As the age of Covid-19 more or less wanes, Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.
My French Film Festival
through February 13
The festival, organized by Unifrance, will mark its 13th edition with an emphasis on debut features and dynamic new voices. Registration is required but the all-access pass is quite a bargain, as are the individual films: 12 features and 17 shorts. The shorts are available free of charge. The entries include Alice Diop’s documentary We, which explores connections in the lives of immigrants, lovesick teens, and retirees, all of whom are connected by a commuter rail line north of Paris, and the satirical sketch comedy Bloody Oranges, which shreds polite society with anarchic glee. There are also star vehicles for the likes of Isabelle Huppert (About Joan) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Zero Fucks Given), and examples of bittersweet animation (The Crossing). Listing of Films
(Some of) The Best of 2022
through February 2
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Time to catch up: a look at the best of the films released in 2022. The Brattle selects 20 movies that you may have missed. Check out the full schedule.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
January 30 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline
Sight and Sound‘s 2022 poll recently named Chantal Akerman’s film the Best of All Time, elbowing Vertigo and Citizen Kane aside. This recommendation comes with a caveat: it has a nearly three-and-a-half-hour running time. This is an examination of “the minutiae of a specifically female life,” a slow burn whose long takes focus on accumulating gestures and rituals. You need to surrender to the experience: “Not only is it a stunning piece of filmmaking that is as rich in detail as it is patient in its exploration, but it also makes the most of absolutely every single element of its slice-of-life portrait.” (Collider.com) Link to a video essay on Jeanne Dielman
Carole King: Home Again
January 31 – February 5
Regent Theatre, Arlington
The Regent presents the acclaimed singer-songwriter in an exclusive premiere of a concert film that is receiving a week-long run on the theater’s wide screen and concert sound system. The movie “is an hour of great music shot live from Central Park in May of 1973. It’s the next best thing to being there!”
February 3 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge
In Northern California, free-spirited 15-year-old Connie (Laura Dern) spends the summer before her sophomore year fixating on getting male attention. One day, while the rest of her family is at a barbecue, Connie is confronted at home by a handsome, dangerous stranger, Arnold Friend (Treat Williams), who has been watching her. Loosely based on the story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates. It will be preceded by the short film Joyce at 34.
Director Joyce Chopra will appear in person to discuss her memoir Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond, which chronicles her colorful, pioneering 50 years in the business.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
The pseudonymous Agnes was, in real life, a pioneering transgender woman who in the 1960s participated in an infamous gender health study conducted at UCLA. Her clever use of the study to gain access to gender-affirming health care has made her a fascinating and celebrated figure in trans history. “In this innovative cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt (No Ordinary Man) uses Agnes’s story, along with others unearthed in long-shelved case files, to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed.”
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
February 10 at 7 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Remis Auditorium
Based on the bestselling biography by Jeanne Theoharis, the film expands our perception of Rosa Parks’s impressive career: it examines her overlooked accomplishments and details her importance to the cause of overcoming racial injustices and rampant inequalities. What we are taught in school about Parks doesn’t come close to getting at the heart of who she was.
Pick of the Week
Black Art: In the Absence of Light (2021)
HBO, Amazon, Apple TV, DIRECTV STREAM
This HBO documentary explores the sometimes overlooked history of Black artists. It was inspired by a 1976 exhibition called Two Centuries of Black American Art. Movements of the past half-century are colorfully explored along with today’s luminaries, including Kara Walker, Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Amy Sherald, Carrie Mae Weems, Jordan Casteel, and Kehinde Wiley (the Obama portrait). We often hear from the artists themselves. There are shows on Afrofuturist expression currently at the Smithsonian in Washington and at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, a stunning exhibition that I was fortunate enough to visit last month. Black History Month is the perfect time to take an eye-opening look at what one artist calls “an on-going renaissance.”
— Tim Jackson
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters; requirements often include proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 rapid test. Also, companies are requiring masks at indoor performances.
‘Bov Water by Celeste Jenning. Directed by abigail jean-baptise. Staged by Northern Stage in the Byrne Theater at the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction, VT, through February 12.
