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Being There: Holiday Fever
With the New York publishing industry at the height of its holiday fever, there was a lot to see and do in December. Here are a few of the highlights from the season, as well a note from a much needed escape.
Housing Works Gin Mingle. The annual literary gathering that marks the official start to the publishing holiday season. The Housing Works Bookstore is a wonderfully old space in SoHo, with all proceeds going to help homeless people with AIDS. The Gin Mingle is a crush of young publishing types straining to be heard over the thumping music while stealing glances at the likes of Colson Whitehead and Lynne Tillman. Yes, Jon-Jon was there.
New School visit to talk to the 12th Street Magazine staff. Guided by faculty advisor Rene Steinke, the New School’s undergraduate literary magazine boldly mixes politics with fiction and poetry. I had a great time talking with the smart, engaged students who were energized by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Amherst College visit. All respect for Jennifer Acker, the Amherst professor who has launched a new literary magazine, The Common at the storied college where Robert Frost stomped the quad for many a year. I dropped in on her publishing class with students from all of the Five Colleges (yes, the Hampshire poet was the funkiest).
Blake Nelson book party. The sequel to the classic YA novel GIRL, Dream School is published by the wildly successful online writing site Figment, and they threw a swanky party at the Brooklyn home of another YA star, Adele Griffin. Nelson is about the nicest writer on the planet and there was nothing but goodwill and champagne at this party. Check this interview to see for yourself.
HOW magazine benefit at the Bowery Hotel. HOW stands for Helping Orphans Worldwide, and all proceeds from the journal go to various organizations working with orphans. The benefit, with readings by Elissa Schappell and Susan Minot, dancing, and an auction, was billed as “Capote’s Black & White Ball Revisited.” While there weren’t quite “500 Friends, 15,000 enemies” like at Capote’s famous 1966 party, there were some damn fine masks.
December 26-January 1
Does being in Victor, Idaho count as a cultural moment? Sure it does. Highlight: an elk burger at the Knotty Pine restaurant.
Portland, Oregon. A series of terrifyingly ambitious and exciting meetings in the actual Tin House. And then, of course, a trip to the Mecca of Books: Powell’s. Post-Xmas, it was heartening to see the place packed, with long lines of the book-laden at the checkouts. A good sign for the New Year!