Booksink's HamletHub https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink Wed, 23 Oct 2019 11:16:23 -0400 HamletHub.com 10 Great Short Works to Read in One Sitting https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/44045-10-great-short-works-to-read-in-one-sitting44045-10-great-short-works-to-read-in-one-sitting https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/44045-10-great-short-works-to-read-in-one-sitting44045-10-great-short-works-to-read-in-one-sitting

With Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon on the horizon (Saturday, Oct. 26), I’ve been pondering my readathon strategy. Do I want to pick one brick of a book in the hopes of knocking it off in a single day (hello, Name of the Wind), or do I go for several shorter books to keep things fresh?

If history is any indication, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll decide until the day before…or of. Meantime, I’ve put together some of my favorite short works from the last few years— whether you’re participating in Dewey’s, looking for quick reads in hopes of hitting your Goodreads challenge, or just because you enjoy a great short book.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I experienced this book on audio and cannot emphasize enough how fun it was to listen to the story unfold. The novel essentially presents as an oral history of a band called The Six, a singer called Daisy Jones, and the collaboration between the two. The relationships among band members and the singer also figure prominently. I can’t say how it would work as a written text, but the audiobook featured multiple narrators that gave each character a distinct voice (literally and otherwise). And Reid kept the surprises coming up to the end.

Works and Days by Hesiod, translated by A. E. Stallings

You had to know there would be at least a few works of ancient literature on this list, eh? Works and Days dates to somewhere in the 8th - 7th centuries BC and features advice from Hesiod, the poet, to his ne’er do well brother Perses. Wrapped around this advice is a discussion of what justice is and why we should care, archaic Hellas style. It also contains the earliest written source for the Pandora myth, if that interests you. I recommend Stallings’ translation in particular for its transporting verse and atypical and thought-provoking introduction.   

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

This autobiographical middle-grade novel follows Anna and her German-Jewish family in the lead-up to Hitler’s election in 1933. Anna’s father is a journalist who has been writing criticism against Hitler and his party. Fearful of having his passport revoked, he flees Berlin, and his family follows. Against this tension and trauma are the perceptions of a child on the cusp of adolescence. It’s beautiful and moving with eloquent descriptions and memorable characters.

Sula by Toni Morrison

One of my favorite novels by Morrison, Sula tells the story of two woman, Nel and Sula, who grew up together in small town Ohio. A tragic event changes both their lives, sending them reeling in opposite directions. When they reconnect as adults, well, obviously I can’t tell you what happens, but it packs a powerful punch in a very small space.

Weight by Jeanette Winters-on

This is another book I listened to in audio, so I cannot attest how it works if you’re reading it with your eyes. I enjoyed the narrators’ rendering of this reimagining of the Atlas and Heracles myths. It ponders the tension between choice and destiny and managed to surprise me and make me think about the myths in a new way.

Gilgamesh, adapted by Stephen Mitchell

This is called an adaptation instead of a translation because Mitchell worked with other translations rather than the original text. This is to say, if you’re a scholar of/expert in Mesopotamian mythology, I don’t know how you’ll feel about it. But if you’re a reader looking for a fascinating ancient story rendered in compelling verse, and you’re interested in eastern influences on Homeric epic, this narrative of a king who goes on a quest should satisfy.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

I haven’t yet read Woodson’s latest, but Another Brooklyn was one of my favorite reads of 2016. The story revolves around a group of friends in 1970s Brooklyn, but it’s not the plot or setting that has stayed with me. It’s the mood evoked by Woodson’s enchanting prose. I felt, reading the book, that its lyricism cast a spell on me, and I read it in one breathless sitting.

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, translated by Anne Carson

I got the best kind of chills reading this translation of Sappho. In most of the translations I’ve read, translators reconstruct the fragments without providing readers with a means of consciously reflecting on what’s missing. Carson, however, inserts brackets to indicate where the breaks occur, consistently drawing attention to the fact that what we’re reading is partial. Making me conscious of where breaks occur makes me wish more than ever that we had more complete works.

Hamish Macbeth mysteries by M. C. Beaton

I do love a cozy mystery this time of year. Extra points if we can pair it with a blustery day, with intermittent rain, a fireplace (gas, electric, wood-burning—I’m not fussy), and an iced latte of a seasonal sort. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series is set in the Scottish Highlands and are sweet, funny, and just so endearing.

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Sally Allen) Readers Fri, 18 Oct 2019 15:01:52 -0400
My Life on the Post Road: Fire on the Mountain https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/local-writers/44044-my-life-on-the-post-road-fire-on-the-mountain44044-my-life-on-the-post-road-fire-on-the-mountain https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/local-writers/44044-my-life-on-the-post-road-fire-on-the-mountain44044-my-life-on-the-post-road-fire-on-the-mountain

One of the many benefits of having been selected to serve on the Middlebury College Alumni Association Board is that I now have to travel to Vermont twice a year, at perhaps the most glorious times (although Vermont is pretty glorious year-round): spring and autumn. While I don’t relish the five-hour drive, I try to keep my eye on the prize, and during this time of year, the prize is the renowned fall foliage.

Although Vermont translates to “green mountain,” and Middlebury nestles in the middle of the eponymous range, it was Connecticut that was predominantly green as I drove up the Merritt to 91 heading north. I could sense a change during the quick trip through Massachusetts, as some yellows crept up on each side of the highway. But almost as if on cue, as I passed the “Welcome to Vermont” sign, the colors popped. By the time I entered Ludlow, I could see Okemo ski area trails carved, not into a white snow blanket but into what looked like a mountain on fire with predominantly reds and oranges. I had to concentrate hard to keep my eyes on the road and not the spectacle that nature had painted.

The college houses us at the Breadloaf campus, high atop the mountain just outside Middlebury proper, near the Snow Bowl ski area where we spent many a day skiing, especially during January term. In May, the quaint multistory mustard-colored, green-roofed cabins stood out against the verdant backdrop. But now, they blended in with what looked like a landscape that an artist had carefully dappled with red, orange, and yellow-dipped cotton puffs. On the drives down to campus and back up to my room, the flora looked more like the bunches of multi-colored cauliflower bunches that Stew’s now features.

But the bottom line is that no verbal description can possibly capture this wonder that nature seemingly effortlessly creates year after year. At the end of the first day of our meeting, we gathered for a group photo across the street from the cabins, with the nearly-cliché landscape behind us. We all had the pleasure of attending college in this wonderland for four years and the joy of returning to it many times thereafter (many of our children have attended as well). Yet we all stood there in awe, murmuring, slightly agape, at the brilliance before us. 

On the drive back, the colors that I’d passed just 60 hours prior seemed to have deepened even more, and I marveled at the change in so short a time. As I neared home, the predominantly green vistas returned, and while I missed the leafy rainbow on display in Vermont, I knew I still had it to look forward to here in Connecticut.

Photos by Diane Lowman

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Diane Meyer Lowman) Local Writers Fri, 18 Oct 2019 08:03:15 -0400
"Supernatural Stratford" Talk at Stratford Library on Oct. 29 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/clubs/44043-supernatural-stratford-talk-at-stratford-library-on-oct-2944043-supernatural-stratford-talk-at-stratford-library-on-oct-29 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/clubs/44043-supernatural-stratford-talk-at-stratford-library-on-oct-2944043-supernatural-stratford-talk-at-stratford-library-on-oct-29

The Stratford Lifelong Learners, a joint initiative of the Stratford Library and Stratford Senior Services, continues on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. with "Supernatural Stratford." The featured speaker will be historian Dave Wright.

With nearly 400 years of written history, Stratford has had its fair share of brushes with the supernatural. From demons being released from the earth during Indian Pow-wows and mermaids brushing their hair on local beaches, to objects flying through the air of their own accord during Sunday dinner and real life residents like Goody Bassett being hung for witchcraft, there is no shortage of scary stories in town. Wright will explore some of what has made Stratford a haven for ghost hunters and paranormal seekers in this lively program, special for the Halloween holiday. 

“Supernatural Stratford” is free and open to the public.

The Stratford Library is located at 2203 Main Street in Stratford, Conn. For further information, phone (203) 385-4162 or visit stratfordlibrary.org.

10.11.19

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Thomas Holehan) Clubs Fri, 18 Oct 2019 07:57:18 -0400
Two Special Children's Events at Barnes and Noble on Saturday https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/clubs/44042-two-special-children-s-events-at-barnes-and-noble-on-saturday44042-two-special-children-s-events-at-barnes-and-noble-on-saturday https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/clubs/44042-two-special-children-s-events-at-barnes-and-noble-on-saturday44042-two-special-children-s-events-at-barnes-and-noble-on-saturday

Barnes and Noble will be hosting two special children's event on Saturday: a storytime and activities event featuring A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mr. Rogers at 11 a.m. and a kid's book hangout event beginning at 2 p.m. The latter will include games, activities, and take home giveaways.

