"It is, of course, the bouquet of large-scale home repair and re-hab. Fresh-cut lumber, clean, white PVC, the lye-sniff of Sakrete, stinging sealants, sweet tar paper, and denatured spirits. ... To my nose — once practiced in these things — nothing smells of ruin as fragrantly as the first attempts at rescue."
So says Richard Ford's once-and-present protagonist Frank Bascombe at the start of Ford's latest novel, Let Me Be Frank With You (Ecco), set in post-Sandy New Jersey. Ford, author of novels including The Sportswriter and Independence Day, is among the nation's most decorated writers, winner of a Pulitzer and more. And even as Bascombe's back between hard covers, Ford returns for a rare visit to Pittsburgh. He speaks Dec. 8 at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' Monday Night Lectures. Prior to Ford's evening talk, 2014 Drue Heinz Prize winner Kent Nelson visits PAL's free Writers LIVE series, in the adjoining Oakland Carnegie Library. Bill O'Driscoll 7:30 p.m. Mon., Dec. 8. Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-25. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org
One of Foreign Policy magazine's "top 100 global thinkers," geopolitical analyst and journalist Robert Kaplan uses historical perspective to discuss and predict impending conflicts and what policy should result. He visits Shady Side Academy tonight for a lecture coinciding with his latest book, Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific. Published by Random House, Asia's Cauldron analyzes the region that Kaplan believes will dominate future geopolitical conflict, and highlights China's growing political sway. Danielle Fox 7:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 6. 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. $10. 412-968-3040 or www.thehillman.org
After leaving his New York City law firm to pen mystery novels on a Greek island, Pittsburgh native Jeffrey Siger visits his home turf with Sons of Sparta (Poisoned Penn Press). This sixth installment in his chief inspector Andreas Kaldis series follows the inspector's work to Peloponnesian mountaintops, where descendants of ancient Sparta and their ancestors' vendettas still thrive. Described by the New York Times as "thoughtful police procedurals set in picturesque but not untroubled Greek locales," the series pulls from ancient and contemporary Greek society. Siger visits Mystery Lovers Bookshop tonight for a book-signing and discussion. DF 7 p.m. Fri., Dec. 5. 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Free. 412-828-4877 or www.mysterylovers.com