Monday, September 22, 2008

OCT/NOV 2008: Porachista Khakpour; Dark Views; Ringwood Manor; The Haunting; Shirley Jackson; The Thing; Haunted Bookshop

8 PM, Fri. Oct 10

Khakpour builds her luminously intelligent debut around the travails of an Iranian-American family caught in the feverish and paranoid currents immediately after 9/11. Darius Adam and his wife, Laleh (who, much to Darius's disgust, Americanizes her name to Lala), flee revolutionary Iran for the alien territory of Southern California, settling in an apartment complex with the allegorically enticing name of Eden Gardens. Khakpour's first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects was published in September 2007 to great critical acclaim. It was a New York Times Editor's Choice and was included on the Chicago Tribune's 2007 Fall's Best list. It won the 77th annual California Book Award prize in First Fiction. She has been longlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards for young writers. Her writing has been compared to that of Zadie Smith (by NPR) and Phillip Roth (by Paper Magazine).

"The characters burst from the page in fiery exchanges, while their chaotic inner lives are conveyed with witty precision." The New Yorker. FREE! With complimentary wine.
8 PM, Fri. Oct 17

Photography Exhibition
I met this gentleman in the shop this past July. He's a burly guy with a pony tail, a goatee, and a sleeve of ink that runs down his left arm. From what I can gather, he breaks into abandoned, frequently forbidden places -- asylums, orphanages, jails, castles -- and photographs what he finds. His trespassing takes him all over the world and often involves hiking through nettles, scaling walls crenelated with broken glass, and paddling up to the water-facing and, hence, unguarded sides of various properties in a long blood-red kayak, the bow of which is emblazoned with a stenciled skull. Fifty of his photos will be on display, along with various fearsome things filched from the locations: straitjackets, winding sheets, wheelchairs, morgue trays, shock treatment tables.
10 AM, Sun. Oct 18
Field Trip

Seated in northern New Jersey is a beautiful, rolling estate known as Ringwood Manor. Its reputation as a "haunted house" is well earned. Hans Holzer, the "grandfather of ghost hunting", visited the Manor years back with a psychic medium in tow, ultimately declaring it the most frightening place in NJ. Edward Cayce, one of America's most famous male psychics, fondly nicknamed “the sleeping prophet” because of his renowned trance readings, held seances there.

Behind the Manor pond is the grave where the original owner General Erskine, a Geographer and Surveyor-General for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, is buried. At dusk General Erskine can apparently be seen sitting on his headstone gazing across the pond. The ghost of a housemaid is believed to haunt the small third floor bedroom in which she was beaten to death. It is also said there is an unmarked grave filled with the remains of French soldiers who fought with Rochambeau during the Revolutionary War. After dark, the dead come to the Manor lake to walk along the shore. Sometimes, you can hear soft, sad voices speaking in French.

The Raconteur Motorcycle Club meets at the shop and proceeds en masse to a destination of literary or cinematic significance. The Club was profiled in The New York Times and recently featured in a travel book, Novel Destinations: Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West, published by National Geographic. An article on the Club, written by acclaimed author Robert Kaplow (Me & Orson Welles), will be included in the October edition of New Jersey Monthly. FREE!

8 PM, Thurs. Oct 23
Directed by Robert Wise from a story by Shirley Jackson
Film Screening

Certain to remain one of the greatest haunted-house movies ever made, Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is antithetical to all the gory horror films of subsequent decades, because its considerable frights remain implicitly rooted in the viewer's sensitivity to abject fear. A classic spook-fest based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House , the film begins with a prologue that concisely establishes the dark history of Hill House, a massive New England mansion that will play host to four daring guests determined to investigate--and hopefully debunk--the legacy of death and ghostly possession that has given the mansion its terrifying reputation. Like Jack Clayton's 1961 chiller, The Innocents, The Haunting knows the value of planting the seeds of terror in the mind, as opposed to letting them blossom graphically on the screen. What you don't see is infinitely more frightening than what you do, and with nary a severed head or bloody corpse in sight, The Haunting is guaranteed to chill you to the bone.

