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18

THURSDAY

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Imagine Karenna Gore Schiff marrying Allen Iverson and you get the divide that was the union of Sue Graham and Charles Mingus. But, remarkably, Graham and Mingus had enough of that something to stay together, fall apart, and then stay together again. Now, Graham Mingus has written about the relationship in Tonight at Noon. The book reads much the way their marriage must have been—stiff passages followed by episodes of the crazy Mingus, romantic Mingus, warrior Mingus, spiritual Mingus, dead Mingus. The story is best told in moments—a marriage ceremony officiated by Allen Ginsberg; the uneasy procession of Dizzy and Ornette to Mingus’ side as he suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease; the practice run for his suicide attempt, which he would never bother to complete. Mostly this book is about Mingus’ death; it looms over the whole thing—”Charles tried himself, standing up without the walker. I closed my eyes across the room and prayed. He plucked a few notes. Then he dropped his hand from the strings and handed the instrument back to the nurse. He never touched it again.” Sue Graham Mingus appears at 7 p.m. at Borders, 18th and L Streets NW. Free. (202) 466-4999. (Jason Cherkis)