August, at a friend’s house for the weekend in Water Mill. I came to participate in the East Hampton Library fund raiser.
What I love about the Hamptons is the sound of the crickets at night, hearing the whistle of the train in the distance, the smells of cut lawn and sweet flower-scented air.
The library event was spectacular. Bigger than ever, the tent was bulging. I had planned to walk around and meet the authors but that never happened. I was selling books and chatting with people. And soon, of course, I got competitive and needed to sell more books than the authors seated on either side of me. To my right was a gaunt man with a book about an accident, human error, lives were lost, yawn. Along for the ride was his wife, obviously the eater in the family, who insisted on wedging her way in between us, which was impossible so I had to growl at her. To restore her equilibrium she tore into plate after plate of boiled shrimp which was pretty disgusting. To my left an angelic lady with a book about an art theft told from the point of view of a dog. I figured I would probably win my secret competition. Besides, I was armed.
I did this event last year so I knew to come prepared. I had extra books to foist on anyone with the least bit of clout who could advance my career (or improve my mood). I had business cards and spread them in a tidy fan on my bit of table. Most importantly I brought a cut crystal bowl that I filled with tiny silver wrapped chocolates. I was going to get people to visit my bit of table one way or the other. “Chocolate or literature?” I asked those sauntering by. My pile of books began to dwindle. I carnival barked and even resorted to imploring. “How about if I flat-out beg you to buy my book?” I went so far as to offer a money back guarantee, “If my book does not make you laugh,” I assured, “I will send you a refund.” My pile whittled down a little more.
Also there was the enormously popular Dick Cavett (his wife bought my book), Martin Amis (I sycophantically forced my book on him). “I have a present for you,” I said. “Thank you,” he said, unafraid, unsurprised, the famous soft pink boyish face rumpling into the tiniest smile and then shyness got the better of me and I dashed away into the thicket of the crowd. There were plenty of well known writers from Michael Connelly, to Nelson DeMille, and Shere Hite in full Kabuki makeup, and on the list went from the heavyweights all the way to myself and the dog book lady who I liked a lot. After quite a bit of arm wrestling I sold off my pile of books.
I already can hardly wait to do it again next year.