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Award-winning, best-selling author Jacqueline Woodson is among the most prominent writers in this year's AViD series.


Des Moines Public Library officials this morning announced the lineup of authors to be featured at the 20th annual AViD series—Authors Visiting in Des Moines—from late March through May. AViD offers an unmatched opportunity for Central Iowans to meet and learn from some of the best in contemporary literature. And admission has always been free. Authors featured this year include:
  • Tayari Jones—award-winning author of the novel "An American Marriage."
  • Hanif Abdurraqib—award-winning novelist, poet, essayist and cultural critic.
  • Kate Quinnbest-selling historical fiction author (her "Alice Network" was the third-most requested novel in the Des Moines library last year).
  • Adam Higginbotham—a journalist, author and a finalist for the 2020 Carnegie Medal of Excellence.
  • Brad Meltzer—best-selling author of historic nonfiction.
  • Jacqueline Woodson—Prolific award-winner whose 2019 novel "Red on the Bone" was an instant best-seller.
For bios and photos of the authors and more about AViD, click here.

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The Italiano is one of the specialty sandwiches available for lunch at Vino 209 in Valley Junction.


By Wini Moranville

"How is everything?" our server asked.

"Great!" my friend and I answered, both at the same time.

As soon as the server was out of hearing distance, my friend leaned in and said, "Isn’t it just so great to be able to say thatenthusiasticallyand mean it?"

Indeed. In a sea of reasonably good but rarely remarkable lunches in the world, it’s a delight to come upon such a dynamic and fine-tuned casual midday meal.

We were at Vino 209, the handsome wine bar in Valley Junction, where I had just tucked into the white truffle melt. This expertly (and greaselessly) toasted sandwich, filled with an oozy and translucent Muenster cheese and satisfyingly hefty thick-slab bacon, was elevated with peppery arugula and a touch of opulence via a thankfully restrained truffle aioli (too much truffle flavoring can make something raunchy when it wants to be refined).

The soup option alongside was not, thankfully, tomato-basil or roasted red pepper or yet another butternut squash song-and-dance. And though it would be easy to pass up an option inauspiciously labeled "Pork and Bean Soup," my leap of faith was rewarded: White beans, bits of charcuterie and pork sausage, and vegetables that were tender yet still colorful bobbed around a lightly creamy base for a fresh, one-of-a-kind find.

My dining buddy was equally happy with her lightly warmed Italiano sandwich: prosciutto, salami, provolone, arugula and avocado stacked (but not heaped) between slices of rosemary flatbread. Here, the polishing touch was a judicious slather of honey aioli.

A trip to the dessert case, which tempts with its colorful cakes and cheesecakes, is a must. We split the ample "Summerberry Stack," a sweet, tart and pretty dessert stacked with cake-like, cheesecake-like and citrus-pie-like layers.

Vino 209 is at 209 Fifth St., West Des Moines; 515-255-1209;

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Lewis Black's sharp social commentary is sometimes biting and always funny.


Actor, author, writer for late-night TV and comedian Lewis Black performs at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Hoyt Sherman Place. Black performs more than 200 nights annually, to sold-out audiences throughout Europe, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. He is one of a few performers to sell out such renowned theaters as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooks Atkinson Theatre and the New York City Center. Sometimes abrasive, always funny, his commentary makes social points with laughter. Tickets start at $45. For reservations and more info, click here.

Playwright and composer Robert John Ford's "Adore Us! Line" debuts this weekend.


Of course, caucus season has more than its share of drama. So it's hardly surprising that celebrated local playwright and composer Robert John Ford was ready to follow his popular "’Caucus! The Musical!" with a new musical for 2020: "Adore Us! Line." Iowa Stage Theatre Company is staging the musical parody of "A Chorus Line," which makes its debut Friday, Jan. 24, and runs through Feb. 2 at the Civic Center's Stoner Theater.

Rather than dealing with candidates in the abstract, this show highlights and skewers real candidates in the days prior to this year's caucus. Tickets are $39, with discounts for young and senior patrons. Tickets are available online here. For more about Ford and this show, read this article from the new issue of dsm magazine.

Broadway hit "Come From Away" has earned critical praise in city after city of its national tour.


We’re looking forward to the feel-good lift we’re confident we’ll get from "Come From Away," which makes a stop at the Des Moines Civic Center Jan. 28-Feb. 2.

Set in the week following the 9/11 attacks, the musical chronicles the true story of a small town in Newfoundland that welcomed, housed and fed 7,000 stranded passengers after planes were unexpectedly ordered to land. Tensions turned into trust, and friendships blossomed. As the Chicago Tribune noted, the show "offers comfort, understanding and hope for our shared future on this planet. It touches the heart."

Showtimes vary. Tickets are $40 to $195, available through or at the Civic Center box office.

Isabelle Piedras is Anne in "The Diary of Anne Frank" at the Des Moines Playhouse. Photo: Brent Isenberger.


Des Moines Community Playhouse presents "The Diary of Anne Frank" Friday, Jan. 24, though Feb. 9.

This adaptation of the original, Pulitzer Prize-winning script draws from previously unpublished parts of Anne Frank’s diary. For nearly two years, Anne's family hid in a secret annex space above her father’s former office in Amsterdam as the Nazis deported the Jews of Holland to their deaths. In her secret attic, Anne comes of age: She laughs, plays, fights with her mother and falls in love for the first time. Despite her oppressive circumstances and the horrors that surround her, Anne’s spirit transcends, as she voices her belief that "in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart."

Tickets range from $29 to $50, available online here or at the Playhouse ticket office.
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