The Art Deco Edison Ballroom was packed on Monday for the centennial celebration of the Authors Guild.
Among those in attendance were host Calvin Trillin, Guild president Scott Turow, David Baldacci and Garrison Keillor. Andy Borowitz, Patricia Marx, David Rakoff and Sarah Jones did routines involving rejecting famous literary works such as “The Great Gatsby,” which had Borowitz pointing out that the last sentence of that book doesn’t make any sense. Other works consigned to the scrap heap were “The Odyssey,” “On the Road,” “Walden,” “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “The Invisible Man” and “Elements of Style.” Turow made the best joke of the night, which was about heaven and hell. It seems that a writer died, and she wanted to see both places before deciding where to go. In hell, she saw many writers. They were chained to desks, being “lashed with thorny bushes.” In heaven, there were more writers, and it was the same scene. “What’s the difference?” the author asked. The answer: “[In heaven], you get published.”
The evening created some unusual alliances. Susan Cheever, for instance, sat next to thriller writer Nelson DeMille at dinner and spent much of the evening chatting with him. The topic of conversation, according to Cheever, was the difference between good and bad writing.