During the 11 a.m. event, participants at cafe stores can receive a coupon for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4. Participants at the 2 p.m. event at cafe stores can receive a coupon for a $1 rice crispy bar.

Barnes and Noble locations in Connecticut:

Farmington (1599 South East Rd)

Glastonbury (175 Glastonbury Blvd)

West Hartford (60 Isham Road West)

Waterbury (235 Union Street)

North Haven (470 Universal Drive North)

Manchester (270 Buckland Hills Dr. Suite 1024)

Canton (110 Albany Tpk #305)

Milford (1375 Boston Post Road)

Enfield (25 Hazard Ave)

Danbury (15 Backus Ave)

Westport (1076 Post Road East)

Stamford (100 Greyrock Place Suite H009)

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Books, Ink editors) Clubs Fri, 18 Oct 2019 07:50:51 -0400
Tuesday in Stamford: Ferguson Library's 5th Annual Literary Pub Crawl https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/43999-registration-is-open-for-ferguson-library-s-5th-annual-literary-pub-crawl43999-registration-is-open-for-ferguson-library-s-5th-annual-literary-pub-crawl https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/43999-registration-is-open-for-ferguson-library-s-5th-annual-literary-pub-crawl43999-registration-is-open-for-ferguson-library-s-5th-annual-literary-pub-crawl

The Book Shop and Friends of The Ferguson Library will host the Library's fifth annual Literary Pub Crawl on Tuesday, Oct. 22 beginning at 6:15 p.m. The event has sold out in the past, so get your tickets early!

Attendees, who must be 21 or older to participate, receive a Literary Pub Crawl Passport at the Ferguson Library. Tickets are $20. All proceeds will benefit the library. Click here to purchase tickets.

The evening will take place in downtown Stamford with stops at Bar Rosso, Cask Republic, Hudson Social, and La Perle. Pub crawl specials will be provided at the stops, along with entertainment including Literary Bingo, The Stamford All-School Musical, and Curtain Call. New this year, for the third stop of the "crawl," participants will be invited back to the Library for a complimentary dessert and comedy finale.

The Ferguson Library is located at 96 Broad Street in Stamford, Conn. For more information, call (203) 351-8243.
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sally.stra@gmail.com (Books, Ink editors) Readers Fri, 18 Oct 2019 07:40:00 -0400
Tuesday in Westport: "Permission to Feel" Author Speaks at MoCA https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/authors/44041-tuesday-in-westport-permission-to-feel-author-speaks-at-moca44041-tuesday-in-westport-permission-to-feel-author-speaks-at-moca https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/authors/44041-tuesday-in-westport-permission-to-feel-author-speaks-at-moca44041-tuesday-in-westport-permission-to-feel-author-speaks-at-moca

As momentum builds around the value of Emotional Intelligence, one man is actively seeking to leverage that understanding to help students and parents across the nation. Marc Brackett, the founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, will be at MoCA Westport on Tuesday Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. to talk about the remarkably effective plan he has developed to improve the lives of children and adults – a blueprint for understanding emotions and using them wisely so that they help, rather than hinder, success and well-being.

As a researcher for over 20 years, Brackett has focused on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. He is the lead developer of a program called RULER, which is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that is being adopted in over 2,000 schools, influencing kids from Pre-K to High School. RULER has been proven to reduce stress and burnout, improve school climate, and enhance academic achievement, and is currently being implemented in Westport Public Schools as well as in The Academy @ MoCA Westport.

One of the pillars of Brackett's approach is the necessary collaboration that comes from parents, students, teachers, and leaders prioritizing emotion in their conversations and behaviors. In his new book, Permission To Feel, he points a finger at the crisis children face in school today, and what we can all do about it to provide them a vibrant and successful path. His book is equal parts rigor, science, passion, and inspiration - drawing from decades of experiences including his own.

'An evening with Marc Brackett' is a ticketed event, with doors opening at 7 p.m. To reserve your seat to this eye opening talk, with the opportunity to meet and talk with Marc personally, visit mocawestport.org.

