Capital Offense

Scott Turow's death-penalty book shocked readers.

Dan Bern The Beachland Ballroom Thursday, September 9
The death penalty gets a new hearing in Scott Turow's - Ultimate Punishment.
The death penalty gets a new hearing in Scott Turow's Ultimate Punishment.
WED 9/22

When he sat down a couple years ago to write Ultimate Punishment, Scott Turow had just made up his mind about the death penalty, an issue he'd never quite committed to. "It doesn't deliver what it's supposed to," he says. "The death penalty is not a deterrent, and it doesn't provide the moral statement that people want."

The lawyer and best-selling author of Presumed Innocent and The Burden of Proof was part of a commission that investigated Illinois's capital-punishment system. Ultimate Punishment, recently released in paperback, explores Turow's struggle with the byzantine issue of government-funded executions. And while the nonfiction book explores the history of capital punishment and argues its way to an inevitable conclusion (the final sentence reveals Turow's anti-death-penalty position), Turow says some readers were surprised by his stance. "I thought it was fairly clear where I was coming from," he shrugs.

Still, Turow says he didn't write Ultimate Punishment to change anyone's mind. He realizes that capital punishment is a thorny topic, one that's as personal as it is political. "I didn't want to write a didactic book. But there was a lot I wanted to . . . get off my chest." Turow is at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is free; call 216-691-7000. -- Michael Gallucci

Oxen, Ya'll
FallFest turns back the clock a couple hundred years.

SAT 9/18

It's no yoke: At Saturday's FallFest: Heritage Day, folks will get a rare chance to watch oxen make their way through an obstacle course. Prepare to pull up a seat: Despite its hardiness, a castrated bull can move only about two miles per hour (how motivated would you be?). The slalom of the sluggish will be among the plethora of activities at Cleveland Metroparks' salute to pioneer days in Ohio. "We'll look at life skills that were necessary for survival for 200 years," explains naturalist Stacey Allen. Among them: wood-carving, weaving, rug-hooking, fleece-spinning, candle-dipping, and writing with quills. Music and square-dancing also will be part of the affair, along with a bunch of hands-on activities -- ranging from the oh-so-quaint (make apple butter!) to something out of The Jetsons (milk a mechanical cow!). FallFest happens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North Chagrin Nature Center (off the Sunset Lane entrance of North Chagrin Reservation in Mayfield Village). Admission is free. For more information, call 440-473-3370. -- Chris Miller

Rebel With the Flaws
A dead President stirs talk of a revolution.

SAT 9/18

At Saturday's "A Little Rebellion Now and Then Is a Good Thing," 84 Charing Cross Bookstore's Jeffrey Innskeep-Fox will lead a discussion about the revolutionary ways of the country's third President. "[Thomas] Jefferson was full of both wonderful and bad things," he says. Jefferson believed that citizens have the right to bitch about their government -- even if it leads to violence. "The government would do well to almost encourage rebelliousness every now and then," says Innskeep-Fox. "Especially in the context of where we are today in the country, when any kind of dissent seems grist for being labeled unpatriotic." It starts at 11:30 a.m. at 84 Charing Cross Bookstore, 6411 Detroit Avenue; call 216-961-0084. -- Lucy McKernan

Playing With Fire

SAT 9/18

By the time Lucky and his sidekick, Lady, find refuge in Hula Lula's grass skirt at Centerfest, the pair of clumsy clowns has taken a pyrotechnic escapade on rocket pogo sticks and jet skis. The jesters from Canada's Cirkus Inferno headline the fest, where Playhouse Square showcases its upcoming Broadway Series with free face-painting, magic acts, and a student talent contest. It runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at various Playhouse Square theaters. Call 216-771-4444 for a complete schedule. -- Cris Glaser

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