Bestsellers Brunch

September 28, 2008

Every once in a while, I’ll see a display with little sign saying something like “drop your card in the bowl and win a prize,” and if it doesn’t look too fishy, my card goes into the bowl. Why not? What do I have to lose?

Much to my surprise, after dropping a card in a bowl in Central Park, I received the following e-mail.

Congratulations – You have won one ticket to our Bestsellers Brunch, this Sunday!

New York is Book Country – Bestsellers Brunch
The Waldorf=Astoria
301 Park Avenue
Sunday September 28th
11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
———————————
Enjoy a fantastic brunch and meet six current and future bestselling authors as they discuss their latest works. You’ll hear from:

  • Lawrence Block EDGAR AWARD WINNER, Hit and Run
  • Harlan Coben EDGAR AWARD WINNER, Hold Tight
  • Marlo Thomas GOLDEN GLOBE-WINNING ACTRESS, Free to Be…You and Me (35th Anniversary Edition)
  • Dionne Warwick GRAMMY-WINNING SINGER, Say a Little Prayer

Plus, debut novelists sure to hit the bestseller lists in the years to come…

  • Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances
  • Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

We are pleased to announce the event will be moderated by Carol Fitzgerald, President of The Book Reporter Network.

How could I resist? I have to admit that I was eager to get an up-close-and-personal look at Marlo Thomas and Dionne Warwick, and to hang around and drink coffee in one of the fanciest hotels ever built in the City of New York.

To my surprise (and delight), after they spoke, all of the authors hung around and signed copies of their books. I walked away with a pile of books tucked securely into a Waldorf-Astoria shopping bag, and now have enough reading material to last the rest of the season.

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The brunch featured chefs making omelettes

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The brunch crowd

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Most of the panel (they didn’t all fit in the frame)

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Dionne Warwick speaking to a fan

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Marlo Thomas signing a book

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Marlo Thomas speaking to a fan

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Lawrence Block signing a book

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Lawrence Block and Harlan Coben

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Harlan Coben on the panel

The Waldorf-Astoria hotel
Lawrence Block, Hit and Run
Harlan Coben, Hold Tight
Marlo Thomas, Free to Be … You and Me
Dionne Warwick, Say a Little Prayer
Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances
Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook


The Recovery Project Rally

September 27, 2008

Inspired by the success of their critically acclaimed program Intervention, the A&E television network has launched an initiative to raise awareness about addiction and recovery. The effort known as the Recovery Project began with a rally at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza, followed by a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

In a press release, Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager of the A&E Network and Bio Channel said, “We believe that the considerable reach of A&E Network provides a powerful platform to address, head-on, this enormous public health issue and the urgent need for meaningful action. ‘Intervention’ served as a wake-up call to the fact that addiction is a disease pervading every aspect of our society. Nobody is immune, and everyone deserves a chance to fight for his or her recovery.”

Despite the morning’s drizzle and fog, thousands of recovering addicts came out today. Some were decades into their recovery, others had been clean only a few days, but all hoped that they could help others understand that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery is possible.

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Gathering in the park

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Worker distributing t-shirts

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In recovery for four months and nine months

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Daughter with mother 15 years in recovery

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In recovery since May 10th

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In recovery for 19 years

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In recovery for 10 years, new in recovery

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In recovery for 13 years

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In recovery for 28 months

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In recovery for 35 years

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In recovery for 60 days

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Family from Trenton, NJ

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In recovery for 8 1/2 months

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In recovery for 25 years

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Crossing the bridge with a cigarette and a lollipop

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In recovery for 12 years

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In recovery for 19 days

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In recovery for 23 years

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Crossing Brooklyn Bridge together

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In recovery for 13 years

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Walking across the bridge

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In recovery “and I vote”

A&E: The Recovery Project
A&E: Recovery Rally
A&E: Intervention


Trader Joe’s Comes to Brooklyn

September 26, 2008

Who would get excited about the opening of a new grocery store in New York City, where dozens of grocery stores open (and close) every year without making a ripple? Making a big deal over a new food market seems more appropriate for a sleepy village where nothing ever happens.

But today’s store opening drew reporters, politicians and excitement. Despite the pouring rain, shoppers waited for more than an hour outside the balloon-festooned market just for the honor of saying they were the first to set foot in Brooklyn’s first Trader Joe’s store. The California-based specialty grocery chain, known for their high quality, unusual selection and fair prices, has an almost cult-like following — some shoppers even run fan sites.

This morning, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz stood on the front steps of the building that formerly housed the Independence Bank and declared that this is Trader Joe’s Day in Brooklyn. Then, as a steel band played and the store’s employees applauded, the soggy but eager shoppers burst through the doors.