Brackett's book, Permission to Feel, is also available in the MoCA Westport Gift Shop now.

MoCA is located at 19 Newtown Turnpike in Westport, Conn.

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Heather Lawless) Authors Fri, 18 Oct 2019 07:38:34 -0400
The Aldrich to Host Art Aldrich - A Benefit Art Sale, Silent Auction, & Cocktail Party on Nov. 14 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/beyond-books/44040-the-aldrich-to-host-art-aldrich-a-benefit-art-sale-silent-auction-cocktail-party-on-nov-1444040-the-aldrich-to-host-art-aldrich-a-benefit-art-sale-silent-auction-cocktail-party-on-nov-14 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/beyond-books/44040-the-aldrich-to-host-art-aldrich-a-benefit-art-sale-silent-auction-cocktail-party-on-nov-1444040-the-aldrich-to-host-art-aldrich-a-benefit-art-sale-silent-auction-cocktail-party-on-nov-14

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will host Art Aldrich, a curated art sale, silent auction, and cocktail party to benefit the Museum, on Thursday, Nov. 14 from 7 to 9 pm. Tickets are $350 for VIP, $150 for General Admission, and $125 for Aldrich Young Patrons and Members and can be purchased online at shop.aldrichart.org.
 
The community is invited to join The Aldrich for an unforgettable evening with exclusive opportunities to start or build an art collection. Guests may bid on unique works of art by over 25 artists who have previously exhibited at the Museum. Additionally, Michael De Feo, the event’s Artist Chair, will be auctioning off two private tours of his West Village studio. Each tour will also include a one-of-a-kind painting on paper by De Feo.
 
Marcia Selden Catering, Fairfield County’s Best of Gold Coast caterer, will create a festive atmosphere with extraordinary food and a bespoke martini bar featuring Litchfield Distillery spirits. 
 
The VIP ticket option allows guests early access to the art sale at 6:30 pm, with a Buy It Now! opportunity to purchase artworks at the lowest prices without competing bidders, access to an exclusive champagne lounge designed by Toran Harper Interiors, and limited-edition Michael De Feo flower temporary tattoos.
 
For a full list of participating artists visit aldrichart.org.
 
For more information on Art Aldrich and to purchase tickets, please visit aldrichart.org, or contact Jamie Pearl, Head of Special Events, at jpearl@aldrichart.org, or 203.438.4519, extension 118. 
 

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kerry@ducey.org (The Aldrich) Beyond Books Fri, 18 Oct 2019 06:47:30 -0400
Celebrate the 45th Anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Oct. 26 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/beyond-books/44039-celebrate-the-45th-anniversary-of-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-at-the-ridgefield-playhouse-on-oct-2644039-celebrate-the-45th-anniversary-of-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-at-the-ridgefield-playhouse-on-oct-26 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/beyond-books/44039-celebrate-the-45th-anniversary-of-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-at-the-ridgefield-playhouse-on-oct-2644039-celebrate-the-45th-anniversary-of-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-at-the-ridgefield-playhouse-on-oct-26

The Ridgefield Playhouse's 45th anniversary screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Oct. 26 will include a live on stage Q&A with Barry Bostwick (Brad). The screening will include the original unedited movie with a live shadow cast and audience participation, plus a memorabilia display, costume contest, and more. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.

Based on the hit play with music, book, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, who also co-wrote the screenplay and played ‘Riff Raff’ on stage and in the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a phenomenon in the mid-70s that had teenagers dressing in drag, throwing toast, shouting lines at the screen such as “Superman!” (when actor, Barry Bostwick as Brad, removes his Clark Kent-type glasses) shooting squirt guns during the rain scene, and acting out the film in front of the screen. Lines of costumed movie-goers would form around the block for the midnight screenings of the darkly comic, gender-bending musical horror film that gave young people who were a bit different a place to come together and feel accepted and safe together.

The plot focuses on a seemingly normal couple, Brad & Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) who break down on a rainy night and seek assistance at a creepy house inhabited by mad-scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) a ”sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania.” Afraid and horrified at first, Brad and Janet soon fall under his spell and find themselves a part of the merry melee. The film is a parody of and tribute to the B movie horror films and science fiction films of the 1930s. Among other hilarious and unexpected moments, the film features an appearance by rock star, Meat Loaf who sings “Hot Patootie.”

