Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Petrushevskaya sings cabaret! November 6, 8pm

Her press agent wrote about this unmissable upcoming event better than I could hope to:

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is one of the most highly acclaimed Russian authors working today. Her brand new collection of stories, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby (Penguin Books), has just made the uppermost “Highbrow Brilliant” quadrant of New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, and excerpts have appeared in Harper's and the New Yorker. But little do her U.S. fans know that, back home, Petrushevskaya is also an accomplished, quirky and unique cabaret singer.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Moscow’s Snob Magazine, she is taking her act on the road to NYC. "A Writer's Cabaret" is a show conceived, written, and performed by the author herself. Petrushevskaya, who is 71 and a classically trained singer, will sing a selection of classics from the European cabaret, including her own Russian versions of such songs as "Lily Marlene" and "Ma Vie en Rose.” There could be no better setting for it than
the Russian Samovar, whose bohemian air and vodka infusions have long made it a favorite destination for writers and bon vivants of all stripes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Still going up the down staircase: Bel Kaufman

In 1965 Bel Kaufman published a novel based on her up-and-down experiences teaching in the New York City public school system. That novel was called Up the Down Staircase. It became a ripping bestseller and a film followed in 1967, starring Sandy Dennis as the idealistic young teacher who ultimately (spoiler here) refuses to be defeated by the bureacracy. I like to think that if all or even many New York City public school teachers made regular visits to the Russian Samovar as do Bel and her husband Sidney, students would somehow indirectly benefit by the inspiration imbibed there. Could said inspiration be enough for a new novel drawing public attention to the struggle of students and teachers with the massive monster that devours over a million New York City children every day and just as routinely spits them back out? How about it, Ms. Kaufman? Anybody?