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Jane Smiley, Prince biographer in Club Book’s Fall 2021 line-up; horror movie marathon at the Parkway

ALSO: The New Standards at Crooners; Black Forum presented by The Bureau at Mia; and more.

Photo by Derek Shapton
Jane Smiley
Since COVID arrived in early 2020, those of us with internet access have been living in a streaming world. All the arts and culture that could move to streaming did, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. We were witnesses to the evolution of streaming from blurry to crisp visuals, muddy to clear sound, better lighting, more camera angles and lower latency (the delay, or lag, between when something happens in real time and when we see the stream).

We desperately missed live and in-person performances, but we saw many examples of streaming as the next best thing to being there. And with COVID raging, there was no place we wanted to go. Kudos to the Guthrie’s “Dickens’ Holiday Classic,” to Northrop’s dance films, to the Minnesota Orchestra’s livestreamed concerts, and the SPCO’s, and Minnesota Opera’s “Albert Herring,” and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, whose weekly Jazz Fest Live broadcasts went from amateur to pro. To the virtual museum and gallery tours that took us behind closed doors. There are many more we could name. Everyone who could stepped up. Everyone got better.

One type of event that hasn’t suffered much from the switch from in-person to streaming is the book launch or author talk. Virtual events are arguably better for the authors, who can give several readings or talks in a week without getting on a plane. Since authors don’t really do much during a reading or talk besides read or talk, we might as well watch from home in a comfy chair with a cat in our lap. Unless we want to stand in line and have a book signed, and sometimes we do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if we don’t have to get dressed and go someplace and park and then sit in a folding chair or stand, we can attend more author events, near and far. Plus we get glimpses into authors’ real lives. What books are on the bookshelves? What art is on the walls? Do they have a dog?

So when Club Book announced that its Fall 2021 season would once again be virtual, that wasn’t a big surprise, with COVID re-raging, and for many it might be welcome news. A program of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), funded through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Club Book usually travels to public libraries around the Twin Cities, featuring different authors at different libraries. This fall, for the first time, it will host an author from London, because authors can be anywhere.

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Here’s the enticing line-up.

Thursday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., with Scott County Library: Rachell Howzell Hall is the pen name for the author of the four volume Elouise “Lou” Norton mystery series, a strong and likeable African American detective. Her latest, “These Toxic Things,” is due out Sept. 1.

Thursday, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m., with Dakota County Library: Angeline Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians and former director of the Office of Indian Education at the US Department of Education. Her YA debut, “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller.

Monday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m., with Hennepin County Library: Qian Julie Wang grew up as the undocumented child of struggling Chinese émigré., Today she’s managing partner of a New York law firm specializing in advocacy for immigrants and people of color. Her memoir, “Beautiful Country,” is due out Sept. 7.

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., with Saint Paul Public Library: Rita Woods’ historical fiction debut has been compared to the writings of Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler. “Remembrance” is a refuge for escaped slaves that exists outside the normal bounds of time and space.

Monday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m., with Anoka County Library: Mary Kubica is a New York Times best-selling author of psychological thrillers, two of which are currently being adapted for television. Her latest, “Local Woman Missing,” was released in March.

Thursday, Oct.7, 7 p.m., with Dakota County Library. Kate Quinn has set her bestselling women-centered historical fiction in ancient Rome, the Renaissance, and the French Revolution. Her latest, “The Rose Code,” takes place in the waning days of World War II.

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m., with Carver County Library: Dan Piepenbring was the 29-year-old editor of the Paris Review when Prince approached him about collaborating on his memoir. The result, “The Beautiful Ones,” came out in 2019 and was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Monday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m., with St. Paul Public Library: Tamara Winfrey-Harris is a nationally known columnist and speaker whose work focuses on the intersection of race and sex. Her first book, “The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America” will be out Oct. 12 in a revised and expanded second edition.

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Wednesday, Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m., with Washington County Library: Kawai Strong Washburn lives in Minnesota but hails from the Big Island of Hawai’i. His debut work of fiction, “Sharks in the Time of Saviors,” won the PEN/Hemingway Award and a 2021 Minnesota Book Award.

