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    ‘Portraits of the American Craftsman’ is an ode to artisans

    Tadd Myers new book profiles the North Bennet Street School, which teaches crafts such as making and preserving instruments.
    Tadd Myers new book profiles the North Bennet Street School, which teaches crafts such as making and preserving instruments.

    Ode to artisans

    Texas-based photographer Tadd Myers traveled across America interviewing and photographing craftsmen. In his new book, “Portraits of the American Craftsman” (Lyons), he celebrates about 30 businesses, including the makers of musical instruments, hats, cutlery, and surfboards. Tim Bessell of Bessell Surfboards in La Jolla, Calif., calls what he makes “functional art.” Myers features three Vermont companies: Danforth Pewter and Maple Landmark Woodcraft in Middlebury and King Boat Works in Putney. In addition, he profiles North Bennet Street School, founded in the North End of Boston in 1885 to teach immigrants to work with their hands. He’ll give a slideshow and talk at the school, 150 North St., at 6 p.m. Dec. 12.

    Telling tales, tall and true

    New York-based “Moth” may be the best-known name in live storytelling, but it’s certainly not the only game in town. The storytelling organizations Story Club Chicago and the Story Collider have each launched local offshoots.

    Story Club Boston, established by Ken Green, a veteran of Chicago-based National Poetry Slam teams who recently moved to Dorchester, this week will host its second event, “Oops,” an evening of stories about mistakes and miscues. Taking to the stage on Thursday will be actress Obehi Janice, who most recently starred in “Splendor” at Company One in Boston; comedian Kate Procyshyn; and Sam Treadway, manager and co-owner of the hip new Backbar in Somerville.


    Three open-mic performers will be selected at random from those who sign up beginning at 6 that evening. Each will have eight minutes to tell a story about a mistake. The winning open-mic story, as determined by the audience, will be posted on Story Club Boston’s website. Unlike “The Moth,” which is limited to true stories, Story Club Boston allows fictional stories as well. Tickets are $12. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. at ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Cambridge.

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    The Story Collider invites scientists and nonscientists to tell true stories about how science has affected their lives. Founded in New York in 2010 by two physicists, Story Collider’s next local event is at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at Oberon Theater, 2 Arrow St., Cambridge. Story Collider co-founder Ben Lillie will be one of the storytellers. Also appearing will be actor Tonia Pinheiro, filmmaker Anna Wexler, and performer and visual artist Tricia Rose Burt. Seats are $12.

    Art of historical novels

    The central character of Julie Orringer’s 2010 novel “The Invisible BRIDGE(Knopf) is an architecture student from Hungary who is studying in Paris in the late 1930s when anti-Jewish laws take effect, and his scholarship is revoked. Now Orringer is working on another novel that, like Philip Roth’s “THE Plot Against America” and Michael Chabon’s “THE Yiddish Policemen’s Union,” melds history with invention. In a talk, “Lies That Tell the Truth: Story and History in the Novel,” at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Radcliffe’s Knafel Center, 10 Garden St., Cambridge, she will discuss how and why novelists transform the past.

    Coming out

     “Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Retribution” by Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central)

     “Downtrodden Abbey: The Interminable Saga of an Insufferable Family”by Gillian Fetlocks (Dunne)


     “The Explorer Gene: How Three Generations of One Family Went Higher, Deeper, and Further Than Any Before”by Tom Cheshire (Atria)

    Pick of the Week

    Ellen Jarrett of Porter Square Books in Cambridge recommends “My Mistake: A Memoir” by Daniel Menaker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): “Being a longtime reader of The New Yorker, I found Menaker’s behind-the-scenes account of his career there absolutely riveting. The literary life is gutted and splayed for all to see. His years at Random House and HarperCollins are also included, with fascinating details about contemporary authors and how a book is created.”

    Jan Gardner can be reached at