Timmy Reed, “Kill Me Now”

Feb. 1

The latest from prolific, ambitious Baltimore author and educator Timmy Reed (previous books: “Tell God I Don’t Exist,” “The Ghosts That Surrounded Them,” “Stray/Pest,” “Miraculous Fauna,” “Star Backwards,” and “IRL”) is “Kill Me Now,” a tough-minded bildungsroman about a young man nicknamed “Retard” (boy are teens terrible to each other!) who befriends an older neighbor and well, learns to be a bit more open and accepting. Written in the voice of “Retard” (actual name: Miles) by way of journal entries, Reed constructs a warts-and-all depiction of being young and open-hearted and understandably very pissed off. As to not spoil much more, here’s a quick excerpt from early in the book: “I chew on my pens until they explode in my mouth and the ink gets suck in the cracks between my teeth and people laugh. My shoelaces are always coming untied. I sweat in my sleep and wake up very cold. My short-term memory sucks donkey wang. Everything I touch somehow gets lost. People tell me I look confused.” Reed will be in conversation with Madison Smartt Bell tonight at Atomic (and will also appear at Bird In Hand on Feb. 8 on conversation with Jane Delury). 7 p.m., Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444, atomicbooks.com, free. (Brandon Soderberg)

Mark Whitaker, “Smoketown: The Untold Story Of The Other Great Black Renaissance”

Feb. 6

There are almost endless alternative or underground histories of America—or OK, in this case, Amerikkka—that have been ignored, removed, whitewashed, or just not talked about all that much because well, racism. So many cities are full of robust and massively important black cultural and political hubs that don’t get nearly half the critical and historical engagement they should. Mark Whitaker’s book “Smoketown: The Untold Story Of The Other Great Black Renaissance,” intends to expand the black history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania beyond the setting of numerous August Wilson plays. Whitaker recently wrote in the Paris Review that while the European-American history in Pittsburgh “is well documented . . . far less chronicled but just as extraordinary is the confluence of forces that made the black population of the city, for a brief but glorious stretch of the twentieth century, one of the most vibrant and consequential communities of color in U.S. History.” Pairs nicely with RJ Smith’s 2007 book, “The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Last African American Renaissance.” 6:30 p.m., Enoch Pratt Central Library, 400 Cathedral St., (410) 396-5430, prattlibrary.org, free. (Brandon Soderberg)

Atomic Books, 3260 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444, atomicbooks.com. Timmy Reed, a writer and teacher from Baltimore, will discuss his new coming-of-age novel, “Kill Me Now,” in conversation with Madison Smartt Bell, Professor of English at Goucher College; Feb. 1, 7 p.m. Monthly First Friday, this time featuring Oliver Brewing Company. Happy Hour prices on their beer all night, and extended hours at Atomic’s Eightbar until 11 p.m.; Feb. 6, 7 p.m.

Baltimore County Public Library Pikesville Branch, 1301 Reisterstown Road, (410) 887-1234, bcpl.info. Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio discusses his new book “Why?: What Makes Us Curious,” an exploration of the scientific nature of curiosity; Jan. 31, 2:30 p.m.

The Children’s Bookstore, 737 Deepdene Road, (410) 532-2000, thecbstore.com. Weekly storytime for children ages 4 and under; Feb. 2, 9:30 a.m.

Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., (410) 435-7333, redeemerbaltimore.org/events. Enoch Pratt Free Library sponsors Writers LIVE with Chris Matthews, author of “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit”; Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m.

Enoch Pratt Central Library – African American Department, 400 Cathedral S., (410) 361-9287, calendar.prattlibrary.org. Author, historian, and journalist Mark Whitaker discusses his new book “Smoketown,” a portrait of Black culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from the 1920s-1950s; Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m.

The Ivy Bookshop, 6080 Falls Road, (410) 377-2966, theivybookshop.com. NoNieqa Ramos, interviewed by Amanda Eby, discusses her new teen memoir-style novel, “The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary”; Feb. 1, 7 p.m. An evening of poetry from Mason Jar Press, an independent press based in Baltimore, specializing in handmade, limited edition chapbooks and full-length publications by both established and emerging writers; Feb. 2, 7 p.m.

Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Ave., (443) 602-7585, redemmas.org. Award-winning journalist Johann Hari presents “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—And the Unexpected Solutions”; Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. Red Emma’s Mother Earth Poetry Vibe Featuring Lyrispect, the Philadelphia-based, award-winning lyricist, author, educator and voiceover artist whose work brings together multiple art forms; Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.

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