So a bunch of us who have new books out in recent days got together last night around a restaurant table for some margaritas and guacamole, hoping to talk candidly about our hopes and fears for the future of a literate and literary society.  It was an ad-hoc group, thrown together at the last minute, and not everyone could come, because some writers were still touring.  Those of us who could make it wondered together about certain essential issues to writers, such as whether language actually matters in the same way it used to back when we were in school reading Roland Barthes and George Eliot.  We fretted together about the falling-away of books, and how we might all stick together and support one another in our future literary endeavors.

We all sat around a big round glossy table at Rosa Mexicano, and I must say, we made quite an illustrious group.  The writers included: myself; Stiegg Larsson’s two lawyers; Shirley MacLaine; the guy who wrote ___ My Dad Says; and the kid from Heaven is For Real, who needed a booster seat and ordered his margarita virgin, but that was not a problem.  Or, as the waiter put it, “No problemo,” and everyone laughed, to break the ice.

MacLaine immediately began chatting, and said that in an earlier life, back when she started writing,”during the Ottoman Empire, I seem to recall,” she added, “I had to hide my writing implements or they would be trampled.”

Larsson’s lawyers shook their heads in solidarity, and then returned to their intense scrutiny of the bowl before them, and the roughly-chopped avocado glop inside it.  “One is meant to… scoop the green material?” Lars Stensson, of Stensson & Stensson, asked me quietly, clearly appalled.

“Yes,” I told him.  “Scoop it.”

Scoop! That’s my favorite novel by Evelyn Waugh!” cried the surprisingly lyrical writer Barbara Eden, and we all looked upon her with admiration.

“Apparently she hasn’t been living in a bottle after all,” cracked the guy from ___My Dad Says, of whom we were all jealous not only because of his sales, but also because of his recent, unprecedented, tripartite essay in the New York Review of Books, on Knut Hamsun.

“I also love Brideshead, naturally,” Barbara Eden continued, and then the kid from Heaven is For Real raised his glass to Evelyn Waugh, “whether she’s up there,” he said, pointing to the ceiling, “or down there,” he added, tipping his head downward.

We all snickered under our breath at his ignorance of Waugh’s gender.  “Though really, he is so young,” I said to Barbara Eden, but she didn’t hear me, for she was already jotting down notes on her napkin for her next book, a novel–perhaps something Elizabethan.  “He has just entered the literary life,” I told her anyway.  “He will have plenty of time to learn.”

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