- - Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pick of the Pack

Lecture: ‘Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry’

Back in the day, writer types often were fighter types. Mario Vargas Llosa once gave Gabriel Garcia Marquez a black eye. Wallace Stevens broke his hand on Ernest Hemingway’s face. Gore Vidal literally head-butted Norman Mailer once, and the two jousted, verbally, on Dick Cavett’s TV show. But the greatest rivalry of the male-dominated 20th century was one that never came to blows: William Faulkner versus Hemingway. Their fight did not involve adultery (as was the case with Mr. Marquez and Mr. Llosa), or social reputation (as with Mailer and Mr. Vidal), but art, influence and style. Each man saw himself as the premier literary talent of the time and secretly was worried the other was about to surpass him. “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary,” Faulkner said of Hemingway. “Poor Faulkner,” Hemingway replied. “Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” In “Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry,” Georgetown University professor Joseph Fruscione argues that the rivalry was deeper than the barbs suggest, and that the mutual distaste and admiration Hemingway and Faulkner had for each other spurred each to do his best work.

Mr. Fruscione speaks March 16 at the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. SE

Phone: 202/707-2905

Web: www.loc.gov

Theater: ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’

Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is like the spinach of children’s books. Just like a brief review of the plight of kids in Africa can inspire a picky eater to dig into his plate of steamed greens, no child is ever having as bad a day as the miserable red-headed Alexander. Introduced to the world in 1972, Alexander didn’t have to worry about owning the latest gadgets or the coolest clothes, or having unrestricted access to Facebook. But 40 years later, his problems are still the problem of every child: He gets gum in his hair, his mom packs him a lackluster lunch, his carpool is crowded, and his best friend - like so many prepubescent children - is a mercurial sadist. With the aid of Helen Hayes Award recipient Parker Drown, Adventure Theatre brings Alexander’s bad day and (spoiler alert!) reassuring denouement to life.

Through April 9 at Adventure Theatre, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.

Phone: 301/634-2270

Web: www.adventuretheatre.org

Circus: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Creative destruction in the entertainment industry has been rough on record stores and movie theaters, but great for the circus. Whereas the average traveling circus was lucky to have one of every animal and a pair of clowns, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ “Fully Charged” show has lots of everything. Chilean animal trainer Taba Maluenda, for instance, works not with one tiger, but 12 Bengal and white tigers; not one elephant, but five. The acrobatic routines, once restricted to the now-musty seeming trapeze, can rival any Cirque du Soleil troupe.

Through March 18 at Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW

Phone: 800/745-3000

Web: www.verizoncenter.com

Film: ‘Four Nights of a Dreamer’

There’s lots to see in the Robert Bresson retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery, but the best of the lot is “Four Nights of a Dreamer.” The plot revolves around two young Parisians who are in love, but not with each other. Marthe falls in love with a student who later leaves for the U.S., promising to remain faithful. When her lover returns to Paris without alerting Marthe, she turns to Jacques, a young artist, for platonic solace. Jacques, ever the gentleman, provides a shoulder for Marthe to cry on, and even goes out of his way to help her reconnect with her former flame. All the while Jacques falls deeper in love with Marthe. (As for whether she reciprocates: “Four Nights of a Dreamer” is the title, and Jacques is the dreamer.)

March 17 at the National Gallery of Art, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW

Phone: 202/737-4215

Web: www.nga.gov

Art exhibit: ‘Precious Metals’

This all-local show at Plan B (one of the 14th Street galleries with real staying power) features metal masters Shelley Carr and Robert Cole, and other artists, all of whom take a distinct approach to working in the most obstinate of media. Ms. Carr’s work most closely resembles intaglio prints. She presses cityscapes on copper using a heat-transfer technique developed for use with circuit boards, as well as an acid bath and traditional etching techniques. Mr. Cole takes a more physical approach: Hammering and welding sculptures as large as 16 feet tall.

Through April 8 at Gallery Plan B, 1530 14 St. NW

Phone: 202/234.2711

Web: www.galleryplanb.com

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