This year Book Expo America (BEA) was in New York, where I live, and which I find a bit boring at the moment, and perhaps my jaded perspective on the less than exotic location made for less excitement. Or perhaps I wouldn't say that I was less excited per se, maybe just a little OD'ed on books by the end of it all. As I said this afternoon to one of my friends, a bookseller at Bluestockings, "It's like that thing, when you get caught smoking, and then your parents make you smoke a whole pack of cigarettes to teach you a lesson..." And he said, "But I love cigarettes!"
For me, my BEA experience began officially on Thursday evening in Greenwich Village at the Lit Blog Co-op party, where Ms. Booker's presence was sorely missed. I enjoyed seeing so many of my friends, new and old, and favorite people from out of town, including LBC members Mark Sarvas, Dan Wickett, Anne Fernald, Carolyn Kellogg, Levi Asher, Edward Champion, et al; hypercool publishing types: Richard Nash, Colson Whitehead , Timothy Schaffert, mastermind behind the so-hot-it-hurts Omaha Lit Fest, book promotion doyenne Bella Stander and her entourage of debut authors Tish Cohen and Patry Francis, and dynamite authors whose books I've publicized: Jami Attenberg , Katharine Weber, and many more. Seriously, so many more that maybe I should have jotted down notes on my hand as I floated around but I was having far too much fun, as the case should be.
Friday night, I made a rare sojourn to Brooklyn for the much-touted shindig at powerHouse books, and ran into Fiona McCrae and Mary Matze of Graywolf Press on the way. Then Fiona ran into her pals Honor Moore and Loverboy author Victoria Redel, whose new novel is The Border of Truth while we were looking for the party. They warned us the door was a mob scene and advised us to just cut the line. Good advice. Once inside, it was half-hipster, half-publishing types and I enjoyed watching both sides eye each other warily. Luckily no one broke into song and I didn't have to worry about not being a Shark OR a Jet (Please; I'm an Emerald. Nice space, though, and free booze. A winner! After that I breezed around the corner for the mouth-wateringly most-anticipated soiree of my weekend, the Lee Bros' celebration for their James Beard Award-winning cookbook, featuring "stories and recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners." And fried chicken so delicious I nearly lost my mind.
Saturday night, I went by that quintessential New York literary landmark, The Strand, for the store's 80th birthday party. It was mobbed in the best way and beautifully catered. Several champagne toasts, a slice of perfectly frosted cake and an Art Spiegelman-designed tote bag later, I was out the door and on my way home, officially finished with this year's pared-back party agenda and glad I'd confined it to the essentials. And weren't they, though? I love books.
Lauren Cerand writes about art, politics and style at LuxLotus.com.