Wednesday, Nov. 3, 12 noon, with Ramsey County Library. Maggie O’Farrell, author (most recently) of “Hamnet,” will join Club Book from London, which explains the unusual start time for this event.

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m., with Carver County Library. Jane Smiley is the author of 30 books, including “A Thousand Acres,” a modern retelling of King Lear that won the Pulitzer Prize. Her latest, “Perestroika in Paris,” is the story of a racehorse who befriends a street-smart dog and tries to make a new life for herself.

All events are free and open to everyone. Registration is not required. “Like” and follow Club Book’s Facebook page, where the events will be streamed in real time. If you can’t watch in real time, you can catch them later on Facebook Live, YouTube and the Club Book website. Podcasts of author events going back to the series’ beginning (Feb. 11, 2014) are available on the website. Club Book wants to make this easy for you, and convenient.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

image from film
A still from "Rabid" (1977), directed by David Cronenberg
L Tonight (Friday, Aug. 20), doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 6: The Parkway Theater: “The Cinematic Slaughter: 24-Hour Horror Movie Marathon.” At least this is fictional horror, an escape and not something you have to deal with IRL. The Parkway – beautifully renovated in 2018, in case you didn’t know – will screen 12 horror classics back-to-back, all uncut and digitally remastered. Plus there will be prize giveaways, drinking games, trailers, trivia, and more. Pillows, blankets and sleeping bags are welcome. Strictly 18+. FMI, list of movies, and tickets ($30 advance, $40 door). Like many other venues, the Parkway now requires proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results from within the past 72 hours.

L Tonight (Friday, Aug. 20), doors at 5:45 p.m., show at 7: Crooners: The New Standards. Witty, smart and debonaire, the side project begun in 2005 by friends Chan Poling, John Munson and Steve Roehm has become a global success. The Standards are great favorites at the supper club in Fridley, where they’ll perform in the Belvedere, the big white tent by the lake. FMI and tickets ($40).

photo of band
Courtesy of the Artists
The New Standards
L Saturday, Aug. 21, 5-10 p.m., Mia: Black Forum presented by The Bureau: A Conversation between Malanda Jean-Claude and Adrian Octavius-Walker. The Bureau is a multidisciplinary creative media and design studio that envisions, creates and curates visual narratives to weave the thread of our collective histories. Black Forum is a series of conversations with leading artists and visionaries. Jean-Claude is an author and filmmaker, Octavius-Walker is a photographer and senior artistic director at the Getty Museum. The event will include a pop-up shop, a soundscape created by DJ Kwey, and a 7:15 p.m. screening of “Poetic Justice,” the 1993 John Singleton romance film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. Outdoors in the Target Park Courtyard. Bring a blanket. Free.

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L Tuesday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m.: Novel Stages: Ashley Bathgate Performing Michael Gordon’s “House Music” Concert and Cocktail Party. It’s not inexpensive – tickets are $100 – but it’s a true one-of-a-kind event, thoughtfully put together. Backing up a bit, in May 2020, curator and artist manager Bobby Maher created a virtual project called Novel Stages featuring many of today’s boundary-crossing artists: Kip Jones and ETHEL, Kaleena Miller, Grant Cutler, Roomful of Teeth, Mark Morris Dance Group. Maher is back with a live and in-person version featuring cellist and new-music interpreter Ashley Bathgate (Bang on a Can All-Stars, Eighth Blackbird) performing “House Music,” a solo work written especially for her by American composer Michael Gordon. The concert will also be a cocktail party, with drinks created and poured by Marco Zappia, Dustin Nguyen and Adam Witherspoon (Tres Leches), and it will take place in a private home in Minneapolis. You’ll learn the location when you buy your ticket. (A limited number of tickets are still available.) If you’ve been missing Liquid Music or longing for Schubert Club Mix or the music Philip Bither brings to the Walker, this might be for you. FMI and tickets.