8 PM, Fri. Oct 24
World Premiere!
Written by Maire Martello
A Staged Reading Featuring Jane Hardy
Shirley Jackson, an American author, has powerfully influenced such notable horror and fantasy writers as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Her novel The Haunting of Hill House, which many writers, including King, believe to be the best horror novel of the twentieth century, is a contemporary updating of the classic ghost story. Jackson, who dedicated herself to rejecting her mother's sense of propriety, drank, smoked and fed to excess. She also dabbled in magic and voodoo, and was often described as a New England witch. She kept eleven black cats and believed she had caused the accident of an enemy by making a wax image of him with a broken leg. By the end, a tangle of physical and mental ailments made her feel unable to venture out into her own town of Bennington, Vermont. One hot August night in 1965, a 48 year old Jackson, frozen with paranoia, went to sleep. She never awoke. This play explores her destructive and mysterious life.

8 PM, Thurs. Oct 30
Directed by John Carpenter
Man is the Warmest Place to Hide!
Film Screening

In sharp contrast to the The Haunting’s conceit of unseen horror, The Thing is a grotesque exercise (thanks to FX whiz Rob Bottin, fresh off The Howling) in how to terrify even the most jaded viewer. A loose remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 sci-fi Cold War allegory, Carpenter's Thing isn't concerned with messages; it's just a terrifying meditation on paranoia and subzero dread as a group of scientists at a South Pole outpost (led by Kurt Russell) is infiltrated by an alien that assumes the bodies of its victims in very messy ways. Which member of the crew is the alien? The crew doesn’t know, and neither does the audience until the creature begins one of its stomach churning transformations. In the aforementioned Robert Wise classic we have creaking doors, cranky caretakers, and a house that was “born bad,” in The Thing we have a head dipped in spare-rib sauce skittering about on spider legs. But despite its many gross-outs, no moment in the movie is more unsettling than watching cuddly Quaker Oatmeal pitchman Wilford Brimley go insane. Though ebulliently resurrected as a cult favorite, The Thing failed at the box office during its initial run. Many factors have been attributed to the poor opening, including the concurrent release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a slightly more optimistic view of alien visitation. Carpenter is frankly surprised by the film's latter-day esteem. “When The Thing was released,” he says, “it was one of the most hated movies of all time.” Time to set the record straight. FREE! w/complimentary wine.

7 - 11 PM, WEDS. OCT 31
W/B-Horror Star Marvin Schwartz
Guaranteed to scare you Lit-less!

What goes on after a bookstore closes for the night? Come witness the death of Halpin Frayser from Ambrose Bierce's horror story of the same name; see Kafka's Gregor Samsa turn into a clacking black bug as Dr. Moreau’s hybrid manimals scrabble and yowl; observe Lovecraft's ghouls eat parts of their own body as the tragic Prince of Denmark addresses the exhumed skull of his dead court jester and Victor Hugo’s hideous Gwynplaine grins grotesquely; participate in the chilling Swiss Alps séance from Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain as a very dead Poe recites The Raven and Mary Shelley's monster is jolted into consciousness. Your guide for the night is B-horror star Marvin Schwartz, last seen as the king of the undead in Midnight Mass, scripted by famed vampire scribe F. Paul Wilson. Gallery of Horrors! Cabinet of Curiosities! Chilling Live Music by the Phantom Pianist. Admission: $5 @ the door.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SEPT 2008: Youth Open Mic; Delhi Rickshaw Doc; Traditional Peruvian Music; Poets Rachel Hadas & Diane Lockward; Author Joshua Henkin

7 - 9 PM, Thurs. Sept 4
Hosted by Rachelle Adlerman

Music, poetry & short prose. Parties interested in participating should arrive no later than 6:45 and sign in with Rachelle.

