Rumpled khakis, corduroy jackets and artfully disheveled hair were on frequent display at the Tenement Museum on Thursday night. The McSweeney’s set had gathered to watch Ben Greenman—a New Yorker editor—read from his new super-stylishly bound object d’arte book, Correspondences.
Only 250 copies of the elaborately folded volume of postcards—a kind of Choose Your Own Adventure for adults—were pressed and they go for $50 each. “It could have been three times more expensive,” Aaron Petrovich,the publisher, explained, adding, “We didn’t want to be too exclusive.”
Even Olivia, a visiting Brit in a green pea coat, wasn’t buying. “I’d buy the book if the pound wasn’t rubbish right now,” she said, handing me a Rothman. I told her it was still cheaper for visitors than natives. “You get free alcohol at these things over here, it’s amazing!” she said happily. “Here take some fags— I mean cigarettes—for later.”
Back inside, the man of the hour—sporting stubble, a boxy jacket and yellow tie—was gladhanding. “Yeah, we’ll do lunch,” Greenman told a partygoer with a slap on the back. Hey, Ben, doesn’t this focus on design highlight that fiction is in a world of trouble? “There’s some amazing stuff going on with cell phone fiction in Japan,” he answered. Right, thanks.
A preppy girl in a red dress stood by the door holding a box of postcards. Up-and-coming essayist Laura Wilkinson works in marketing for the book’s publisher. “Most of my friends only care about beer,” she said. “Look, Ben’s checking on me to make sure that I don’t give away any secrets,” she joked as Greenman circled around us. Had she managed to score one of the ornate tomes for herself? “I would, but I don’t think I can afford it.”