Cambridge-based novelist ALICE HOFFMAN s one of those deeply psychological writers who we depend on to bore into the individual minds of an ill-fated family. Once there, she unearths the sort of romantic desperation and weird, mystical secrets that most households would do anything to keep hidden. For her 19th novel to date, Skylight Confessions, Hoffman focuses on just how much an event of complete randomness can determine one’s fate.
It’s not that we need Hollywood gossip to lead a fulfilled life -- but it sure does help keep things interesting when taking back overdue library books registers as an 8.8 on our personal Richter scale of scandal. What a shame JAKE HALPERN doesn’t quite see it our way. This frequent All Things Considered commentator explores the dark side of celebrity in Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction, the research for which included partying with professional assistants (we can’t prove they included Lindsay Lohan’s former one, who is now said to be happier working for Jessica Biel) and making nice with Rod Stewart’s biggest fan (could it be his daughter Kim, formerly engaged to a certain Laguna Beach player with a horrible singing voice?) Build a roaring bonfire out of your US Weekly back issues and revive what’s left of your brain cells when Halpern reads at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | 7 pm | free | 617.566.6660.
Or the previous night, as the story goes. Clement Clarke Moore’s “’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS” was published in 1823, and it launched the modern Santa Claus myth. Before that, Santa was just St. Nicholas, patron saint of children, not a jolly fat dude with a penchant for monochromatic red outfits and worldwide sleigh travel and a ginormous sack of toys.
Celebrate “A YEAR OF POETRY” at Brookline Booksmith with famous local scribe and BU Creative Writing prof ROBERT PINSKY, the Phoenix’s own LLOYD SCHWARTZ, 11 other local poets, plus Alhambra’s Poetry Calendar 2007 editor SHAFIQ NAZ. What would the next 365 days of your life be without some free verse and iambic pentameter? The gang will read and sign their own works and read from those of the masters at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | 7 pm | free | 617.
There are two distinct types of people in this fine world: those who loathe Food Network host and next-gen Martha Stewart superwoman RACHAEL RAY for her precious catch-phrase cooking and those who think her ever-present giggly abbreviations of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO, y’all) are totally adorable.
Brookline Booksmith dedicates an evening to literary zeitgeist with a killer double bill. First up is local academic LEORA LEV, whose Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper is the first critical collection of essays on the author of the George Miles novels (Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide, Period), which typify his wall-of-assault psychosexual prose.
SPORTS GUYHow did Tom Brady go from being a sixth-round draft pick to the Patriots’ star quarterback and one of football’s most celebrated players? Ah, the warm-fuzzy story of the underdog. Sports journalist, former Phoenix staffer, and NPR’s “Only A Game” contributor CHARLES P. PIERCE tells the tale of Brady’s rise in Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything
SO LONG, AND GOOD LUCK
Edward R. Murrow hosted the first This I Believe radio program in the 1950s, which he introduced by musing, “What truths can a human being afford to furnish the cluttered nervous room of his mind with, when he has no real idea how long a lease he has on the future?” So very Murrow.
It’s not that THOMAS CAHILL writes the Reader’s Digest version of history, but he does have the ability to cut through the doldrums of thesis speak and sprinkle in more than a few pop-culture comparisons. Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe offers an accessible journey through the development of early Roman Catholic thought.
It Came from Below the Belt is a book by Bradley Sands that falls into the fiction genre known as bizarro. It features a human-swallowing giraffe, time travel, and a penis with presidential hopes. Earlier this month, Bradley read at the Coolidge Corner Theatre as an opener to one of their midnight movie screenings.
LISA MOORE has already paid her dues in Canada, what with being a bestselling author and a columnist for the Toronto Globe & Mail. Now, she makes her American debut with Alligator, which follows 17-year-old Colleen, who dreams of becoming an eco-terrorist, Colleen’s grief-stricken mother, Beverly, and her career-obsessed Aunt Madeleine.
Aside from the Steve Almond/James Joyce dirty business at Great Scott that Nina will be attending (and we can't wait to hear what she thinks of Almond's recitation), here are four more options for your Wednesday. Two of them are naughty omg!
How did Tom Brady go from being a sixth-round draft pick to the Patriots’ star quarterback and one of football’s most celebrated players? Ah, the warm-fuzzy story of the underdog.
In letters to his wife Nora, James Joyce addresses her as “my naughty little fuckbird,” “my little cuntie,” and “my sweet little dirty farter.” And that’s the G-rated stuff. Tomorrow night, Steve Almond (who else?) leads a reading of Joyce’s filthy letters with a team of local writers and musicians; Hallelujah the Hills frontman Ryan Walsh, Hands and Knees, and the Juliet Kilo provide musical interludes to the literary raunch. That's at Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, in Allston.
THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST
Not everybody hearts AMY SEDARIS (particularly reviewers of her latest film, Strangers with Candy), but we’ve been glued to the trajectory of her career ever since reading about her bizarre lifestyle in brother David’s essays. Amy’s first solo book project, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, harks back to the days when a hostess’s duties were “charmingly old-fashioned, like courtship or back-alley abortions.
AMONG THE BELIEVERSIn the vibrant San Francisco literary scene, you haven’t made it unless you can play six degrees (or less) to David Eggers. HEIDI JULAVITS can do it in just two. She edits the Believer with author Vendela Vida, who’s married to Eggers, the force behind McSweeney’s and the student writing center 826 Valencia