The world premiere production of a play that dramatizes how “four generations of Black women breathe and bathe in a past that’s both intentionally and accidentally forgotten. Challenging and discovering their own narratives from the Civil War to the 1960s to modern-day America, these strong and inquisitive souls wrestle to unearth a family’s past and build resilience for the future.” Part of Northern Stage’s 25th Anniversary Season.
Seven Guitars by August Wilson. Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Staged by Actors’ Shakespeare Project at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St #200, Boston, February 8 through March 5.
“In Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District, six friends gather to mourn and reminisce after the untimely death of blues guitarist Floyd ‘Schoolboy’ Barton. As the characters recount Floyd’s last days in 1948, the script spins a tale of what happens when dreams of stardom collide with harsh reality.” Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner has called Wilson’s play a “vast, troubled, complicated drama.” The production features ASP resident acting company members Johnnie Mack and Omar Robinson.
Sweet Goats and Blueberry Señoritas by Richard Blanco and Vanessa Garcia. Directed by Sally Wood. Staged by Portland Stage, 25 Forest Ave, Portland, ME, January 25 through February 12.
The world premiere production of a Maine Made Play commissioned by Portland Stage: “Beatriz, a Cuban American baker in Maine, tries to figure out whether she should stay with the community she’s developed, or reunite with her estranged mother in Miami. Along the way Beatriz explores what it means to belong as she cooks up the recipes of her childhood with the raw ingredients of Maine.”
Preludes, with music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations by Dave Malloy. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Music direction by Dan Rodriguiez. Staged by the Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, through February 6.
“A musical fantasia, Preludes unfolds in the hypnotized mind of composer and virtuoso pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff as he attempts to overcome his writer’s block following a disastrous premiere of his Symphony No. 1 in D minor. In an array of hypnotic reveries, he is invigorated by some of the most influential artists of the time including Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Tchaikovsky. Creativity is unlocked and ignited through Dave Malloy’s (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) bewitching mashup of original compositions and Rachmaninoff’s own work.” The cast includes Aimee Doherty and Will McGarrahan. Arts Fuse review
The Art of Burning by Kate Snodgrass. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at The Huntington/Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through February 12. Following the run at The Huntington, the production will move to Hartford Stage, where Bensussen is artistic director. Performances will run there from March 2 through 26.
The world premiere production of this script at The Huntington marks the debut at the company of the work of Kate Snodrass, Boston playwright and leader of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre for 35 years. The plot “follows modernist painter Patricia as she changes the terms of her divorce with husband Jason mid-negotiation. Meanwhile, their daughter Beth didn’t show up for school. Does Patricia know where she is, or is there something more sinister afoot?” The drama “explores the love, rage, and responsibility that come with marriage and parenting in America.” The cast includes Adrianne Krstansky, Michael Kaye, and Laura Latreille. Arts Fuse review
By the Queen, drawn from William Shakespeare by Whitney White. Directed by Brian McEleney. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theatre, 201 Washington Street, Providence, through February 12.
A world premiere production: “From her roots as a provincial princess of France, to her ascension to the throne of England and her eventual downfall, Queen Margaret is one of the most complicated, fascinating, and thrilling characters in Shakespeare’s works. She is a warrior, a wife, a politician, a mother … and this dynamic new drama, lifted and remixed from the text of Henry VI and Richard III, finally gives her story the telling it deserves.” This production includes seating on the stage AND regular audience seating. We invite you to choose On-Stage or Off-Stage (traditional) seating.
We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee. Directed by Marcel A. Mascaro. Music direction / vocals + soundscape by Chazz Giovanni. Guitar by Jose Docen. Percussion + bass by Teddy Lytle. Staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group at 475 Valley Street, Providence, through February 12.
This Obie Award-winning show by the author of Straight White Men and Church blends storytelling, stand-up, music, and theater into “a funny, sweet, and darkly weird song cycle that engages audiences and lets us know we may be miserable, but at least we won’t be alone.” The production features Helena Tafuri, Chazz Bruce, Jose Docen, and Teddy Lytle.
