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October 21, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Edward Sorel launches Mary Astor’s Purple Diary

mary-astor-purple-diaryIn a hilarious send-up of sex, scandal, and the Golden Age of Hollywood, legendary cartoonist Edward Sorel brings us a story (literally) ripped from the headlines of a bygone era. In 1965, a young, up-and-coming illustrator by the name of Edward Sorel was living in a $97-a-month railroad flat on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Resolved to fix up the place, Sorel began pulling up the linoleum on his kitchen floor, tearing away layer after layer until he discovered a hidden treasure: issues of the New York Daily News and Daily Mirror from 1936, each ablaze with a scandalous child custody trial taking place in Hollywood and starring the actress Mary Astor. Mary Astor’s Purple Diary narrates and illustrates the travails of the Oscar-winning actress alongside Sorel’s own personal story of discovering an unlikely muse. Throughout, we get his wry take on all the juicy details of this particular slice of Hollywood Babylon, including Mary’s life as a child star—her career in silent films began at age fourteen—presided over by her tyrannical father, Otto, who “managed” her full-time and treated his daughter like an ATM machine.

Start: October 21, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
End: October 21, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

October 26, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Erica Abeel reads from her latest Wild Girls

wild-girls-front-coverThree college friends from the 50s blaze their own path in love and work, braving the stifling conventions of the age, and anticipating the social thaw that would arrive ten years later. These “wild girls” pay heavy penalties for living against the grain, but, over the years, rebound and re-set their course, drawing strength from their friendship. The novel follows them from an elite northeastern college, to Paris with Allen Ginsberg, to New York’s avant-garde scene in the early sixties, to a mansion in Newport, to the slopes of Zermatt, to Long Island’s Gold Coast, as it celebrates the nimbleness and vitality of women who defied an entire culture to forge their own journey.

Start: October 26, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
End: October 26, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

November 1, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Laurence Bergreen reads from his new book Casanova

CasanovaThe definitive biography of the impoverished child, abandoned by his parents, who became the famous writer, notorious libertine, and self-invented genius whose name still resonates today: Giacomo Casanova.

Today, “Casanova” is a synonym for “great lover,” yet the real story of this remarkable figure is little known. Giacomo Casanova was raised by his maternal grandmother, an illiterate peasant. His birthplace, Venice, was a republic in decline, reputedly the most debauched city in Europe. Casanova would add to the republic’s reputation. Over the course of his lifetime, he claimed to have seduced more than 100 women, among them married women, young women in convents, girls just barely in their teens, and in one notorious instance, his own illegitimate daughter.

Casanova came of age in a Venice filled with spies and informers. Naturally brilliant, he was intellectually curious and read forbidden books, for which he was jailed. He staged a dramatic escape from Venice’s notorious prison, the only person known to have done so. He then fled to France, where he invented the national lottery that still exists to this day. But, intemperate by nature, he made enemies at the French court. He crisscrossed Europe, landing for a while in St. Petersburg, where he was admitted to the court of Catherine the Great. He corresponded with Voltaire and met Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte—assisting them as they composed the timeless opera Don Giovanni. And he wrote what many consider the greatest memoir of the era, the 12-volume Story of My Life.

A figure straight out of a Henry Fielding novel: erotic, brilliant, impulsive, and desperate for recognition, Casanova was a self-destructive genius. This witty, roisterous biography exposes his astonishing life in rich, intimate detail. At the same time, it is a dazzling portrait of eighteenth-century Europe from serving girls to kings and courtiers. Esteemed biographer Laurence Bergreen brings a sensual world vividly alive in this irresistible book.

Start: November 1, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
End: November 1, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

November 2, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Celebrate the publication of Shop Cats of New York with author Tamar Arslanian and photographer Andrew Martilla

Shop Cats of New YorkHumans of New York meets The French Cat in this carefully cultivated, gorgeous full-color collection featuring New York’s iconic felines and the stories behind them.

They inhabit New York City’s most legendary and coziest spots—the Algonquin Hotel, a whiskey distillery, Bleecker Street Records, and a host of yoga studios,  bookstores, and bike shops in between. True New Yorkers—masters of people watching—they perch on wine crates, piles of books, and a classic hotel countertop, taking in the activity around them. Depending on their mood, these cats will ignore enthusiastic admirers, offer a few delightful purrs, or occasionally even take a swipe. Some even find a mouse or two to chase.

Shop Cats of New York introduces forty of New York’s favorite felines—all who have an extraordinary story to tell. Popular cat blogger Tamar Arslanian and Instagram pet photographer Andrew Marttila capture these deeply loved and well cared for animals in their city habitat and reveal how they came to reign over their urban kingdoms. A celebration of some of the city’s most revered citizens and a unique look at New York life, this enchanting illustrated volume is a must for every cat lover, and every Big Apple devotee.

Start: November 2, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
End: November 2, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

November 9, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

Bill Sanderson reads from his debut Bulletins From Dallas

Bulletins from DallasAn in-depth look at one of the twentieth century’s star reporters and his biggest story.

Thanks to one reporter’s skill, we can fix the exact moment on November 22, 1963 when the world stopped and held its breath: At 12:34 p.m. Central Time, UPI White House reporter Merriman Smith broke the news that shots had been fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade. Most people think Walter Cronkite was the first to tell America about the assassination. But when Cronkite broke the news on TV, he read from one of Smith’s dispatches. At Parkland Hospital, Smith saw President Kennedy’s blood-soaked body in the back of his limousine before the emergency room attendants arrived. Two hours later, he was one of three journalists to witness President Johnson’s swearing-in aboard Air Force One. Smith rightly won a Pulitzer Prize for the vivid story he wrote for the next day’s morning newspapers.