For tickets ($45- $115) call or visit the box office, 203-438-5795 or go online at ridgefieldplayhouse.org.

 

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kerry@ducey.org (The Ridgefield Playhouse) Beyond Books Fri, 18 Oct 2019 06:47:00 -0400
On the Children's Shelf: Autumn Bookish Confession https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/44038-on-the-children-s-shelf-autumn-bookish-confession44038-on-the-children-s-shelf-autumn-bookish-confession https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/44038-on-the-children-s-shelf-autumn-bookish-confession44038-on-the-children-s-shelf-autumn-bookish-confession

While I love something about every season, October is my month. It's my favorite. The first cool night when I grab an extra sweater and scarf, the smell of fallen leaves, picking the perfect pumpkin, eating my weight in Halloween candy...I love it all.

We are in full fall mode at my house, and I'm soaking up every moment of it. So I wanted a book that screamed fall, which leads to my bookish confession...I'm rereading Harry Potter. I know it was just a few years ago that I shared here that I was reading Harry Potter for the first time. Since then I've reread a few of the books, and yet I dove back in again.

While we see other holidays in Harry Potter and other seasons, Harry Potter embraces autumn...the magic, the witches and wizards, the potions, wands, ghosts, owls, the great hall on Halloween...okay, seriously, the great hall on Halloween is my Halloween decorating inspriation. So while I savor this season, I'm going to embrace it in both my actual physical world and escape to more of it in books.

Which leads to my questions...what are your favorite books that embrace autumn? While I will continue to enjoy Harry Potter through this season, I want to add some new books too!

 
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sally.stra@gmail.com (Jessica Collins) Readers Fri, 11 Oct 2019 17:22:46 -0400
Spookathon TBR https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/44037-spookathon-tbr44037-spookathon-tbr https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/readers/44037-spookathon-tbr44037-spookathon-tbr

I’ll be participating in two readathons this month: Spookathon, a week-long readathon that runs from Oct. 14 through 20, and Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, which will be held from 8 a.m. on Oct. 26 to 8 a.m. on Oct. 27. Dewey’s does not have specific prompts, so I’ll decide what I’m in the mood to read on the evening before or morning of the readathon. This leaves me with one readathon-related TBR to craft: the one for Spookathon.

Spookathon combines three of my favorite readathon features: It’s one week long, has low-key (and delightfully subjective) prompts, and is seasonally themed. Generally, I try to manage my expectations, so I’m picking three books to fulfill its five prompts. If I manage to read four or five books, so much the better. You can tell from the title that it's an October-themed reading event, hence an opportunity finally to read the spooky (ahem) books I bought on impulse earlier this year. And of course, I have to have at least one fantasy novel because that genre is my current reading obsession.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (prompt 4)

This is for the prompt to read a book with a spooky title. I read the first chapter recently and can confirm that the mood is decidedly spooky, though the first chapter did not clarify for me quite what this book is about. All I know is that there is a librarian (yay!), a mythical lost city, and some warriors.  

Watching you by Lisa Jewell (prompts 1 and 5)

Here is one of those impulse-buy thrillers I mentioned above. I'll be reading it to fulfill the prompts to read a thriller and to read something I normally wouldn’t. I’m a gigantic scaredy cat with an overactive imagination. Reading thrillers can be hazardous to my sleep schedule. But darn it, I bought this book, and I will read it, and I will check two prompts off the list in the process. It seems to be about a group of people who spy on each other, which will probably make me paranoid about my neighbors. A possible upside, though, is that maybe I’ll finally get curtains for my downstairs windows.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (prompts 2 and 3)

It wouldn’t be an October readathon without some magic, eh? Practical Magic revolves around two sisters from Massachusetts (bonus for a New England setting) who longed to escape their hometown but are drawn back to it, according to the book description, "as if by magic" (wink, nudge). This will fulfill the prompts to read a book with red on the cover and to read a book with a spooky word in the title. What’s more spooky than “magic,” I ask you?

The prompts:
1. Read a thriller
2. Read a book with red on the cover
3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
4. Read a book with a spooky title
5. Read something you wouldn’t normally read

Are you participating in any readathons this autumn or reading seasonally in the month of October?

