At Barnes & Noble in Chelsea, eight writers and editors talked about the work that appears in "The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005" (Anchor). It is dedicated to one of the greatest short story writers, Anton Chekhov, who "could see a person's whole life in a gesture."
The series editor since 2002, Laura Furman, and one of the three judges, Richard Russo, said the short story form is alive and well. What do the 20 winning stories have in common? "Communities in disintegration," was the only common thread that Ms. Furman felt might be part of the fabric of all.
Ms. Furman described the "blind reading" selection process. After she culls pieces from more than 300 magazines, the three judges read versions that have been stripped of authors' names and the place of publication. "This is the only fair way to do it," said Mr. Russo, who said sometimes he feels that all fiction should exist anonymously on bookshelves. "It would change a lot of literary reputations," he said with a smile.
Asked to define the difference between the short story and the novel (besides length), Mr. Russo said a short story can "be thought all at once" - a novel cannot.
How many book parties boast a hopping dance floor? Guests boogied down in Midtown at a gathering celebrating Esther Cohen's novel "Book Doctor: A Novel" (Counterpoint).
The book's protagonist, Arlette Rosen, makes her living by helping others to write their dream novels. After meeting Harbinger Singh, a tax attorney who hopes to pen one called "Hot and Dusty," romance blooms.
Ms. Cohen told those at the event that, "It took a lot of people to create 'Book Doctor.' And everyone in this room is in the novel. I hope you like what I said about you all - and I hope you enjoy the book. Thank you for being a part of it."
When not writing books, Ms. Cohen serves as the executive director of Bread and Roses, the cultural arm of SEIU/local 1199, New York's health care union. She has also organized a national cultural program connected to her labor union called "Unseen America," in which classes in photography and writing were given to several thousand people - including migrant workers, nannies, former prisoners, and EMS workers. HarperCollins will publish a book based on the project in May.
Seen at the party was Henry Foner, whose late brother Moe founded Bread and Roses. Mr. Foner is scheduled to appear at the CUNY Graduate Center this Friday, along with Brown University senior lecturer Paul Buhle and others, on a panel that will discuss protest and repression at City College during the 1930s.
The book's editor, Megan Husted, and its publicist, Holly Bemiss, from Counterpoint spun the author around the dance floor to celebrate.
Also present were the author's literary agent, Betsy Lerner; the chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts, Richard Schwartz, and his wife Sheila; documentary filmmaker George Stoney; 94-year-old film editor Laura Hayes, who won a Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award last year; WABC producer Melvin McCray, who worked with Peter Jennings for many years; the director of the film "America in the 40's," Tom Spain; Viking/Penguin's executive editor, Wendy Wolfe; Joe Queenan, author most recently of "Balsamic Dreams: A Short But Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation"; literary agent Amy Berkower; WNYC news editor Karen Frillman; and freelance writer Judith Newman, who recently wrote about Judith Regan for Vanity Fair.
The author's husband, Peter Odabashian, put in an appearance to show his support. He is a documentary film editor and producer whose most recent project is "People Like Us," a film for public television about class in America. He is currently in the development stages on a film about the elections in Mexico next year.
Hiking up to the gallery atop the Hermes boutique on Madison Avenue resembled strolling up the ramps at the Guggenheim Museum, a spiral trek promising artistic illumination.
That illumination was delivered by the white-haired Albert Maysles, the more talkative of two documentary filmmaking brothers. He beamed as he talked about his fifth decade of friendship with artists the Christo and Jeanne Claude and his fifth film about their "temporary sculptures" since 1972. He has spent two decades on this documentary since it was first conceived and said that Christo and Jean-Claude's sculptures and his films were alike in showing "respect for reality." The documentaries can be seen as "a living archive of their work's impermanence," Mr. Maysles said. "The Gates" will open in Central Park on February 12 and will be on view for 16 days. Mr. Maysles will be involved in six more days of filming from February 9 through 15, including shooting from helicopters on opening day.
When asked how he and his brother collaborate, Mr. Maysles told a story of a motorcycle trip through Europe in the 1950s that they took before becoming filmmakers. On long, tiring days, he would turn over the driving to his brother and become the passenger, tightly wrapping his arms around his brother. He would fall asleep on the back of the bike - knowing his brother would steer safely.
Paul Holdengraber of the New York Public Library introduced Mr. Maysles. Mr. Maysles "provoked serendipity," Mr. Holdengraber said.
He likened Maysles's films to a famous remark on Shakespeare - he had no point of view in his work yet captured everything.
During a cooking segment today on Tony Danza's talk show, his 34-year old son, Marc Iadanza, announced that he was a first-time father-to-be, making Mr. Danza a first-time grandfather-to-be. Mr. Iadanza handed his father an apron emblazoned with the word "Grandpa." Mr. Iadanza's wife, Julie, 33, is due in August. Commenting on baby names, Mr. Danza said: "I was thinking Anthony, maybe."