In Burnt Tongues: An Anthology of Transgressive Stories, which he edited with Richard Thomas and Dennis Widmyer, Chuck Palahniuk writes in his introduction, titled “The Power of Persisting,” “The worst thing you could do is read this book and instantly enjoy every word. This book, the book you’re holding, I hope you gag on a few words — more than a few. May some of the stories scar and trouble you. Whether you like or dislike them doesn’t matter; you’ve already touched these words with your eyes, and they’re becoming part of you. Even if you hate these stories, you’ll come back to them because they’ll test you and prompt you to become someone larger, braver, bolder.” Palahniuk could have just as well been referring to his own novels, intense tales that can provoke scarring and trouble, delighting and offending fans, often simultaneously. In works such as Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey, Haunted, Invisible Monsters, and Fight Club, Palahniuk dares readers to keep turning pages even as the plots and characters he depicts go places no book has ever gone before. Palahniuk’s public events also go places no author has gone before, as he is known for throwing fake body parts into a costumed audience, as he did at New York Comic Con a few years back. (Chuck actually retweeted our posting of photos from that NYCC event, a seminal moment in our existence on Earth.) On Halloween, Palahniuk will be celebrating the release of his latest novel, Beautiful You (Doubleday, October 2014, $25.95), with a gathering at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, where it is demanded that fans come dressed in pajamas, referencing the new book, significant portions of which take place in the bedroom, “where a billion husbands are about to be replaced.” Palahniuk will also have an opening act, Fred Venturini, whose story “Gasoline” is featured in Burnt Tongues. Writing about last week’s San Francisco stop on the Better than Sex Tour, Burnt Tongues contributor Brandon Tietz explained, “There’s a proven formula for a Chuck Palahniuk reading, and he broke it down for me step-by-step: intro, candy toss, story reading, glowing beach ball rave, etc.,” in addition to a Q&A and a severed-arm giveaway. “Best. Reading. Ever,” he concluded. Tickets for the powerHouse extravaganza are $30 and include a presigned copy of Beautiful You. We can’t wait.
407 West 43rd St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through January 25, $79
“Words are my life,” Joely Richardson declares as Emily Dickinson in the new revival of William Luce’s The Belle of Amherst that opened October 20 at the Westside Theatre. “I look at words as if they were entities, sacred beings.” In the one-woman show, Richardson (Nip/Tuck, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) stars as poet Emily Dickinson, a spinster-recluse who is sharing her life story with the audience. Now fifty-three, Dickinson, wearing a long white dress (designed by William Ivey Long), her auburn hair pulled back tight, whimsically discusses the importance of family (her sister Lavinia, known as Vinnie; her brother, Austin; her parents; and her aunt Libby), social graces, fame, solitude, nature, art, and romance, her monologue smoothly folding in her poetry along the way. Walking through Antje Ellermann’s bright, charming late-nineteenth-century drawing-room set, Dickinson is also bright and charming, though clearly a bit off-center, enthusiastically explaining that she is in full control of herself, even if the denizens of Amherst think she is crazy. “Oh, I do have fun with them. My menagerie,” she says. “I guess people in small towns must have their local characters. And for Amherst, that’s what I am. But do you know something? I enjoy the game. I’ve never said this to anyone before, but I’ll tell you. I do it on purpose. The white dress, the seclusion. It’s all deliberate.”
Over the course of one hundred minutes and two acts, Dickinson recites her poetry, very little of which was published during her lifetime, and reenacts short vignettes from her life, including attending a dance as a teenager, going to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, receiving a gentleman caller, and seeing the Northern Lights, all while awaiting the arrival of her literary mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson. She excitedly digs through her treasure chest of poems, an ever-growing celebration of the written word that she is intensely proud of. Bravely fighting the sniffles and a few troubled line readings the night we went, Richardson is delightful as Dickinson, playing her with a wide-eyed sense of wonder and an inner freedom that often conflicts with the general perception of who Dickinson was. “In a way, the stories are true,” Dickinson says. “Oh, I believe in truth. But I think it can be slanted just a little.” And so it is with Luce’s (Lillian, Barrymore) extensively researched, skillful, though at times treacly, script. Richardson — the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson, granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave, and sister of the late Natasha Richardson — and director Steve Cosson (The Great Immensity; Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play) ably differentiate between the past and the present, as Richardson takes on a role that was made famous by Julie Harris, who won a Tony and a Grammy for her original 1976 performance. But Richardson stands tall, fully making it her own.
