Born Wesley Stace, John Wesley Harding took the name of Bob Dylan's eighth studio album when he began releasing a slew of records of his particular brand of folk-pop. The Englishman did so after a solid academic career, studying literature and gunning for a Ph.D. in political science (this figures in, just wait). Since then, Harding opened for Bruce Springsteen, drew comparisons to Elvis Costello (a few of the Attractions were in his early band), went through a self-described "gangsta folk" phase, and landed a 5.5 on Pitchfork for a 1998 release. Ouch! (The site has since been more kind). Lately, though, the New York transplant has been on a book tour. I know what you're thinking aw, another musician fancies himself a writer. How sweet and presumptuous. Not exactly. In 2004, Harding decided to release his novel, Misfortune, under his given name, which probably took years off his publicist's life. The sprawling, Dickensian book of gender-bending set in 1820s London turned out to be anything but a vanity effort. It was good, as in And the Ass Saw the Angel good (that's Nick Cave's book, one of the few examples of a musician holding his own with the big boys). Misfortune was nominated for a slew of awards, among them the Guardian First Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and it was one of Amazon's Top Ten Novels of the Year. Now Wesley Stace is back with another full-bodied novel, By George, about two boys, one real and one made of wood, and the reviews are just as strong. Stace appears for "reading, a bit of ventriloquism, and book signing."
Thu., Oct. 11, 7 p.m., 2007