The Book-of-the-Month Club Turns the Page to Its 60th Birthday, and the Beaux and Belles of Letters Celebrate
With all the luminaries, it's difficult to imagine a more stellar literary evening, but a reporter asked about possible additions to the guest list. Miss Manners—etiquette evangelist Judith Martin—suggested including Henry James because, "You never run into him. And he hasn't had a new book out in ages. I fear the worst." E.L. (World's Fair) Doctorow said he would ask Flaubert, Tolstoy, Kafka, Dostoyevski, Twain, Melville, Hawthorne, Sophocles and Homer. Upon hearing that, Fran (Social Studies) Lebowitz hooted, "Ed, you lack self-confidence." Lebowitz wanted simply "me and six good listeners."
John (The Cider House Rules) Irving, the handsomest author-who-is-also-wrestler, insisted that although many of his friends are writers, "the idea of a literary salon has never been my idea of a party." John Kenneth (The Voice of the Poor) Galbraith would have only folks involved in the economics of publishing. "Otherwise," he said, "the noise would be too great." Bespectacled Theodore (Breach of Faith) White burbled with enough energy to terrify presidential aspirants well into the 21st century. His party list would include "the anonymous fellow who put the King James Bible to bed, Ernest Hemingway, Sir Walter Scott, Sinclair Lewis 'at the right age,' Adam Smith, Clare Boothe Luce and the Chinese poet Li Ti Po," whose verses White began to quote, "Drinking in the moonlight...."
Joseph (No Laughing Matter) Heller, recently recovered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, said, "I wobble when I walk, I chew slowly, but I've never felt better." He probably also voiced everyone's secret wish when he confessed that he'd only invite those critics who love his work. With a sheepish grin, he said, "I find book reviewers who love me fascinating—and find other novelists just so-so."