Who: Tara Deal
What: Reading and book signing
Where: Sideshow Gallery, 319 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn
When: Tuesday, October 25, free with advance RSVP (email@example.com) by October 23, 6:30
Why: New York City-based writer Tara Deal will be at Williamsburg’s Sideshow Gallery on October 25 for a reading and signing of her latest book, That Night Alive. Winner of the 2016 Novella Prize from Miami University Press, the novella mixes fiction and memoir, poetry and prose as a crypto-reporter goes back in time, from her last day alive on earth. Deal, who was born in Georgia and raised in South Carolina, has previously written the novella Palms Are Not Trees After All, and her short stories and poems can be found in numerous publications. In conjunction with Causey Contemporary, the gallery is currently showing “Persons of Interest,” featuring new portraits by painter, printmaker, costume designer, and voodoo doll maker Carri Skoczek, who explains in her artist statement, “My work has been an exploration in expressing female sexuality and allure as a vehicle of power.”
Who: Mutual Benefit, Shamir, Waxahatchee, Sadie Dupuis, Jazmine Hughes, Adam J. Kurtz, Dorothea Lasky, Mychal Denzel Smith, Doreen St. Felix, Brandon Stosuy
What: Housing Works Design on a Dime Benefit
Where: The Courtyard at Industry Park, Second Ave. between 36th & 37th Sts., Brooklyn
When: Friday, October 7, general admission $20, 6:00 - 11:00
Why: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is holding its first-ever off-site event on October 7, teaming up with the Creative Independent for a benefit featuring live performances by musicians Shamir, Waxahatchee, and Mutual Benefit, book readings and signings by Sadie Dupuis, Dorothea Lasky, Mychal Denzel Smith, and Doreen St. Felix, a presentation by artist Adam J. Kurtz, and remarks from Brandon Stosuy; the event will be hosted by Jazmine Hughes. Complimentary refreshments include snacks from local Brooklyn vendors and potent potables courtesy of Greenport Brewing Company and Whispering Angel Wines; there is limited first-come, first-served seating. All proceeds will benefit Housing Works’ “health care, housing, job training, advocacy, and other services provided to homeless and at-risk New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.” The benefit is part of a Design on a Dime weekend fair running October 6-9 at Industry City, with one-of-a-kind room vignettes by such interior designers as Akhira N. Ismail, Callidus Guild, CAVdesign, David Netto, House of Julien, LABLstudio, Leonora Mahle, Monica Hofstadter, Sheep + Stone, and others.
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, October 1, free, 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum breaks out for its free October First Saturday program, “Beyond Borders.” There will be live performances by Maria Usbeck, Sol Nova, and M.A.K.U. Soundsystem; a screening of Kathleen Foster’s Profiled, followed by a talkback with Foster, Natasha Duncan, Joseph L. Graves Jr., Kristine Anderson Welch, Jill Bloomberg, and Joël Díaz; a salsa party with Balmir Latin Dance Company; pop-up gallery talks and a curator tour of the refreshed American Art galleries with Nancy Rosoff; a hands-on workshop in which participants will use the Mexican folk art technique of repujado; and a book club reading and talk by Gabby Rivera, author of Juliet Takes a Breath. In addition, you can check out such long-term installations as “Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn,” “Double Take: African Innovations,” and “The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago.” Entry to the new exhibition “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present” requires a discounted admission fee of $10.
Multiple community gardens on the Lower East Side
Saturday, September 24, and Sunday, September 25, free
More than fifty community gardens on the Lower East Side are participating in the fifth annual LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens) Harvest Festival, a weekend of free special events, including music, dance, film screenings, walking tours, workshops, art, poetry, karaoke, meditation, and more. Below are only some of the recommended events for Saturday and Sunday; there are also activities at the M’Finda Kalunga Garden, Fireman’s Garden, Liz Christy Garden, Secret Garden, El Sol Brillante, Doroty Strelsin Suffolk St. Garden, East Side Outside Garden, Umbrella House Rooftop Garden, Creative Little Garden, Lower East Side People Care Garden, Kenkeleba House Garden, Children’s Magical Garden, Green Oasis, Elizabeth St. Garden, Toyota Children’s Garden, Sam & Sadie Koenig Garden, and many others. The festival is a great way to become familiar with and support these small gems that can be found all over the Lower East Side.
