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Bill Murray Biography, Philosopher Daniel Dennett Among Talks At Twain House

Special To The Courant
Book Club Bookstore & More in East Windsor presents signings by authors starting 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 13

A philosopher and scientist, the author of a biography about Joan of Arc, a scholar of literary history and a biographer of actor Bill Murray will give talks, each beginning at 7 p.m., at the Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. Information and reservations: 860-247-0998 or marktwainhouse.org.

Daniel Dennett, an atheist and secularist who is a philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist, will speak in conversation with WNPR personality Colin McEnroe on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Dennett researches the philosophies of mind, evolutionary biology and cognitive science, and is co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, an Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and a university professor, all at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. He also is a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, as well as an outspoken supporter of the sociocultural "Brights" movement of people who hold a naturalistic view of the world. The Yale Humanist Community will co-present this talk. Tickets are $25.

Author Kathryn Harrison will give a free Book/Mark talk about her book, "Joan of Arc — A Life Transfigured" (Anchor, $16.95), on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Twain was one of many authors who wrote works inspired by Joan of Arc's life, along with Shakespeare, Voltaire, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht and others. Joan of Arc, who lived in the 1400s, led French forces against English invaders at the behest of "voices" she alone could hear, and was burned at the stake at age 19 and later canonized. Was she a mystic, a schizophrenic, possessed by demons or simply a courageous young woman? Harrison, who is known for her memoirs, novels and a biography of St. Therese of Lisieux, explores historical fact, myth, folklore and scholarly research to describe Joan's life.

A Nook Farm Author Talk co-sponsored by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center will present Shelley Fisher Fishkin, author of "Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee" (Rutgers University Press, $34.95), on Thursday, Dec. 17, also at the Twain House. Her book is a compilation of essays on literature and history involving more than 150 National Register historic sites, including chapels, battlefields, plantations, theaters, internment camps, tenements, farm fields, Mark Twain's Hartford home and Walden Pond. Fishkin, an award-winning scholar who has published more than 40 books, many about Twain, is a professor in the Humanities, professor of English and director of American Studies, all at Stanford University.

Author Robert Schnakenberg will give a free Book/Mark talk on "The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor" (Quirk, $22.95), on Friday, Dec.18. The book details Murray's unconventional career, tracing his path from "Saturday Night Live" comedian to movie star to his reinvention as a hipster favorite in recent films.

One Book One Hartford

This year's One Book One Hartford community reading project, sponsored by the Hartford Public Library, is focused on James Baldwin's 1974 novel, "If Beale Street Could Talk," a story of love and injustice set in Harlem in the 1970s.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. at the Downtown Hartford History Center at the library, 500 Main St., Hartford, poet Kate Rushin will lead a tertulia, which is an informal literary discussion, about Baldwin's novel. Rushin is a widely published and award-winning poet who has read her work at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and on NPR and serves on The CT Young Writers Trust, The CT Poetry Circuit and The James Merrill House Committee.

Information: hplct.org/classes-seminars-exhibits.

Authors At R. J. Julia

Free talks about cooking and cut-paper art will take place at R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road, Madison. Reservations are required: 203-245-3959 or rjjulia.com.

Elinor Allcott Griffith will discuss her book, "The Virtues of Cooking" (Blurb, $29.50), on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. She makes the case that homemade meals can help create happy families and specific recipes can emphasize certain virtues, such as love, honesty and resourcefulness. The book offers 42 recipes, along with inspiring stories. Griffith is a former magazine editor and co-author of "First Thing Every Morning" and "The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow: Legends and Lore of the Oldest Church in New York."

Branford artist Martha Link Walsh, an expert on cut-paper art, will talk about new book, "A Paper-Cut Christmas: The Twelve Days of Christmas" ($32.50), on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. The book uses traditional cut-from-one-piece images and layers-of-color collages to illustrate the classic Christmas carol. Walsh maintains a gallery at 188 North Main St. (Route 1), Branford. Information: 203-481-3505.

A Dog And A Girl

Martha Ritter will sign copies of her book for young readers, as well as adults, "The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ" (Bradley Street Press, $13.99), which is a finalist for the Massachusetts Children's Book Award, on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Bank Square Books, 53 W Main St., Mystic.

The novel, inspired by a dog that lived a solitary life in a laboratory, is about a foxhound that is rescued and then adopted by a solitary girl. Both must face their fear of connection and find the courage to trust and love. Ritter, who lives in Connecticut and New York, is a journalist, novelist, speechwriter, poet and actor. Information: 860-536-3795.

Authors At The Book Club

The Book Club Bookstore & More, 100 Main St. in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, will present several signings by authors.

Children's author Renata Bowers will offer a story cover workshop on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 1:15 to 2 p.m. (reservations required) and will sign books from 1 to 3 p.m.

Stacey Longo, Becky Brown and Judith Dreyer also will visit on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Longo, of Hebron, is the author of the Young Adult novel, "Ordinary Boy" (Dark Alley, $14.95), a look at the dark side of adolescence. Brown, a chef, teacher and health coach, is the author of "Eat Well to Live Well with Chef Becky: Supporting the Gluten & Dairy Free Lifestyle" (Chef Becky Health Coach, $39.95). Dreyer's "At the Garden's Gate" (Friesen Press, $13.99) tells how she created a meadow, using teachings from her Native American heritage.

