DUMBO’s powerHouse Arena hosts dual book launches

Landmark Bookseller and Publisher Continues to Nurture Up-and-Coming Talent

September 20, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Alexandra Kleeman (left) signs her book, “Intimations,” alongside Liz Moore, who signs her novel “The Unseen World.” Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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This past Friday night, DUMBO’s Powerhouse Arena hosted a joint book launch with readings by two young novelists who, in spite of their youth, have already garnered substantial acclaim for their work, including more than a few literary awards. Staten Island-based writer Alexandra Kleeman, just 29, read from her new collection of short fiction “Intimations” (Harper, 2016). A recipient of the 2016 Bard Award, Kleeman’s debut novel, “You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine,” has been characterized as a “‘Fight Club’ for girls” in a Vogue Magazine profile by Maya Singer.

Philadelphia resident Liz Moore presented her third novel, “The Unseen World,” (W.W. Norton, 2016). The book describes the saga of girl, Ada Sibelius, who is forced to confront the previously hidden history of her beloved father and sole parent after his abrupt mental deterioration disrupts their relationship, setting her adrift. Moore’s previous novels, “The Words To Every Song” and “Heft,” have earned widespread praise from reviewers and their author awards, such as the 2014 Rome Prize, Medici Book Club Prize and the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award.

In contrast to “The Unseen World’s” protagonist, who appears to have no living relative other than her father, four generations of the Moore family arrived at Friday’s event in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge — including the clan’s newest addition, three month-old Annie, Liz Moore’s first child with her husband, Mac Casey.

Liz Moore’s grandfather, Donald Moore — now a great-grandfather — has substantial links to Brooklyn, having once served as president of the Downtown Brooklyn Development Association, and, until 1990, as president of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Moore’s tenure there oversaw a greater-than-threefold increase in garden membership and the building of the Steinhardt Conservatory, among other achievements.

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On Friday, he sat back to watch his granddaughter assume center stage in a venue that, in its previous location at 37 Main St., has hosted the likes of Paul Auster, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie and David Sedaris. Although the new powerHouse Arena is substantially smaller than the 10,000-square-foot colossus that reigned over the Brooklyn literary world for more than a decade, the current location isn’t tiny, either. And even though neither author is Brooklyn-based, the store filled to standing room only as Kleeman started to read from her collection of short fiction.

After a brief, post-reading Q&A session, both authors signed books for nearly everyone who attended. Then it was time to go. Stepping outside, one is confronted by a cobblestone street and the vast towers of the Manhattan Bridge looming in the twilight — a setting used famously by Sergio Leone in his magnum opus “Once Upon A Time In America.” Authors reading from books bound and printed on paper in a shop that actually sells them with no latte machine in sight — not even the parked Fresh Direct delivery truck can dispel the momentary sense of transformation into an earlier time when things weren’t necessarily better or worse, just different.

When asked what he, a former president of the Downtown Brooklyn Development Association, thought of the new skyscrapers and sleek ultra-modern towers that continue to fill the triangle between Atlantic, Flatbush and the East River, Don Moore paused for moment: “I think they’ve overdone it a bit,” he said with a gentle smile.


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