Saturday, September 24
Permaculture tour with Ross Martin and Marga Snyder, La Plaza Cultural, Ave. C at Ninth St., 12 noon
Live music with Elizabeth Ruf, Ben Cauley, Avon Faire, Tammy Faye Starlight, Witch Camp with Amber Martin & Nath-Ann Carrera, Salley May, and Val Kinzler, DeColores Garden, East Eighth St. between Aves. B & C, 1:00 – 5:00
Guided meditation, with Matthew Caban and Jaquay Saintil, the Lower East Side People Care Garden, Rutgers St. between Henry and Madison Sts., 2:00
Collaborative poetry workshop with Rhoma Mostel, La Guardia Corner Gardens, Bleecker & Houston Sts., 3:00
“The Bride” performance piece by Theresa Byrnes, La Plaza Cultural, Ave. C at Ninth St., 4:00
Dance performance with Heidi Henderson and students from Connecticut College, Kizuna Dance, John Gutierrez, Sheep Meadow Dance Theater, Rina Espiritu, Lauren Kravitz, and Shantel Prado, Cornfield Dance, Rod Rodgers Teen Dancers, El Jardín del Paraíso, Fourth St. between Aves. C & D, 4:00
Dimensions of Ecology panel discussion, with Stuart Losee, Felicia Young, Anna Fitzgerald, and Chloe Rosetti, La Plaza Cultural, Ave. C at Ninth St., 5:00
Sunday, September 25
Pysanky workshop: How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs, with Anna Sawaryn, 6B Garden, Ave. B at Sixth St., 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
“Garbagia Island” Creatures Performance and Fashion Show, El Jardín del Paraíso, Fourth St. between Aves. C & D, 1:00
Vangeline Theater’s “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee,” contemporary Butoh dance, El Jardín del Paraíso, Fourth St. between Aves. C & D, 2:00
“Garden to Table Nutrition,” with Vanessa Berenstein, La Guardia Corner Gardens, Bleecker & Houston Sts., 3:00
Fountain installation: “Jeux d’Eaux” by Nicholas Vargelis, Le Petit Versailles, Second St. between Aves. B & C, 4:00
Laughter Yoga, with Sara Jones, La Guardia Corner Gardens, Bleecker & Houston Sts., 5:00
Photography show: George Hirose’s “Midnight in the Garden,” Campos Garden, Twelfth St. between Aves. B & C, 6:30
Dance party with Ray Santiago Band, Campos Garden, Twelfth St. between Aves. B & C, 7:30-9:30
Children’s book editor and author Jocelyn Davies is one of the most upbeat, happy people you’re ever likely to meet. She’s always quick with a smile and a note of encouragement, sharing her positivity and funny sense of humor with all around her. I’ve had the privilege of being around her for several years now, working with her at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she edits young adult novels in addition to having written the trilogy A Beautiful Dark, A Fractured Light, and A Radiant Sky. Her latest YA novel, The Odds of Lightning (Simon Pulse, September 20, $17.99), was just listed by BuzzFeed as number 6 on its list of “23 YA Books You Need to Read This Fall.” The story follows four high school friends who develop special powers when the roof they are standing on gets struck by lightning, but this is no mere update of the Fantastic Four; instead, their powers stem from common fears that are deep within them, and us. As she prepared for the September 20 book launch of The Odds of Lightning at McNally Jackson, Jocelyn took the time to answer some questions about writing and editing YA novels, facing one’s fears, and living it up in New York City, where she was born and raised.
twi-ny: You’ve never been struck by lightning yourself. Is it a particular fear of yours? Or maybe you have a special relationship with storms since you experienced a blizzard in Central Park when you were still in utero?
Jocelyn Davies: Ha! Maybe I do! Or maybe I have a special relationship to Central Park, since many scenes in the book take place there!
I’ve never been struck by lightning — but one time, I almost was! When I was a teenager, I was hiking in Colorado when a storm rolled in very suddenly. It was pouring, and there was intense lightning and thunder, and we were up on a mountain, which is not a good place to be during a thunder and lightning storm. The group I was with basically flew down the mountain to base camp as quickly as we could, with lightning flashing all around us. Memory and imagination may have intensified the experience in retrospect, but I remember dodging actual lightning bolts (just like the kids in The Odds of Lightning when they’re riding their Citi Bikes across town).
jd: I guess the appeal of lightning is that it has this sort of mythical, rare quality. It’s beautiful but dangerous, is a pretty regular occurrence in nature, but it’s rarer to be struck. There’s something magical about it, which made it the perfect catalyst to kick-start the adventure in this book. It takes place on a literal “dark and stormy night.”
twi-ny: About seven years ago, I was electrocuted in a thunderstorm at an outdoor concert, and the shock actually led to some psychological benefits, although no superpowers, like the four main characters in the book receive. If you could choose any superpower for yourself, what would it be?
jd: I want to hear more about these psychological benefits! I’ve given this a lot of thought, and right now I would want the ability to teleport anywhere in the blink of an eye. I could visit my friends across the country whenever I wanted, travel to all the places on my international bucket list — even the really far places like Australia and Japan — as easily as walking down the block, avoid the subway rush hour commute, and I’d never be late!
twi-ny: I’m not sure even teleportation could help you avoid a New York City rush hour. The superpowers the protagonists get focus on important problems that most teenagers go through, primarily involving self-identity and trying to find one’s place in the world. Do you relate to any one character more than the others? I’m thinking it might actually be Juliet.
jd: Well, I did study theater in high school and college, like Juliet (and Lu). But on some level I’ve been a bit of all four of the main characters, at various points in my life, and I have this hunch that a lot of readers might feel that way too. I think most people go through phases where they question who they are, hold back from going for what they really want, fear getting hurt, and feel invisible. Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will’s stories are specific to their unique characters, but they also have a somewhat universal quality.
