New York readers! If you haven’t yet figured out a plan of attack for the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend, don’t worry: we’re here to help. With dozens of events on the roster (not to mention parties, after-parties, and other miscellaneous Bookend events) scheduling a successful Book Festival can be a literary choose-your-own-adventure. So here are a selection of our top picks for the weekend, including a few featuring Bookforum editors Michael Miller, Chris Lehmann, and Albert Mobilio.


At 11 A.M.:

The New India. Bharati Mukherjee (Miss New India), Amitava Kumar (A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb) and Siddhartha Deb (The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India) discuss the challenges facing the Indian subcontinent in the 21st Century as tradition clashes with rapid modernization against the backdrop of an ever-globalizing world. At the Borough Hall Community Room (209 Joralemon Street), moderated by Jonah Straus.

Radical Fictions, presented by Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Jennifer Gilmore (Something Red), David Goodwillie (American Subversive), and Bookforum contributor Justin Taylor (Gospel of Anarchy) read from their work and discuss the extremist ideologies and cultish communities their characters find themselves entangled in. At the Brooklyn Historical Society Main Hall (128 Pierrepont Street), moderated by Marcela Landres.

At 1 P.M.:

Fact, Memory and the Evolution of a Story. Three NYC writers, David Rakoff (Half Empty), Sigrid Nunez (Sempre Susan) and Adrian Tomine (Scenes from and Impending Marriage) reflect on the context that inspires their work. At the Brooklyn Historical Society Main Hall (128 Pierrepont Street), moderated by Bookforum editor Michael Miller.

Art in the Mix: Inspiration, Reception and How Art Makes Meaning. This panel explores the relationship between creative inspiration and art’s eventual life in the world. Kurt Andersen (Reset, Heyday), and Kenneth Goldsmith (Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in a Digital Age) talk with artist Simon Dinnerstein. At the Main Stage (Borough Hall Plaza), moderated by Julie Burstein.

From Wisconsin With Love. With labor unrest experiencing a major resurgence today, it’s important to understand the up and down struggle for workers’ rights over the past several decades. Three historians—Clarence Taylor (Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights and the NYC Teachers Union), William Adler (The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon) and Brian Purnell (Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry) - look at the American left and the role unions and workers’ movements have played in forcing social change here and across the country. At the St. Francis Volpe Library (180 Remsen Street), moderated by Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times.

At 2 P.M.:

Dangerous Laughter. Karen Russell (Swamplandia), Elissa Schappell (Blueprints for Building Better Girls), and Jim Shepard (You Think That's Bad) push writing into dark and darkly funny places in their award-winning fiction. At the St. Francis McArdle Hall (180 Remsen Street), reading and Q&A introduced by Tin House editor Rob Spillman.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Music is often the voice of a generation-a touchstone for issues both personal and political, and a way for its fans to understand themselves. Mark Yarm, (Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge), Marisa Meltzer (Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music) and Marcus Reeves (Somebody Scream: Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power) - look at the impact of punk, hip hop, riot grrrl, and more on the lives of its fans. At the St. Francis Volpe Library (180 Remsen Street), moderated by Will Hermes.

At 3 P.M.:

Lifestyles of the Rich and Richer. We are living in an almost comic enactment of Marx’s predictions about class and labor: Marx foresaw the decline of small business and the middle class at the hands of unrestrained capitalism more than 100 years ago. With a gimlet eye and wry outlook, Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann (Rich People Things) and David Graeber (Debt: The First 5,000 Years...) discuss the current state of our economy and where we’re headed. At the Brooklyn Historical Society Library (128 Pierrepont Street), moderated by Stacey Vanek-Smith.

Starring: the City. Looking at Atlanta, Manhattan, and Baltimore, three authors explore how urban landscapes not only shape their inhabitants but how a city functions as a character itself reflecting the complex emotions of isolation and identity of its residents. Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow), Lynne Tillman (Someday This Will Be Funny) and Edmund White (City Boy). At the St Francis Screening Room (180 Remsen Street), moderated by Felicia Pride.