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Sally Allen) Readers Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:29:00 -0400
My Life on the Post Road: American Moor https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/local-writers/44036-my-life-on-the-post-road-american-moor44036-my-life-on-the-post-road-american-moor https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/local-writers/44036-my-life-on-the-post-road-american-moor44036-my-life-on-the-post-road-american-moor

Keith Hamilton Cobb’s tour de force, American Moor, blew into the Cherry Lane Theatre’s Red Bull Theater this hurricane season with the force of the impending Carribbean storms. Montano’s assertion in Othello, “Methinks the wind hath spoke aloud,” proves as relevant on this small West Village stage as it did on the shores of Cyprus, where Shakespeare's classic is set. In this 90-minute, nearly one-man monologue, Cobb explores race through his experiences as an actor, specifically through an audition for the role of Othello.

I don’t think of Othello as a play about a storm – Shakespeare wrote another one that comes to mind in that category. While a storm does figure significantly into Othello's plot as it defeats an external enemy and delivers the main characters to the Cypriot shore to face their personal maelstrom, I think of it more as a play about power, jealousy, evil, and love, where race has a mighty influence on each of these themes. Cobb’s superbly written and acted piece encouraged me to see not only Othello through new eyes, but also to see the complicated issues of race through new eyes.

Cobb pensively paced the width of the stage as the audience entered. Set sparsely only with a few fallen columns on which he periodically perched, he took up a lot of the space with his stride and stature. Random theatrical detritus littered the perimeters, and a few folding chairs sat front and center. His gait was more like that of the triumphant winged lion that stood atop the column behind him than of one caged and nervous. He was the contemplative calm before the storm he was about to unleash on the audience. His imposing 6’4” frame filled the space even before his booming voice did. He captured our attention before he said a word.

And oh, the words! “I loved those words,” he tells the audience of his initial reactions upon first hearing Shakespeare. His world changed, he said, “when Willy walked in.” As a young actor, he wanted nothing more than to speak them, to act them.

And then he ran into the brick walls, just like the exposed ones that flanked the audience in the long, narrow theater. The brick walls of being black. They blocked him as he chose characters to portray: an acting coach ridiculed his wish to read Titania, Caesar, and Richard II. “Why don’t you stick to the Big O?” suggested the master. Oprah? Orgasm? Cobb said Othello wasn’t even on his radar screen. He hadn’t gotten the memo that if you’re a black Shakespearean actor, that’s your wheelhouse.

So he got to know, and came to love, the play. He pointed out that jealousy, according to the OED, connoted suspicion and fear as much as envy in early modern England. He could relate easily to those reactions. He lamented the young innocent black lives lost in the streets to gunfire. He described people crossing the street as he came toward them walking down city sidewalks, or, almost worse, his sensing how badly they wanted to do so but steeled themselves to resist out of some sense of political correctness or feigned civility.

He ran head on into a brick wall again when he embraced and auditioned to play the Moor. The wall, this time, manifested in the person of the white male director (played by Josh Tyson from an aisle seat in the auditorium) who presumes to tell him how a black man (in this case, the ‘Big O’) would and should feel when faced with the pressures and prejudices of the white society in which he lives and serves.

Designer Alan C. Edwards used lighting to great effect during ‘the audition’ segments of the play. The tempest brewing inside Cobb builds under subdued sepia lighting during which he shares his real feelings. These moments are the thought bubbles filled to bursting with rage from years of rejection, frustration, and dreams deferred. The harsh white lighting ironically masks him as a polite, cooperative actor tolerating the director’s suggestions because he wants a part. We wait, as we would watching Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, to see if the roiling fury will "...dry up...fester like a sore...or explode?” (Langston Hughes, Harlem) You’ll have to see the play to find out.

Cobb breaks the fourth wall often, in a metaphoric attempt to either morph those bricks into easily punctured theatrical props or to muster up the power to huff and puff and blow even the brick walls down. In doing so, he included and made us complicit, made us sit up and take notice. He forced us, through this special relationship to Shakespeare, to acknowledge – as if it weren’t obvious in the media daily – that race is as complicated and confounding issue for all of us today as it was for Othello. I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Cobb after the performance. His imposing stature – even more so close up – belies an extremely gentle, pensive demeanor. Asked if the work reflected an actual experience he had, he bowed his head and closed his eyes, and then answered quietly that it was an amalgamation of a lifetime of such experiences.

As director Kim Weild notes in the program, “American Moor asks us to do the great work of empathy, to put fear aside...to see – really see an other.” Cobb’s writing and performance are forces as strong as any hurricane to reckon with. The path of destruction of old, biased views and misperceptions razed a path for healthy growth in a new social structure.