twi-ny: What was your biggest fear in high school? What is it now?
jd: I remember feeling like everything was always changing, that you couldn’t really trust or rely on anything, that even if things were going great one day, the rug could be pulled out from you the next. In the book, Tiny loves this line from The Great Gatsby about “the unreality of reality,” and the rock of the world being founded securely on a fairy’s wing. And that’s how I felt a lot of the time, that tectonic plates were always shifting beneath me, that nothing would ever stay the way it was — and that was scary. I probably relate to Tiny more now — that feeling of wanting to be heard and understood.
twi-ny: That never does go away, does it. With the stormpocalypse approaching, the high school students decide to have a blowout party, even with the SATs scheduled for the next day. Early on, you ask the question, “If it were the end of the world, would you stay at home?” What would you do if you knew that the end of the world was coming?
jd: I’d definitely spend it with my family and friends! And maybe go skydiving or cliff jumping. I would not stay at home — I’d be having one last adventure.
twi-ny: That might be a bit too adventurous for me. During the day, you’re an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, for whom you’ve previously written a YA trilogy. Is it hard to balance the two very different skills, writing and editing?
jd: I’ve learned a lot about the process of crafting a novel from working with so many talented writers and editors over the years. I learn new skills and lessons all the time while editing other writers’ books, and I’ve learned things from my own editors that I pass on to writers I work with. It’s a pretty symbiotic relationship. Writing and editing are two very different parts of the brain — you can’t really use both at the same time. Writing is boundless — you do a lot of experimenting, letting your imagination run wild, trying new things and seeing what works. Editing is about reining in, taking all that raw material and helping shape it into a story with a beginning, middle, and end, consistent characters, satisfying emotional arc, logical world rules. But at the end of the day, they’re both working toward the same end goal.
twi-ny: If you ever have free time to read something for yourself, what types of genres do you turn to? Or are you pretty much wrapped up in YA all the time?
jd: Sometimes I feel like I eat, sleep, and breathe YA. At any given time, I’m immersed in the world of what I’m writing, am reading a submission or a work-in-progress manuscript, and am reading a recently released YA novel. When I go on vacation and I’m looking for something to take me out of the YA world for a little bit, I gravitate toward literary fiction, humorous essays, and, lately, a good page-turning literary thriller.
twi-ny: You were born and raised in New York, and you currently live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan. New York City is like a character unto itself in The Odds of Lightning. What are some of your favorite parts of the city?
jd: A lot of them — like Central Park, and the American Museum of Natural History — are featured in the book. Ice skating at Wollman Rink in the middle of Central Park makes you feel like a character in a New York City romantic comedy. I love the rich historic feel of the Upper West Side, the West Village, brownstone Brooklyn — places where stories were taking place long before I was born. Driving across the Brooklyn Bridge in a taxi with the windows down fills me with love for New York, every time. It always makes me feel like I’m home.
twi-ny: The launch party for The Odds of Lightning is taking place September 20 at McNally Jackson. What’s on the agenda?
jd: I’ll be having a conversation with children’s book buyer Cristin Stickles, reading from The Odds of Lightning, signing books — and maybe there will be some fun surprises!
Multiple locations in Brooklyn
Sunday, September 18, free, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
The eleventh annual Brooklyn Book Festival celebrates literature and the best borough in the world with a fab lineup of more than three hundred writers participating in more than one hundred events at Brooklyn Borough Hall, the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Law School, Columbus Park, Cadman Plaza, and other venues. Below are our suggestions for what do to each hour. In addition, there will be more than three hundred booths, from indies and major publishers to other literary organizations.
Powerful by Design: Chip Kidd and Kyle Baker, moderated by Joan Hilty, Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St., 10:00 am
Best of Brooklyn: Jacqueline Woodson, moderated by A. O. Scott, St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St., 11:00 am
A Conversation with Margaret Atwood, moderated by Calvin Reid and introduced by Meg Lemke, St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St., 12 noon
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, with Alexis De Veaux, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andre Dubus III, moderated by Gregory Cowles, St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St., 1:00
Short But Sweet, with Ben Katchor, Emily Flake, and Glen Baxter, moderated by Connie Sun, Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St., 2:00
Wanderlust and the Search for Meaning, with Russell Banks, Sarah Glidden, and Pico Iyer, moderated by Timothy J. Houlihan, Congregation Mt. Sinai, 250 Cadman Plaza West, 2:30
Who Tells Your Story? Identity and Representation on the Contemporary American Stage, with Madeline George, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Alvin McCraney, Lucy Thurber, and Carl Hancock Rux, Main Stage, Columbus Park, 3:00
Darkly Comic, with Rick Moody, Geoff Dyer, and A. M. Homes, moderated by Ian S. Maloney, Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon St., 4:00
Source Texts, with Salman Rushdie, Elizabeth Nunez, and Michael Seidlinger, moderated by Baz Dreisinger, St. Francis College Auditorium, 180 Remsen St., 5:00