Why are child narrators always so damn precocious? And we're not just talking about Jonathan Safran Foer's new incredibly loud wunderkind. No, it's any number of prematurely articulate youngsters who've peppered American fiction since Huck Finn.
What of the majority of children who speak in stilted ums and shrugs and frustrated pleas of "nothin'" and "I dunno"? Well, the reign of brilliant young literary stars might be explained as simply as this: They're interesting. "You write about the exceptional fifteen-year-olds," says Dana Adam Shapiro, a New York-based author and filmmaker who will read from his first novel The Every Boy tonight at 8:00 at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables).
Shapiro's gifted narrator is Henry Every, who has the bad fortune of dying at age fifteen and the good sense to have left behind a ledger, which pieces together the last year of his life and the secrets behind his death. But here's where it gets precocious: The ledger is 2600 pages long, written on graph paper. Oh, and Henry even took the trouble to color-code it by mood, when not filling it with details about his love life; his reconnaissance trips into the city, where he follows grown men into porn shops; among other attempts at "investigative journalism."
It's not only Henry's journal that reeks of precocity, but also his entire family: His mother left when he was ten to pursue her passion for ant farms in the Netherlands (naturally). His father is obsessed with jellyfish. The thoughts and observations in Henry's preposterous ledger are a tool for a posthumous unraveling conducted by his surviving father, who was distanced and distracted during Henry's life.
"I'm of the belief that the greatest tragedy is to bury a child," Shapiro explains. While exploiting dead children is often a cheap literary device -- just ask John Irving -- Shapiro claims his book isn't inspired by anything so maudlin. "I'm more interested in it narratively than psychologically," he explains. "In some ways, it's a classic whodunit." Call 305-442-4408, or visit www.booksandbooks.com. --John Dicker
For Runway Fans
Heidi Klum's reality show Project Runway made for positively addictive television. The ragtag group of designers vying for fashion world recognition included perfectionist Kara Saun, delightfully effeminate Austin Scarlett, and skunk-striped villain Wendy Pepper. Then there was the winner, the wild feather-boa-sporting, larger-than-life fashion force known as Jay McCarroll. Since McCarroll knows a thing or two about garnering fashion prizes, he'll make the perfect host for tonight's Styles Miami fashion event. The six designers who scored awards from Gen Art's International Design Competition will display their winning accessory, ready-to-wear, avant-garde, evening, and menswear fashions. Expect to see eclectic items by designers from London, Barcelona, Paris, and Tokyo. The price of your ticket also entitles you to a very cool gift bag, complimentary beverages, and free admission to the chic afterparty at the Pawn Shop (1222 NE Second Ave., Miami). The runway show begins at 8:00 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami. Tickets cost $35. Call 305-695-8200, or visit www.genart.org. Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
She Wants to Sex It Up
Bibi Luzarraga captures colorful sensuality
It's hard to pull off the fishnet stocking look without feeling like a trollop. But tonight Bibi Luzarraga wants you ladies decked out in little black dresses and fishnets for her first exhibition. "You'll feel out of place if you don't dress sexy and feel sexy," says Luzarraga.
"Le Femme Mystique/Sexxxy Pop Art" is a photography collection featuring closeups of a lady's gams decked out in fishnets and heels, which Luzarraga says is "inspired by Miami's curvaceous women." The color-enhanced digital prints, described as "intimate self-portraits," are mod versions of classic pin-up art.
Dress to seduce and head to Gallery Art 3800 (3800 N. Miami Ave., Miami) tonight at 8:00. Complimentary chocolate martinis, champagne, and strawberries will be served until 9:00, followed by an open bar of wine and spirits. In addition to art, you'll be entertained by belly dancers performing "Mermaids of the Nile" at 9:00, and a sultry jazz set will smooth things out at 10:00. The exhibition runs through July 30. Call 305-932-6166, or visit www.gallart.com. --Lyssa Oberkreser
Teens Keepin' It Reel
Take a handful of hardscrabble teens, arm them with film cameras, and set them on a mission to capture the lifeblood of their down-at-the-heels community in the throes of gentrification, and you have the makings of a script that could spell big box office for Tinseltown.
Do it in real life and the gold goes to "City of Angels," nineteen short documentaries by a group of twelve- to nineteen-year-olds from the Echo Park Film Center, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that organized the project. The gritty, streetwise auteurs spent ten weeks examining their neighborhoods, family histories, and social issues, experiencing a Hollywood ending with simultaneous debuts of "City of Angels" in their hometown and Miami.
Their vision spools at 8:00 tonight at Damian Rojo's space in the St. Mary's Art District (7126 NW Second Ct., Miami), coinciding with art openings at nearby Faktura and White Vinyl. "There are incredible similarities between that neighborhood and this [one]," Rojo observes. "It's inspiring how these kids were able to reflect their reality." Call 305-866-4938. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus