Drink & Think With Us, Fridays @ 6:30PM!

Before every Friday night show*, we’ll meet in the lobby for happy hour drinks and discussion. It’s an fun, informal way to find a new favorite book, meet people, and get your brain into gear for the show. 

We’ve picked a book to complement each show in our season. We’ve got novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and memoir. White Noise and Secret Historian were obvious choices – they’re the source material for the shows they’re paired with. 

The rest of our picks are more recent works, bringing a diverse array of contemporary writers into the conversation. Some are thematically connected to the performances they’re paired with – Home Fire reimagines Antigone in a contemporary setting; Death Threat confronts and challenges the author’s critic(s). Some draw connections between shows – Ross Gay and Oliver Baez Bendorf draw out Welcome to Caveland and Soundlines’ shared focus on musicality and nature; Vivek Shraya and Andrea Lawlor highlight gender, pleasure and violence in Wild Bore and to come (extended)

*Builder’s Association: Elements of Oz does not have a Friday performance, so we will have our final book club of the year on Saturday, Dec 7.

NYU Skirball Book Club is sponsored by Rise Nitro Brewing Co.

Fall 2019: Reader's Association

Friday, Sept 6, 2019

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (2017)

Paired with JoAnne Akalaitis: BAD NEWS! I was there…

Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy.  Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love? Home Fire reimagines Sophocles’s play Antigone unfolding among British Muslims. 

Friday, Sept 13, 2019

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay (2019)

Paired with Philippe Quesne: The Moles

In The Book of Delights, one of today’s most original literary voices offers up a genre-defying volume of lyric essays written over one tumultuous year. The first nonfiction book from award-winning poet Ross Gay is a record of the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an airplane, the silent nod of acknowledgment between the only two black people in a room. But Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves. More than anything other subject, though, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world – his garden, the flowers peeking out of the sidewalk, the hypnotic movements of a praying mantis.

Friday, Sept 20, 2019

White Noise by Don DeLillo (1985)

Paired with Daniel Fish: White Noise

Winner of the National Book Award, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, his fourth wife, Babette, and four ultra­modern offspring as they navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. When an industrial accident unleashes an “airborne toxic event,” a lethal black chemical cloud floats over their lives. The menacing cloud is a more urgent and visible version of the “white noise” engulfing the Gladneys-radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, ultrasonic appliances, and TV murmurings-pulsing with life, yet suggesting something ominous.

Friday, Sept 27, 2019

Death Threat by Vivek Shraya (2019)

Paired with Marr/Truscott/Martinez: Wild Bore

In the fall of 2017, the acclaimed writer and musician Vivek Shraya began receiving vivid and disturbing transphobic hate mail from a stranger. Celebrated artist Ness Lee brings these letters and Shraya’s responses to them to startling life in Death Threat, a comic book that, by its existence, becomes a compelling act of resistance. Using satire and surrealism, Death Threat is an unflinching portrayal of violent harassment from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the target, illustrating the dangers of online accessibility, and the ease with which vitriolic hatred can be spread digitally.

Friday, Oct 11, 2019

Secret Historian by Justin Spring (2010)

Paired with John Kelly: Underneath the Skin

Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. Until today he has been known only as Phil Sparrow—but an extraordinary archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided Justin Spring with the material for an exceptionally compassionate and brilliantly illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, Secret Historian is a moving portrait of homosexual life long before Stonewall and gay liberation.

Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Advantages of Being Evergreen by Oliver Baez Bendorf (2019)

Paired with ICE: George Lewis’ Soundlines

This book offers a topography of the body — each poem, a dropped pin, locating across a broad intricate landscape: memory, hunger, tenderness, grief, and fear. To read these poems is to trust the momentum of tributaries or the distance traveled when the trail is full of switchbacks. This work is an exercise of faith. We trace scars, we follow smoke back to flame, and “we dream of sanctuary.”

Friday, Oct 25, 2019

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor (2017)

Paired with Mette ingvartsen: to come (extended)

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco — a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

Friday, Nov 8, 2019

The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya (2018)

Paired with Big Dance Theatre: The Road Awaits Us

A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique, which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking commuters struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon, until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A saleswoman in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room, and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her spouse’s features are beginning to slide around his face to match her own. In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien—and find a doorway to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearlessly inventive young writers.

Saturday, Dec 7, 2019

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (2019)