Fall Arts Preview: Readings Listings

Dan Savage

Saturday, Oct. 1. Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. $5. Tickets can be purchased at Harvard Book Store or by calling 617-661-1515.

Dan Savage is known to readers of the New York Times as the (non-biological) father of a seven-year-old boy and as a writer who tugs at heartstrings with his occasional freelance articles on gay adoption. He is also known to readers of his internationally-syndicated sex column, “Savage Love,” as an unimaginably lewd version of Dear Abby. One could say—at the risk of sending eyes rolling—that Savage swings both ways.

Savage will discuss his most recent book, “The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family,” at the Brattle Theatre tomorrow at 5 p.m. In the book, Savage examines his decision to marry Terry, his longtime “partner.” (Savage would likely object to that description: “partner,” he once wrote, is a word used by “straight people and press organs that want to acknowledge gay relationships while at the same time pushing the two-penises stuff as far out of their minds as possible.”)

After Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., compared homosexuality to incest, bigamy, and adultery, Savage embarked on a campaign to coin a new noun, “santorum,” to be defined as “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the product of anal sex.” But some of Savage’s antics are less innocuous. In 2000, he penetrated the presidential campaign of the Republican Gary Bauer, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage. Savage wrote a column for the online magazine Salon that, after being diagnosed with the flu, he licked doorknobs at the Bauer campaign headquarters. “I wanted to seed his office with germs, get as many of his people sick as I could, and hopefully one of them would infect the candidate,” Savage wrote.

Savage’s nefarious—and perhaps illegal—stunt notwithstanding, his talk at the Brattle tomorrow will likely rivet listeners of all political and sexual orientations. But you might think twice before shaking his hand—especially if you’re a Republican.

—Daniel J. Hemel

Readings Listings

Tuesday, Oct. 4. “Truth, Torture, and the American Way.” A former Radcliffe Institute fellow, Jennifer K. Harbury, discusses the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture tactics in her most recent book. Her investigation is also intensely personal: her former husband, a Mayan resistance leader, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered in 1992 by a Guatemalan government-backed death squad with ties to the CIA. 6:30 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Wednesday, Oct. 5. “Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground.” Robert D. Kaplan, longtime correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, gives an eyewitness account of American armed forces engaged in the war on terrorism in the Philippines, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. 6:30 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Thursday, Oct. 6. “Life of David.” Former U.S poet laureate Robert Pinsky discusses his new book on the biblical king. 6:30 p.m. Harvard Hillel, Beren Hall.

Friday, Oct. 7. “In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave.” Princeton philosopher and vegetarian activist Peter Singer discusses the “second wave” of animal rights activism. 3 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Friday, Oct. 7. “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.” Barbara Ehrenreich, who lived the life of a low-wage worker in “Nickel and Dimed,” discusses her newest book, an exploration of the white-collar world of career coaching and networking events. 7 p.m. First Parish Church, 3 Church St.

Monday, Oct. 10. “Jesus and Yahweh: The Names of the Divine.” Yale professor Harold Bloom, best known for his scholarship on Shakespeare, argues that the idea of a shared Judeo-Christian tradition is misleading. 6:30 p.m. First Parish Church, 3 Church St.

Thursday, Oct. 13. Two young Harvard-educated writers, Benjamin O. Kunkel ‘96 and Nick McDonell ’06, read from their most recent novels, “Indecision” and “The Third Brother,” respectively. 6:30 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Friday, Oct. 14. “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.” Journalist Joshua Wolf Shenk probes the psyche of the Great Emancipator. 3 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Friday, Oct. 14. “The Year of Magical Thinking.” The prolific writer Joan Didion recounts her husband’s sudden death and her daughter’s extraordinary recovery from a massive blood clot. 6:30 p.m. First Parish Church, 3 Church St. $3. Tickets can be purchased at Harvard Book Store or by calling 617-661-1515.

Monday, Oct. 17. “The Planets.” The former New York Times science writer Dava Sobel, author of “Longitude” and “Galileo’s Daughter,” discusses her new book, which examines the planets through the lens of popular culture. 6 p.m. Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. Free tickets are required and can be picked up at the Harvard Book Store information desk.

Tuesday Oct. 18. Crimson staff members sign copies of their two new books, “How They Got Into Harvard” and “50 Successful Harvard Application Essays.” 7 p.m. Harvard Coop, Third Floor.

Wednesday, Oct. 19. “One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer.” Nathaniel Fick, a student at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School, who is also a retired Marine Corps captain who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, talks about his life as one of “the few, the proud.” 6:30 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Thursday, Oct. 20. “Beethoven: Universal Composer.” Edmund Morris, who is best known for his biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, discusses the brilliant (and ultimately deaf) composer. 6:30 p.m. First Parish Church, 3 Church St.

Friday, Oct. 21. “Frank J. Webb: Fiction, Essays, Poetry.” Cabot Professor of English Werner Sollors discusses the work of the titular mid-18th century African-American novelist. 3 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Friday, Oct. 28. “The Line of Beauty.” Alan Hollinghurst, the winner of the 2004 Booker Prize, reads from his novel about Thatcher-era London. 6 p.m. Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. Free tickets are required and can be picked up at the Harvard Book Store information desk.

Friday, Oct. 28. “Public Philosophy: Episodes and Arguments in American Civic Life.” If you can’t get into his popular core course “Justice,” you can still listen to Bass Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel, discuss his newest book. 3 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Monday, Oct. 31. “Come Back to Afghanistan: A Californian Teenager’s Story.” Hyder Akbar was a teen living in a suburb of San Francisco before his father became Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s top spokesman. 6:30 p.m. Harvard Book Store.

Tuesday, Nov. 1. “Harvard’s Secret Court.” Author William Wright discusses former University President A. Lawrence Lowell’s purge of gay students from Harvard. Based on an article in The Harvard Crimson. 7 p.m. Harvard Coop, Third Floor.

Tuesday, Nov. 15. Liberal radio host Al Franken and his conservative counterpart, Rush Limbaugh, will appear together at an event that’s sure to be jam-packed. 7:30 p.m. The Charles Hotel, Regatta Bar Room. Only the first 200 people who arrive will be allowed to attend.

—Daniel J. Hemel