Letters from Home, written and performed by Kalean Ung. Directed by and developed with Marina McClure. Music by Chinary Ung. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 E. Merrimack Street in Lowell, MA, through February 5.
The East Coast premiere of Kalean Ung’s play, which “weaves together her Cambodian family’s refugee story with her own as a bi-racial, second-generation American. Inspired by family members’ letters sent to her father from refugee camps after the Cambodian genocide, Letters from Home unearths the myths and mysteries of her family’s past as a ritual for intergenerational healing.”
Audience by Václav Havel, translated and directed by Vít Horejš. Staged by the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 East Fourth Street, New York, February 2 to 19.
Yes, this world premiere production is in Manhattan, but it offers a rare opportunity to see a production of play by Václav Havel. Better yet, it is “staged with live actors, giant puppets, and live projected closeups of smaller puppets from security cameras in order to suggest surveillance.” The show’s concept is the brainchild of Vít Horejš and Theresa Linnihan, who act in the play together.
Havel’s autobiographical absurdist comedy “follows Ferdinand Vanek, a distinguished playwright forced to perform manual labor in a brewery because his writings have been banned by the Communist regime. He is repeatedly called into the bleak office of his boss, the brewmaster, who regales him with irksome, circular monologues, washing them down with endless rounds of beer.”
Wolf Play by Hansol Jung. Directed by Carol Ann Tan. Staged by the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company MFA Programs in Acting and Directing at the Pell Chafee Performance Center, 87 Empire St., Providence, through February 5.
The plot: “Wolves are social animals and Jeenu is no exception. A Korean boy who may or may not be a wolf, Jeenu is adopted by an American family before being suddenly “rehomed” to another couple. But when his original adoptive father decides he wants the boy back upon learning his new parents are queer, Jeenu finds himself caught in the middle of a custody battle, two strained marriages, and a pro boxer’s debut. Amidst the chaos, Jeenu is determined to find his true pack.”
Made in China 2.0 , written and performed by Wang Chong. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box, 559 Washington Street, Boston, February 1 through 12.
Hailed as one of “Beijing’s most creative, provocative theater directors,” Wang Chong takes audiences on a journey deep inside his personal experiences of creating theater around the globe, unpacking stereotypes of the global expectations of what China brings to the world…. it is an illuminating portrait of family, pop culture, and the role of the artist and provocateur in uncertain times.”
— Bill Marx
Born in the Bronx and raised in New York City and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Lyle Ashton Harris graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and holds an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He has had an extremely active career, working in photography, collage, installation, and performance art. He has exhibited frequently around the world, winning fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy in Rome, among other awards.
Harris’s work is known for exploring the borders between the personal and the political and issues of identity and culture. His upcoming show at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis takes its title (“Our First and Last Love”) from a quotation by the Victorian American epigrammist Christian Nestell Bovee: “Our first and last love is self love,” and focuses on the artist’s examinations of identity and self-portraiture. Opening February 9, it is also a mini-retrospective with over 40 works from Harris’s 35-year career, including a selection from the recently completed Shadow Works series.
Prima Materia: the Periodic Table in Contemporary Art, opening at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, on February 5, concentrates on 20 common elements of the 118 in the Periodic Table, with a subtext on the mining and refining industries and their legacies. The roster includes 24 artists, four of whom (Ashley Epps, Winston Roeth, Sunny A. Smith, and Eleanor White) were commissioned to make new works expressly for the exhibition.
Over 70 important works from the American Folk Art Museum feature in American Perspectives, opening at the Portland Museum of Art on February 3. Organized in four main sections, the works on view range from quilts and textiles to pottery, paintings, and sculpture, all exploring folk art and works by folk and self-taught American artists from the 18th century to the present. The show explains, its organizers claim, how folk art has functioned as “a witness to history, a carrier of cultural heritage, and a reflection of the world at large.”
