Stephen Dobyns, Francine Prose among TC Book Festival authors

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
Twin Cities Book Festival

All the book-crazy people in our book-mad Twin Towns want to know: Who will be the guest authors at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October, the 16th year of what is now the largest, most important literary gathering in the Upper Midwest? Brought to you by Rain Taxi, hosts and organizers, here’s the list, in alpha order.

Francine Prose
Photo By Stephanie Berger
Francine Prose

Kathryn Aalto, author of “The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood.” Novelist Andre Alexis (“The Hidden Keys”). Novelist Charles Baxter (“There’s Something I Want You to Do”). Australian cartoonist Eddie Campbell (“From Hell”). From Macedonia, Lidija Dimkovska (“Spare Life”). Award-winning poet Stephen Dobyns (“The Day’s Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beach”). Kirby Gann (“John Knowles’ A Separate Peace: Bookmarked”). Ray Gonzales (“Beautiful Wall”).

Janice N. Harrington (“Primitive”). Novelist Karan Mahajan (“The Association of Small Bombs”). Derek Palacio (“The Mortifications”). Novelist/essayist Francine Prose (“Mr. Monkey”). Debut Minnesota author Mitch Putnam (“OMG Posters: A Decade of Rock Art”). Essayist and “Two Dope Queens” podcaster Phoebe Robinson (“You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain”). Kevin Smokler (“Brat Pack America: Visiting Cult Movies of the ’80s”). Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate Fred Wah (“Scree”). Debut Minnesota author Stephanie Wilbur Ash (“The Annie Year”).

Authors appearing in the Children’s Pavilion, Middle Grade Headquarters and Teen Tent will be announced at a later date. Book Festival dates to save: Oct. 14-15.

Fringe attendance figures are in

The 23rd annual Minnesota Fringe Festival just ended Sunday, but they’re so super-organized they already have their final attendance numbers.

Over 11 days of nonstop theater, 47,882 people attended 869 performances of 168 shows. The Fringe is calling this “a record for a year in which the festival is up against the Olympics.” In 2015, attendance was 50,338 for 909 performances of 174 shows.

These were top 10 shows by overall ticket sales:

1. “Bezubaan: The Voiceless,” presented by Bollywood Dance Scene

2. “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle,” presented by The Catalysts

3. “Sometimes There’s Wine,” presented by Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool

4. “Gilligan: A Tropical Musical,” presented by Literally Entertainment Productions

5. “In the Time of Spies,” presented by Ferrari McSpeedy Theatrical Productions

6. “Fruit Flies Like a Banana: Alphabetical Disorder,” presented by The Fourth Wall

7. “Apple Picking,” presented by Ben San Del Presents

8. “Couple Fight II: Friends and Family,” presented by Weggel-Reed Productions

9. “Now or Later,” presented by New Epic Theater

10. “Caucasian Aggressive Pandas and Other Mulatto Tales,” presented by Fearless Comedy Productions

“Bezubaan” (oh those unbeatable Bollywood dancers!) and “Ball” also made the list of top 10 shows by percent capacity.

Is your calendar handy? The 24th Fringe happens Aug. 3-13, 2017.

A colorful “Yarn” at the St. Anthony Main Theatre

Courtesy of Bond/360

Because yarn is so closely associated with clothing, craft and women’s work, it’s rarely thought of as a medium for artists. But serious art – gallery art, graffiti art, street art – is being created from yarn. And mostly by women. (A notable exception: our own Eric Rieger, aka HOT TEA, who recently had a spectacular installation called “September 15” at the Mercado Arte Design Festival in São Paolo. Here it is on Instagram.)

A new documentary by Una Lorenzen, an Icelandic filmmaker living in Montreal, “Yarn” is full of surprises: a full-size, yarn-covered locomotive in New York City; yarn paintings in Berlin; a yarn playground in Rome; a yarn circus in Copenhagen; a troupe of actors in crocheted bodysuits; an Icelandic yarn bomber. It’s also full of joy. The artists love what they do. They’ve found their medium, though they sometimes have to explain it to tiresome male artists as, “I’m the one who doesn’t paint.”

