditional Cajun music lessons are available for kids, regardless of whether they’re attending the festival.
Walking to New Orleans: Davell Crawford’s Tribute to Fats Domino
City Winery, Boston, MA
Fats will be feted by his fellow New Orleans piano man Davell Crawford, along with Neville Brother Cyrille and one of the most recorded and important funky drummers ever, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.
Farewell Alligator Man: A Tribute to Jimmy C. Newman
The Burren, Somerville, MA
Because he spent so much of his career performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Jimmy C. Newman’s place in Cajun music history has been somewhat overlooked. After his recent passing, some of Louisiana’s finest bonded together to pay Newman his due. The cast includes The Foghorn Stringband, Joel Savoy and Jesse Lége, Kelli Jones and Rusty Blake — the groups will no doubt be accenting the pedal steel parts that were so crucial to Newman’s unique Cajun country sound.
— Noah Schaffer
A bittersweet celebration of award-winning contemporary folk singer/songwriter Terry Kitchen’s birthday: Bill Kuhlman, the bassist of his ’80s band Loose Ties, just passed away from cancer, so there will be a tribute to him during the show.
— Bill Marx
50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life
August 29 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
By well into middle age, Maria Olsen was falling apart. She drank her way into the failure of her marriage, and was looking without enthusiasm at the downward slope of her life. After turning fifty, she decided she needed to reframe and reinvigorate her life. Deciding to set herself the goal of accomplishing fifty things that were important to her, including travel and lifestyle changes, Olsen found out she had a whole new perspective on life, a journey which she shares in her new book.
The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis
September 4 at 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6)
Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge MA
For decades, philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum has been an acclaimed scholar and humanist, earning dozens of honors for her books and essays. In her new book The Monarchy of Fear she turns her attention to the current political crisis that has polarized America since the 2016 election. Nussbaum focuses on what so many pollsters and pundits have overlooked — she sees a simple truth at the heart of the problem: the political is always emotional. Globalization has produced feelings of powerlessness in millions of people in the West. That sense of powerlessness bubbles into resentment and blame; blame of immigrants, blame of Muslims, blame of other races, blame of cultural elites. While this politics of blame is exemplified by the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit, Nussbaum argues it can be found on all sides of the political spectrum, left or right.
Spared: A Memoir
September 5 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre MA
“Three weeks before Shaun Deane was scheduled to graduate from college, just before his final exams, a series of unspeakably tragic events began to unfold in his life. These events influenced Shaun’s life from that day forward, as he tried to make sense of a time when the world was upended. While moving his parents out of their home, decades later, new details surfaced enabling him to see the entire arc of this complex story. Spared tracks the story that began in 1977, a story that cut a swath through all the ensuing decades. It honors what we cannot control and celebrates the times when we are able to reject that which would pull us down. It is a tale of survival, death, fathers, sons, and husbands and wives, told with earth-shattering clarity.”
Blanche McCrary Boyd
Tomb of the Unknown Racist
September 6 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
“Blanche McCrary Boyd’s first novel in twenty years continues the story of her protagonist Ellen Burns. When Tomb of the Unknown Racist opens in 1999, Ellen — now sober, haunted by her activist past, her failed relationships — is peacefully taking care of her demented mother in South Carolina.
Ellen’s brother, Royce, was a celebrated novelist who, a decade earlier, saw his work adopted by racists and fell under the sway of white supremacy. Ellen thought him dead from a botched FBI raid on his compound. But when his estranged daughter turns up on the news claiming he might be responsible for kidnapping her two mixed-race children, Ellen travels to New Mexico to help her newfound niece. The book chronicles Ellen’s search for Royce, her descent into the dark abyss of the simmering race war in the country, and the confrontation that occurs when she learns the truth about her family’s past.”
Lake Success: A Novel
September 7 at 7 (Doors open at 6:30)
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $29.75, book included
“Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son’s diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema — a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth — has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.” Shteyngart is known for being a witty and affable reader, as well as among our most popular contemporary writers — so better get your tickets asap.
— Matt Hanson