June 23, 2014

Susan Jane Gilman

A Russian Jewish immigrant’s rise from rags to riches is at the core of Susan Jane Gilman’s debut novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. @ Barnes and Noble, 2289 Broadway, 7:00 p.m.

Sean Michaels & Rob Schwimmer

Montreal music writer Sean Michaels is a two-time National Magazine Award winner, and his work has appeared in the Guardian, McSweeney’s, Pitchfork, The Believer, and many other publications. His debut novel Us Conductors is a tale of the invention of the world’s strangest instrument, the theremin. A Tin House New Voiceand Random House New Face of Fiction for 2014, Us Conductors is a haunting novel inspired by the true story of the Russian scientist, inventor and spy Lev Termen, creator of the theremin, and of Clara Rockmore, its greatest player. Roving from Manhattan speakeasies to the Siberian taiga, from Alcatraz to the Kremlin, the book is flavored with jazz and espionage and filled with music, longing, and a little kung fu. Michaels’ reading will be preceded by a theremin performance by Rob Schwimmer, founding member and co-director of the New York Theremin Society and one of the top theremin virtuosos in the world, whose compositions have been featured in theater, television and movies. @ Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY, 7:30 p.m.

Falling for Perfection: Literary Caberet

Readings and talks by novelist Emma Straub (Brooklyn’s famed sandwich joint The Meat Hook named a sandwich after her latest novel), Barnard College President Debora Spar, Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan, prize-winning poet Jeffrey McDaniel, playwright Adam Rapp, NYTimes journalist Christopher Mason and legendary New Yorker cartoonist Bob Mankoff. Presented in a dinner-theater style, “House of SpeakEasy” presents a series embodying the old lecture-hall mode of literary readings reborn and refreshed for the modern age. Each SpeakEasy cabaret features a variety of writers from across the genres, from fiction to non-fiction, from the dramatic arts to stand-up comedy, as well as poetry and song, delivering short monologues. Every event has a central theme –- in this case, perfectionism — that is meditated upon by the writers on the stage. @ City Winery, 155 Varick Street, 6:00 p.m.

June 25, 2014

Jean Kwok

Best-selling author of Girl in Translation talks about her new novel – a story of a young woman’s balancing-act between her family in Chinatown and a new-found passion, ballroom dancing. Hosted by Julia Fierro, Founder of Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop and author of Cutting Teeth: A Novel. @ Bryant Park Reading Room, 12:30 p.m.

Kim Gordon

At worst, she was pigeonholed as the “token girl” in the band. At best, she’s been recognized as a feminist and rock ’n’ roll trailblazer. At weirdest, she was the designer of an Urban Outfitters clothing line geared toward “cool moms” (Mirror/Dash, 2009). But many don’t know about Kim Gordon’s stake in art and academia, which is pretty extensive. Her new critical essay collection, Is It My Body? (Sternberg), spans 36 years of writing and presents itself as a tomboy manifesto. Tonight, the founding member of Sonic Youth presents her book alongside one of its featured subjects: conceptual artist Raymond Pettibon, who in 2013 transformed the David Zwirner Gallery into his own personal studio in order to display work in the place it was created. At the release party for Pettibon’s To Wit (Strand), he and Gordon discuss his career and the project, followed by a Q&A and book signing. @ The Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, 7:00 p.m.