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Balloons signal the opening

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Shoppers waiting in the rain

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The carts are empty as employees applaud the first shoppers

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The JahPan Caribbean Steel Drum Band playing

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Banging the drums

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Shoppers explore the new store

Trader Joe’s
NY1: A Trader Joe’s Grows In Brooklyn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Brooklynites Cheer as Trader Joe’s Opens It’s Doors
NY Daily News: Trader Joe’s gets a grand unwrap
NY Times: For Trader Joe’s, a New York Taste Test
Trader Joe’s Fan
Tracking Trader Joe’s


Just Hangin’ Around

September 26, 2008

David Blaine is an entertainer who is usually called a magician. However, while he does perform some slight of hand and street magic, he is best known as part of the long tradition of performers who have gotten themselves into, and out of, difficult situations with great flourish and showmanship. Blaine specializes in highly-publicized stunts that test his endurance: among other feats he has been encased in ice, entombed in a plastic box, and stood atop a pole for long stretches of time.

A few days ago he began his latest project, called the “Dive of Death.” It is supposed to entail Blaine hanging upside down above Central Park’s Wollman Skating Rink for 60 hours. The stunt will end tonight at about 11:15, culminating in what is being described as a spectacular finale involving big balloons, acrobats and music.

Today I stopped by the Park to see Blaine hanging upside down and was very surprised to see him standing right side up. He was standing on a platform, drinking juice from a bottle. When he finished the juice, he followed it with a bottle of water. Eventually, he was moved away from the platform and suspended from a crane. The area around the rink was surrounded by metal security barricades and dozens of enormous guards with thick necks, shaved heads and earpieces.

Spectators took pictures and some were escorted behind the barriers to pose for photos with Blaine. While they were waiting, a teenaged Blaine fan in the crowd named Joseph quietly performed magic tricks for those around him. His appearance wasn’t planned, wasn’t publicized, wasn’t paid, and was barely even noticed by most of those who surrounded him. Too bad. It was more entertaining to watch the boy doing card tricks and causing a straw man to rise on his palm than it was to see David Blaine hanging upside down.

By the way, if you would like to reach Joseph, you’ll find him in Queens at 347-484-6148.

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David Blaine, standing on a platform

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Not upside down

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Being hoisted up

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Finally, hanging!

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Upside down man

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Joseph the street magician working in the crowd

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The elaborate set built in Wollman Rink

Entertainment Weekly: I Don’t Get It
Live News: David Blaine’s a fake, claim angry witnesses
Times Online: David Blaine rubbished over breaks
Gothamist: David Blaine Starts Upside-Down Stunt Over Wollman Rink
Sydney Morning Herald: The Blaine Game – No dive, no death
Times Online: Hanging about like a sloth. Call that magic?


Mexican Day Parade

September 21, 2008

Most of the year, New York’s Mexican community is nearly invisible. To outsiders, its members appear to be no different than any of the other recently-arrived Latin American immigrants. But today is Mexican residents’ day to shine.

This afternoon the Mexican Day Parade (also known as the Mexican Independence Parade) was held on Madison Avenue between 26th and 42nd Streets. A relatively recent tradition, which celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain, the annual event began in the 1990s and has grown larger every year.

Today a procession of lowriders (both the automotive and bicycle varieties) roared down the street, followed by floats, marching bands and a large contingent of Bolivian dancers. The weather was perfect, the crowd was enthusiastic, the mariachis played, the women danced and the kids were entranced. It was a great day for vendors selling anything in green, red and white (the colors of the Mexican flag), too.

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Watching the parade

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The queen of the parade

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Young couple

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Viva Mexico headband

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Dancer

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Boy with painted face

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Sitting and watching

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A dancer

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Fascinated

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Girl in the crowd

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Boy holding flag

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Drummers from marching band

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Friends watching together

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Proud papa

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Peeking out from under police barrier

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Holding a mask

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Lowrider family

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Stroller draped with sequined saint

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Dancers leaping

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Mini-Mexican

NY Times: Parade Dispute Is a Rite of Passage for Mexicans


Art In-Site on Governors Island

September 20, 2008

Governors Island is slowly being transformed from an abandoned military base to a public arts and recreation center. Many of the old houses have been stabilized and are open to visitors who can walk freely through their empty, echoing rooms.

The Sculptors Guild has organized a large 70th anniversary exhibition on the island, with works displayed out of doors and inside one of the recently restored and reopened buildings. The show, called In-Site, will close on October 1 and the island closes for the season on October 5.

