Even if you’re not back in the classroom, autumn inspires a desire to learn, to restore the intellectualism that was fried by too many beers and barbecues and sunburns. Fortunately, Portland is full this fall with opportunities to spark your smarts. Here are some of our favorites.Margaret Atwood | September 21
How better to bid farewell to a utopian summer (and to commemorate the birthday of Stephen King and HG Wells) than to dissect dystopian fiction — and the realities that foster it — with Canadian visionary (and feminist hero) Margaret Atwood? Her most recent novel, THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD
(Anchor), which came out in 2009, is now out in paperback; it’s a scary satire that deals with climate change, eco-evangelists, materialism, and human nature. She’ll talk about that and more at the Writers on a New England Stage series co-sponsored by RiverRun Bookstore in New Hampshire.
7:30 pm at The Music Hall | 28 Chestnut St, Portsmouth, NH | $11-13 | 603.436.2400 | themusichall.org
Adam Golaski | September 24
Sixty-three short shorts based on impressionist paintings by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. “A museum of stories,” the publisher (Rose Metal Press) says of Adam Golaski’s COLOR PLATES. Golaski is a champion of experimental and genre-bending fiction; hear about his latest contribution to that catalog at a Longfellow Books reading and signing.
7 pm at Longfellow Books | One Monument Way, Portland | Free | 207.772.4045 | longfellowbooks.com
Lizz Winstead | September 25
This isn’t technically a reading, but funny lady Lizz Winstead (a co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and a co-founder of Air America Radio, where she used to co-host with Rachel Maddow) has a way with words. These days, she’s working on WAKE UP WORLD with the Shoot the Messenger troupe, a sketch-comedy skewering of bland morning “news” shows. She’ll be a one-woman show when she stops in Portland, but the jabs will be just as sharp.
8 pm at One Longfellow Square | 181 State St, Portland | $20 | 207.761.1757 | onelongfellowsquare.com
Lily King | September 29
Maine author Lily King’s third book, FATHER OF THE RAIN, garnered high praise in a July 22 New York Times book review: “King is a beautiful writer, with equally strong gifts for dialogue and internal monologue,” Liesl Schillinger wrote. “Silently or aloud, her characters betray the inner tumult they conceal as they try to keep themselves together, wanting others to see them as whole.” Find out how King honed her craft over lunch at the Portland Public Library’s Brown Bag Lecture series.
Noon at the Rines Auditorium in the Portland Public Library | 5 Monument Square, Portland | Free | 207.871.1700 | portlandlibrary.org