But yes, this month’s line-up is certainly a sizzler. Best-selling novelist Tom Rob Smith rubs shoulders with House of Cards creator Beau Willimon; poet and actress Amber Tamblyn clinks glasses with Turkish author and human rights activist Elif Shafak; and rock journalist Lisa Robinson breaks bread with Obie Award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Get a taster of what you might expect on Tuesday with our pick of the internet’s videos.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins‘s plays include Neighbors, Appropriate, War, and An Octoroon, which recently concluded a triumphant second run at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn. In his review of the transfer, The New York Times‘s Ben Brantley commented, “in its current incarnation, ‘An Octoroon’ feels even richer and more resonant than it did before, both funnier and more profoundly tragic.” In our review, we called it “an eloquent dissertation on the seeming impossibility of talking meaningfully about race in the United States.” Jacobs-Jenkins won the Obie Award for best new American play for An Octoroon and Appropriate in 2014; here he talks about his historical sources for An Octoroon and the battle over authentically representing slaves.
In several decades traveling the world and going to rock concerts, Lisa Robinson has built up quite the phone book. Her superb memoir, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll (Riverhead Books), has great stories on every page: “Lisa playing hide and seek with Michael Jackson. Phil Spector snubbing Martin Scorsese. Patti Smith telling Elton John that she masturbates to his music. Robert Plant revealing that there are times when he wants ‘to fuck the whole front row.'” (Read the rest of our review here.) In this fascinating video, you can hear rare audio of Robinson interviewing Michael Jackson in the 1970s and ’80s.
Elif Shafak‘s novels include The Architect’s Apprentice (Viking) (a “rich, compassionate novel” in our review), Honor, and The Forty Rules of Love, as well as the memoir Black Milk: On the Conflicting Demands of Writing, Creativity and Motherhood. She is the most widely read female writer in Turkey. In this wide-ranging TED talk, Shafak talks about the importance of broad sympathies, the exploration of “other lives, other possibilities,” and the dangers of “communities of the like-minded.” She tells how she discovered what others thought of Turkey (“politics, cigarettes, and the veil”) and how she set out to challenge stereotypes and identity politics.
If you went to see Child 44 this weekend, you’re already familiar with the work of Tom Rob Smith. Starring Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, the movie opened across the US on Friday. In book form, the Child 44 trilogy, which also includes The Secret Speech and Agent 6, has already sold millions of copies around the world. Moving away from Soviet Russia, Smith followed it up last year with a new kind of thriller: The Farm (Grand Central Publishing) was inspired by his experiences with his own mother when she experienced a psychotic episode. (Read our review here.) In this video for Google Play, find out how the autobiographical subject matter affected Smith’s style in The Farm and why he would love to have had cocktails with Kubrick.
Amber Tamblyn has published three collections of poetry: Bang Ditto, Free Stallion, and, just this month, Dark Sparkler (Harper Perennial), which takes as its inspiration the lives and deaths of Hollywood actresses. We wrote: “Imagistic in its use of language, formally inventive, and a strong early contender for most stylishly designed book of the year, [Dark Sparkler] manages to be chic, witty, and devastating with each turn of the page.” Read our full review here and check out this video of Tamblyn reading the poem “Jane Doe.”
Before his game-changing Netflix hit House of Cards, Beau Willimon was perhaps best known for his play Farragut North and its cracking movie adaptation, The Ides of March. Directed by George Clooney and starring Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Clooney himself, it’s a well-acted and ruthlessly plotted campaign thriller. In this scene, Hoffman, playing seasoned campaign manager Paul Zara, reveals to Gosling (junior campaign manager Stephen Meyers), why he leaked the story of Meyers’s meeting with a rival campaign to The New York Times.
You can still buy tickets for One Simple Rule on April 21 at City Winery NYC here. See you there!