"Chocolate comes from cocoa which comes out of a tree. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad," as the new saying goes. And for an old saying, we'll use Richard Wilbur's mysterious one. He was Poet Laureate in 1987. He wrote: "We milk the cow of the world, and as we do, we whisper in her ear, 'You are not true!'"
We are going to talk about books here today.
•Come Wednesday, May 7th at 5:30, I am conducting a Hunter College symposium at Roosevelt House on 47-49 East 65th Street.
We'll be talking of the good--looking Tina Flaherty's new book, titled What Jackie Taught Us -- and we won't be talking Jackie Çollins either (although that would be fun) but Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Tina has put together a dazzling collection of writers between the covers of this work which gives us one of the best of varied photos and articles about Jackie. Hunter's prexy, Jennifer Raab, introduces Tina who introduces me. I have a tiny vested interest in this book for which I wrote an introduction and I think , modestly, it is just about the best thing I've ever done.
Our guests for this symposium are the Morgan Library's Declan Kiely, the Municipal Art Society's Kent Barwick, and actor/activist, author Malachy McCourt who wrote a History of Ireland. They will help us along in understanding the sometimes puzzling, always dazzling First Lady of the 35th President of the U.S.
I spent my own money getting three of the books Jackie herself liked best and we are going to give them away in a drawing at the door. They are some of her favorites written by Frederic Morton. Jackie discussed these books with me every time we met. You won't want to miss the authors Tina Flaherty has collected and she has written of Jackie herself.
I will be chomping at the bit to get away at the end of this event to a party being given in Graydon Carter's Monkey Bar for the super successful producer Jerry Bruckheimer. He also gave us CSI on TV, as well as many thrilling movies, and he is presenting his career and his own photos from many movies in a handsome work of art, a big coffee table item titled When Lightning Strikes: Four Decades of Filmaking. Mr. Bruckheimer is one of the rare movie producers whose name still resonates in La La Land.
•DID YOU see that Moby Dick was named for the first time on the favorite list in the recent poll taken last March, where they asked 2300 people over the age of 18 to name their choices. (And to think, I once had a little romance with Herman Melville's grandson! Back in the day when I worked as a proof reader for Newsweek!)
I think the tale of the white whale and man's folly when he follows his obsession was right up there with the Bible #1. Second was Gone With the Wind and they got votes for To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Rings. Dropping off out of the ring were authors Stephen King and Dan Brown and Åyn Rand.
•COINCIDENCE I was singing the praises of author Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch even before she won the Pulitzer Prize this year for her extraordinary novel about a young boy who ends up in possession of a priceless art work after an incident in the mythical Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Wanting desperately for Ms. Tartt to read for us at the Literacy Partners gala happening June 17th at Cipriani 42 Street, I had always hoped I could go around her handlers at Little, Brown and talk her into it.
So, who should I run into and meet the other eve in going to my perennial favorite Le Veau d'Or on 60th Street, but the petite and charming Ms. Tartt. I couldn't change her mind, as in June she will be in Europe and selling her book in Finland after that. But I hope we can become friends for the future. As the restaurant is mentioned in the early pages of this novel and seeing how we are both fans of owner Cathy Treboux, it seems (I hope) inevitable.
Incidentally, if you'd like to help Literacy Partners teach millions of illiterate adult New Yorkers how to read and write at the 5th grade level (that would change everybody in this nation's future,) send me a small or large contribution at Literacy Partners, 30 East 33rd Street, zip 10016. The wonderful writer Barbara Taylor Bradford, who has her own hit novel out, named Cavendon Hall, and I will be so grateful. She is my co-host.
•One Brad Berger writes of my May 1st column, "I once attended the Matrix awards -- yes, long, I did not return although they do a nice job supporting women." He goes on to ask:
"Why does Gloria Steinem hardly mention the ERA anymore? Nor do most women of fame and notoriety who made it in life because of the efforts of women like you, Bella, Shirley, Geraldine, Anne and Betty. It is almost as though today's successful women don't even know what happened in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
"The women today who have "made it" seem not to care about all the other women who still get lower wages and are abused, but rather just care about themselves. I find this strange.
"The ERA bill has not gotten out of the Senate Judiciary committee since 1985. It is the men in Congress regardless of party or ideology who prevent the ERA from coming to a full vote of Congress -- shame on them. In the Senate there are only 18 cosponsors of the current ERA bill SJ Res 10.
"We are not a democracy until the majority of people in our country, women, have equality under the Constitution. Who are we to complain about treatment of women in other countries when our country does not insure Constitutional equality for women?"
"Sincerely, Brad Berger"