8 PM, Fri. Sept 5
With Special Guest Director Raghu Jeganathan
Film Screening/Q&A

The High Court recently tried to outlaw cycle rickshaws in the capital of Delhi after policy makers claimed they were violating traffic rules. If cycle rickshaws are banned, nearly two million pullers, most of whom are landless farmers, uneducated and unskilled, coming to the cities to ride rickshaws and earn enough to sustain their families, will be out of jobs, and the oldest, cheapest, most environmentally sound mode of transportation will disappear from Indian streets. An estimated 500,000 human-powered cycle rickshaws criss-cross narrow lanes in Old Delhi alone, ferrying passengers and goods for measly sums. This documentary explores some of the ethical dimensions of man pulling man in the thickening brume of pollution and against the increasingly menacing current of motorized traffic for less than a dollar a day. FREE! With complimentary wine.
8 PM, Fri. Sept 12
Live Traditional Peruvian Music

Daniel Eggers is a young man from Peru. Last Feb I met him for the first time. He'd heard I did events and had popped by the shop to perform an audition of sorts. After retrieving his guitar from his car he proceeded to play ten minutes of what is likely the most beautiful music I've ever heard. Naturally, I booked him immediately, and, accompanied by his friend Pocho on the djembe, he captivated one of the biggest crowds (May Pang aside) we've ever had at an in-store event. Well, he's back. This time on the quena. The quena is a traditional bamboo flute from the Andes once banned by the Spanish government. They said it inspired indecent emotions among the natives. There is a legend of an Incan princess named Ollantay. She fell in love with a commoner and, forbidden to marry him, she died of unhappiness. Her lover, visiting her grave, hears a haunting whistling sound coming from the wind. This gives him the idea of creating the quena, whose sound will remind him of his lost love. Now, you can hear it too! FOR FREE! As you sip complimentary red wine from the province of Ica (despite its hot and dry climate, Ica is actually a perfect place to grow wine grapes as the fields are thoroughly irrigated with water from the Andes). Songs will be accompanied by classic Spanish guitar.

8 PM, Fri. Sept 19
is the author of more than a dozen books of poems, essays, and translations. About Hadas's work, the poet Grace Schulman has written, "The poems are urgent, contemplative, and finely wrought. In them, antiquity illuminates the present as Rachel Hadas finds in ordinary human acts what never was and what is eternal" Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She is often associated with the New Formalism school of poetry, and her work was included in landmark collections of New Formalism including Rebel Angels and A Formal Feeling Comes. The daughter of noted Columbia University classicist Moses Hadas, she received her baccalaureate at Harvard Univerity in classics, her Master of Arts at Johns Hopkins University in poetry, and her doctorate at Princeton University in comparative literature. Living in Greece after her undergraduate work at Radcliffe, Hadas became an intimate of poets James Merrill and Alan Ansen. They strongly influenced her early work, as did Cavafy, whose work she translated, and Seferis. She writes regularly for The New Yorker and lives in Manhattan.

DIANE LOCKWARD is the author of What Feeds Us, which received the Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in several anthologies, including Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times, and have appeared in such journals as The Beloit Poetry Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Poetry International, Poet Lore, and Prairie Schooner. Lockward is the recipient of a 2003 Poetry Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has received awards from North American Review, Louisiana Literature, the Newburyport Art Association, and the St. Louis Poetry Center. Her work has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, and read by Garrison Keillor on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. She was a featured poet at the Warren County Poetry Festival, the Inkberry Festival, the Long Branch Poetry Festival, the Walt Whitman Poetry Festival, the 2006 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and the 2007 Burlington Book Festival. FREE! With complimentary wine.

The Back-to-School/F. Scott Fitzgerald Ride
10 AM, Sun. Sept 21
Cagers Welcome!

