The 2014-2015 South End Library’s Author Series Continues with Writers Scott Heim, Jack Beatty, Jamaica Kincaid, Jennifer Haigh, James Vrabel, Joe Steinfield, Alysia Abbott and Others, Yet to Come
The 2014-15 SOUTH END LIBRAR AUTHOR SERIES, which got underway in September with readings by Jean Gibran (Love Made Visible) and Johnny Diaz (Looking for Providence) has lined up a fabulous group of visiting writers through June 2015. As in past years, their subjects range far and wide, from the local to the global, with stops at unexpected topics in between. Below is a listing for authors who have been booked so far. There certainly will be additional readings on a range of subjects, so keep checking with Anne Smart (617 536-8241) or the South End branch’s web site.
All readings start at 6:30 PM. Seating is limited, so come early if it happens to be your favorite author’s turn. NOTE: talks about South End subjects are usually very popular, even in snow storms. The South End branch is fully handicapped accessible.
Tuesday, October 14, 6:30 PM
SCOTT HEIM, winner of the 2009 Lambda literary award for fiction, is the author most recently of the psychological thriller, We Disappear. Kansas-born, Heim also wrote the 1996 novel, Mysterious Skin, which was made into a movie in 2004, directed by American filmmaker Gregg Araki. It tells the story of two pre-adolescent boys who are sexually abused by their baseball coach, and and the impact on their lives. (Heim’s partner, Michael Lowenthal, author of The Paternity Test, read at the South End library last season.)
Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 PM
Longtime South End resident ANN MARIE TURO will discuss Pilates for Breast Cancer Survivors: A Guide to Recovery, Healing, and Wellness, which she authored with Naomi Aronson. Whether you are undergoing therapy for breast cancer or recovering from it, the authors will talk about how they can help you get your strength back while fighting chemo brain, lymphedema, fatigue, depression, weight gain, peripheral neuropathy, osteoporosis, and upper extremity impairment.
Tuesday, October 28, 6:30 PM
Urbanist JAMES O’CONNELL presents his take on the migration of residents of Boston’s neighborhoods to surrounding suburbs during the twentieth century, as described in his recent book The Hub’s Metropolis: Greater Boston’s Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth. O’Connell holds a doctorate in American Urban and Cultural History from the University of Chicago, and has written extensively about planning and the history of new England. The event is co-sponsored by the South End Historical Society.
Tuesday, November 4, 6:30 PM
Historian James Vrabel will talk about his recent book, A People’s History of the New Boston, based on hundreds of interviews with Bostonians who worked to make this city a better place for all. In a recent interview with The Boston Globe, Vrabel acknowledged, “work remains to be done.” By bringing back the middle class and the well off, Boston today has lost people in the working class and the lower-middle class, he says, adding those rungs have to be put “back in the ladder of opportunity.” This reading is co-sponsored by the South End Historical Society.
Tuesday, November 18, 6:30 PM
ALYSIA ABBOTT will read from her widely acclaimed Fairyland, a Memoir of my Father, in which she describes being raised by her bisexual activist father in San Francisco, after her mother’s death when she was two. Seen through the lens of the gay liberation movement and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic as it played out in San Francisco, the memoir was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Best Book of 2013 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Abbott will be teaching memoir classes at Boston’s Grub Street Writing Center this fall.
Tuesday, December 9, 6:30 PM
JACK BEATTY, who you may know as the erudite news analyst on numerous radio shows, will talk about his recent The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began. Beattie, who was senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly for many years, also also helped write (or, as some have suggested, wrote) former mayor Tom Menino’s memoir, Mayor for a New America, due out on October 14. Other titles by Beattie, who won numerous awards and prestigious fellowships, are The Rascall King, The World According to Peter Drucker, The Age of Betrayal: the Triumph of Money in America, and Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 6:30 PM
South End resident JOE STEINFIELD will read from his memoir, Claremont Boy, based on a collection of essays he wrote for the local newspaper, The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript of Peterborough, New Hampshire. Steinfield, who according to one interviewer, seems to have a knack for meeting famous people, is a litigator who specializes in media law, and husband of renowned concert pianist, Virginia Eskin (a long-time South End library volunteer: she suggested getting the South End librarians’ counter re-upholstered)). Steinfield grew up in a Jewish community in Claremont, NH, and tells us about the diverse characters he came to know, including influential school teachers; public figures like Julia Child; a Hebrew-speaking Muslim from the Northern Caucasus Republic of Adygeya; and a P.L.O. leader from Jericho, among many others.
Tuesday, February 10, 6:30 PM
JAMAICA KINCAID is an award-winning Antiguan-American writer who, until not too long ago, was married to the son of the famous New Yorker editor, William Shawn, Allen, a composer of classical music. Kincaid’s latest novel, See Now Then, centers on a nasty divorce after the husband finds a younger wife, one of the many details that appear to echo Kincaid’s life. She is the acclaimed author of five novels, including The Autobiography of my Mother, and a moving memoir of her brother’s struggles with AIDS and death, called My Brother. In addition, she has written or edited numerous other excellent books on, among other subjects, gardening.
Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 PM
JENNIFER HAIGH , a winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and other prestigious literary prizes, is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, (The Condition and Baker Towers), as well as a short-story writer. Haigh is a coal miner’s daughter who grew up in central Pennsylvania near Bakerton. Her most recent collection of short stories, News from Heaven, The Bakerton Stories, was called “an uplifting and radiant book” by Janet Maslin, the reviewer for the New York Times.
Tuesday, June 9, 6:30 PM
JOHN J. ROSS, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will read from his Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough, a book about the medical lives of authors through the ages. Ross explores the likely maladies of twelve literary, but medically expired stars, ranging from Shakespeare’s syphilis, to Milton’s blindness, Swift’s vertigo, the Bronte sisters’ tuberculosis, Hawthorne’s anxiety disorder, Melville’s probable bi-polar disorder, Yeats’s Aspergers, Joyce’s gonorrhea, and Orwell’s damaged bronchial tubes. Their achievements do not surprise Ross as he believes ” literary genius is more likely to arise from disappointment and chagrin than comfort and complacency.”
Jean Gibran, the Emissary of Sculptor Kahlil Gibran, Boston Expressionism, and South End’s Middle Eastern Heritage, Brings One of the Largest Audiences to the South End Branch
A huge crowd greeted Canton Street resident Jean Gibran, author of Love Made Visible, in which she recounts her 50-year marriage to internationally known sculptor Kahlil Gibran. It was hot in the library’s community room because the air-conditioning did not work. And Gibran forgot her reading glasses. But after several pairs were offered from the audience, the show could begin.
Gibran explained that she wrote the book after her husband’s death in 2008 for at least two reasons: To let those who had lost spouses know they could still do things and continue to be part of the community. The other was to draw attention to the Boston Expressionists who thrived here in the 1930s and 40s, and whose muse, Karl Zerbe, taught at the Museum School where her husband studied as well. Gibran said these Bostonians influenced the New York-based Abstract Expressionist movement, including artists like Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning. “It started right here, at the Museum School,” Gibran told her audience. She encouraged everyone to visit the Danforth Art Museum in Natick, which currently has a retrospective on the subject, called The Expressive Voice: Brought to Light.
Woven throughout the Gibran story as well is her compassion for and interest in the Middle Eastern communities her husband was part of, and the enclaves of Arab culture that once existed in the South End, Bay Village and part of what now is Chinatown. In a poignant description, she delves into the ethnic slurs and professional insults Gibran endured, as well as some of the brutal history that forced his parents and relatives to flee the Middle East. She learned to cook some of the dishes Gibran favored, shared many meals with family and friends in local Middle Eastern restaurants, and came to love the sounds of the Arab language and its music.
Kahlil Gibran, winner of numerous awards and prestigious fellowships, was nicknamed ‘Golden Hands.’ He made his living restoring art, antiques and musical instruments, while he did his art work at night in his studio at Fayette Street, and later in the townhouse they Gibrans purchased on West Canton Street. For a number of years, the Gibrans owned a gallery on Newbury Street but, eventually, she returned to teaching third grade and he to his art and craft. Gibran refers to husband, Kahlil Gibran, the sculptor, as “K,” to distinguish him from his older cousin by the same name, the author who emigrated to Boston from Ottoman Syria in 1895, and who wrote the renowned 1923 prose poetry collection The Prophet.
Love Made Visible is available from Barnes and Noble booksellers, and contains a lengthy and informative section profiling many participants in the Boston Expressionist movement, as well as detailed lists and illustrations of Kahlil Gibran’s artistic and professional legacy. It is also available for borrowing from the BPL.
Now Available for Easy Perusal at the South End Branch: Bound Copies of the South End News Dating from February 1980 Through 2013
Last week, South End News publisher Sue O’Connell donated the newspaper’s entire collection of bound back issues to the South End Library, where it now resides on top of a bookcase across from the staff counter on the ground floor. “We are going to a virtual office setting,” O’Connell explained, adding that, at the end of each year, the latest bound volume will be added to the library’s shelves. Previously, the library only had loose copies of the popular weekly.
Leafing through its pages, a movie reel of South End particulars unwinds. In its first issue, February 15, 1980, a front-page headine says that Digital Equipment Company, then the world’s largest minicomputer company, is opening a facility on Albany Street and Massachusetts Avenue; the company no longer exists, acquired by Compaq and merged into Hewlett Packard. Those were the days when a six-month subscription cost $7; now the weekly is distributed free. The much-missed crime reporter, Police Officer John Sacco recounts that a man attacked a woman with a meat cleaver, but assures the readers “the weapon was confiscated.” Another perpetrator who continued to beat up a woman after the police arrived found no sympathy: “Needless to say, his behavior was short-lived,” was a typical Sacco comment.
Realtors took out ads in those days advising homeowners not to “undersell your property.” A writer named “Leupold” wrote an excellent and comprehensive arts and entertainment column called South End Muse. Movie reviews mentioned long-gone cinemas like The Paris, Nickelodeon, The Pi Alley. Battles over dog behavior were reported with headlines like “We’re in Deep Doo-Doo.” One day in 1993, actor Jeff Bridges and a stuntman roared down the alley between West Newton and Pembroke Streets at 55 miles per hour, “jumping several feet in the air,” to film the 1994 movie, Blown Away.
