Last night was the book party for Dana Vachon, a struggling young writer who can't seem to catch a break. ETP dispatched lovable party correspondent Julia Allison to the scene to report on the merriment afoot, and capture it for posterity. Below is her take on the whole affair, making for a neat trifecta of coverage. There, now maybe someone'll actually give this Vachon kid a chance. Enjoy!
Most book parties are two very short hours: show up halfway through, drink free alcohol, pretend you've read the book, leave. But if you're New York media's token Catholic-nosed "Lit boy" Dana Vachon, the party for your debut novel - merely the first party, we might add - will stretch well over three incredibly crowded, liquor-fueled hours and include a good percentage of people who not only read the book, but reviewed it as well.
We arrived around 7:30, but could barely squeeze our way into the packed downtown brunch spot Felix, a venue not entirely big enough for the primarily late 20s, early 30s assemblage. With a lone Duke photographer and no Partick McMullan in sight (what!?!), the Huff Post camera — wielded by the ETP posse of myself, Glynnis MacNicol, Sven Hodges and Rachel Sklar — had the New York exclusive.
Vachon, working his signature casual preppy could-it-be-more-obvious- I-went-to-Duke jacket-and-an-oxford look, held court amongst two notoriously disparate factions: the bankers in camel hair sports coats and the people who really don't like bankers in camel hair sports coats. Or, as the latter are sometimes collectively known, "the media."
Completely uninterested in mingling with each other, the two groups kept to their respective cliques, venturing only confused glances each other's direction. The bankers channeled Patrick Bateman, with their slicked back hair combed and parted and gelled in such a way that we thought they must be joking. They weren't. Mingling with them were a veritable sorority of sweater-set clad Westchester brunettes, all wearing pearls non-ironically.
On the other side, proverbially, stood the meta-media institutions, all of whom jumped on the Vachon-press-wagon early and often. Gawker's Nick Denton, Lockhart Steele, Alex Balk and Choire Sicha (who spent the majority of the party outside with a pack of cigarettes) were in attendance, plus Blogging-mogulette and Vachon BFF Elizabeth Spiers (to whom the book is dedicated), Dealbreaker's John Carney, WWD's Stephanie Smith and Whitney Beckett, the Observer's Spencer Morgan, and half the staff of Radar, which excerpted Vachon's book - EIC Maer Roshan, deputy editor Chris Tennant, exec editor Aaron Gell, and sometimes-College- Humor-model assistant editor Neel Shah. New York magazine's Carl Swanson showed, as did Men's Vogue's Hud Morgan, who, of anyone in media could be voted "Most Likely to Be Confused for an I-Banker" but only because he was proudly sporting a Hermes tie. We say this lovingly, of course.
We even met the JP Morgan banker responsible for hiring Vachon, Rob Kindler, now a Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley, who convincingly claimed to have read "the first 100 pages." This proves, if nothing else, that one can write a highly sardonic novel and still maintain friendships with the people you caricature. In fact, all of his characters were there, and damn proud of their fictional counterparts. How'd that happen? we wondered. "Perhaps people just like to read about themselves," Vachon theorized wisely. We think he's on to something.
Dana's mom was there, brandishing what looked to be a Chanel purse, beaming the entire time. We also met his brother Christian, a former teacher now in publishing. He told us that during the novel's formation, he and Dana frequently discussed character development - Christian argued the Shakespearean angles ("so and so is like King Lear! No, Hamlet! No, Ophelia!") while Dana preferred comparisons with Greek literature. Our eyes clouded over. Literature? Hello, this was a BOOK PARTY. Why the hell were we talking about literature?
Tired of earnestness, we sidled up to Vachon's smooth-talking, smooth-headed gregarious uber-agent David Kuhn. When asked why he rescued the young novelist from an empty life of merely writing for the Times style section, he shrugged and said, "funny is money." Hell, yeah - 650k, to be exact. "Besides," he added, "most bankers can't write and most writers can't bank." Hear that, bankers? You may have money and a camel hair sports coat, but you'll never experience the thrill of being paid 50 cents a word!
We ended the night with the final gaggle of stragglers, and an exhausted, blissfully satisfied Vachon. Basking in the glow of so many admirers (not to mention his agent's prediction that M&A "will sell 75,000 copies"), and already anticipating next week's LA launch at the Chateau Marmont, he told us "the evening's only disappointment was the widely noted lack of table dancing." Beyond that, he said, "it was quite lovely." We agree.
Above, from top, and left to right:
Julia Allison and Dana Vachon; Sloane Crosley and Hud Morgan; a cranky Choire Sicha and Maer Roshan; David Kuhn, his boyfriend Kevin whose last name escaped us, though his hip pair of sneakers did not, and Dana Vachon. Below: Stephanie Smith and Whitney Beckett; Neel Shah and Spencer Morgan; and a camera-shy Alex Balk, presented after the jump because he's bashful.
This is not Alex Balk, but we really weren't kidding around about the whole camera-shy thing. But, he is just as much of an adorable puppy dog as this adorable puppy dog! Even so, dude, Michiko Kakutani wants her gig back.
Image from www.roseandearl.com, where a world of Shar-Peis awaits.
Update and clarification: Photo selection and Alex Balk-related commentary by Rachel Sklar.