Dan Blanchard, Sheila Adams and Diana K. Perkins will sign books on Saturday, Dec. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Blanchard, an award-winning writer, speaker, and educator, is the author of the Young Adult novel "Feeling Lucky?" (Granddaddy's Secrets, $12.95). Adams is the author of five illustrated children's books that offer positive messages. Perkins has published four historical fiction novels set in Connecticut mill towns. Information and reservations: 860-623-5100 or shop@bookclubct.com.

'Unlocking Worlds'

Sally Allen, who runs the book news website Books, Ink, will sign copies of her new book, "Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, (Griffins Wharf, $15) at The Hickory Stick Bookshop, 2 Green Hill Road, Washington, on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 2 p.m.

An award-winning writer and teacher, Allen combines personal stories with 15 themed, annotated and illustrated reading lists for those who wish to expand their understanding of the world. Information: 860-868 0525 or hickorystickbookshop.com.

Poetry In East Haddam

Poets John Surowiecki and Edwina Trentham will read at Two Wrasslin' Cats Coffee House, 374 Town St. (Rtes. 82 and 151) East Haddam, on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The free event will celebrate the publication of Surowiecki's new book, "Missing Persons" (Encircle, $14.95). Information: 860-873-1472 or 860-891-8446.

Wintonbury Poetry Series

The Wintonbury Poetry Series will present "An Evening with Seabury Poets," featuring readings by published poets Katharine Carle and Carol Fine, who live at the Seabury retirement complex, followed by an open mike, on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. at McMahon Wintonbury Branch Library, 1015 Blue Hills Ave., Bloomfield.

Carle is the author of two collections, "Divided Eye" ($15) and "The Uncommon Nativity of Common Things"($18), and Fine is the author of "A Tilted World" ($17), all published by Antrim House. Information: 860-242-0041 or prosserlibrary.info.

'The Jefferson Files'

Martin Herman will give a free talk about his debut novel, "The Jefferson Files" (First Edition Design Publishing, $14.95), on Monday, Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Prosser Public Library, 1 Tunxis Ave., Bloomfield. The historical thriller involves a murder in 1806, a secret society, a challenge to President Jefferson and a hidden diary. Information: prosserlibrary.info or 860-243-9721.

Holiday Poetry Party

The Connecticut Poetry Society will hold its annual holiday poetry event on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Butterworth Hall, University of Hartford, 1265 Asylum Avenue, Hartford (the former Hartford College for Women campus). The event is free and open to all.

Poets John L. Stanizzi and Ginny Lowe Connors will discuss the Wallace Stevens' poem, "The Snowman," as well as poems by Jane Hirshfield, and there will be an open mike. Guests may bring food and drink to share and poets can bring copies of their books to sell. Donations of unwrapped new or gently used children's books for the Connecticut Commission on Children are welcome and donated wrapped poetry books will be swapped by those who bring them. Information: ctpoetry.net or 860-655-3263.

Hotchner On Hemingway

WSHU Public Radio's "Join the Conversation" series will present a free talk by A.E. Hotchner, author of "Hemingway In Love: His Own Story" (St. Martin's Press, $19.99) on Monday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., at Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Ave., Southport.

Hotchner, the author of 17 books and cofounder with Paul Newman of Newman's Own foods and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, will discuss his book, the never-before-told story of the affair that destroyed Ernest Hemingway's first marriage, as well as Hemingway's romantic life in Paris and how he gambled and lost the love he had always sought, all based on conversations Hotchner had with Hemingway shortly before the author took his own life. Reservations required: wshu.org.

Mystery Book Discussion

Carole Shmurak, of Farmington, who writes the Susan Lombardi mystery novels, will lead a free discussion on Monday, Dec. 14, at noon, at Simsbury Public Library, 725 Hopmeadow St., when the Simsbury Mystery Group: An Inspector Calls, Part 4, talks about "Dear Departed" by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Information: 860-658-7663.

Keeping It Classy

Shakespeare's classic play, "The Merchant of Venice," will be discussed when the Manchester Public Library, 586 Main St., holds the December meeting of its Keeping It Classy Book Club on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. Copies of the play are available for borrowing at the library. Information: 860-643-2471 and library.townofmanchester.org.

Taylor At Trumbull Library

Connecticut author and poet Lisa C. Taylor will read from her debut book of short stories, "Growing a New Tail" (Arlen House, $22.95), during a free program on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m., at Jonathan Trumbull Library, 580 Exeter Road, Lebanon. The Friends of the Library are the hosts. Information: lisactaylor.com or 860-642-7763.

Backlund In Manchester

The Manchester Public Library will present a free talk by Bob Backlund, a former two-time world champion and professional wrestler with the World Wrestling Federation, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 6:30 p.m., in the Whiton Branch Auditorium, 100 North Main St. He will discuss his new autobiography, "Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling's World Champion" (Sports Publishing, $26.99) Information: 860-643-2471 or library.townofmanchester.org and backlundenergy.com.

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