14.–15. Read Guests on Earth and Fair and Tender Ladies
Lee Smith times two.
Regular readers of these pages know how I feel about The Great Gatsby. I was equally underwhelmed by this spring’s (large) crop of novels about Zelda Fitzgerald, which latched themselves onto Baz Luhrmann’s film and reminded me of nothing so much as Gertrude Stein’s riff in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. (“I had often said that I would write, The wives of geniuses I have sat with. I have sat with so many. I have sat with wives who were not wives, of geniuses who were real geniuses. I have sat with real wives of geniuses who were not real geniuses.” It goes on.) Now there’s a latecomer addition to the micro-genre: Lee Smith’s Guests on Earth. It’s better than the rest—but the best thing it did was remind me about Smith’s wonderful 1988 epistolary novel Fair and Tender Ladies. Skip the Fitz fest and go read that. —K.S.
Shannon Ravenel Books, October 15; Berkley Trade.
16. See Up Late With Alec Baldwin
Because everyone you know will have an opinion.
Will we get the articulate Baldwin of WNYC’s “Here’s the Thing,” or the pugnacious Baldwin the New York Post is fond of provoking? Well, here’s the actual thing: Baldwin’s radio show has proved him a great interviewer—that Billy Joel episode!—and, despite his overreactions, he’s mostly right about the paparazzi. Friday nights on MSNBC may finally get out of prison.
MSNBC, Fridays starting October 11, 10 p.m.
17. Watch Fargo
“Things have changed … circumstances, Jerry.”
Somehow it wasn’t available to stream on Netflix till now. About time, you betcha.
18. Hear Roomful of Teeth
Pulitzer winner’s new work, sans instruments.
This a cappella ensemble got a sudden spritz of fame last spring when one of its members, Caroline Shaw, won a Pulitzer for music. On Tuesday, the group performs the piece that got her the prize, Partita for 8 Voices, at the Brookfield Place (formerly World Financial Center) Winter Garden. The concert will air on WNYC as part of New Sounds Live. —Justin Davidson
Brookfield Place Winter Garden, October 15.
19. Watch American Horror Story: Coven
Season three arrives.
Having totally messed with two horror subgenres—the haunted-house flick and the asylum potboiler—AHS dives deep into witchery in its third season, titled Coven. Continuing Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s Mercury Theatre–style casting, the mini-series brings back many regulars in new parts, including the acclaimed showboater Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode, a witch who promises, “The only thing you have to be afraid of is me.” Way ahead of you, sister. —Matt Zoller Seitz
FX, October 9, 10 p.m.
20. See the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts
Cheap tickets, expensive talent.
There’s no bargain better than the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, which offers $14 tickets (or $39 subscriptions) to hear first-rank musicians in a no-frills setting. This week, pianist Lise de la Salle will play a ferociously virtuosic program of Schumann, Bach, and Debussy. —J.D.
Washington Irving High School, October 12.
21. See the San Francisco Ballet
It’s easy for New Yorkers to get myopic about great dance companies, but Helgi Tómasson’s West Coast outfit is a real force. Its transcendent dancers (look for any cast with Yuan Yuan Tan) are returning for the New York premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, along with repertoire by Edwaard Liang, Wayne McGregor, and Tómasson himself. —Rebecca Milzoff
David H. Koch Theater, October 16 through 27.
22. See The Walking Dead
Choose your weapon.
America’s favorite brain-splattering zombie drama picks up where season three left off: with Rick Grimes and the gang fortifying the prison they worked so hard to lock down. They’re growing vegetables now and experimenting with a more democratic system of governance. But they don’t have enough people to defend the prison and ... what’s that sound? Hold on, let me check … Agghhh … AIEEEEEEE!!!!—M.Z.S.
AMC, October 13, 9 p.m.
23. Revisit The Classic Italian Cookbook
Marcella Hazan, who taught us that Italian food was not all red, and that culinary ultraorthodoxy has its upside, died last week at 89. The best way to commemorate her influence is to pick up two bunches of Greenmarket basil—in its final weeks of availability—and make her Genovese pesto. It’s on page 132 of the Ballantine edition; we know this because our own copy is spine-cracked at that very spot.
24. Meet SimCity’s Developers
The city planners come to Comic Con.
Since its launch last spring, SimCity has struggled to deal with the pace of change in actual cities. On October 10, the game’s developers come to Comic Con for a panel on “Designing for the Future,” which addresses that old Philip Roth adage that the imagination can’t possibly keep up with the extravagance of reality. —J.D.
Javits Center, October 10.
25. Hear The Israeli Chamber Project
The binational ensemble of crackerjack players, based in Israel and in New York, starts its season with a bright palette of music: the Ibert harp trio, Bartók’s Contrasts, and a new work by the Israeli composer Mordecai Seter. —J.D.
Merkin Concert Hall, October 15.