Tribute to the independent spirit
It’s no secret that novelist Neil Gaiman and singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer are big fans of Porter Square Books in Cambridge. The married couple will once again show the indie bookstore some love when they host a book party there for their friend, C. Anthony Martignetti.
The event will be an opportunity to gain insight into a key figure in Palmer’s creative life. Martignetti moved to the house next door to Palmer’s in Lexington when she was 9 years old. A psychotherapist whose family made its name in the liquor business, Martignetti was then in his 30s. He became her confidant and mentor, and it was Martignetti who came up with the name for her band: Dresden Dolls.
For decades now, the two have remained close. While Palmer wrote songs, Martignetti wrote stories, some true, some not. Palmer persuaded him to collect them in a book, and “Lunatic Heroes: Memories, Lies and Reflections” (3 Swallys) was published in 2012. In the introduction, Palmer wrote about Martignetti’s influence on her: “To lift up the dank, heavy carpet and show you the grime, dried blood and crushed bugs underneath: that is the act that I aspire to every day. Anthony and his stories have been a huge ingredient in my own ability to do so. What you find under there is never pretty, but the act of lifting the carpet is — in itself — an act of salvation.
“We help each other lift. Anthony was my personal trainer for years, teaching me how to use my frail muscles to pull up the carpet, even when it was water-logged and heavy as steel. For this, I owe him — quite literally — my life. I’ve made a career and entire artistic empire out of the act of lifting up that carpet . . . and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”
In the introduction to Martignetti’s new book “Beloved Demons: Confessions of an Unquiet Mind” (3 Swallys), Gaiman writes about his own friendship with the man who has been such an important part of Palmer’s life. Martignetti writes about his contentious relationship with his father, his sexual escapades, and his training to become a psychotherapist. He’ll join Palmer and Gaiman at 4 p.m. Dec. 29 at the bookstore.
“Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity” (Wesleyan) by Eric D. Lehman tells the story of the 25-inch-tall man who played to sold-out audiences for almost 40 years. When Stratton and Barnum met at a hotel in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1842, one of the most successful entertainment partnerships in history was born, joining Stratton’s unique brand of Yankee comedy with Barnum’s promotional prowess. If we can believe Barnum’s estimate, five million people saw Tom Thumb during a three-year tour of Europe.
■ “French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude”by Mireille Guiliano (Grand Central)
■ “Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” by Kim Gruenenfelder (St. Martin’s)
■ “Weight Watchers What to Cook Now: 300 Recipes for Every Kitchen”by Weight Watchers (St. Martin’s)
Pick of the Week
Ellen Meeropol of Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley recommends “Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident” by Bill Ayers (Beacon): “His second memoir begins during the 2008 election debate when Barack Obama was asked about “a gentleman named William Ayers” and he replied that Ayers was “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.” Ayers’s story — from Vietnam War protests and life underground to death threats, canceled speaking gigs, and parenting young children during a political storm — is thoughtful, eloquent, and compelling.”