Himalayan artist Tsherin Sherpa works with traditional Tibetan Buddhist imagery, transforming figures that resemble Tantric Buddhist deities into contemporary figures dislocated and unsettled by the modern world. The exhibition Spirits: Tsherin Sherpa with Robert Beer opens at the Peabody Essex Museum on February 4. It pairs Sherpa’s paintings with drawings by the British artist and traveler Robert Beer, one of the first Western artists to study and practice traditional Buddhist thangka painting.
MATRIX 191, latest in the Wadsworth Atheneum’s long-running exhibition program for new and emerging artists, will be the first museum solo exhibition for Matt Paweski. Based in Los Angeles, Paweski was trained in carpentry and fabrication. His crisply cut, painted aluminum sculptures with their lush, warm-climate colors suggest the exuberance and fanciful originality of 20th-century American industrial design, qualities that have since been mostly edited out of contemporary American life. The exhibition opens on February 3.
New Haven-based photographer and artist Merik Goma has spent the last 18 months as the inaugural Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence at the Wadsworth Museum’s Amistad Center for Art & Culture. On February 3, he will unveil his latest work, My Heart Is Light in the Void. After exploring photographs in the collections and archives of the Center, Goma says he was moved by the moments of joy and aspiration he saw there. “Through this window into the past, I saw the generational vastness of the Black diaspora and was inspired by everyday life. There and then, I found the inspiration for the series.”
Landscape of Memory: Seven Installations from the Barjeel Foundation, opening at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College on January 30, presents seven installations, created from 1998 to 2011, by artists with roots in the Middle East and North Africa. Using film, painting, sculpture, photography, and multimedia, the artists explore themes of war, identity, exile, and memory. The McMullen organized the show in cooperation with the independent Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
— Peter Walsh
Bert Seager’s Heart of Hearing
February 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Pianist and composer Bert Seager returns from a short hiatus to continue his always satisfying early-bird first-Wednesday residency at the Lilypad with his band Heart of Hearing — saxophonist Rick DiMuzio, bassist Max Ridley, drummer Dor Herskovits, and singer Lili Shires.
February 3 at 8 p.m.
The Café at Arts at the Armory, Somerville, MA
The sharp young bassist Brittany Karlson has been showing up as a key player in others’ bands on the avant edge. Tonight she fronts her own band with the double-trumpets of Forbes Graham and Miranda Agnew and the great drummer Francisco Mela.
A Tribute to Frank Kimbrough
February 4 at 3:30 p.m.
A handful of the nearly 70 musicians who contributed to the massive Newvelle Records digital release Kimbrough in 2021 are gathering to pay tribute to their comrade, who died at age 64 in 2020. They are trumpeter Ron Horton, tenor saxophonist Andy Zimmerman, pianist Elan Mehler, bassist Tony Scherr, and the aforementioned Francisco Mela. Saxophonist Allan Chase will be a featured guest.
February 4 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston
Named for the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis was formed in 2018 by pianist and composer Renee Rosnes as an all-female band and also, as it happens, a kind of supergroup. Following the band’s 2020 Blue Note release (which included pieces by the group and modern standards), the band continues on tour with a slightly modified lineup: founding members Rosnes, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, drummer Allison Miller, and bassist Noriko Ueda, plus Alexa Tarantino on alto saxophone and flute and Nicole Glover on tenor. Arts Fuse review of the group’s debut album.
Tony Malaby’s Firebath
February 7 at 8 p.m.
The saxophonist and composer Tony Malaby initiates his Firebath residency (first Tuesday of the month) with a band including himself, Sam Childs, and Charlie Kohlhase on saxophones; Amelia Hollander, viola; Zoe Rose de Paz, violin; Max Ridley, Brittany Karlson, and Avika Jacobs, basses; Tatiana Castro Mejia, piano; Nat Mugavaro and Curt Newton, drums; and special guests bassist Nate McBride and, on the Korean string instrument the gayageum, Doyeon Kim. Malaby’s plan is to write for and rehearse the large ensemble as well as “break it down into trios/quartets, featuring the guests.”
February 11 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The young Boston drummer-of-the-moment, Tyson D. Jackson, hits Scullers for two shows with saxophonist Gregory Groover, pianist Jessie Taitt, and bassist Max Ridley.