If you have the time to go, take one of the free ferries from Lower Manhattan; they go to Governors Island every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss the boat or you’ll have to wait until next year.

By the way … I wasn’t able to match up all of the works I saw with their creators. If you can identify the sculptors, please let me know.

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Wooden sculpture by Beth Morrison

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Sculpture on Governors Island by Renata Schwebel

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Sculpture by Judith Steinberg

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Sculpture on Governors Island by Mary Ellen Scherl

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Sculpture made from shingles by Lucy Hodgson

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Bench by Steven Ceraso & John Fekner

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Work by Anti Liu

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By Jerelyn Hanrahan

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Work by Rune Olsen

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Mummy’s Desire by Katja Jakobsen

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Work by Jeremy Comins

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Sculpture by Mary Judge

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Work by Rick Briggs

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Woman by Lloyd Glasson

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Doorway by Julie Tesser

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Sculpture by Patricia Anne Mandel

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Man by Stephanie Rocknak

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Sculpture

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Wooden bust

The Sculptors Guild
New York State: Governors Island
National Park Service: Governors Island


Brooklyn Book Festival 3

September 14, 2008

Now in its third year, the Brooklyn Book Festival has expanded to include authors and books that have no obvious connection to this borough.

The new focus on international authors, though, did not mean that local talent was shut out. In fact, this year’s festivities included some of Brooklyn’s best-known writers, and I was fortunate enough to hear some of them speak.

I also had the opportunity to gush (babble, perhaps) to the glamorous Terry McMillan about how much I enjoyed her first bok (Mama) and what it meant to me. She appeared to be both astonished and pleased and whispered conspiratorially, “That is my favorite, too.”

This year’s participating authors included:

