Book Launch Parties. Not Just For Authors

By | April 25, 2006

The NYT/IHT has a piece by Rachel Donadio on how the New York literary set is now eschewing book launch parties, apparently because they have belatedly realized they don’t actually create much of a buzz for books. No mention of the rise of print on demand, the e-book or successes like 37 Signals’ recent instant bestseller Getting Real.

But what I liked was the ‘Luvvie’ moment at the end, when Fran Lebowitz, veteran partygoer and writer, suggests that parties shouldn’t just be held for writers:

The line you hear most often today is that the book party is “just for the author.” And why not? “When you finish a book – not that I have a lot of experience finishing them – it’s such a Herculean effort that you feel that you deserve everything,” Lebowitz said. “It’s like coal mining. The only people I feel sorrier for are coal miners. And they never have parties; they sometimes don’t live through the day. But I’m sure if you ask them each day when they come out of the mine if they think they’d want people passing around canapés, they’d say yes.”

This raises all sorts of interesting issues. Beyond the wonderful image of a soot-blackened miner emerging from the gloom and looking forward to a beer and a soak being accosted by a waitress proffering a champagne flute and a platter of hors d’oeuvres. First couple of days it might be fun but it might wear off. I do like the idea though. What other professions might it work for? Car mechanics? (“I’m home, dear. Sorry abot the axle grease on the doorknob. Ooo! A surprise party? For moi? And foie gras!” Accountants, emerging from behind their computer screens to a tickertape parade celebrating their dizzying work on the Flubelstein Account? (“Drink up Johnson. We’ve got some dancing girls jumping out of an oversized ledger in the next cubicle.”) The possibilities are endless.

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