Somewhere in midtown, the smell of chlorine hung heavy above the heads of a group of New Yorker cartoonists. They were at the bar at the Hotel QT, drinking free wine and vodka and celebrating their failures. Most of them were included in the second edition of The Rejection Collection: Cream of the Crap, a compilation of cartoons that didn't make the cut. Also there was Hendrick Hertzberg, who looks like Robert Redford and Warren Beatty and who, when Tina Brown was editor The New Yorker, was the cartoon editor. His friends call him Rick. I called him Rick. Am I his friend? Is he on Facebook? Provisional not yets on both questions. Also, if you, like me, thought the life of a New Yorker cartoonist was all doodling and fat paychecks, the gathered company was quick to disabuse us of that notion. Nikola Tamindzic was disabused too. So hard.
Though the invite said "bring your swimsuit," the melange of authors and editors and overly friendly publicists who gathered at the Hotel QT for the release of Jesse Ball's novel "Samedi the Deafness" chose not to. Jonathan Franzen left early and it was probably a good thing anyway that we didn't catch his bare torso; we imagine it a lot like recent Morrissey, but hairier. The gays (a lot of them) didn't want to leave their tote bags unattended. But the party was hardly dry; the host was agent David Kuhn. At last, it was only later in the evening did Paris Review senior editor Nathaniel Rich stripped down and jumped in. Nikola Tamindzic, L magazine's best nightlife photographer of 2007, was there to do what he does best. And he also took some photographs.
The author needed to meet some very important person from the world of publishing, and his tightly-wound editor let him know it by waving frantically and then physically dragging him over to the corner of the bar. Dana Vachon had been born wealthy and healthy and handsome and he was right to view himself as entirely blessed, especially considering that his first novel, Mergers & Acquisitions had already gone to a second printing that very day. No one wore costumes on the night of his book party at Felix, that Eurotrash magnet on West Broadway, but there was no need for costumes to have a masque ball. Everyone knew their role and played it.
Poor Kate Lee. By all rights, he should have been hers. When David Lat, the male federal prosecutor who'd masqueraded as a female corporate lawyer on Underneath Their Robes, a deliciously gossipy blog about the federal judiciary, allowed himself to be outed as the blog's author in last Monday's New Yorker Talk of the Town, it seemed obligatory that a book deal would soon be in the offing. And who better to rep him than Talk of the Town-certified agent-to-the-blogstars Kate Lee?