Warren Adler: Funny Boys, The War of the Roses, Random Hearts
Jose Eduardo Agualusa: The Book of Chameleons, Creole
Henry Alford: Municipal Bondage, Big Kiss, How to Live
Dorothy Allison: Bastard out of Carolina, Cavedweller, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure
Ron Arons: The Jews of Sing Sing
Kyle Baker: Nat Turner, How to Draw Stupid, The Bakers: Babies & Kittens
Russell Banks: The Reserve, Affliction, Rule of the Bone
Toby Barlow: Sharp Teeth
Jennifer Baumgardner: Abortion and Life, Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics
Moustafa Bayoumi: How Does it Feel to be a Problem?, Being Young and Arab in America, The Edward Said Reader
Mo Beasley: No Good Nigg@ Bluez
Paul Beatty: Slumberland, The White Boy Shuffle, Tuff: A Novel
Alice Bernstein: The People of Clarendon County
Charles Bock: Beautiful Children
Mirko Bonne: Die Republik der Silberfische, Der eiskalte Himmel, Hibiskus Code
Jimmy Breslin: The Good Rat
Breyten Breytenbach: All One Horse, The Memory of Birds in Times of Revolution, Return to Paradise
Geoffery Canada: Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America
Colin Channer: The Girl With the Golden Shoes, Iron Ballons
Alan Cheuse: To Catch the Lightning, The Fires, The Light Possessed
Susan Choi: A Person of Interest, American Woman, The Foreign Student
Kate Christensen: In the Drink, Jeremy Thrane, and The Epicure’s Lament
Melissa Clark: The Skinny
Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Beautiful Struggle
Jerry Craft: Mama’s Boyz
Gabriel Cohen: Red Hook, The Graving Dock, and Boombox
Mark Danner: Torture and Truth, The Secret Way to War, The Road to Illegitimacy
Frank Delaney: Ireland, Tipperary, Simple Courage
Stacey D’Erasmo: Tea, A Seahorse Year, The Sky Below
Joan Didion: The Year of Magical Thinking, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Where I Was From
The Waiter (Steve Dublanica): Waiter Rant
Ronald Dworkin: The Supreme Court Phalanx, Is Democracy Possible Here?, Justice in Robes
Nathan Englander: The Ministry of Special Cases, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges
Rachel Fershleiser: Not Quite What I Was Planning: 6 Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
Isaac Fingerer: Adults Only: Trendsetting Spirituality for the 21st Century
Nick Flynn: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Blind Huber, Some Ether
Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City, Strong Motion, The Discomfort Zone
David Frum: Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush
Paula Fox: The Coldest Winter, Borrowed Finery, Desperate Characters
Rivka Galchen: Atmospheric Disturbances
Alexander Genis: Red Bread, Russian Postmodernism, Dovlatov and Environs
Dagoberto Gilb: The Flowers, Woodcuts of Women, The Magic of Blood
Ben Greenman: A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both, Superbad, Superworse
Robert Greenman:
Andrew Sean Greer: The Story of a Marriage, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, The Path of Minor Planets
Phillipe Grimbert: Memory, La Petite Robe de Paul, Chantons sous la psy
Paul Guest: The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, Notes for my Body Double, upcoming My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge
Jessica Hagedorn: Dogeaters, The Gangster of Love, Dream Jungle
Pete Hamill: North River, Flesh and Blood, Forever
Theodore Hamm: Rebel and a Cause, New Blue Media
Kathryn Harrison: While They Slept, Envy, The Kiss
Matthea Harvey: Sad Little Breathing Machine, Pity the Bathtub its Forced Embrace of Human Form, Modern Life
Joanna Hershon: The German Bride, Swimming, The Outside of August
Paul Holdengräber (New York Public Library)
A.M. Homes: The Mistress’s Daughter, This Book Will Save Your Life
Pico Iyer: The Open Road, The Lady and the Monk, Sun After Dark
Steven Jenkins: Cheese Primer, The Food Life
Nina Katchadourian (Musician)
Porochista Khakpour: Sons and Other Flammable Objects
Josh Kilmer-Purcell: Candy Everybody Wants, I Am Not Myself These Days
Chuck Klosterman: Downtown Owl, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Killing Yourself to Live
Lily Koppel: The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal.
Pavel Lembersky: A Unique Space, City of Vanishing Spaces, River #7
Jonathan Lethem: Fortress of Solitude, Motherless Brooklyn, You Don’t Love Me Yet
Tao Lin: Eeeee Eee Eeee, You are a Little Bit Happier than I am, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Bud Livingston: President Lincoln’s Third Largest City
Phillip Lopate: Two Marriages, The Rug Merchant, Being With Children
John R. MacArthur: Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington and the Subversion of American Democracy
Ian MacKaye (Musician): Dischord Records
John Manbeck: The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Film, Brooklyn: Historically Speaking
Alice Mattison: Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn, In Case We’re Separated, The Book Borrower
Patrick McGrath: Trauma, Port Mungo, Dr Haggard’s Disease and Asylum
Terry McMillan: Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Interruption of Everything
Joe Meno: The Boy Detective Fails, Hairstyles of the Damned, Demons in the Spring
Sarah Mlynowski: Bars & Broomsticks, Spells and Sleeping Bags, Milkrun
Kenny Moore: The CEO and the Monk
Thurston Moore: Mix Tape, Alabama Wildman, Nice War
Walter Mosley: Devil in a Blue Dress, Blonde Faith, This Year You Write Your Novel
Eileen Myles: Sorry Tree, Cool for You, Chelsea Girls
Fae Myenne Ng: Bone, Steer Toward Rock
Jay Neugeboren: 1940, Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness and Survival, The Stolen Jew
Arthur Nersesian: The Swing Voter of Staten Island, The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx, Chinese Takeout
Patrice Nganang: Dog Days, elobi, L’Invention du beau regard
Elizabeth Nunez: Prospero’s Daughter, Grace, Discretion
D. Nurkse: The Border Kingdom, Burnt Island, The Fall
Patricia O’Brien: Harriet and Isabella, The Glory Cloak: A Novel of Lousia May Alcott and Clara Burton
Joseph O’Neill: Netherland
Ed Park: Personal Days
José Luis Peixoto: The Implacable Order of Things
George Pelecanos: The Turnaround, The Night Gardner, Hard Revolution
Arthur Phillips: Prague, The Egyptologist, Angelica
Darryl Pinckney: Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature, High Cotton
Katha Pollitt: Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories, Reasonable Creatures, Virginity or Death!
Kevin Powell: No Sleep Till Brooklyn: New and Selected Poems, Someday We’ll All Be Free
Richard Price: Lush Life, Freedomland, Clockers
David Rakoff: Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Aaron Raskin: The Rabbi and the CEO
Juan de Recacoechea: American Visa
Elizabeth Reddin: The Hot Garment of Love
John Reed: All the World’s a Grave, The Whole, Snowball’s Chance
Nathaniel Rich: The Mayor’s Tongue
Simon Rich: Free Range Chickens, Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations
Steven Rinella: The Scavanger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine
Cristy C. Road:  Indestructible, Bad Habits
Carl Hancock Rux: Asphalt
Linda Sanchez: Dream in Color
Loretta Sanchez: Dream in Color
Esmeralda Santiago: When I was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman, América’s Dream
Saïd Sayrafiezadeh: When Skateboard Will Be Free: A Memoir of a Political Childhood, State by State
Lore Segal: Shakespeare’s Kitchen, Her First American, Other People’s Houses
Ken Siegelman: City Souls, Through Global Currents, Urbania
Amy Shearn: How Far is the Ocean From Here
Robert Silvers: The Consequences to Come
Esther K. Smith: How to Make Books, Magic Books & Paper Toys, The Paper Bride
Larry Smith: Not Quite What I Was Planning: 6 Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
Patricia Smith: Teahouse of the Almighty, Close to Death
Ian Randal Strock: The Presidential Book of Lists
Manil Suri: The Age of Shiva, The Death of Vishnu
Paco I Taibo II: Pancho Villa, Frontera Dreams
Marina Temkina: Canto Immigranto, Kalancha, In Reverse
Hannah Tinti: The Good Thief, Animal Crackers
Adrian Tomine: Shortcomings, New York Sketches 2004, Summer Blond
Paul Tough: Whatever It Takes
Sandra Tsing Loh: A Year in Van Nuys, Mother on Fire: A True Mother%#$@ Story About Parenting, Mr. Loh’s Not Afraid to be Naked
Nikki Turner: Black Widow
Linn Ullmann: Before You Sleep, Stella Descending, Grace
Binyavanga Wainaina: Discovering Home, Kwani?
Matt Weiland: Names on the Land, State by State, The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup
Jacob Weisberg: The Bush Tragedy, In an Uncertain World, The Bushisms Series
Sean Wilsey: Oh the Glory of it All, State by State (co-editor)
Dirk Wittenborn: Pharmakon, Fierce People
Peter Wortsman: Telegrams of the Soul
John Wray:Canaan’s Tongue
Naomi Wolf: The End of America, The Beauty Myth, Promiscuities
Matvei Yankelevich: Today I Wrote Nothing
Kevin Young: Dear Darkness, For the Confederate Dead, Jelly Roll
Gary Younge: No Place Like Home, Stranger in a Strange Land
Thomas Zweifel: The Rabbi and the CEO, International Organizations: Democracy, Accountability, Power