Julian Loida/Lucy Little
February 11 at 8 p.m.
Hope Central Church, Jamaica Plain, MA
The percussionist and composer Julian Loida has been called “one of the Boston music scene’s most valuable players” by no less an authority than the Arts Fuse. You can expect this duo performance with Loida and violinist Lucy Little to freely cross genres — setting foot in folk, jazz, and classical (of the Steve Reich/minimalist sort). Loida’s primary percussion instrument is the vibraphone, but he’s been known to play piano and drums and to incorporate electronics.
Listen to This
February 11 at 10:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.
Over the past year or so (allowing for COVID interruptions), a crew of Boston-area musicians has been working on Listen to This, subtitled “Miles Davis 1969-75.” A worthy endeavor. The years when, it could be argued, “electric Miles” crossed the threshold into the avant-garde, from In a Silent Way to Bitches and On the Corner, and various offshoot live shows. The gang here includes former Morphine drummer Jerome Deupree as “the ringleader,” with former Ornette Coleman keyboardist Dave Bryant; Russ Gershon (Either/Orchestra, Lookie Lookie), in this case mostly on organ (“the Miles primitive organ parts”); trumpeter Bryan Murphy; bassist Ric McLaughlin (Either/Orchestra); guitarist J. Johnson (Parlour Bells); percussionist Rick Barry (Bim Skala Bim, Swampanova); and bass clarinetist Todd Brunel (composer, educator, and freelancer of note). Advance tickets are available here.
February 13 at 7:30 p.m.
City Winery, Boston
It’s been 50 years since Herbie Hancock put the Headhunters together and created a whole new brand of jazz-funk. Original bassist Paul Jackson died last year, and saxophonist/clarinetist Bennie Maupin is no longer with the band, but drummer Mike Clark and percussionist Bill Summers are heading out on this 50th-anniversary tour with a man versed in all manner of deep funk, New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison, as well as bassist Chris Severin and pianist Kyle Roussel.
February 14 at 7 and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The fine vocalist Shawn Monteiro, singing a mix of familiar and lesser-known American Songbook standards, hosts this Valentine’s Day show with an excellent trio: pianist Tim Ray, bassist Dave Zinno, and drummer Yoron Israel. (Yes, dinner packages are available.)
— Jon Garelick
Teresa Inês Quintet
February 3 at 8 p.m.
Me&Thee Music, Marblehead, MA
Rio de Janeiro native Teresa Inês has been bringing the best of Brazilian jazz, samba, and bossa nova to Boston stages for many years. After a bit of a hiatus, she’s back on the scene with a show at Marblehead’s Me&Thee Music. With her warm, inviting voice and lovely guitar work, Inês will pay tribute to Brazilian masters such as Milton Nascimento and Edu Lobo, and will perform some of her own striking original compositions. The quintet features some of the area’s most brilliant proponents of Brazil’s music — fellow Brazilians Fernando Brandão (flutes) and Ebinho Cardoso (bass), Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin, and South African drummer Lumanyano Mzi. Just the warm-up we need in February!
Excerpts from Tannhäuser
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 2 at 7:30 p.m. and 4 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Andris Nelsons lead the BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in the Overture, Venusberg Music, and complete Third Act of Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser. The cast includes soprano Amber Wagner, tenor Klaus Florian Vogt, and baritone Christian Gerhaher.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
Presented by Guerilla Opera
February 3 at 7:30 p.m., 4 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and 5 at 3 p.m.
MIT’s W97 Black Box Theater, Cambridge
Guerilla Opera’s gives the first staging of Elena Ruehr’s opera with librettist Royce Vavrik. It imagines Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, the “real-life unsung inventors of the first computer” fighting crime with their invention in alternate universes. What’s not to love about that? Aliana de la Guardia and Aaron Engebreth sing the title roles.
