There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Huck Finn had Jim. Augustus Fitzwilliam Boyd had Issac Kemp. And, uh, Kemp’s wife, Alice Pangborn. In Mark Twain’s classic Huck and Jim are just pals. But in Christopher Bram’s latest novel, The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes, the situation is a little more complicated. Boyd, a white improvisational pianist-turned-clairvoyant, is in love with Kemp, a black ex-slave and aspiring orator, who in turn woos and weds Pangborn, a prim white governess. The three try to survive as a family the only way they can: in the circus. The novel chronicles their travels and travails as “show people,” from the Civil War to the 1920s, from Constantinople to Coney Island. Trapped among pre-Woodstock folks who can’t make sense of them, the threesome inevitably comes to a bad end. Considering the successful adaptation of Bram’s 1995 novel, Father of Frankenstein, into the art-house hit Gods and Monsters, Bob and Harvey Weinstein are probably scurrying to option the rights. How could the Shakespeare in Love crew pass up the chance to have Johannes Brahms, Frederick Douglass, and Sigmund Freud all make cameos in the same film? And what about Jerry Bruckheimer? He could make Hunk Finn, starring Brendan Fraser as Fitz, Ving Rhames as Isaac, and Charlize Theron as Alice—with k.d. lang cleverly disguised as Brahms. Before his novel becomes a summer blockbuster, meet Bram himself, and ask him how he manages so well to illuminate modern relationships by plunking them down in antique settings. He reads from The Notorious Dr. August at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at Lambda Rising, 1625 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 462-6969. (Annys Shin)