At the start, we’re reminded that the word yarn has two meanings: continuous strand and elaborate narrative. In “Yarn,” artists use the first to create the second. Profiles and vignettes are seamed together by Pulitzer Prize finalist (and knitter) Barbara Kingsolver (“The Poisonwood Bible”), who reads from her original prose piece about knitting called “Where It Begins.”

“Yarn” had its North American premiere at SXSW in March. It comes to the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre for one night, one showing: Thursday at 7 p.m. FMI, trailer and tickets ($8.50/$5/$6). It’s in English and other languages (including Icelandic), with subtitles where needed.

The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 17) in downtown St. Paul: Twin Cities Early Music Festival: the Goldbergs and “Winterreise.” A rare and exceptional one-two musical punch, presented by the Twin Cities Early Musical Festival. Starting at 5 p.m. in the Baroque Room in Lowertown, harpsichordist Sungyun Cho will perform Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” Then, starting at 7 p.m. in the Landmark Center in the Schubert Club Recital Room (205), baritone Lu Zang and pianist Yunyue Liu will present Franz Schubert’s magnificent art-song cycle in its entirety. You’ll need tickets to each performance ($15 adult, $10 student) but still, what a bargain. FMI and tickets.

Thursday starting at the Minneapolis Central Library: The Downtown 100 Tour. Who are those kids always hanging out downtown? Bet they know more about the city than you do. Presented by YouthLink, which connects homeless youth to a community of resources and help, and Kulture Klub Collaborative, which brings artists and homeless youth together, this interactive walking tour, created by young people, will include stories, videos, live performances and visual displays. The kids have been working with KKC artists-in-residence Andy Sturdevant (of MinnPost’s The Stroll) and Greg Grease, and both will be on the tour. It will last about two hours and end at YouthLink, with refreshments. Meet in the Library’s atrium by 6 p.m. FMI. Free. No registration needed; just show up.

Choreographers/dancers Kwame Opare and Emily Oleson
Photo by Bill Cameron
Choreographers/dancers Kwame Opare and Emily Oleson shown during a performance at Rhythmically Speaking 2015.

Thursday through Sunday at the Southern: Rhythmically Speaking 2016. The eighth installment of the annual production spotlighting the work of local and national jazz and rhythm-driven choreographers. This year’s show uses movement to explore life’s turning points. Choreographers featured are Rush Benson, Rae Charles, Karla Grotting, Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner (formerly of Minnesota, now based in Oregon), Erinn Liebhard, Laura Selle-Virtucio and Pat Taylor (of Jazz Antiqua Dance Ensemble in Los Angeles). Themes of discovery, celebration, loss, protest and reflection are linked by audio vignettes. 7:30 p.m. all days, plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. FMI and tickets ($24/$18 student with ID; free to ARTshare members).

Friday at Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota (IFP): “Unlocking the Cage.” Animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants are cognitively complex. Should they have legal rights and protections, like humans? A new documentary by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), as they seek to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. Jon Stewart said, “The film made me proud to be a primate.” This is a Twin Cities Film Festival (TCFF) Insider Series event, which means if you’re a TCFF member, you get in free. 6:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10 online, $12 door). 6:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer.

Sunday at Town & Country Club: F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Historic Golf Courses of Minnesota: A Special Program with Author Rick Shefchik. Fitzgerald loved golf and brought the sport into his stories and novels including “The Great Gatsby.” Shefchik has written a nonfiction book called “From Fields to Fairways: Classic Golf Clubs of Minnesota,” published in 2012 and promptly dubbed the state’s definitive golf history. One of the clubs Fitzgerald frequented – and Shefchik included in his book – was the Town & Country Club. See how nicely this all comes together? Presented by the nonprofit Fitzgerald in Saint Paul, this has a little something for all kinds of people: golfers, literature lovers, Fitzgeraldophiles and Shefchik fans. (Shefchik spent a lot of years with the Pi Press before leaving in 2006 to start a new career as a novelist and author of nonfiction; his latest is “Everybody’s Heard About the Bird: the True Stories of 1960s Rock ’n’ Roll in Minnesota.”) Doors at 2 p.m., program at 2:30, book signing to follow, with soft drinks and light refreshments provided. FMI and tickets ($10).

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