Though a night with an author of historical fiction sounds tearfully uninspired on first inspection, Thomas Mallon will prove otherwise this evening at the Weisman Museum of Art. Mallon is a frequent essayist and occasional novel penner, most often choosing to set his books just right of the spotlight: Mrs. Paine’s Garage was the true story of the Quaker woman who housed Lee Harvey Oswald just before his assassination and demise; Fellow Travelers is a fictional retelling of a man who played a small role in the Army-McCarthy hearings. But it’s his essays that draw most of the attention, published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and the like, because they tend to be unexpected, politically incisive, or historically imaginative (to wit, his latest in the Atlantic: a retelling of the Kennedy assassination if Lee Harvey Oswald had lost his nerve). He’s a quietly prolific writer by trade, and an unmissable opportunity to meet him comes tonight on the U of M campus. 7 p.m. Free. —EK

Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-9494, weisman.umn.edu