YOUTH
Holly BlackThe Good Neighbors, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Ironside
Susan Cooper (Newbery Award author) Acting Out
Daniel Kirk, Elf Realm
Gail Carson Levine: Ella Enchanted, The Fairest, Ever
David Levithan,Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Boy Meets Boy
Patricia MacLachlan (Newbery Award author), Acting Out
Sarah Mlynowski: How to be Bad, Spells and Sleeping Bags, Bras and Broomsticks
An Na: A Step From Heaven, Wait For Me, The Fold
Alisa Valdes Rodriguez: Haters, Dirty Girls on Top, The Dirty Girls Social Club
Ariel Schrag: Potential, Awkward and Definition, Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age
Paul Volponi: Hurricane Song, Black and White, Rooftop, Rucker Park Setup
Ivan Velez, Jr.Tales of the Closet, Dead High Yearbook
Cecily von Ziegesar: Gossip Girls, It Girl
Brian Wood,DMZ, Demo, The New York Four
Jacqueline Woodson: Feathers, Hush, After Tupac and D Foster
Bil Wright, When the Black Girl Sings

CHILDREN
Grace Chang: Jin Jin the Dragon
Raul Colon: Tomas and the Library Lady, My Mama Had a Dancing Heart, Angela and the Baby Jesus
Nina Crews: Snowball, The Neighborhood Mother Goose, Below
Edward Hemingway: Bump in the Night
Betsy Lewin: So, What’s it Like to Be a Cat? Duck for President, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type
Ted Lewin: Horse Song, Peppe the Lamp Lighter
John Bemelmans Marciano: Madeline and the Cats of Rome
Chris Myers, Jabborwocky (adapted by), Wings, Jazz
Jane O’Connor: Fancy Nancy
Chris Raschka: Yo! Yes? Charlie Parker Played Be Bop and Five for a Little One
Jon Scieszka: Time Warp Trio, The Stinky Cheeseman and other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
Marilyn Singer: Didi and Daddy on the Promenade, City Lullaby, Shoe Bop!
Mo Willems: Elephant and Piggie Books, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

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Pete Hamill

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Amy Shearn

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Jimmy Breslin

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Chuck Klosterman

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Stacey D’Erasmo

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Geoffrey Canada

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Charles Bock

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Henry Alford

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Sandra Nunez

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Paul Beatty

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Simon Rich

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Ed Park

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Youme Landowne

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Toby Barlow

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Etan Boritzer

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Jessica Hagedorn

Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn Public Library
Mama by Terry McMillan


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