The Diary of Parkus Grammaticus, Sept. 14, 2011
I. Last night I had the honor of presenting the Ambassador Book Award for American Studies to Rebecca Skloot, for her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Skloot was sunable to attend, but it was a fun and interesting evening. Alan Brinkley won the nonfiction award for The Publisher, his biography of Henry Luce; Christian Wiman picked up the poetry prize for Every Riven Thing; Janet Malcolm received a lifetime achievement award; and—arriving at the last possible minute!—Deborah Eisenberg collected the Amby (we don't actually call them that) for fiction, for her Collected Stories. Tony Judt's widow, Jennifer Homans, gave an incredibly moving speech in accepting the posthumous award (for a "book of special distinction") given to The Memory Chalet.
II. Afterward I skedaddled downtown to KGB, where I managed to slip into a very crowded room—what a turnout! Thanks to Karolina and Max for running this baby, and to (F.S.) Rebecca Taylor, Justin Taylor (no relation), and Rozalia Jovanovic for reading. Sadly I missed most of Rebecca's reading, but the end was tantalizing: footage from one of the no-budget horror flicks that she starred in (as recounted in her Believer piece, "Virginia Mountain Scream Queen"). (Anyone shoot video of RT?) Justin read a wonderful little memoir about (among other things) once being Tao Lin's roommate. And Rozi read her music issue feature on the band Salem, to a smoke machine and a series of enigmatic/spooky/funny slides. So great to see so many people having fun.