Thursday, November 19
“It’s a roadmap to my life.”
Legendary artist Patti Smith delivers an unforgettable odyssey, told through the prism of cafés and haunts she has visited and worked in around the world.
Our coffee-saturated odyssey begins in a tiny Greenwich Village café, where Smith goes every morning, and takes us on a journey through mind, memory, and spirit. We travel from Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin, and to Smith’s favorite cafés and haunts around the world. With prose that shifts between dreams and reality, and across a landscape of creative inspiration, M TRAIN illustrates Smith’s deepest literary obsessions, augmented by her own stunning black-and-white Polaroids.
Woven throughout are reflections on the writer's craft and on artistic creation, alongside signature memories including her life in Michigan with her husband, guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, whose untimely death was an irremediable loss. For it is loss, as well as the consolation we might salvage from it, that lies at the heart of this exquisitely meditation on endings and on beginnings.
Patti Smith is the author of Just Kids, which won the National Book Award in 2010, and of five collections of poetry. Her seminal album Horses has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres; she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. She lives in New York City.
Thursday, December 3
Maybe you’re already among the millions of people who wait in hot anticipation for a new comic from Randall Munroe’s site xkcd.com three times a week. Or maybe you were enchanted by his hilarious, eye-opening anthology What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Either way, you already know you want to talk about his new book.
Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon? Randall Munroe is here to help. In Thing Explainer, Munroe provides simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:
- food-heating radio boxes (microwaves)
- tall roads (bridges)
- computer buildings (datacenters)
- the shared space house (the International Space Station)
- the other worlds around the sun (the solar system)
- the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates)
- the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table)
- planes with turning wings (helicopters)
- boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers)
- the bags of stuff inside you (cells)
How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button?
Inspired by his mega-popular webcomic “Up Goer Five,” in which Munroe clearly unpacks the anatomy of a Saturn V rocket, the new book is a series of brilliantly—and simply—annotated blueprints that explain everything from ballpoint pens to the solar system using line drawings, Munroe’s signature stick-figure doodles, and only the thousand most common English words.
Randall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What If?, the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular webcomic xkcd. A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the Internet full-time, supporting himself through the sale of xkcd t-shirts, prints, posters, and books. He likes candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. Very long walks. Lots of people say they like long walks on the beach, but then they get out on the beach and after just an hour or two, they say they're getting tired. Bring a tent. He lives in Massachusetts.