Photos courtesy of Diane Lowman

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Diane Meyer Lowman) Local Writers Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:27:03 -0400
Travel Author Patricia Schultz at Ferguson Library on Oct. 20 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/authors/44033-travel-author-patricia-schultz-at-ferguson-library-on-oct-2044033-travel-author-patricia-schultz-at-ferguson-library-on-oct-20 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/authors/44033-travel-author-patricia-schultz-at-ferguson-library-on-oct-2044033-travel-author-patricia-schultz-at-ferguson-library-on-oct-20

Patricia Schultz curates the world. When she published the original New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, she created not only a new kind of travel book but also a new way of thinking about our experiences and interests. On Sunday, Oct. 20, she will be at Ferguson Library from 2 - 3 p.m. A book sale and signing will follow her talk, and light refreshments will be served.
 
Schultz is also the author of the 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die, another New York Times bestseller. A veteran travel journalist with over 30 years of experience, she’s written for Frommer’s, Berlitz, and Access travel guides, as well as the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel Weekly, where she is a contributing editor. Her newest book is 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Deluxe Edition): The World as You’ve Never Seen It Before. Her home base is in New York City, but good luck finding her there!
 
The Ferguson Library's Main Library, DiMattia Building is located at One Public Library Plaza in Stamford, Conn. For more information, call (203) 351-8243. To register online, click here.
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sally.stra@gmail.com (Ferguson Library) Authors Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:26:43 -0400
How to Raise a Reader at Darien Library on Oct. 21 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/authors/44032-how-to-raise-a-reader-at-darien-library-on-oct-2144032-how-to-raise-a-reader-at-darien-library-on-oct-21 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/authors/44032-how-to-raise-a-reader-at-darien-library-on-oct-2144032-how-to-raise-a-reader-at-darien-library-on-oct-21

Pamela Paul, Editor of the New York Times Book Review and co-author of the new book, How To Raise A Reader, will visit Darien Library on Monday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. She will provide insider know-how to parents searching for the tools to instill a lifelong love of reading in their children. There will be an author signing after the event, and refreshments will be served.

Study after study shows that babies and toddlers thrive intellectually and emotionally when they’re read to and that books help children of every age expand their language skills and comprehension of the world, boost their critical thinking and imagination, build empathy, and strengthen bonds with caregivers. At the same time, reading can be a source of stress for parents.

About the Author

Pamela Paul is the editor of the New York Times Book Review and oversees books coverage at The New York Times, which she joined in 2011 as the children's books editor. She is also the host of the weekly Book Reviews podcast for the Times. She is the author and editor of five books, most recently, My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues.

Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Education Life, the EconomistVoguePsychology Today, and other national publications.

The Darien Library is located at 1441 Post Rd. in Darien, Conn. For more information, phone (203) 655-1234, or visit darienlibrary.org.

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Darien Library) Authors Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:20:13 -0400
Westport Country Playhouse Announces 2020 Season https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/beyond-books/44035-westport-country-playhouse-announces-2020-season44035-westport-country-playhouse-announces-2020-season https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/beyond-books/44035-westport-country-playhouse-announces-2020-season44035-westport-country-playhouse-announces-2020-season

Westport Country Playhouse will present its 90th season in 2020, featuring five productions, playing April 14 through Nov. 21, under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos. The historic, professional theater’s 2020 lineup includes two musicals, two dramas, and a new comedy.

“Our 2020 season speaks to the world today, embraces our communities, and explores new ways of bringing theatrical excitement to life at our historic Playhouse,” said Lamos, who next year will be in his 12th season as Playhouse artistic director. “We want to share this with you!”

Lamos noted that the new season has been planned “to build on the excitement generated by the current one, with two great musicals, an evergreen classic, fresh and funny new work, and engrossing drama.

“Some amazing artists have been assembled to deliver great theater experiences,” he continued. “Choreographer Camille A. Brown and a thrilling design team will create a brand new production of ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ that will feature the music of Fats Waller, a large cast, and lots of dancing; Marcos Santana, who directed and choreographed this season’s ‘In the Heights,’ will give us a blazing interpretation of the ground breaking “Next to Normal”; LA Williams helms Pearl Cleage’s moving ‘Blues for an Alabama Sky’; and associate artistic director David Kennedy re-imagines Sophocles’ ’Antigone,’ more resonant today than ever before.

