Bennett Miller

This stuff will rule harder than Qaddafi, or your money back. (That is half true.)

Born in the U.S.A.

In the four years since Hugo House began its series in which three authors and a musician perform new work on a theme, every single show has been entertaining and interesting. You can't argue with those odds. But sometimes, in comes an author who's so exciting, so of-the-moment, that it's an extra-ceptional event. For Born in the U.S.A., the headliner is New York writer Victor LaValle, whose two novels, Big Machine and The Ecstatic, practically crackle with the energy put out by his enormous, electric brain. (How electric? The Ecstatic inspired Mos Def to put out a concept album. It turned out to be his best record in years.) Given that LaValle's fiction has centered on morbidly obese recluses and a team of ghost hunters from troubled backgrounds, nobody can predict what kind of literary witchery he'll bring. March 18, Hugo House. PAUL CONSTANT

Sarah Vowell

I admit it: I'm in love with Sarah Vowell. She's the total package intellectually: obsessed with American history and the oddballs who've made us the nation we are, but willing to dip into pop culture, and one of the funniest authors ever. Her new book, Unfamiliar Fishes, tells the story of how Hawaii came to join the United States. It's a story involving exploration, the subjugation of native cultures, and the continued march of American dominance. Plus: Volcanoes! And I hear some Kenyan socialist politician all the teabaggers are up in arms about claims to have been born there, too. Expect Vowell to be infinitely more charming, smart, and funny than you could ever dream of being. March 28, Town Hall. PC

'It Gets Better'

Over the last few months, something weird and wonderful happened: In response to a disturbing string of gay teenagers committing suicide, Dan Savage, also known as The Stranger's fearless leader, made a video with his "husband-in-Canada/boyfriend-in-­America" Terry Miller. They wanted other teens to know that despite a society that promotes bullying of LGBTQ youth, it gets better. That video became a phenomenon, with people up to and including President Obama creating over 10,000 anti-bullying videos in the hopes that teens will learn that they are not alone and that they are not unloved. This month, Savage and Miller debut their new book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living. Besides collecting Savage's essays, the book also contains new testimonials and information for teens who desperately need inspiration. At Town Hall, Savage and Miller will discuss the making of the book and what it feels like to be on the inside of such a tremendous, life-saving movement. March 29, Town Hall. PC

Joshua Foer

Before you ask: Yes, Joshua Foer is the younger brother of beloved novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. But this is not a case of coattail riding. Joshua Foer is a journalist (his work has been in the New York Times, the Nation, and Slate) specializing in writing about memory. His new book is Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. It combines memoir (Foer participated in the USA Memory Championship) with self-help and accessible science writing. He also explores why it's important, in an age when you can store terabytes of data in the cloud and retrieve them wirelessly from a device that fits in your pocket, to still be able to recall the old-fashioned way. March 31, Elliott Bay Book Company. PC

Meg Wolitzer

It's an unfortunate kind of sexism that the publishing world has effectively ghettoized female authors into the chick-lit category. But fuck that. Meg Wolitzer's novels are serious in every way that matters. Her novel The Position is about a married couple in the 1970s who publish a Joy of Sex–like guidebook and how their sexual frankness affects their family. Her new one, The Uncoupling, is a riff on Lysistrata. All the women and teenage girls in a New Jersey suburb suddenly stop having sex. What happens when the fucking stops? Wolitzer isn't afraid to look at the seamier side of relationships. April 11, Central Library. PC

'The Pale King'

David Foster Wallace was one of the greatest writers of the late 20th century. That we lost him so soon is the biggest literary tragedy of the millennium to date. We have one last chance to appreciate his genius with fresh eyes, so let's make it count: The Pale King, the work-in-progress that Wallace left behind at the time of his death, will finally be published. It's a novel about the IRS, and boredom, and, knowing Wallace, everything else. His longtime editor reportedly worked the book into solid shape, and while we'll never know what a true completed version of it would look like, this manuscript is a reasonable simulacrum. April 15, independent bookstores. PC

Joyce Carol Oates

It's been fashionable for the last few years to mock Joyce Carol Oates for being too productive, whatever that means. Twain, Updike, and Roth all produce/d more work than, say, Franzen or Foer, and that's to be celebrated. Many of our best novelists are experimenters who use fiction as a laboratory, fearlessly creating new work, taking note of what works, discarding what doesn't, and moving on. Who needs the cautious pursuit of perfection? Who says a novel requires six years to incubate? Give me messy producers any day. Oates is the queen of them. April 18, Benaroya Hall. PC

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Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach

Whether you think Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is the scum of the earth or not, you have to admit that he's responsible for a few great moments in modern progressive history—primarily the Supreme Court victory against anti­pornographic censorship dramatized in the very good movie The People vs. Larry Flynt. He's appearing with a historian named David Eisenbach with a new book, One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History. The two men dig into the unwholesome side of American history to uncover how the sexual peccadilloes of the men we elect have transformed the world for good and ill. The way we feel about the closet cases and cigar-penetration aficionados who have lived in the White House says a lot about how we feel about our own sexual lives. Sometimes it takes an asshole like Flynt to tell stories that need to be told. Just, you know, maybe don't shake his hand after the reading. May 19, Town Hall. PC recommended