This Sunday, the Brooklyn Book Festival will once again bring a host of writers and readers to the area around Borough Hall to hear critical discussions, gripping fiction, and smart conversations about literature. Here are a handful of the panels that some of us are excited about for Sunday’s festival. You can check out the whole schedule here. Hopefully, we’ll see you there.
It’s hard to fathom a cultural figure who captured the ecstasy and insanity of our culture more than Anna Nicole Smith. In a sort of ultimate mindfuck of high and low brow culture, BAM’s new opera, Anna Nicole, challenges us to confront the implications of obsessing over those we deride, but can’t look away from. This discussion, with some heavyweight thinkers like Als and Critchley, promises to offer some pretty great insights into our sense of art today, and the pathos of celebrity.
On Truth (and Lies) in Beauty: Theater critic Hilton Als(White Girls) and philosopher Alexander Nehamas (Only a Promise of Happiness) join philosopher Simon Critchley (Stay, Illusion: The Hamlet Doctrine) to explore the notion of beauty as defined in the bold new opera Anna Nicole. Co-Presented by BAM and the Onassis Cultural Center NY. 12:00 PM; Borough Hall Courtroom (209 Joralemon Street)
Producing a sexy sex scene full of stuff that’s either legitimately hot or accurately weird is one of fiction writing’s true head-scratchers (or body part of choice, depending on where you like to be scratched). Find out how the pros do it with former Playboy editor and novelist Amy Grace Loyd (of the mind game safari The Affairs of Others), Susan Choi (whose 2013 book My Education turns the May-December student-professor trope on its head with bona fide eros), and Sam Lipsyte (a contender for the title of New York’s best living writer, named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1998 and 2010). It’s moderated by Angela Ledgerwood of Cosmopolitan, my go-to place for pictures of Miley Cyrus that force me to reevaluate what I’m doing with my life. You’re sure to leave this panel flush in the face and damp down below, and might even procure a phone number or two.
Let’s Talk About (Writing) Sex: Everyone’s writing about it. Sam Lipsyte (The Fun Parts) pens sardonic short stories about sex in a misanthropic world. Amy Grace Loyd (The Affairs of Others) depicts an apartment building filled with violence, mystery, and, of course, sex. And Susan Choi (My Education) puts a (sexy) new twist on the student-teacher relationship. Short readings and discussion. Moderated by Angela Ledgerwood (Cosmopolitan Magazine). 5:00 P.M.; Main Stage (Borough Hall Plaza)
Not surprisingly, a number of this year’s panels take as their subject politics. Without being overly strident, fiction is often an ideal place to explore the ambiguities of the political realm, the gulf between ideals and practice, and questions of ethics, radicalism, and compromise. It doesn’t hurt that the trio of writers here are well-versed in exploring those grey areas in their own work.
Arts and Politics in Fiction: Art has always been a tool for political and social change. In these novels, it comes in the form of protest-pop songs, motorcycle photography and high-end fashion. Alex Gilvarry (From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant), Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers) and Nicholson Baker (Traveling Sprinkler) shed new light on the timeless relationship between art and politics. Moderated by Joel Whitney. 12:00 P.M.; Brooklyn Historical Society Auditorium (128 Pierrepont Street)
I will be checking out the “Faces of Brooklyn” event. Pete Hamill, Adelle Waldman and Adrian Tomine are three of my favorite storytellers, all for completely different reasons. It seems like a slightly unconventional match-up, so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of conversation results.
The Faces of Brooklyn: New York’s coolest borough is home to hipsters, people who dislike hipsters and literary stars—among them, Brooklyn enthusiasts Pete Hamill (The Christmas Kid), Adelle Waldman (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.) and Adrian Tomine (New York Drawings). These powerhouses plant uniquely different characters in a nostalgic Brooklyn, a contemporary Brooklyn and a colorful Brooklyn that jumps off the page. Moderated by Penina Roth (Franklin Park Reading Series). 3:00 P.M.; Borough Hall Courtroom (209 Joralemon Street)