Thursday's Times has a full-page ad on the back of the B section demanding that readers "buy tickets now for the book event of the year." (It's all in capitals.) It's "The New York Times Great Literary Brunch" on Sunday October 14 from 11 AM to 2 PM. (What, no one at the Times goes to church on Sunday morning?) The lineup of "best-selling authors" will include actor Alan Alda, MSNBC star Chris Matthews, liberal professor and novelist Stephen Carter, and fiction writers Ann Patchett and Tom Perrotta. The master of ceremonies is liberal Times writer Robert Lipsyte.
Chris Matthews has a book coming out in October about politics and the lessons of success entitled "Life's a Campaign." Perrotta's new novel is "The Abstinence Teacher," which must be a play on words since his teacher character is pitched as "the human sexuality teacher at the local high school who believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power."
As New York magazine's review declared, the book's depiction of "Christianists" is harsh, and perhaps a bit plastic: "the abstinence teacher is a sex-ed teacher compelled by local Christianists to put forth a curriculum she doesn't believe in. There's also less humor. And though the new novel has that same unputdownable quality as Little Children (the movie rights have already been sold), the political overtones can intrude: Some may have a hard time believing fully in the believers."
The event will be held at The Times Center, which the ad promoted as "a new state-of-the-art cultural center in the New York Times Building designed by Renzo Piano in the heart of the Times Square area." The talk, buffet brunch, and book signing is a little pricey at $130 (plus a $3 processing fee). Let's hope the poorer literary folk can get a subsidized or cut-rate ticket.