Dershowitz Headlining Mandell Jewish Book Fest; Film Critic At R.J. Julia

Special To The Courant
Kliph Nesteroff discusses his book about comedy Nov. 17 at Mark Twain House & Museum Center in Hartford

The annual Mandell JCC Jewish Book Festival will open its series of talks with lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz, author of "Abraham — The World's First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer" (Schocken, $26), a history of Jewish lawyers from Abraham to current advocates, on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. at Mandell Jewish Community Center, 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus, is the best-selling author of more than 30 books and contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Tickets are $25. Other festival events will be held in January, March and May. Information and reservations: 860-231-6313 or tickets@mandelljcc.org or mandelljcc.org.

Art World, Movie Criticism

An art world thriller and a guide to watching movies the way a top critic does will be discussed by their authors at free events at R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road., Madison. Both events begin at 7 p.m., and reservations are required: 203-245-3959 or rjjulia.com.

B. A. Shapiro, author of the award-winning bestseller, "The Art Forger," will discuss her new novel, "The Muralist" (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $26.95), on Tuesday, Nov. 17. It is the story of Alizée Benoit, an American painter who vanishes in 1940, baffling her Jewish family in Nazi-occupied France and the famous artists who are her friends, such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. Seventy years later, her great-niece finds some answers to the mysterious disappearance.

Renowned film critic David Thomson, who has written more than 30 books about film and contributed to The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, The New Republic, Salon and other magazines, will be at the shop on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to explain how an authority on movies watches a film. Thomson's book, "How to Watch a Movie" (Knopf, $24.95), is a guide to assessing actors, shots, cuts, dialogue and music in classic and contemporary movies, and suggests how, where and with whom to watch a film for maximum enjoyment.

Comedy's History

The Mark Twain House & Museum Center, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, will present another in its free Book/Mark series of talks on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., when Kliph Nesteroff discusses his book, "The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy" (Grove, $28).

Nesteroff, a historian of comedy, did more than 200 interviews as well as archival research to explore how American comedians have reflected and affected American culture in the past century, from vaudeville to TV to stand-up club acts. Reservations: 860-247-0998 or marktwainhouse.org.

Veteran Artists

Celebration of Veteran Artists, a multi-arts event, will take place on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 5 p.m., at The Main Stage Theatre. 177 College St. New Haven. The celebration, produced by the Veteran Artists Program in New York City, will feature a reading by author Phil Klay, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran whose short story collection about the Iraq War, "Redeployment" (Penguin Books, $16), won the 2014 National Book Award for fiction.

Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club fame will emcee the event, which will include Roman Baca's Exit 12 Dance Company, "Confessions of a War Dog," by The Veterans Home Front Theatre and an exhibit curated by Veterans Art Foundation.

Due to the generosity of a donor, tickets, formerly $10 or $20, now are free, but reservations are required. Shubert Theater Box Office: 203-562-5666.

Old-Fashioned Christmas

A Midwestern transplant to Vermont, Ellen Stimson, will sign copies of her new book, "An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home" (Countryman Press, $24.95), at The Hickory Stick Bookshop, 2 Green Hill Road., Washington Depot, on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. Stimson also will sign copies of her paperback, "Good Grief: Life in a Tiny Vermont Village" (Countryman Press, $16.95).

She also is the author of "Mud Season," about life in her small Vermont town. Her new book offers 98 recipes for holiday entertaining, including Root Beer Pulled Pork and Chestnut Mousse.

Information: hickorystickbookshop.com or 860-868-0525.

Wintonbury Poetry Series

Two poets whose work explores nature and culture will give a free program on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m., called "Deep Travelers, Rural Routes" at McMahon Wintonbury Library, 1015 Blue Hills Ave., Bloomfield. Cheryl Della Pelle and David Leff will read from their work, and an open mike session will follow.

Information: 860-242-0041 or prosserlibrary.info.

Maple Sugaring Magic

Middletown Adult Education will sponsor a talk by author, essayist and poet David Leff at 398 Main St. Leff, a former sugar maker and board member of the Connecticut Maple Syrup Producers Association, on Monday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. Leff will talk about his new book, "Maple Sugaring: Keeping It Real In New England" (Garnet Books,$24.95), which traces its history from ancient methods to high tech production. Admission is $20. Information: read the course catalog at maect.org.

'Out of Reach'

F. Mark Granato will give a free talk about his historical novel, "Out of Reach: The Day Hartford Hospital Burned" (CreateSpace, $17.99), on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m., at the Meriden Public Library, 105 Miller St. His talk is co-sponsored by the Meriden Historical Society. The book is the true story of a fire on the ninth floor of Hartford Hospital in 1961 that caused 16 deaths. Granato is the author of six novels that explore "What if?" questions of history. Information: 203-630-6349 or meridenlibrary.org.

