Picks to perk up your inner literatus
By Allen Houston
New York shows its literary stripes during the summer months, when every bookstore and bar seems to sweat an author or reading series from its pores. Here are our choices for some of the best events to help you get back in touch
with your inner literatus.
Fantastic Fiction at KGB
Yes, this makes our yearly list and yes, we are suckers for daring speculative fiction (just don’t call it science fiction). From past luminaries such as Joyce Carol Oates and China Mievelle to up-and-comers trying to burnish their geek chic cred, this monthly reading series raises a respectful glass to an underappreciated genre. Third Wednesday of every month; free. KGB Bar, 85 E. 4th St., www.kgbfantasticfiction.org.
Happy Ending Music and Reading Series
Nearing the decade marker, the Happy Ending series at Joe’s Pub is like an old friend you always have a great time with. Writers and musicians alike walk a lyrical tightrope, all to the tune of a monthly theme (June’s is “Advancement and Ruin”). Once a month; $15. Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., www.amandastern.com.
New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
This science fiction reading series has served up heaping helpings of brave new worlds, as well as fantasy, horror and science fiction, since 1989. A bespectacled crowd gathers to pay homage to a bevy of new writers as well as such luminaries as Ursula K. Le Guin and Susana Clarke, among others. First Tuesday of every month; free ($7 donation suggested). Soho Gallery for Digital Art, 138 Sullivan St., www.nyrsf.com
The Soundtrack Series
We can all name a song that brings back a joy (Led Zeppelin, “D’Yer Mak’er”—first kiss) or heartache (Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here”—first breakup). At the Soundtrack series at (Le) poisson rouge, the worlds of writing and songs come together as host Dan Rossi invites five writers to tell stories about the songs that impacted their life. Fourth Thursday of every month; free. Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., www.soundtrackseries.com.
The Moth StorySlam
The Moth is more like Mothra: It has shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It’s got an NPR show, and it just hosted a recent gala featuring Martin Scorsese. The Moth’s bread and butter is still good storytelling, though, and that’s exactly what you’ll find when you attend one of their shows. Venues and times vary. For more information, visit themoth.org.
Word for Word at Bryant Park
Bring your bug spray for this summer-long festival celebrating writers at Bryant Park. The Word for Word Book Club is reading Madame Bovary, while writers like This American Life contributor Dave Hill talks with Janeane Garofolo about his book Tasteful Nudes, comedian Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain discuss their book, America, You Sexy Bitch, and classic folkie Pete Seeger chats about his newest book, In My Own Words. Through Sept. 29. Bryant Park, 42nd St. betw. 5th & 6th Aves., www.bryantpark.org.
Half King Reading Series
This weekly Chelsea institution features a plethora of new and up-and-coming writers as well as more established acts such as Bret Easton Ellis, while its semi-regular magazine night offers underappreciated journalists a chance to strut their stuff. Every Monday; free. The Half King, 505 W. 23rd St., thehalfking.com.
NYC Poetry Festival
Bringing together more than 100 poets, the second year of the NYC Poetry Festival, hosted by the Poetry Society of New York, promises to be bigger and bolder. From an arts and crafts village to an open mic for newbies to a beer garden where you can discuss the merits of Coleridge over Wordsworth, this event is for the bard within us all.
Upper East Side
Poetry from the Rooftops
You can almost hear Walt Whitman’s “Barbaric Yawp” from the new rooftop of the Central Park Arsenal as the Academy of American Poets presents its annual summer poetry reading series. Second Thursday of every month; free. Arsenal Building at Central Park, 64th St. at 5th Ave., poets.org.
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