Food editor Lydia Walshin profiled South End chefs, amateur and pro, in her Community Kitchen column, the recipes for which were lated collected in her excellent cookbook, The South End Cooks. (And, yes, based on this title FOSEL was inspired to name its author series, The South End Writes.) Long-time Boston Globe arts reviewer Cate McQuaid penned serial fiction in the local weekly.
Sad national events found room in the community paper, too: In September 2011, it reported the deaths of several South End residents who were killed in the 9/11 attacks: Rahma Salie and Michael Theodoridis, who were expecting their first child; and Todd Hill, who lived on Tremont Street. All three were among those who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
The branch’s history committee, consisting of Ann Hershfang, Judy Watkins and Alison Barnet, plans to index the collection so information about the South End’s ups and downs can be more easily obtained. The committee will gladly accept other papers and written material that documents local lore. For information, contact Anne Smart at 617 536-8241.
The Fall Season of Author Talks at the South End Library Is Ready for You, with September Readings by Sue Miller, Jean Gibran and Johnny Diaz
The fall season of author programming will start on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 AT 6:30 PM, with the nationally known but locally residing author Sue Miller, reading from her widely reviewed latest novel, The Arsonist. The Boston Globe’s called it “a cracking good romance” that “will keep you reading.” The New York Times noted it was “full of Miller’s signature intelligence about people caught between moral responsibility and a hunger for self-realization.” The Washington Post mentioned the “continuing miracle of Miller’s compelling storytelling.” And that’s just the beginning. Miller is the author of eleven novels, two of which (The Good Mother and Inventing the Abbotts) were made into movies. Her 1999 book, While I was Gone, was an Oprah Book Pick. The author read at the South End library for the first time three years ago from her 2010 novel, The Lake Shore Limited. Since that time, she invited many of her illustrious colleagues to talk about their work at the South End branch as well, enriching the library and the neighborhood.
On SEPTEMBER 23 AT 6:30 PM, longtime South End resident Jean Gibran will read at the library from her memoir, Love Made Visible: Scenes from a Mostly Happy Marriage, in which she describes her fifty years of marriage to the internationally acclaimed sculptor, Kahlil Gibran. His sculpture, West Canton Street Girl, graces the central garden bed in Hayes Park at Warren Avenue and West Canton Street. This is the second book Gibran has written: the first one, the 1998 Kahlil Gibran: His Life and Work, co-authored with her husband, is a biography of his cousin and namesake, Gibran Kahlil Gibran, who wrote the 1923 book of prose poetry essays, The Prophet. Since its publication, nine decades ago, it was translated into more than forty languages and has never been out of print.
The popular Johnny Diaz is returning to the South End library on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, to talk about his latest book of fiction, Looking for Providence, the fifth in his Boston Boys Club series. Three years ago, Diaz reading from his 2011 novel, Take the Lead, brought an enthusiastic crowd to the branch. The Cuban-American former media writer for the Boston Globe’s Business Section is currently working as a journalist for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. In his writing, Diaz weaves issues facing the Latino gay community into the urban settings he is familiar with, such as Boston, or Miami where he worked for the Miami Herald before moving north. When at the Miami Herald, he was on the staff that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. Diaz’s previous novels include Boston Boys Club (2007), Miami Manhunt (2008) and Beantown Cubans (2009). He taught Journalism at Emerson College when he lived here. In Looking for Providence, reporter Ronnie Reyes loses his job and his boyfriend, but bounces back with a new position and a new relationship in..yes..you guessed it, the fair city of Providence. All author readings at the South End library are free and start at 6:30 PM. Seating is limited so come early if you don’t want to have to shout questions from the stairwell at the back of the room. Books will be available for borrowing and sale and the authors always graciously sign their books. Refreshments will be served. The branch is fully handicapped accessible.
South End Activist Frieda Garcia Will Talk about the Abolitionist Statues by Fern Cunningham and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller in Harriet Tubman Park on Wednesday September 10 at 6:30 PM
Long-time South End community leader Frieda Garcia will tell you all about the history of the magnificent abolitionist sculptures by Fern Cunningham and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller in the recently renovated Harriet Tubman Park on Columbus Avenue and Pembroke Street. The lecture by Garcia, who herself has a local park named after her, was provisionally scheduled to be at the South End library but, counting on the often glorious September weather in Boston, has been moved to the Harriet Tubman Park itself, a block away from the branch.
Boston artist Cunningham’s 1999 Step on Board relief sculpture pays homage to the Civil-War era abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad who helped slaves escape to freedom. The accompanying statue by Warrick Fuller, Emancipation, was sculpted in 1913 as part of a New York exposition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1963, abolishing slavery. Warrick Fuller was a protege of Auguste Rodin, and died in 1968 in Framingham, MA, at the age of 90.
The Wednesday, September 10 discussion begins at 6:30 PM and is free to all.