NYC’s top bars with literary readings

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Are you the type who prefers James Joyce to James Patterson? that is, do you actual cherish the art of a finely crafted sentence—as much as a finely crafted beer? Each of these NYC bars has a reputation for hosting readings of all stripes—satire, socialism, sports, Scientology! So you can preserve brain cells, while destroying them. Ah, paradox. Happy ending LoungeOnce home to the “Xi he Health Club,” a Chinatown massage parlor that specialized in assisted satisfaction rather than shiatsu, this two-floor club combines seedy and swanky for a uniquely new York experience. Two nights a week—before the DJs begin spinning—happy ending Lounge offers several reading series (Southern Writers Reading Series, Pussycat Reading Series, The Red Umbrella Series), each of which covers a wide array of topics and media formats. not surprisingly, the most popular of the bunch is “In the Flesh,” which features everything from soft-core poetry to naughty smut. The stories read are bound to have the enthusiastic LES audience sweaty, short of breath and begging for more. just be wary when someone asks to give the readers a hand—this place does have a sordid history. Past readers: James Salter, Mary Gaitskill, Mo Beasley and M.J. Rose. (302 Broome St. near Forsythe St., 212-334-9676; pictured)KGB BarThe walls of this East Village standby—deep red as a starlet’s lipstick—are decorated with authentic propaganda and framed photos of Soviet leaders past. It makes sense, after all: This haunt was once home to the Ukrainian Socialist Party. Now, it attracts those more familiar with the works of Isaac Babel than that of the Bolsheviks, as KGB—officially called Kraine Gallery Bar after the owner’s art gallery of the same name—has featured weekly readings since its opening in 1994. take part in the scholarly scene at this counter-culture sanctuary by swinging by for fiction readings on Sunday evening, poetry readings on Monday evening and a smattering of other themed nights throughout the week. On the mic will be a mix of newbies and noteworthy novelists, poets, playwrights and thinkers. There’s no cover, the crowd listens intently, and the drinks are strong enough to loosen the lips of the most introverted scribes. Past readers: Joyce Carrol Oates, Sam Lipsyte and Scott Edelman. (85 E. Fourth St. between second Ave .and Bowery, 212-505-3360)Bowery Poetry Club & CafeFounded by new York poetry icon Bob Holman in 2002, this long, brick-walled bar is a shelter for the spoken word. Verse-spitters of all styles flock to the East Village for its artistic atmosphere and constant focus on the creative mind. Daily poetry and book readings, open mics, slams, burlesque performances and all-ages shows hit the stage. Sip on tongue-in-cheek  cocktails like the Robert Frosty, Leaves of Grasshopper and the Allen Gin-sberg while the sharp words fly—of course, standard snide-free booze and beer await behind the full bar. The poetic events change weekly and vary in price from free to not free, but you can check their Web site (bowerypoetryclub.com) for a schedule as well as random lines of poetry uttered from a caricature of Bob Holman. Past readers: Taylor Mead, Eric Bogosian and Ed Sanders. (308 Bowery St. between Bleecker and Houston Sts., 212-614-0505) Pete’s Candy StoreThe faded name atop this Brooklyn bar’s nondescript storefront is bookended by two old-fashioned Coca-Cola signs, a nod to the former candy store that once was. Walk in and find a narrow, welcoming joint filled with neighborhood folk sipping on moderately priced cocktails. A multitude of events is always taking place (spelling bee nights, trivia nights and live music, to name a few)—there are perhaps a bit too many for our liking, but we respect their zeal. Logophiles should meander down every other Thursday to the narrow back stage for prose readings, or every other Friday for poetry readings. one of the best series in Brooklyn, both events attract the type of both published and unpublished passionate writers. Past readers: Tom Perotta, Rick Moody, Jonathan Ames, Francine Prose. (709 Lorimer St. at Frost St., Williamsburg; 718-302-3770)Bar 13This three-floor Greenwich Village bar is a favorite spot for the popped-collar kind, but thanks to it’s various themed-music nights—everything from Reggae and Dubstep to Electronica and Classic Rock—the crowd varies night to night. while the space is tight, so are the stanzas on Monday nights when LouderARTs, a creative organization dedicated to all things that cultivate and foster performance poetry, presents its weekly LouderMONDAYs. The event varies from spoken-word readings to its biggest draw: The Slam. It’s simple: A list goes up at 7 p.m. sharp and the first eight souls who sign up are the ones who participate in the slam that evening. The works read must be original, the time limit is about three minutes, and the five judges are randomly chosen bystanders. Cover is $5; step right up. Past readers: Artists from HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. (35 E. 13th St. at University Place, 212-979-6677)

NYC’s top bars with literary readings

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