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If you’re in the mood for some thoughtful conversation on arts and letters, get out your calendars: There are three notable talks coming up this week you should make note of.

Molly Ringwald makes her fiction debut with “When It Happens to You” a ‘novel in nine stories.’ Photo by Fergus Greer, courtesy of Common Good Books

For all of us who came of age in the 1980s, Molly Ringwald needs little introduction. These days, in addition to taking on acting work for the stage and screen here and there, she’s also been doing  nonfiction and magazine writing (on parenting and family, mostly). And now, she’s making her fiction debut with a “novel in nine stories,” delving into the intimate dramas unfolding behind the closed doors of one tight-knit Los Angeles neighborhood. Tonight, Ringwald will be in town to talk about her new book, but this is no run-of-the-mill author appearance. She’ll be interviewed by Minnesota Book Award-winning author John Reimringer, who earned laurels last year for “Vestments,” a moving novel about the contemporary Catholic church, by way of a nuanced story of a young priest caught between competing desires and promises.

Novelists Molly Ringwald and John Reimringer will talk about exploring everyday secrets and lies, betrayals and epiphanies in their fiction, tonight, September 17 at 7 pm. Common Good Books is hosting the event, but doing so outside the store, at a larger venue, the Weyerhauser Chapel on the campus of Macalester College, one half block west of the bookstore on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. For more information: www.commongoodbooks.com.

Alvin Lustig, cover design for “Fortune” magazine’s December 1946 issue (with Art Director Will Burtin). Courtesy of College of Visual Arts

Then, on Wednesday, you can catch a lecture by design historian, educator and longtime “New York Times” senior art director Steven Heller. He’ll be speaking about his new book, “Born Modern,” which examines the influential, mid-century design work created for books and magazines by Alvin and Elaine Lustig, known for their ambitious integration of American design sensibility with European Modernist and avant garde ideas. (If you’re curious to see what that looks like, here’s a slideshow of the Lustigs’ work.) Heller’s talk is part of the College of Visual Arts “Leaders of Design” lecture series; CVA will also open a related exhibition this week, “A Cover Story: The Lustigs, 1933-1961.” The show will feature one CVA faculty member’s exhaustive collection of more than 500 of the couple’s works – representing 98 percent of the designs created by Alvin Lustig before his untimely death at 40 years old.

There will be a book-signing for Steven Heller’s book about the Lustigs, “Born Modern,” after the lecture on Wednesday night. Image courtesy of CVA

Steven Heller’s lecture for the “Leaders of Design” series is on Wednesday, September 19 at 7 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; tickets range from $5 -$25. After the talk, attendees are welcome to attend a preview party for the complementary exhibition and a book-signing for “Born Modern” at the College of Visual Arts gallery. “A Cover Story: The Lustigs, 1933-1961” officially opens with a reception on Thursday, September 20 at the College of Visual Arts gallery, 173 Western Ave., St. Paul; it will be on view through October 21.

Take a community “Coffee Break” and sit down for a chat with your fellow citizens at the Really Big Table in downtown St. Paul from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, September 21. Coffee coaster design by Big Table Studio

Finally, you can wrap up the week with a “Coffee Break” at the “Really Big Table” in downtown St. Paul, a delightful experiment in community-building and conversation intended to “activate” the streetscape with an impromptu, large-scale coffee break shared among passersby. The project results from the collaborative effort of artists Amanda Lovelee and Colin Harris and the folks at Big Table Studio. Friday afternoon, you’ll find a place set for you at a mobile, 25-foot table and benches (transported to the site by bicycle!), with free cups of Peace Coffee and beautifully silk-screened coffee coasters, and a congenial opportunity to get to know some of your fellow citizens a bit better.

The 25-foot, mobile Really Big Table. Image courtesy of Amanda Lovelee

“Coffee Break,” a joint effort of the “Really Big Table Project” and Big Table Studios, funded by Irrigate Arts (funded, in part, by the Knight Foundation), will take place Friday, September 21 from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at EcoLab Plaza, 375 Wabasha St., St. Paul. All are welcome, admission is free.

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