According to Scott McLemee, over at Cogito, ergo Zoom, there was some sort of stir created during the National Book Critics Circle gathering last Friday night. Either that, he says, or a whole bunch of his friends were playing a practical joke.
The Happy Booker is here to confirm that there was indeed an incident, and it involved the infamous “t-shirt” and the waggish Rick Perlstein.
Perlstein, author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus and the forthcoming The Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo: How the Democrats Can Once Again Become America's Dominant Political Party, was slated to appear on NBCC's “the politics of reviewing and the reviewing of politics" panel. Having read Scott’s t-shirt post, Perlstein decided that the event was the perfect venue to “unveil” a little McLemee-ism.
As Perlstein explains,
Saw the post, loved the shirt, contacted Robb [Schuneman, the designer] and said, hey, if we do this in a single day and fedex it, I can wear the shirt to a panel … I suggested we find a Latin motto that captured the sense of what I wanted the shirt to convey, as a discursive intervention into said politics, as it were, and Robb, upon consultation, arrived at 'Ingenium Vincit Cognationes': Talent trumps connections, apparently. When it was my turn to speak on the first question (I was second to last) I said I had a visual aid for my argument, histrionically shucked my sweater to show the T-shirt, introduced the legend thereupon, and launched into my lecture for people to get their heads out of their asses and realize that part of their job is looking for unacknowledged talent.
A large applause ensued.
The Happy Booker would like to add a personal note to a certain photographer at The New York Sun, who is currently in possession of a very important piece of NBCC’s history: "Please send Rick his photo!"
See what you miss when you stay home?