Smith’s scoop is journalism legend. But the full story of how he pulled off the most amazing reportorial coup has never been told. As the top White House reporter of his time, Smith was a bona fide celebrity and even a regular on late-night TV. But he has never been the subject of a biography.

With access to a trove of Smith’s personal letters and papers and through interviews with Smith’s family and colleagues, veteran news reporter Bill Sanderson will crack open the legend. Bulletins from Dallas will tell for the first time how Smith beat his competition on the story, and will show how the biggest scoop of his career foreshadowed his personal downfall.

Start: November 9, 2016 @ 6:30 pm
End: November 9, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

November 15, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Diane B. Saxton reads from Peregrine Island

peregrine-islandThe Peregrine family’s lives are turned upside down one summer when so-called “art experts” appear on the doorstep of their Connecticut island home to appraise a favorite heirloom painting. When incriminating papers, as well as other paintings, are discovered behind the artwork in question, the appraisal turns into a full-fledged investigation. Antagonism mounts between grandmother, mother, and child, who begin to suspect one another, as well as the shady newcomers in their midst, of foul play.

As the summer progresses and the Peregrines discover facts about their past in the course of the investigation, they learn that people—including them—are not always who they appear to be. But when they uncover the painting’s deepest secret, it gives them the gift of love that they have unconsciously been seeking all along.

Start: November 15, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
End: November 15, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

January 10 @ 6:00 pm

Amy Poeppel reads from her debut novel Small Admissions

small-admissionsDespite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.

Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.

Start: January 10 @ 6:00 pm
End: January 10 @ 7:30 pm

January 11 @ 6:00 pm

Molly Haskell reads from her latest Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films

steven-spielbergA film-centric portrait of the extraordinarily gifted movie director whose decades-long influence on American popular culture is unprecedented

“Everything about me is in my films,” Steven Spielberg has said. Taking this as a key to understanding the hugely successful moviemaker, Molly Haskell explores the full range of Spielberg’s works for the light they shine upon the man himself. Through such powerhouse hits as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Indiana Jones, to lesser-known masterworks like A.I. and Empire of the Sun, to the haunting Schindler’s List, Haskell shows how Spielberg’s uniquely evocative filmmaking and story-telling reveal the many ways in which his life, work, and times are entwined.

Organizing chapters around specific films, the distinguished critic discusses how Spielberg’s childhood in non-Jewish suburbs, his parents’ traumatic divorce, his return to Judaism upon his son’s birth, and other events echo in his work. She offers a brilliant portrait of the extraordinary director—a fearful boy living through his imagination who grew into a man whose openness, generosity of spirit, and creativity have enchanted audiences for more than 40 years.

Start: January 11 @ 6:00 pm
End: January 11 @ 7:30 pm

January 17 @ 6:00 pm

Sheila Kohler reads from her memoir Once We Were Sisters

once-we-were-sisters“A beautiful and disturbing memoir of a beloved sister who died at the age of thirty-nine in circumstances that strongly suggest murder. . . . Highly recommended.” —Joyce Carol Oates

When Sheila Kohler was thirty-seven, she received the heart-stopping news that her sister Maxine, only two years older, was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg.  Stunned by the news, she immediately flew back to the country where she was born, determined to find answers and forced to reckon with his history of violence and the lingering effects of their most unusual childhood—one marked by death and the misguided love of their mother.

In her signature spare and incisive prose, Sheila Kohler recounts the lives she and her sister led. Flashing back to their storybook childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father when she and Maxine were girls, which led to the family abandoning their house and the girls being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating.  We follow them to the cloistered Anglican boarding school where they first learn of separation and later their studies in Rome and Paris where they plan grand lives for themselves—lives that are interrupted when both marry young and discover they have made poor choices.  Kohler  evokes the bond between sisters and shows how that bond changes but never breaks, even after death.

Start: January 17 @ 6:00 pm
End: January 17 @ 7:30 pm

January 19 @ 6:00 pm

Adelia Saunders reads from her debut novel Indelible

indelibleMagdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees the truth about people written on their skin–names, dates, details both banal and profound–and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. Mercifully, her own skin is blank.

When she meets Neil, she is intrigued to see her name on his cheek. He’s in Paris for the summer, studying a medieval pilgrimage to the coast of Spain, where the body of Saint Jacques is said to have washed ashore, covered in scallop shells. Magdalena, desperate to make things right after her best friend dies–a tragedy she might have prevented–embarks on her own pilgrimage, but not before Neil falls for her, captivated by her pale eyes, charming Eastern European accent, and aura of heartbreak.

Neil’s father, Richard, is also in Paris, searching for the truth about his late mother, a famous expatriate American novelist who abandoned him at birth. All his life Richard has clung to a single memory of his mother–her red shoes–which her biographers agree he never could have seen.

In Adelia Saunders’ arresting debut, secrets are revealed among forgotten texts in the old archives of Paris, on a dusty cattle ranch in the American West, along ancient pilgrim paths, and in a run-down apartment in post-Soviet Lithuania. By chance, or perhaps by fate, the novel’s unforgettable characters converge, and Magdalena’s uncanny ability may be the key to their happiness.

Start: January 19 @ 6:00 pm
End: January 19 @ 7:30 pm
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