Monday, May 12, 2008

MAY 2008: Rac Fest; Michael Hastings

2 PM, Sat. May 10
Acclaimed Authors/Live Music/Sideshow Performers

What do a sword swallower, a young female folk singer from Seville, Spain, and an author whose latest novel, Skin, is slowly being written on the bodies of ten thousand volunteers (each who've agreed to have a single word tattooed on their body), all have in common? RAC FEST!

The Raconteur Festival is a semiannual hootenanny/cultural clambake featuring acclaimed authors, live music, sideshow performers and an independent press book expo. Performers include Charles Bock, John Crowley, Gabriel Brownstein, Shelley Jackson, The Dan Whitley Band, The Roadside Graves, Samantha Hunt, Clay McLeod Chapman, Alex Dawson, Sandra Rubio, Arlan Feiles, James Braly, Jeremy Benson, and The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. 2 pm, Sat. May 10 (Doors open at 1:30 pm). The Refectory, 270 Woodbridge Avenue (one block from the train station, adjacent to the First Presbyterian Church), Metuchen, NJ. Fest Tickets: $15. Book Expo Free! to public. For advance tickets call 732-906-0009 or visit The Raconteur at 431 Main Street. Tickets available at The Refectory day of event ONLY. While clams covered in seaweed and steamed on hot rocks is typical of clambakes, The Raconteur is anything but typical i.e. no clams. For more info/participant bios visit and click on "Rac Fest."

8 PM, Weds. May 14

At age twenty-five, Michael Hastings arrived in Baghdad to cover the war in Iraq for Newsweek. He had at his disposal a little Hemingway romanticism and all the apparatus of a twenty-first-century reporter -- cell phones, high-speed Internet access, digital video cameras, fixers, drivers, guards, translators. Back in New York, Hastings had fallen in love with Andi Parhamovich, a young idealist who worked for Air America. A year into their courtship, Andi followed Michael to Iraq, taking a job with the National Democratic Institute. In many ways their romance is typical: they call each other pet names, they exchange frequent IMs and text messages, they make plans for the future. But in many ways it is not: they frequently fight about the risks each of them must separately take, all the while trying to figure out how to physically connect, when each visit puts bodyguards and drivers in jeopardy.

Then Andi goes on a dangerous mission for her new employer: a meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters that ends in catastrophe.

Searing, unflinching, and revelatory, I Lost My Love in Baghdad is both a raw, brave, brilliantly observed account of the war and a heartbreaking story of one life lost to it. FREE! Comp wine. Books on sale at event.