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Thoughts Without Cigarettes, the memoir by author Oscar Hijuelos, was just published last year, so there's no better time to reacquaint yourself with the works of the mind behind Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love than “An Evening With Oscar Hijuelos. Presented by LiveTalks L.A.” (an initiative of Bio.com), NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco speaks with the author who brought Cuban culture to the greater attention of an America that thought for so many years that it was supposed to hate Cuba. What a relief! After the smash success of Mambo Kings (his second book), Hijuelos became the go-to shorthand for people curious about the island nation American propaganda had decreed would represent nothing but socialist misery. The thing about writers is that their powers of listening are unparalleled; as a child, Hijuelos fell ill and stayed in a children's hospital in Connecticut for nearly a year, away from a language that meant so much to him. It's a rare chance to experience the actual instead of the canonical — to see how he hears the world, so that you can better understand how he writes. Track16 Gallery, Bergamot Station, Bldg. C-1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Thurs., June 7, 6:30 p.m.; $20, $35 (includes book), $95 (includes pre-event reception and book). (310) 264 4678, track16.com.

Thu., June 7, 8 p.m., 2012