Think of Stephen L. Carter as a cross-pollination of Tom Wolfe and John Grisham, with an African-American twist. With his first work of fiction, the new-in-paperback The Emperor of Ocean Park, this Yale law professor-cum-novelist has managed to meld the high-flying twists and turns of pulpy legal thrillers with masterful language and powerful thoughts on race, law, morality and American politics today.
Carter will be reading from and signing copies of Emperorat 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at the St. Louis Public Library's Schlafly Branch, at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Lindell Boulevard -- a chance to hobnob with a serious author of fiction and nonfiction (for free). Before the release of his novel, Carter penned seven works of nonfiction, including The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotionand Civility: Manners, Morals and the Etiquette of Democracy. Emperor, which has been well-reviewed by media outlets as diverse as the New Yorker and People (highbrow and lowbrow), tells the story of a recently deceased judge whose death raises deep-seated family-background questions for his youngest son, an Ivy League professor and the book's wryly astute narrator -- sounds like poolside reading for the Ph.D. set. Call 314-367-6731 for more. -- Rose Martelli
Yanni Come Lately Grecian Formula for success
Insert mustache joke here. OK, now that you have that out of your system, let's have a serious discussion about Yanni. True, his music is an acquired taste (like the delectable olives of his Grecian homeland), but the guy has an admirable sense of humor about his career, and his autobiography, Yanni in Words, is an entertaining look at the failures that create success. Ensconced behind his great barrier reef of synthesizers, hair flailing and fingers flagellating, Yanni brings happiness to millions with exotic, Byzantine (don't call it New Age) music. See for yourself at Savvis Center (14th and Clark streets). Tickets are $39.50-67.50, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Call 314-241-1888. -- Paul Friswold
Green Giant Get fresh at the market
If you've ever driven through downtown Clayton on a Saturday morning and wondered why Central Avenue is blocked off between Maryland Avenue and Forsyth Boulevard, maybe it's time to check out the Clayton Farmers' Market. This charming roadblock is busy every Saturday through the end of October from 8 a.m. to noon. The cries of mushroom growers and tomato farmers hawking their produce and the patient instruction of prestigious area chefs offering cooking demos and the clamor of live music fill the air.
Customers are busy checking out the locally produced goat cheese, bratwurst, marinades, peaches and ornamentals and quizzing vendors on the peak of season for their respective crops. In addition, speakers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis Master Gardeners program hold forth on such topics as vacuum-packing food, plants native to Missouri and sustainability (living and eating with social responsibility). Call 314-645-5807 for more on the market. -- Byron Kerman
You'll never finish that sundae by yourself, so why not invite the family in the next booth at the Crown Candy Kitchen to bring their spoons over and help? The venerable sweet spot is the climactic stop on the Old North St. Louis House Tour (11 a.m.-4 p.m., $10, 314-241-5031). Buy tickets for the self-guided tour of eight homes and two gardens at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, 2800 North 14th Street. Beware the ice-cream-induced headache. --Byron Kerman