Three more things about the Daniel Handler / Maira Kalman reading last night:
I’ve interviewed Handler several times — including very recently for this book — and he’s always been tremendously friendly and chatty, and wanting to talk about off-topic things before and after the interviews, but we’d never met. So when I showed up for the reading and saw him wandering around the stacks, I went up and introduced myself. He was very pleasant to chat with, unsurprisingly. He said he was walking around looking for several books which are his barometer of a good bookstore: Darcy O'Brien’s A Way Of Life, Like Any Other, Tom Drury’s The Black Brook or The Driftless Area, “and anything by William Maxwell.” I’d never heard of any of these authors; I told him I’m apparently a lousy bookstore. But now I definitely need to look into them. Sadly, this Barnes & Noble had none of these books. In lieu of that, Handler pressed a book into my hands and told me it was really good, so that’s on the list to read soon. Of course I left it at home and I’ve forgotten the title already, but it looked interesting enough to risk at the time.
After the “Are you a romantic” quiz (there were quiz forms on all of our seats so we could fill them out and score ourselves), Kalman announced that she had a prize for the person with the highest score. And she did. And it was an onion ring. She claimed she has an extensive onion-ring collection at home, and that onion rings last forever, and that the earliest onion ring she owned was from 1968, and that she eventually sold it to the chief design curator of the Museum Of Modern Art for $15. But then she thought better of it and tried to buy it back, but he isn’t budging, and she’s sad about it. “It has sentimental value, that onion ring.” I assumed this was all charming nonsense, but then I read a profile of her in the New York Review Of Books, which does in fact mention “dessicated onion rings displayed in a glass case.” Now that’s quirk. Someone put that into a Hollywood rom-com, right away.
I got home to a nice email from Handler telling me it was sweet of me to come to his reading. Aww!