"Princeton is in the flat midlands of New Jersey, rising, a green Phoenix, out of the ugliest country in the world. Sordid Trenton sweats and festers a few miles south. Northward are the suburban slums of New York. But around Princeton, shielding her, is a ring of silence: milk dairies, great estates with peacocks & deer parks, pleasant farms & woodlands..."-

Taking its title from a line of the Rupert Brooke poem Tiare Tahiti, Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, is largely set in Princeton and examines the post-war moral let-down of a fast living generation know as "the flaming youth." We'll visit Fitzgerald's eating club, Cottage, his residence, Little Hall, and many of the locations mentioned in the book, including Holder Tower and Cleveland Tower, two spires that capture the imagination of the novel's protagonist, a precocious egoist named Armory Blaine. The Club will eat lunch at The Yankee Doodle Tap Room, part of The Nassau Inn, mentioned in this following excerpt from Paradise.

"The orgy of sociability culminated in a giant party at The Nassau Inn, where punch was dispensed from immense bowls, and the whole down-stairs became a delirious, circulating, shouting pattern of faces and voices."

The Raconteur Motorcycle Club, which now allows "cagers" (people in cars) to tag along with supplies, meets at the shop and proceeds en masse to a destination of literary or cinematic significance. The Club was profiled in The New York Times and recently featured in a travel book, Novel Destinations: Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West, published by National Geographic. An article on the Club, written by acclaimed author Robert Kaplow (Me & Orson Welles), will be included in the October edition of New Jersey Monthly. FREE!

7 – 9:30 PM, Weds., Sept 24 – Oct 15
Register Now! Sessions fill quickly
In The Spooky Art, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Norman Mailer talked about crisp words "clamping down…sticking." In an interview shortly before his death, Noir author Raymond Chandler spoke of perfectly pitched sentences "walking off the page." Despite using opposing metaphors, they are obviously describing the same thing. Good writing. A key focus of the class is this acoustical quality. The profound difference between how a sentence sounds and its mute presence on the page. Accordingly, a significant amount of time is dedicated to declaiming work. Students are not, however, permitted to read their own work, rather their work is "vocally published" by the instructor. The writer then becomes a critical part of the evaluating audience for his own piece, often noticing the same literary stumbles (and moments of grace) as his peers. Students should come prepared to revise/resolve a prior project or to draft a pre-existing idea. The workshop does not, for the most part, assign exercises, but rather use the students' own projects to instruct. The cost of the workshop is $100.00 payable at the beginning of the first class. For further information or to register, e-mail The Raconteur at

8 PM, Thurs. Sept 25

It is 1987, and Julian Wainwright, aspiring writer and Waspy son of New York City old money, meets beautiful, Jewish Mia Mendelsohn in the laundry room at Graymont College. So begins a love affair that, spurred on by family tragedy, will take Julian and Mia across the country and back, through several college towns, spanning twenty years.

"In the tradition of John Cheever and Richard Yates ... a novel about love, hope, delusion, and the intricate ways in which time's passage raises us up even as it grinds us down. It's a beautiful book. Here's to its brilliant future." Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Hours.

"Beguiling ... [Henkin writes] effortless scenes that float between past and present.... [He creates] an almost personal nostalgia for these characters."--Jennifer Egan, New York Times Book Review

MATRIMONY was named a New York Times Notable Book, a Book Sense Highlight Pick of the Year, and a Borders Original Voices Selection. Joshua Henkin is also the author of the novel SWIMMING ACROSS THE HUDSON, which was named a Los Angeles Times notable book. His short stories have been published in Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, Triquarterly, DoubleTake, The North American Review, The New England Review, Boulevard, and elsewhere. FREE! With complimentary wine.

3 PM, Sun. Sept 28

Please note: this is a rental, and, accordingly, The Raconteur makes no claims regarding its quality..
C. P. Klapper is the author of "The Washington Poems" and "Sonnets for the Spanish." Born into a family with decidedly mixed backgrounds and professions, his musical and academic talents were early recognized, as were his hyperactivity and strange mannerisms. After finishing an occasionally accelerated primary and secondary education, he attended Grinnell College, where he received his BA in Mathematics. After his graduation, Mr. Klapper was an industry economist for the federal government and, in his spare time, wrote poetry and letters, some of which were published in The Washington Post, and performed with various musical groups, including a choral performance in New York's Carnegie Hall. Mr. Klapper then returned to graduate school at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he received his MS in Mathematics.