I flew from St. Louis into La Guardia and hopped on to a bus to Grand Central Station. Less than twenty hours later, I was back on the bus, heading back out to the airport. With such an abbreviated stay I didn’t even stray out of Midtown.
The party was ridiculously glamorous. It was held in an incredible penthouse just north of Lincoln Center, with extraordinary views across the city. It felt as if we were on a film set. Lots of interesting people there, of course, and it was good to catch up with Nancy and another ex-member of our London writers’ group, Celeste. There were all manner of stars from the NYC literary firmament, of course, and I enjoyed meeting some of them, too.
Prior to the party I met with my New York, agent, Emma Sweeney. We had never corresponded directly before but instead have always liaised via my London agent, Bruce Hunter, in an elaborate, electronic version of Chinese whispers, which – thanks to the intercontinental time difference – often meant that news sometimes took an additional day to reach me. We discussed the rewrite of THE SONGS OF OUR FATHERS, which she was very kind about. The revised novel is presently with one superstar editor in New York (who just happened to be at Nancy’s party) and we are waiting for her to finish reading it. She’s actually reading it for the second time, and we are anxious to hear her verdict.
After the party I walked down Broadway to 44th Street to Birdland, and enjoyed Dave Holland’s second set. It was the opening night of his residency there, but those cats have been playing together so long you never would have known. It’s always a treat to catch musicians play live after you’ve listened to them (sometimes obsessively) for years. Dave is a wondrous bass player, and is from the UK, to boot. The music was fabulous, as was the margarita I ordered, but since I’d been up since 4 that morning, by the end of the gig I was having a little trouble keeping my eyes open, despite Nate Smith’s incendiary drumming. I finally toppled into bed (in the smallest hotel room in New York) at about 1.30 in the morning. Long day.
The next morning there was just time for a quick breakfast before walking back down to Grand Central for the bus back to the airport. By mid afternoon I was back in Columbia, going up and down the aisles of Toys R Us, looking for a birthday present for Catherine, and wondering if I’d actually been away at all.