Just posted a little something about Thankgsiving in Key West over at my cocktail blog Embury. We took over the toolshed for the second year in a row and turned out some pretty awesome cocktails, I must say.
My little slug on Kingley Amis' 'Everyday Drinking' appears in the Esquire.com Gift Guide, along with several other tiny mentions of key bartender gear, including Fee Bros. Complete Bitters Set which is very All I Want For Christmas. This will probably be the closest I get to writing about cocktails for Esquire as Big Poppa David Wondrich has that pretty firmly locked down there-as it should be. I did get to write up his book 'Imbibe!', however.
'Everyday Drinking' is really indispensable stuff, for any serious drinker or non-fiction writer. Astringent? I'm reminded of Hawkeye's description of exactly how dry he liked it: "I want a martini made while staring at the portrait of the man who invented vermouth". It took me hours to get through a chapter of 'Everyday Drinking' so exquisite is the prose-I'd savor every drop, putting the book down between sips. And interwoven throughout-indeed, the collection's very thesis-is an endorsement of the therapeutic value of drink, no matter the consequences. Amis writes, "..the collective social benefits of drinking altogether ..outweigh the individual disasters it may precipitate." For a more thorough review of the book check out Chris Ross' review over at my friends at Stop Smiling, the best magazine you've probably never heard of.
Speaking of Esquire, my successor at The Key West Literary Seminar, Arlo Haskell, put together a fine selection of remembrances of Rust Hills, Esquire's fiction editor. Arlo's blog for the KWLS is quite an impressive web-zine-Dwight Garner at Paper Cuts even took note and linked in, something I wasn't able to able to achieve during my tenure as Technical Director. Well done.
Meanwhile, over at the New Yorker there's an eganging piece on the new book of the collected correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Many of Bishops letters were written from Key West, as it happens, and probably from the house above-I shot this for the KWLS website.
Holy shit. Gore Vidal has confirmed for the 2009 Key West Literary Seminar, which is on Historical Fiction. There's certainly no more major dude for that. Since the passing of Mailer and Bellow this kind of rowdy, brilliant intellectual who's also a great writer-well, it's not the prevailing sensibility these days, is it?
It might almost tempt me to work for them again for one more year-I'd been planning on making this my last year as technical director. If I stayed, I'd want to ask Gore about the Steven Klein shot (below) with Chad White, who I met at the OUT 100 party. We talked about our mutual home town of Portland-he went to Wilson, I went to Catlin, our schools played each other in soccer (20 years apart, but still.) I just wonder what Gore and Chad talked about.
Oprah’s announced that Middlesex is her current Book Of The Month Club Selection. I too this photo of author Jeffrey Eugenides talking with Judy Blume at the 2007 Key West Literary Seminar--maybe she was telling him what it is like to sell a whole lot of books. Now he’ll know for himself.
Ian took my copy of the unfairly dismissed, backlash-injured You Shall Know Our
Velocity to a book signing with Dave Eggers. Ian told Eggers it was for me and that I couldn't be there and
although the name got a little bungled in the confusion of the moment, I love his inscription.
He’s signed on for the New
Voices 2008 Key West Literary Seminar; I look forward to showing this to
him and somehow completing this chain. He'll remember that moment, I know he will! Seriously though, fine book, and I love the main character's voice.
On my signed copy of
Ian McEwan’s ‘Saturday’ he worked his signature into the branches of the
trees on the title page. Very fitting for a writer whose stories snake around themselves, thoughts
redoubling again and again, shifting and twisting and finally arriving at the
unexpected--but unconsciously known--root of the dilemma. I started
reading the book after McEwan signed it for me at the Key West Literary Seminar, but I was too scattered as I prepared for my trip to London and couldn’t focus, putting it aside. Then, in London, I saw these trees everywhere, and his
signature floated over them in my vision, phantom-like. I’m back in freezing
cold NYC right now, and am preparing to curl up with the book and go in.
By the way that was
a complete lie, about McEwan signing my book. Even though I had complete and
unfettered access to him, I was so intimidated by the man who wrote Atonement
that I could barely speak to him, let alone ask him to sign my yearbook.
I was probably too intimate with the other authors I was taking care of. Margaret Atwood? Oh yes, we shared stories about visiting Cuba. Michael Cunningham? Mutual friends in New York, darling! Wally Lamb? I said I'd try and hook his son
up with work in New York. Chatty, chatty, chatty.
But McEwan? I clammed right up, starstruck and speechless. It was like meeting James Fucking Joyce, for me. I bought my copy in
the bookstore, safely pre-signed.
I’m trying to
transition from fours days spent absorbing serious writers’ thoughts about
deep, profound stuff and getting back in the swing of pitching stories,
prepping sexy shoots and posting to my neglected blog. My various selves are a
feeling a bit disparate at the moment.
On a KWLS related note, a section of the new
book that Ian McEwan read from (one
part in a morning session, the other, much racier part in the afternoon) is
online at the New Yorker here.
It’s a lovely and excruciating tale.