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8

Monday

“What is the last thing you want your crazy uncle to say to you in the bathroom?” Ira Eisenstadt once asked his nephew, Rolling Stone contributor Rich Cohen, who was occupying a urinal at a family wedding. “What?” asked Cohen. “Nice dick,” his uncle replied. How does such hilarious and meaningful color find its way into Sweet and Low, Cohen’s unauthorized book about his family’s epic rise and near-fall in the sugar-packet industry? As a disinherited grandson to the Sweet’N Low fortune, the author explains that he resides “outside but inside” the family, “with just enough of a grudge to sharpen my sensibility.” For that, we readers are indebted to Grandma Betty, the old bird who struck Cohen from the estate; instead, the memoirist-historian inherited an impossibly rich story about striving Jewish immigrants, postwar Brooklyn, the history of sugar and American dieting, and a family of eccentrics torn asunder by its own success. Hear Cohen tell more saccharin-sweet Uncle Ira stories at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 638-7610. (Dave Jamieson)