“What are my qualifications to write this book? None, really,” comedian Jim Gaffigan writes at the beginning of Food: A Love Story (Crown Archetype, October 21, $26), the follow-up to his 2013 bestseller, Dad Is Fat. “So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. Okay, to some I might not be considered that fat, but the point is, I’m not thin. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating, I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book. . . . First of all, how do you know they really feel passionately about food? Well, obviously, they are not passionate enough to overdo it. That’s not very passionate. Anyway, I’m overweight.” The stand-up comic and married father of five, who has appeared in such films as The Love Guru and on Broadway in That Championship Season and has publicly shared his desire for Hot Pockets and bacon, among other edibles, will be at the Union Square Barnes & Noble on October 20 at 7:00 to read from and discuss his new book, which features such chapters as “Not Slim Jim,” “The Buffet Rule,” “Cup of Gravy,” “Salad Days,” “Kobe Beef: The Decadent Meat,” “French Fries: My Fair Potato,” and “Hot Pockets: A Blessing and a Curse.” Seating will begin at 5:00 on the fourth floor, with priority given to those who have purchased a copy of the book; the event will conclude with a signing.
City Lore Gallery
56 East First St. between First & Second Aves.
Thursday, October 16, $40, 7:00
“I began announcing nine years after I ended my playing career, and I had to catch up with some new terminology,” New York Knicks basketball legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier wrote in the afterword to the 2010 edition of his 1974 book, Rockin’ Steady: A Guide to Basketball & Cool. “‘Dishing’ was passing off. So in time I would add ‘swishing.’ ‘Dishing and swishing’ became one of my trademark calls. Then came ‘wheeling and dealing,’ and ‘believing and achieving.’ The blackboard was now generally called ‘the glass,’ and so when there was an exceptional rebound pulled down, it was ‘splendor on the glass.’” The Hall of Famer, who practiced saying such words as ubiquitous, tenacious, and mesmerizing in the mirror after seeing them used in articles on arts and entertainment, will be at City Lore on October 16 for the special program “The Poetry of Basketball,” a fundraiser for the organization whose mission is to “document, present, and advocate for New York City’s grassroots cultures to ensure their living legacy in stories and histories, places and traditions.” The Atlanta-born Frazier, one of the all-time-stylish New Yorkers and captain of the Knicks’ 1970 and 1973 championship teams, also uses such phrases as “hustling and bustling,” “bounding and astounding,” “posting and toasting,” “shaking and baking,” and “hacking and whacking,” is as cool and smooth away from the arena as he is in it, and opinionated as well, so get ready for plenty of “moving and grooving,” “stopping and popping,” “dancing and prancing,” and maybe even some “draining and paining.”
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
209 Joralemon St.
Sunday, September 21, free, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Woody Allen, Isaac Asimov, Paul Auster, Margaret Wise Brown, Moss Hart, Joseph Heller, Ezra Jack Keats, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Henry Miller, S. J. Perelman, Maurice Sendak, Wendy Wasserstein, and, of course, Walt Whitman — those are only some of the many writers who were either born and/or raised in Brooklyn or spent important, formative years living in the world’s greatest borough. So it should come as no surprise that the annual Brooklyn Book Festival is a major event, with nearly one hundred talks, signings, discussions, readings, and other presentations with hundreds of authors, taking place in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall, and it’s all free. Below are only some of the many highlights. (For a list of bookend programs scheduled for September 18-22, go here.)
This Changes Everything: A Conversation with Naomi Klein, presented by The Nation, with Naomi Klein and Betsy Reed, Mainstage, 10:00 am
The Hilarity of Death and Deadlines, with Roz Chast and Robert Mankoff, moderated by Hillary Chute, St. Francis College Auditorium, 11:00 am
It’s the Little Things that Count, with Annie Baker, Owen Egerton, Sam Lipsyte, and Rivka Galchen, moderated by Rob Spillman, Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 12 noon
Eat Drink and Prosper, with Steve Hindy, Matt Lewis, and Renato Poliafito, moderated by Carlo Scissura, Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 1:00
Thurston Moore in Conversation with Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 2:00
Storytelling and the Black Experience, with Greg Grandin, Herb Boyd, and Ilyasah Shabazz, moderated by Marlon James, Brooklyn Historical Society Library, 2:00
Influence of the Real, with Francine Prose, Paul Auster, and Joyce Carol Oates, moderated by Hirsh Sawhney, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 3:30
Virtuosos: Comics Creators that Defy Classification, illustrated discussion with Charles Burns, Eleanor Davis, and Paul Pope, moderated by Lisa Lucas, St. Francis College Auditorium, 3:00
Comedians as Authors, with Bob Saget, John Leguizamo, and Susie Essman, moderated by Sara Benincasa, Mainstage, 4:00
Jonathan Lethem and Jules Feiffer in Conversation, moderated by Ken Chen, St. Francis College Auditorium, 4:00
A Sense of Place: Writing from Within and Without, with Joseph O’Neill, Amit Chaudhuri, and Assaf Gavron, moderated by Dave Daley, Borough Hall Media Room, 5:00
The Writer’s Life, with Salman Rushdie, Siri Hustvedt, and Catherine Lacey, moderated by Steph Opitz, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 5:00
Multiple locations in Brooklyn
September 12-14, free - $90
The Brooklyn culinary explosion continues with Taste Talks, three days of special meals, panel discussions, book signings, the Future Food Expo, and other food-related events featuring more than one hundred chefs and speakers, presented by Mario Batali and curated by Daniel Bowien of Mission Chinese. Below are only some of the highlights of this foodie feeding frenzy.
Friday, September 12
Mother of Pearl Dinner, with Island Creek oysters, wine-pairing cocktail hour, bread from Tartine, cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre, fluke with spicy coconut, pork sung, and cashews from Jamie Bissonnette of Toro and Coppa, fire-roasted tomato soup with sourdough and basil from Sean Rembold of Reynard, maltagliati with clams, butter beans, almonds, and sorrel from Camille Becerra of Navy, stuffed peppers with mussels, pancetta, and eggplant with Prosecco aioli and trout roe vinaigrette from Zahra Tangorra of Brucie, and tapioca pie with Concord grapes from Sarah Sanneh of Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Villain LLC, 50 North Third St., $90, 7:00
Saturday, September 13
Chicken and Waffles, brunch with specialty cocktail, Colossal Media, 85 Wythe Ave., $20, 10:00 am
Do Restaurant Reviews Matter? with Ruggy Joesten of Yelp, Sam Sifton of the New York Times, Sonia Kapadia of Taste Savant, Jocelyn Mangan of Open Table, and Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s, moderated by Adam Sachs, Kinfolk Studios, 90 Wythe Ave., $10, 10:30 am
Demo Lab: Tosi and Bowien Create Delicious from Dollar Store Ingredients, with Christina Tosi of Momofuku’s Milk Bar and Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, Wythe Hotel Private Dining Room, $10, 3:00
Dinner Lab at Taste Talks Brooklyn, five-course menu by chef Eric Bolyard, with charred figs & smoked yellow tomato, ajo blanco & white anchovy, skate wing & charred corn, beef cheek & gilda, and ricotta & stone fruit, secret location, $90, 7:00
Saturday, September 13, and Sunday, September 14
Future Food Expo, with approximately twenty-four booths, including Legally Addictive, Ohneka Farms, SideChef, Sud de France, Poached, Little Boo Boo Bakery, Raaka Virgin Chocolate, and Farm to People, and Greenlight Bookstore signings by Gabrielle Hamilton, Jamie Bissonnette, Ivan Orkin, Sara Moulton, Sarah Zorn, and Dan Pashman on Saturday and Eli and Max Sussman on Sunday, Colossal Media, 85 Wythe Ave., free with advance RSVP, 12 noon – 6:00 pm
Sunday, September 14
All-Star BBQ, with porchetta “PRA Prow” tigelle from Action Bronson and Michael White of Osteria Morini, grilled blue whale oyster from Matt Rudofker of Ssam Bar, boar collar meat from Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, veggie burgers from Brooks Headley of Del Posto, grilled duck hearts from Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen, grilled chicken kebab from Max Sussman of the Cleveland and Eli Sussman of Mile End, pig head salad from David Santos of Louro and Jonathan Wu of Fung Tu, barbecue duck from Rob Newton of Wilma Jean and Oliver Strand, smoked char sui Long Island eel from Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery, and Texas hot gut sausage from Daniel Delaney of Delaney BBQ, cash bar, East River State Park, $40, tasting periods from 1:00 to 4:00 and 5:00 to 8:00
NEW YORK COMIC CON / NEW YORK SUPER WEEK
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th St. (11th Ave. between 34th & 39th Sts.)
Thursday, October 9, $35, 12 noon - 7:00
Con continues through October 12; New York Super Week runs October 3-12
New York Comic Con continues to get more and more popular every year, with bigger and bigger guests and longer and longer lines. Tickets for the ninth annual event, running October 9-12 at the Javits Center, are already sold out for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the organizers haven’t even announced the full slate of activities for any of the days. So your only chance for getting in will be to go on Thursday, when there will be appearances by such spotlight guests as Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad, Hollows series author Kim Harrison, and Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Natalia Tena (Osha) of Game of Thrones and such featured guests as Jason David Frank of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Ben Templesmith, Bob McLeod, Dustin Nguyen, Jimmy Palmiotti, Peter David, Stuart Moore, and Terry Moore, and dozens of special guests as well. In conjunction with NYCC, New York Super Week runs October 3-12 at various locations throughout the city, consisting of related events, including a thirtieth anniversary screening of The Karate Kid at the 92nd St. Y with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove; metal monsters X Japan at Madison Square Garden; Neil Gaiman as the subject of host Ophira Eisenberg’s “Ask Me Another” live show at the Y; “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Sing-Along and Whedonverse Party” at Union Hall; “The First (and Probably Last) Annual New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans” at Galapagos Art Space; a “Dr. Who Trivia and Costume Contest” at the Way Station; “Cure You or Kill You: 19th Century Medical Science and Quackery” at the Museum of Morbid Anatomy; and “Rave of Thrones,” a DJ set by Nairn with special guests Zedd Stark and Trance Rayder at B. B. King’s.