“I’m thrilled and humbled to direct a fresh new comedy by Michael Gotch called ‘Tiny House,’ which was written for the gifted company of actors who performed in our award-winning ‘A Flea In Her Ear’ last year— The Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware,” Lamos concluded.

Details and dates of the 2020 Season lineup are as follows:

The musical, “Next to Normal,” with music by Tom Kitt, and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, will open the season, April 14 through May 2.  Director and choreographer is Marcos Santana, who helmed the Playhouse’s 2019 hit, “In the Heights.” “Next to Normal,” a 2009 Tony Award-winning musical and winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, gives a groundbreaking look at a family in crisis, while pushing the boundaries of contemporary musical theater.

“Tiny House,” a new comedy fresh from its world premiere by Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players, will play June 9 through June 27. Written by Michael Gotch, who was featured in the Playhouse’s 2018 award-winning comedy, “A Flea in Her Ear,” the play will be directed by Mark Lamos. Fireworks fly when family, friends, and quirky neighbors come together for a July 4th barbecue at the off-the-grid, isolated mountain paradise of a young, urban couple.

A dance-filled, reimagined, sassy, and sultry “Ain’t Misbehavin’” will run from July 21 through Aug. 8. The 1978 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical celebrates the legendary jazz great Fats Waller. The show as you’ve never seen it before will be directed and choreographed by Camille A. Brown, 2019 Tony Nominee for Best Choreography for “Choir Boy.” The musical is conceived by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz.

The world premiere translation and adaptation by Kenneth Cavander of Sophocles’ “Antigone” will play Sept. 29 through Oct. 17, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director. A determined young woman bravely defies a king in this thrilling drama about the nature of power and resistance. This classic play speaks across centuries to those living in a climate of fear and polarization.

The Playhouse’s 90th Season will culminate with “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” from Nov. 3 through Nov. 21, written by Pearl Cleage and directed by LA Williams, who directed the Playhouse’s 2019 production of “Skeleton Crew.” As the creative euphoria of the Harlem Renaissance succumbs to the harsh realities of The Great Depression, a community of friends resolves to keep their hopes and dreams alive.

All play titles, artists, and dates are subject to change.

2020 season ticket renewals are underway for current subscribers and may be renewed by mail at 25 Powers Court, Westport CT 06880; in person at the Playhouse box office Tuesdays through Fridays between 12 and 6 p.m.; by phone at 203-227-4177; or online (if no changes are needed) at westportplayhouse.org.

Flex Passes are also on sale, providing date flexibility, and may be redeemed for seats before single tickets go on sale next year. New subscription orders will go on sale Tuesday, Nov. 5. Season ticket packages offer savings, priority seating, restaurant discounts, $10 off extra tickets, and patron flexibility, including a choice of five-play or four-play options. Single tickets for 2020 productions will be available early next year.

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sally.stra@gmail.com (Books, Ink editors) Beyond Books Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:11:30 -0400
Wilton Historical Society Hosts Spooky Evening for Kids on October 19 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/clubs/44031-wilton-historical-society-hosts-spooky-evening-for-kids-on-october-1944031-wilton-historical-society-hosts-spooky-evening-for-kids-on-october-19 https://books.hamlethub.com/booksink/clubs/44031-wilton-historical-society-hosts-spooky-evening-for-kids-on-october-1944031-wilton-historical-society-hosts-spooky-evening-for-kids-on-october-19

When night settles on creaky old buildings during the scariest time of the year, you never know what you may bump into...!

This spooky evening for kids ages 8 – 12 will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.

During a candlelight walk through the dimly lit period rooms, and up and down groaning stairs of the 1740 Betts House and the 1772 Fitch House, kids will hear stories of the families who lived there. They will wend their way to the Burt Barn, where they will hear classic scary Halloween stories told in the dark. The evening will conclude with games, cider, and donuts. Halloween costumes are optional.

Parents may drop their kids off, but they are invited to linger enjoy a glass of hard cider while waiting. The event is co-sponsored by Kiwanis.

Registration is required. Members: $15 per child; maximum $30 per family. Non-members: $25 per child, maximum $50 per family. To reserve, e-mail info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257.

Learn more here.

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kerry@ducey.org (Wilton Historical Society) Clubs Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:09:00 -0400