So it is wild -- almost unfathomable to me -- to imagine having dinner with about ten of them in one night. But in less than two weeks, on May 27th, that's just what I'm going to do.
At its annual fundraiser, the American Library in Paris invites a renowned author to speak. This year, the all-hailed Prince of Paris, none other than Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon, will return to Paris to be the featured guest speaker. But the organizers of the Gala came up with a 'novel' spin on the always sparkling event: this year they have also invited a group of literary luminaries to create an unprecedented event in recent Paris literary history. It is a Francophile bibliophile's dream come true.
Warning: name dropping ahead!
In addition to the hallowed Mr. Gopnik as honored guest, also in attendance at the soirée will be authors Diane Johnson, C.K. Williams, Jake Lamar, Alan Riding, John Baxter, Alice Kaplan, Lily Tuck, and the doyenne of American literary Paris, Mavis Gallant. And, none other than BHL himself, Bernard-Henri Lévy and his luminous wife Arielle Dombasle.
I admit, I'm sometimes tongue-tied when around famous people. So I'm nervous about the nature of idle chit-chat or intense conversations with these acclaimed authors as we swill our champagne or tuck into our four-course dinners. Gushing "I loved your book" is such a -- cliché. To avoid the brainless banalities, I'm trying to think up a few 'impromptu' conversation topics.
Any ideas? Please chime in! If you have a question you'd like me to ask, let me know, because I'm spending the whole evening with these glitterati, from hors d'oeuvres to après-diner chocolates. Now is your chance, so please send me any questions you'd like to ask these literary greats. I'll report back on all the answers, I promise! And photos, too.
But, wait! Are you jealous? No need to be. Here's the good news: you can come, too. If you're going to be in Paris on May 27, it's not too late to don your best evening attire and attend the dinner. I called the American Library today, and the staff said that they can actually take reservations -- if fully paid -- through next Tuesday, May 20. They are expecting an intimate, sold-out crowd of about 200 for cocktails and dinner at the elegant and private Cercle de l'Union Interalliée on the Faubourg St. Honoré.
It is a fundraiser, of course, so the price for a swish evening with the authors is €300 per person, and all proceeds benefit this most venerable of American non-profits in Paris. Call me star-struck, but I like to think of it this way: 300€ divided by 10 authors equals about 30€ each. In my book, that's mere peanuts for spending an evening in the company of so many fascinating people you might never have the chance to have meaningful conversation with otherwise.
And companies such as Air France, Chanel, the International Herald Tribune and the fabulous Hotel Pont Royal -- the literary hotel of Paris -- all think it's a cause worthy of their support.
Who am I to say no? But ... what am I going to wear?
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