You know, when everyone tells you it couldn’t have gone any better, when your agent (who reps among others, the great Michael Chabon) tells you she doesn’t remember a better book event, when someone leaves a message and says she wishes the interview had been three hours rather than an hour and a half, even the self-loathingest alternator in your hard-wiring has to admit that things went okay. And by “you,” I mean Jay McInerney….
400 people showed, so I lost my fake bet with my wife (If you’ve been following along, you know I can’t bet anymore.) I sold 50 books, so I won my fake bet with Barnes and Noble.
The time absolutely rocketed by. All of sudden, Susie Essman says, “Another five minutes and then we’ll get to the Q&A,” and I was thinking, “Five minutes? I haven’t even got the Albert Brooks’ flop sweat going yet.”
Susie was great. She’s an old friend, but she went well past the mileposts of friendship here. First of all, I don’t get the gig without her. Second, I don’t get the big room without her. Third, I don’t get the 90-minute relentless hype of my book, which she did as I could not do.
Before we went on, she said, “I got those questions you sent me, but I’m not gonna go by them. We’ll just have a conversation.” Say what? I was noted and mapped out. I said, “(Gulp) Okay, but can we at least start with the Larry David stories and have me end with my Easthampton reading story (which got cut from Letterman)?” She said fine.
So, we do the Larry David stuff, and then, out of nowhere, she starts asking me about Harvard and my parents. I had stuff for later, but I needed to get into it. So, I pull this line out of my ass, “My father was in the shoe business, and my mother was a stay-at-home narcissist.” I had not thought of those words until that moment. It got a nice laugh, and I thought, “Okay, I ain’t rigid. I can just follow along.”
In the end, I told almost all the stories I wanted to, and a few I hadn’t planned on. I got to talk about Philip Roth, my hero, who Susie said the writing reminded her of. When the audience began to applaud, I said, “Let her finish!” Lot of moments like that. The highlight of the Q&A was when some guy in the second row asked me how I could have passed up the opportunity to go to the finest college in the country like my father (Yale) and wound up at “that hellhole in Cambridge.” I said, “Well, I couldn’t go to Yale because I’m a heterosexual.” Gigantic laugh from everyone — except the guy.
The longest laugh of the night, and this suprised even me, was when I was talking about the themes in my books. Aging being one of them. I told the true story of two years ago December, when we had two days in Manhattan, one 25 degrees and chilly, the next day close to 70. At the end of the first day, I get on the elevator in my apartment building. Couple floors down, a young married couple gets on. She is all bundled up in a parka and a couple mufflers and a hat. I say to her, sweetly, “You know, it’s gonna be 68 tomorrow.” And she says, “Happy Birthday!” The place went nuts for so long, I got to get out of my chair and take a knee.
Great great night. Won’t happen again, which is as it should be. I hope to have photos and videos to post soon.
As always, feel free to ask questions here. Thanks for letting it be all about me. Talk about your stay-at-home narcissist….