At 5 P.M.:

New Works: A Poetry Reading. Poet and Bookforum editor Albert Mobilio (Touch Wood), joins Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Lucky Fish), and Matthew Rohrer (Destroyer and Preserver) to read from their recently published volumes of poetry. At the Brooklyn Historical Society Library (128 Pierrepont Street), introduced by Joseph O. Legaspi of Kundiman.

Moving Pictures. From B Movies to the Art House, film is possibly the most powerful broadcast medium of the past century—taking us on flights of fancy as often as it brings us face-to-face with the more unpleasant nature of the contemporary world. J. Hoberman (Army of Phantoms), Jason Zinoman (Shock Value), and Roberta Seret (World Affairs in Foreign Films) discuss the role of movies in understanding our world and ourselves. At the St. Francis Screening Room (180 Remsen Street), moderated by film critic and Light Industry founder, Ed Halter.


On Friday:

The Brooklyn Indie Party! With A Public Space, Akashic Books, Archipelago Books, Black Balloon, BOMB Magazine, Electric Literature, Ig Publishing, Litmus Press, Melville House, powerhouse Books, Tin House, Ugly Duckling Presse, Umbrage Editions, Vulgar Marsala and others. Brooklyn’s best independent book and magazine publishers throw a Brooklyn-sized kickoff party celebrating the spirit of literary independence in Brooklyn! Food and drinks will be provided, along with music courtesy of DJ Johnny Temple (musician, publisher of Akashic Books, and chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival Council).

At Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (corner of South Portland)
at 7:30 pm.

On Saturday:

Beer is Culture: Join Slice Magazine and give a toast to the joining of beer and culture! Sixpoint’s new line of cans sport literary quotes, adding a cerebral flair to a night filled with drink specials and literary prizes.

At Franklin Park, 618 St. John's Place (btw Classon and Franklin Aves.)
from 8:00 pm – 12:00 am.

On Sunday:

Brooklyn Book Festival Closing Night Party: Celebrate the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival Closing Night Party with author DJs Kevin Young, Colson Whitehead and others. Plus, The Tokens will lead a group sing-along of their classic hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The fun continues with literary cocktails and, of course, great conversations after the festival's panels, discussions, and readings, and maybe even a lucky strike on the side for a festive end to a memorable weekend?

At Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, from 8:00 pm – til!


End of the week roundup:

This week on, Andrew Hulktrans reviewed influential alt-rocker Bob Mould’s memoir of "rage and melody."

Andrew Martin praised the “volatile mingling of sex, play, and violence” in Justin Torres’ debut novel, We the Animals, a surreal, episodic story of three Puerto Rican brothers growing up in upstate New York.

“Ruins have for several centuries been objects of literary and artistic veneration, reminders of real and imaginary catastrophe, images of historical hubris and souvenirs from dashed futures,” Brian Dillon writes in the introduction to his syllabus, an assessment of ruins in literature.

And finally, Bookforum spoke with poet Ben Lerner about his excellent first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station.


Polly Courtney

Michel Houellebecq, French novelist, and more recently, international man of mystery, has been located after failing to show up for a book tour. Turns out, he forgot.

Barry Duncan, master palindromist.

Novelist Polly Courtney has decided that she’d rather self-publish her third novel than see it marketed as chick-lit.

Slate explains why Poets & Writers’ MFA rankings are a sham; HTML Giant explains why Slate’s article is wrong.

Next week, Crown will release muckracking author Joe McGuinness’s The Rogue, his years-in-the-making Sarah Palin book that McGuinness researched by moving in next door to chez Palin in Wasilla. Not surprisingly, McGuinness, who readers may remember as a leading character in Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer, has already fallen into the media spotlight. Earlier this week, several national newspapers, including Newsday, the Chicago Tribune, and the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, refused to run a syndicated Doonesbury comic featuring text from The Rogue. Today, things got even more heated when New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin accused McGuinness of intellectual dishonesty for including thinly sourced details about Palin’s drug use and a “fetish” for black guys, and for basing his reporting on leading questions. Does all this, Libby Copeland wonders at Double XX, have the sum effect of making Sarah Palin look good?