Brooklyn-born author James Patrick Donleavy, who grew up in the Bronx but expatriated to Ireland, returned to Manhattan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his classic novel "The Ginger Man," about an uncompromising hedonist named Sebastian Dangerfield. Over the years, the book has been praised by many - including Dorothy Parker, John Lennon, Kenneth Tynan, and Van Morrison.
The party was held at The Ginger Man, a bar named for the novel and located at 11 E. 36th Street. The bar's owner, Bob Precious; the author's son, Philip Donleavy; and two of the author's friends, Bob Mitchell and Stefano Ferrari, were hosts.
Before reading from "The Ginger Man," the author read from his "The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival and Manners." He offered humorous advice on name-dropping, and on how to behave at celebrity funerals. About being old, he said, "It's not nice, but take comfort that you won't stay that way forever."
He also read a nonfiction piece about his adventures as a newspaper boy delivering the Bronx Home News. When it came to collecting money for delivering the paper, the young Mr. Donleavy decided to reprimand those who didn't pay him. He wrote across the front page of those subscribers' papers, "How does it feel to cheat a child?" He was fired from the job.
In attendance was John Duffy, who wrote music for the New York stage production of "The Ginger Man." It opened at the old Fortune Theater on Second Avenue the night President Kennedy was assassinated, Mr. Duffy recalled.
Also seen were author Malachy Mc-Court, wearing a pin that read "Let Peace Begin With Us"; actor Jonathan Ball, who is in a forthcoming film called "Stein, Gertrude Stein"; screenwriter Spencer Tandy; and actor Johnny Depp.
Shane MacGowan sang "The Boys of Kilmichael" and "Peggy Gordon." Film director Laurence Dunmore read a passage from a draft of "The Ginger Man" that never made it into the book. He said he hoped to work on a movie based on "The Ginger Man."
One can get a sense of Mr. Donleavy's gloomy humor by a quotation of his printed over the back wall of the bar: " When you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both, it's health. If everything is simply jake, then you're frightened of death."
In addition to being a writer, Mr. Donleavy also paints. An exhibit of his work opening February 15 in Dublin at the Molesworth Gallery.
R.I.P. ROBERT CREELEY
A crowd came out Sunday to the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church to pay tribute to Robert Creeley, poet and former editor of the Black Mountain Review, who died March 30. "Generous" was a word several speakers used in describing the poet.
Peter Gizzi, Alex Katz, Charles Bernstein, John Ashbery, Bradford Morrow, Anne Waldman, Ammiel Alcalay, Mark Mirsky, and many others spoke. The program ended with visual artists Allan Graham and Gloria Graham showing footage of Creeley from their forthcoming film "Add-Verse," which features 25 poets reading their own works while the camera focuses only on the poet's hands holding the texts.
Mr. Graham told an amusing anecdote about visiting poet Tom Raworth in Cambridge, England, at the outset of filming "Add-Verse." The Grahams were walking in a graveyard with Mr. Raworth and his wife, Val, when the latter said, "You know, when I was a young adult, my uncle had me convinced that R.I.P. meant 'Rise If Possible.' "
Roger Altman, Henry Kissinger, Jay Kriegel, and Joe Klein were among those gathered last week at Beacon on West 56th Street, as Judy and Bob Rubin celebrated the publication of their daughter Gretchen Rubin's "Forty Ways To Look at JFK" (Ballantine, 400 pages, $24.95). Mr. Rubin, a former secretary of the treasury, recalled being at Yale the day President Kennedy was killed: "I was at the law school interviewing for jobs and when I told the lawyer I met with that the President had been shot he said 'Well, I never liked him anyway' - and I was just shocked. "What were Gretchen Rubin's memories of that tragic day? "I wasn't born yet."