We all know that public appearances by writers are by and large a burden upon society; I am still traumatized, some fifteen years after the fact, by an exceedingly soporific fiction reading I attended in which the author, never once looking up from her text, numbly and mirthlessly read aloud the sentence “‘Have you seen the egret?,’ she said.” I eyed the exits for a stealthy way out; sadly, there was none.
And yet... I have some “authorly” events coming up that involve not only free wine and free food, but lively co-presenters who will engage you and keep things moving clippety-clop.
The first, on Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m., is a talk at Brooklyn’s Powerhouse Arena about wine, wine fetishism, and wine snobbery, the occasion being the publication of the paperpack edition of Benjamin Wallace’s fine nonfiction oeno-caper The Billionaire’s Vinegar. The bookchatters will be Mr. Wallace, Slate’s gonzo wine columnist Mike Steinberger, my Wine Snob’s Dictionary co-author David Lynch, and me.
The second event is a real corker: On Friday, June 12, at 8 p.m., at New York City’s Astor Center, the Southern Foodways Alliance, overseen by the affable and mischievous Mississippian foodthropologist John T. Edge, will sponsor a discussion of the life and legacy of Craig Claiborne, the Mississippi-born cookbook author and former food editor of the New York Times, and, in my opinion, the most underappreciated of America’s 20th-century food figures. (He’s a major character in my book The United States of Arugula.) Pete Wells, current editor of the Times’s Dining section, will moderate, and the yammerers will be the great Jacques Pépin (who knew Claiborne well) and me. M. Pépin is a kind man, my favorite TV chef, and the possessor of the most suspiciously undiluted French accent I’ve ever heard, considering he’s lived in this country for 50 years.
John T. Edge is flying up some chefs from Mississippi to “represent” with Southern snacks at the Astor Center. This event is free but requires a reservation and will get booked up quickly. More info is here, or you can simply RSVP by June 5 to firstname.lastname@example.org