Medical Ethics

Avon Public Library, 281 Country Club Road, Avon, will conclude its free Medical Ethics series on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. with a talk titled "Who Gets What When: How Disasters Collide with Ethics and Medicine." It will be presented by Dr. Thomas Robey, the emergency physician and ethics committee chair at Waterbury Hospital. Suggested reading before his talk is "Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital" (Crown, $27) by Sheri Fink, which is available at the library. The book is about a New Orleans hospital amid Hurricane Katrina. Information: 860-673-9712 or avonctlibrary.info.

Get Lit In New Haven

Author Sarah Pemberton Strong will give a free talk hosted by Get Lit in New Haven on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m., at New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St., New Haven. Strong, a poet and author, will discuss her 2013 novel, "The Fainting Room" (Ig Publishing, $15.95). Information: 203-946-8130.

Sundlun at Book Club

Book Club Bookstore & More, 100 Main St., in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, will host a free appearance by WFBS TV Channel 3 news anchor Kara Sundlun, on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sundlun's memoir, "Finding Dad: From 'Love Child' To Daughter" (Behler Publications, $15.95), is the true story of how, after filing a paternity suit at age 17, she forged a bond with her father, war hero and two-time Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun, a man she knew about but had never met.

Information: 860-623-5100.

Lena Dunham In Cornwall

Tickets must be purchased by Friday, Nov. 20, and picked up by Nov. 25, for a Nov. 27 appearance by Lena Dunham, creator and star of the hit HBO TV series "Girls," at the Cornwall Meeting House, 8 Bolton Road, Cornwall. Dunham will read from her bestselling book, "Not That Kind of Girl" (Random House Trade, $16), and hold an onstage conversation with her mother, artist/photographer/filmmaker Laurie Simmons. The event will take place at 5 p.m.; a reception and book signing will follow at Cornwall Library, 30 Pine St.

Tickets are $30, and proceeds will benefit the library. Information: 860-672-6874 or cornwalllibrary.org.

Lunch And Learn

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford will begin a new Lunch and Learn Series on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at noon, at the Community Services Building, 333 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford. Barbara Sicherman, author of "Well Read Lives: How Books Inspired a Generation of American Women" (University of North Carolina Press, $30), will speak. The book shows how reading helped shape the identities of women born during the Gilded Age in America, such as Jane Addams and Ida B. Wells.

Tickets are $7. Guests should bring a dairy/vegetarian lunch; drinks and dessert will be provided.

Reservations: jhsgh.org. Information: 860 727-6170.

The American Slave Coast

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and Real Art Ways will present a free talk by authors Ned and Constance Sublette about their newest book, "The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry" (Chicago Review Press, $35) on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor St., Hartford. The book shows how slavery was the foundation of an economic system built on the value of people as commodities. Information: 860-522-9258 or stowecenter.org.

Poetry In The Parlor

The West End Poetry Series: Poetry In The Parlor, will present a free reading and discussion by Connecticut poet Gray Jacobik on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. in an historic West End mansion at 150 Oxford St., Hartford. Guests are asked to bring a drink or dish to share.

Information: 860-965-8800 or katie.irish79@gmail.com.

Writing at Wesleyan

Award-winning writer and artist Gregg Bordowitz will give a free reading on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m., at Wesleyan University's Russell House, 350 High St., Middletown. Bordowitz is known for his books, videos and performances. He is program director of the Low-Residency MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Poet Rick Barot will read at Wesleyan's Allbritton Center, 222 Church St., Middletown, on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. Barot directs the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and is poetry editor of New England Review. He has published three poetry collections and his poems and essays have appeared in such publications as Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and The Kenyon Review. Information: 860-685-3448 or wesleyan.edu/writingevents.

'Daughters Of The Samurai'

Janice Nimura, author of "Daughters of the Samurai" (Norton, $26.95), will give a free talk about the book on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m., at the West Hartford Public Library, 20 S. Main St., West Hartford.

The book, a New York Times and Oprah Winfrey's Editors' pick, tells the true story of three Japanese girls sent to the U.S. by the Japanese government in 1871 to learn Western ways and teach them to a new generation Japanese leaders and what happened when they returned home. Information: 860-561-6950 or westhartfordlibrary.org.

'Unlocking Worlds'

Sally Allen, who runs the book news website Books, Ink, will give a free talk Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 1076 Post Road East, Westport.

Allen is the author of "Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers (Griffins Wharf, $14.99), which is being launched at the event. Information: sallyallenbooks.com or 203-221-7955.

'Hartford In World War I'

The Author's Table series at the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St., will present a free talk on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 12:45 p.m. with David Drury, author of "Hartford in World War I" (History Press, $21.99.)

The book describes how the war affected Hartford and Hartford County from August 1914 until the U.S. entry in April 1917 and beyond. It recounts experiences of local men and women who served or volunteered and the role of businesses such as Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co. It contains nearly 70 photographs from Connecticut State Library and area collections.

Drury is a retired editor at The Courant who continues to contribute to the paper and to ConnecticutHistory.org.  Information: hplct.org.

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