Presented by A Far Cry
February 3, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
The Criers are joined by soprano Katharine Dain in performances of songs by Clara Schumann and Kaija Saariaho. Also on tap is Johannes Brahms’s String Sextet No. 2.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Bloch
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 9 at 7:30 p.m., 10 at 1:30 p.m., 11 at 8 p.m., and 12 at 2 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Cellist Kanneh-Mason makes his BSO debut playing Ernst Bloch’s Schelomo. Andris Nelsons also conducts the world premiere of Carlos Simon’s Four Black Dances along with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Roots and World Music
Mary Orji Visionaries Collective
Berklee Performance Center
Mary Ogbonné Orji describes herself as a “tenor saxophonist, composer, poet, rapper and overall creative shape shifter.” All of those elements of the Berklee student’s creative world came together cohesively in her 2022 visual album “Conception,” a work that bridges the power of spiritual jazz with the immediacy of hip-hop and the rhythms of West Africa. Orji will be performing that work and more with her Visionaries Collective of musicians, spoken word artists, and dancers in an ambitious evening which should prove that Orji’s voice is one we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the future.
Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass
Lily P’s, Cambridge
Typically, The Joe Val Bluegrass Festival would be this month, but the fest is still on hiatus following the sale of its long-running host hotel. In its absence, the Boston Bluegrass Union is making sure audiences still have the chance to support some of the bluegrass circuit’s finest via a series at Lily P’s, the same Kendall Square fried chicken eatery that is also hosting the Tuesday night bluegrass jam that used to be at the Cantab. First up is one of the music’s greatest voices, second generation bandleader Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass.
Wu Man and Mike Block
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA
One of 2022’s great musical joys arrived when the Silkroad Ensemble resumed touring under its new artist director, Rhiannon Giddens. Even amid that large ensemble full of global talents, the Chinese pipa of Wu Man rang out. She’s now back in the area as part of a string duo with cellist Mike Block, who is leading a series of Global Journeys concerts at the beautiful Shalin Liu. This evening will no doubt start at the intersection of traditional Chinese and Western classical music; after that, it could end up anywhere.
— Noah Schaffer
Catherine Newman with Joanna Rakoff at Porter Square Books
We All Want Impossible Things
January 30 at 7 p.m.
“For lovers of Meg Wolitzer, Maria Semple, and Jenny Offill comes Catherine Newman’s raucous, poignant celebration of life, love, and friendship at its imperfect and radiant best.
“Edith and Ashley have been best friends for over 42 years. They’ve shared the mundane and the momentous together: trick or treating and binge drinking; Gilligan’s Island reruns and REM concerts; hickeys and heartbreak; surprise Scottish wakes; marriages, infertility, and children. As Ash says, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’ But now the unthinkable has happened. Edi is dying of ovarian cancer and spending her last days at a hospice near Ash, who stumbles into heartbreak surrounded by her daughters, ex(ish) husband, dear friends, a poorly chosen lover (or two), and a rotating cast of beautifully, fleetingly human hospice characters.”
Patricia Engel at brookline booksmith
The Faraway World
January 30 at 7 p.m.
“From Patricia Engel, whose novel Infinite Country was a New York Times bestseller and a Reese’s Book Club pick, comes an exquisite collection of 10 haunting, award-winning short stories set across the Americas.”
Jessica Lander and Rose Francois at Porter Square Books
Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education
January 29 at 3 p.m.
“A landmark work that weaves captivating stories about the past, present, and personal into an inspiring vision for how America can educate immigrant students.
“Setting out from her classroom, Jessica Lander takes the reader on a powerful and urgent journey to understand what it takes for immigrant students to become Americans. A compelling read for everyone who cares about America’s future, Making Americans brims with innovative ideas for educators and policy makers across the country.”
Barrett Rollins at Harvard Book Store
In Sickness: A Memoir
January 31 at 7 p.m.
