Last evening, a genteel literary crowd gathered at the Tribeca loft apartment of Slate editor Jacob Weisberg and his wife, Domino editor Deborah Needleman, to f te the cultural critic and historian Clive James. His new book, Cultural Amnesia, is a kind of highbrow Cliffs Notes for Important Figures of, mostly, the last couple centuries, ranging from the well-known (Jean-Paul Sartre, Hitler, Tony Curtis, Beatrix Potter) to the obscure-but-should-be-known (Dubravka Ugresic, Ricarda Huch, Robert Brasillach), with a decided favoritism toward the Central European intelligentsia of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nothing about Paris Hilton, sadly.
But two of the oh-so-towering figures of early 21st century American intelligentsia were, to this observer's eyes, conspicuously missing: the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, and Vanity Fair columnist and blogger James Wolcott. Both, it was said, had been invited. Neither, it appeared, had shown up. One could hardly blame Gopnik for not wanting to share a room with Wolcott, who so savaged him in the pages of the New Republic last month. But is Wolcott also wary of sharing room with his nemesis? Is Wolcott, dare we say it, scared?