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Darcey Steinke with Dr. Deborah Giles 'Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life'

The only two creatures on earth that go through menopause are human women and female killer whales. This esoteric fact became a strange point of fascination as author Darcey Steinke grappled with her own hard experiences with menopause—first came hot flashes, then insomnia, then depression. Steinke struggled to understand what was happening to her, and all her research slammed her up against a culture of silence and sexism. To offer a guiding hand to understanding menopause in a complex,...


Ed Levine with J. Kenji López-Alt: A Food Lover’s Perilous Quest for Pizza and Redemption

In 2005, freelance food writer Ed Levine sought an unlikely dream: to control his own fate and create a different kind of food publication that would unearth the world’s best bagels, the best burgers, the best hot dogs—the best of everything edible. Levine joined us, in conversation with his Chief Culinary Advisor J. Kenji López-Alt, to tell the story of how he built a community for people who took everything edible seriously, from the tasting menu at Per Se and omakase feasts at Nobu down...


James Ellroy: This Storm

It is January, 1942, and torrential rainstorms in L.A. unearth a body in Griffith Park. The cops rate it a routine dead-man job—but they’re grievously wrong. Lauded writer James Ellroy arrived on the rain-slick streets of Seattle to present his latest noir thriller This Storm on Town Hall’s stage. He offered us commentary on his timely novel, chronicling rising fascism and xenophobia at a critical turning point in World War II. Through his refined and haunting style, Ellroy introduced us to...


Esther Wojcicki: How to Raise Successful People

Esther “Woj” Wojcicki is famous for three things: teaching a high school class that has changed thousands of lives, inspiring Silicon Valley legends like Steve Jobs, and raising three daughters who have each become famously successful. Woj made her way to Town Hall to illuminate us on what these three accomplishments have in common—they’re the result of TRICK, Woj’s secret to raising successful people: Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, and Kindness. Wojcicki offered advice from...


Neal Stephenson: Fall; or, Dodge in Hell—A Novel

Bestselling author Neal Stephenson is known for delivering novels with poignant and incisive reflections on our present and future. Now the acclaimed novelist joins us for a Town Hall conversation about his latest book Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. The story follows billionaire magnate Richard “Dodge” Forthrast who is left suddenly braindead after a mishap during a routine medical procedure. Per his will, Dodge’s brain is scanned and its data structures uploaded and stored in the cloud until it...


John Waters with David Schmader: Mr. Know-It-All

No one knows more about everything—especially everything rude, clever, and offensively compelling—than John Waters. He joined us for a discussion of his new book Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. Town Hall invited you to a conversation with Waters, joined onstage by writer David Schmader, that spans the breadth of his incredible and eclectic knowledge, fielding questions of every variety and exploring the idiosyncrasies of life. In Mr. Know-It-All, he offered insight...


Meiyin Wang "This Is How It Ends: Conversations about Emerging Technologies and Performance"

How can the arts inform new directions for emerging technologies? From the curatorial mind of producer and director Meiyin Wang comes a collaborative exploration of the intersection of technology and the arts: This Is How It Ends. Through a series of performances and panel discussions, Wang introduced us to artists and technologists who are conceiving of ways the arts can disrupt, inform, and influence emerging technologies. Hear from musicians, theatrical directors, and filmmakers, as well...


Panel: Arts & Action To Better Our Community

Can arts change our communities like they change our lives? ArtsFund joined us to share pivotal research from their first-ever Social Impact of the Arts Study in King County, and presented a panel of local leaders who provided perspectives on how we can engage the arts to strengthen our region in fields such as youth development and education, health and wellness, neighborhood vitality, and more. These panelists identified ways we can activate the findings from this new wave of research,...


Andrew Curran: Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

Denis Diderot is often associated with the decades-long battle to bring the world’s first comprehensive Encyclopédie into existence. But his most daring writing took place in the shadows. Andrew Curran, professor of Humanities and French at Wesleyan University, made his way to Town Hall’s stage to deliver insight from Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely, a spirited biography of the prophetic and sympathetic philosopher who helped build the foundations of the modern world. Curran showed...


Moby with Ross Reynolds: Then It Fell Apart

What do you do when you realize you have everything you think you’ve ever wanted but still feel completely empty? What do you do when it all starts to fall apart? In the summer of 1999, Moby released Play—the album that arguably defined the millennium and catapulted him to superstardom. He joined us for a reflection on the bling and bluster of the celebrity lifestyle with the second volume of his memoir, Then It Fell Apart. Moby met with KUOW’s Ross Reynolds for a conversation that dives...


