Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman is one of those iconic illustrators for The New Yorker—she's done dozens of covers, including the famous "New Yorkistan" map you may have hanging in your shower. She has a soft, painterly style that dulls the sharp edges of the world. Though she also designs children's books and ballet sets (for Mark Morris, even), she has a knack for journalistic assignments, where she removes the packaged severity from our products, cars, clothing, and cities. An immigrant (from Israel), she transmutes our concrete-hard American sensibilities and shapes into more whimsical, gentle form. In the young-adult novel Why We Broke Up (Little, Brown, $19.99), she illustrates Daniel Handler's tale of high-school love gone sour. It's written from a girl's perspective, in the form of one long letter—what, no Facebook?—accompanied by mementos from the fizzled romance: bottle caps, movie ticket, matches, comb, etc. The note and artifacts arrive on the dumpee's doorstep in a box marked "Fragile." The cardboard is a little lumpy and misshapen, but Kalman's choice of color is unmistakable: Tiffany blue. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Jan. 27, 7 p.m., 2012

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