Need a break from all that required reading this fall? You're in luck. In addition to autumn's amazing offerings on bookshelves everywhere (the coming months will see new releases from Lorrie Moore; Jonathans Franzen, Lethem, and Safran Foer; Margaret Atwood; Philip Roth; and A.S. Byatt), greater Portland will host events to reinvigorate our appreciation of the written word. Here's a round-up of some of the season's most-promising literary happenings (they'll tide us over until LeVar Burton starts his Reading-Rainbow-for-adults Webisodes!).
Andrew McNabb | The Body of This | September 16
From the Phoenix review of the Portlander's book: "McNabb's brief stories (there are 28 total in this slim volume) are full of detailed physical descriptions of both interior and exterior terrains. The characters struggle to find their places, in the world at-large and in relation to other people. They are immigrants, elderly people, city mice gone country, and lovers. In many cases, they interact rather clinically, both with each other and with their surroundings. This is a collection that strives to dissect and distill, to remind us that disparate parts and individual sensations are the bricks that comprise the buildings of our lives. It's not a comforting read, but it still has something of a celebratory feel; it revels in, as one character puts it, 'The beauty and surprise of pure human potential!'"
Portland Public Library Brown Bag Lecture Series | Wednesday, September 16 @ 12 pm | Community Television Network | 516 Congress St, Portland | Free (bring your lunch!) | 207.871.1700 | portlandlibrary.com
Sherrie Flick | Reconsidering Happiness | September 23
The start of this debut novel feels pensive, moody, and restless — which makes sense, given its subjects: young women looking for roots, looking for answers, looking for lives. The book has garnered praise from early reviewers; the author will read and sign copies of her book in Portsmouth as part of a brief New England tour.
Wednesday, September 23 @ 7 pm | RiverRun Books | 20 Congress St, Portsmouth, NH | Free | 603.431.2100 | riverrunbookstore.com
Nicholson Baker | The Anthologist | October 1
A modern master of literary fiction (and a Mainer, at that!) will travel from his home in South Berwick to read from his latest, The Anthologist (Simon and Schuster), in Portland on October 1. After his recent non-fiction outings — Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (Simon & Schuster, 2008) — Nicholson Baker has returned to his novelish roots with a story about a struggling poetry enthusiast who's recently lost a lover. With the trademark brilliance he showed in The Mezzanine and Vox, Baker picks apart bizarro minutiae to expose larger thought-themes, to examine neuroses and personal histories. Here's a teaser; The Anthologist's opening salvo:
"Hello, this is Paul Chowder, and I'm going to try to tell you everything I know. Well, not everything I know, because a lot of what I know, you know. But everything I know about poetry. All my tips and tricks and woes and worries are going to come tumbling out before you. I'm going to divulge them. What a juicy word that is, 'divulge.' Truth opening its petals. Truth smells like Chinese food and sweat."
Thursday, October 1 @ 7 pm | Longfellow Books | One Monument Way, Portland | 207.772.4045 | longfellowbooks.com
Third Page-to-Stage | October 6
The first installment of this season's Page-to-Stage collaboration between Portland Stage Company and the Portland Public Library will tackle Wendy Wasserstein's Third, the story of a university professor, her family, and an accusation of plagiarism.
Tuesday, October 6 @ 12 pm | Portland Public Library | 5 Monument Square, Portland | Free | 207.774.1043 ext. 104 | portlandstage.com
Featured Reader at EFG Books | November 5
We tore off a fringe from a cryptic coffee-shop flyer the other day. All it said was: "efgbooks.com / first Thursday." Some Internet research revealed that EFG Books and Gallery, in Bridgton, is launching a First Thursday poetry-reading series; every third month, the event will feature special authors who will read and sign limited letterpress broadsides of their work. If you can't make the 50-minute drive to Bridgton, don't fret — audio recordings of the reading series will be available for streaming online.
Thursday, November 5 @ 7 pm | EFG Books and Gallery | 186 Main St, Bridgton | Free | 207.647.9339 | efgbooks.com
David Swanson | Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union | November 6
It's been 10 months since Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, but our political world doesn't seem to have changed that much. David Swanson, of the watchdog organization After Downing Street, would blame at least part of that on the irreparable damage done to our government by the Bush-Cheney administration.
"Undoing the damage is probably going to be the work of many years," Swanson writes in the introduction to his new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union (Seven Stories Press). "While we can't erase the harm already done, we can reconstitute a nation of laws and a democratic system of government to ensure it doesn't happen again . . .We must chart a course that creates accountability for wrongdoing, that preserves and protects the rights we have or are supposed to have, and that institutes a new establishment of rights to face the new century." He'll tell us how when he comes to Longfellow Books on November 6, two days after the one-year anniversary of Obama's election.
Friday, November 6 @ 7 pm | Longfellow Books | One Monument Way, Portland | Free | 207.772.4045 | longfellowbooks.com