“When Jane, a world-famous Harvard oncologist, suddenly collapses at work, the medical team resuscitating her makes a shocking discovery: she has advanced breast cancer that she’s been hiding for years. The results are catastrophic. In Sickness shows how even the most rational people can be nearly destroyed by their irrational fears. Tragic, moving, and wryly funny at times, this is an unflinching portrayal of a complicated marriage and its secrets.” Arts Fuse review
Virtual Event: Sigal Ben-Porath – Harvard Book Store
Cancel Wars: How Universities Can Foster Free Speech, Promote Inclusion, and Renew Democracy
February 3 at noon
Free with $5 suggested donation
“In Cancel Wars, Ben-Porath argues that the escalating struggles over ‘cancel culture,’ ‘safe spaces,’ and free speech on campus are a manifestation of broader democratic erosion in the United States. At the same time, she takes a nuanced approach to the legitimate claims of harm put forward by those who are targeted by hate speech. Ben-Porath’s focus on the boundaries of acceptable speech (and on the disproportional impact that hate speech has on marginalized groups) sheds light on the responsibility of institutions to respond to extreme speech in ways that proactively establish conversations across difference.
“Establishing these conversations has profound implications for political discourse beyond the boundaries of collegiate institutions. If we can draw on the truth, expertise, and reliable sources of information that are within the work of academic institutions, we might harness the shared construction of knowledge that takes place at schools, colleges, and universities against truth decay. Of interest to teachers and school leaders, this book shows that by expanding and disseminating knowledge, universities can help rekindle the civic trust that is necessary for revitalizing democracy.”
At Sinai Brookline: Jewish Poetry Festival – brookline booksmith
February 5 at 2 p.m.
“Join us for an afternoon of poetry. Award-winning poets Gail Mazur, Jennifer Barber, and Deborah Leipziger will read from their work in Tree Lines, an anthology of poems about trees. Biologist and Brandeis Professor Dan Perlman will share photographs and insights about trees. Join either in person or via Zoom. From 4-4:45 p.m., after the readings, we will celebrate Tu B’Shevat with blessings, songs and traditional Tu B’Shevat fruits.”
Brookline Booksmith will be selling copies of Tree Lines as well as collections by the three poets. Supported in part by grants from Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Massachusetts Cultural Council.”
Maxim Osipov with Becca Rothfeld at brookline booksmith
February 9 at 7 p.m.
“Join the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith for an in-store event with author Maxim Osipov to discuss and celebrate the release of Kilometer 101. He will be in conversation with essayist and critic Becca Rothfeld.
“The town of Tarusa lies 101 kilometers outside Moscow, far enough to have served, under Soviet rule, as a place where former political prisoners and other ‘undesirables’ could legally settle. Lying between the center of power and the provinces, between the modern urban capital and the countryside, Tarusa is the perfect place from which to observe a Russia that, in Osipov’s words, ‘changes a lot [in the course of a decade], but in two centuries — not at all.’” Arts Fuse review
Submitathon! with GrubStreet – Porter Square Books
At Porter Square Books: Boston Edition
50 Liberty Drive, Boston
February 10 at 6 p.m.
“GrubStreet’s Submitathon is back and we are so excited! Spend an evening submitting work in any genre, talking about submitting work, thinking about where to publish your work, answering your questions about submitting work, and then submitting more of your own work. Feel free to have a dinner, a drink, or both during the session! Drop in when it’s convenient for you, bring your polished pieces and get ready to make this boring, lonely, secretarial task into a party. No workshopping, no revision, just submitting all your finished pieces so they are all out at magazines you admire. Instructor Elizabeth Gonzalez James is happy to answer your questions, talk about simultaneous submissions, or just let you watch her submit her work online.
All pre-registered particpants will receive one free drink (from a list of selections) and snacks from GrubStreet’s brand new Cafe, Fabulist! Porter Square Books: Boston Edition will be open during the event as well, so feel free to browse in between your submissions!”
Tsitsi Dangarembga at Harvard Book Store
Black and Female: Essays
February 13 at 7 p.m.
“At once philosophical, intimate, and urgent, Black and Female is a powerful testimony of the pervasive and long-lasting effects of racism and patriarchy that provides an ultimately hopeful vision for change. Black feminists are ‘the status quo’s worst nightmare.’ Dangarembga writes, ‘our conviction is deep, bolstered by a vivid imagination that reminds us that other realities are possible beyond the one that obtains.'”
— Matt Hanson
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