Mary Norris with Edward Wolcher: "Greek to Me" Adventures of the Comma Queen

Few of us are aware of the extent to which the Greek language has influenced English. Fortunately, lauded New Yorker writer Mary Norris has a passion for all things Greek. She joined us to share excerpts from her book Greek to Me, drawing on a lifelong love affair with words and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo. In conversation with Town Hall’s own Curator of Lectures, Edward Wolcher, Norris explained how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as...


Irene Butter with Richard Block: From Holocaust to Hope

Irene Butter is one of the few Holocaust survivors still alive today. She has shared the stage with the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel, Desmond Tutu, and other peacemakers—but she has never told her entire story until now. Irene took the stage to discuss her amazing life story with excerpts from her book Shores Beyond Shores. Joined in conversation with UW’s professor Richard Block, Irene brought a fresh, moving tale to a still vital genre. Through her relationship with her brother Werner, Irene...


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: Minutes of Glory

It takes true versatility for a novelist and playwright to hone their craft and become a master of the short form—and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is just such a master. Ngũgĩ joined us to reflect on works collected in his anthology Minutes of Glory and Other Stories. He outlined the process and inspiration for his stories, from the period of British colonial rule and resistance in Kenya to the bittersweet experience of independence. He touched on some of his most beloved stories featuring women...


Lori Gottlieb and Luke Burbank: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

What happens when a professional therapist needs to seek council of her own? Lori Gottlieb, Los Angeles therapist and writer of the Atlantic column “Dear Therapist,” found herself in exactly this predicament. She joined us to discuss her book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, a candid and humorous account of her experiences that pulls back the curtain on the therapeutic process. Gottlieb met onstage with Luke Burbank, host of Portland Radio’s Live Wire. Together the two delved into the...


Siri Hustvedt: Memories of the Future

When veteran author Siri Hustvedt discovered her old notebook along with early drafts of a never-completed novel, she found herself caught in a dialogue between her past and present selves. The product of this juxtaposition was Memories of the Future, her new novel that brings together themes that have made Hustvedt among the most celebrated novelists working today. Hustvedt took Town Hall’s stage to provide a glimpse into the process of the novel’s creation, and to reflect on the internal...


John Lanchester: The Wall

With the U.S. still in the shadow of a potential border wall and the fraught discussions surrounding Brexit still circulating among headlines, journalist and novelist John Lanchester presented us with a satirical and frighteningly timely new novel—The Wall. The story follows Joseph Kavanagh, a Defender on the enormous concrete wall his island nation has built to keep the Others—desperate souls trapped outside the wall amid the rising seas—at bay. We follow him through the cold, loneliness,...


Michael Straus and Claudia Castro Luna

There are thousands of living languages spoken in the world—and countless literary masterworks written in each of those languages. Translators like Michael Straus offer us a gateway to these incredible works of fiction and literary history. Straus joined us onstage to discuss the process and philosophy of translation, as explored in two of his most recently translated books—Grapes and the Wind by Pablo Neruda, and a richly illustrated edition of the Bible’s Book of Revelation. Straus...


Octavio Solis

The tradition of retablo painting dates back to the Spanish Conquest in both Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. They are humble, usually painted on repurposed metal, and in one small tableau they tell the story of a crisis and offer thanks for its successful resolution. Lauded Latino playwright Octavio Solis joined us on Town Hall’s stage with his memoir Retablos—Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border, uniquely framed to mirror these traditional painted scenes. Solis recalled the rituals of...



Town Hall presents Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie, creators of the #1 podcast Limetown, for a discussion of their show’s explosive prequel novel. They met onstage with the book’s author Cote Smith (a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Finalist) to offer us a glimpse into this exhilarating mystery. The prequel follows Lia, a student journalist who learns of a mysterious research facility where over three hundred people have disappeared, including her uncle Emile. Lia begins an investigation that takes...


Adam Hochschild

Author and journalist Adam Hochschild has spent his decades-long career offering us insight into the ills of imperialism, racism, and tyranny. Much of his work informs and inspires us, rallying us with straightforward language and incisive detail. He joined us at Town Hall to reflect on some of his most provocative essays and update them for the modern era, presenting excerpts from his collection Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays. Hochschild thread together pieces of reporting that...