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Dispatches from Amagansett's Authors Night

Robert Caro stole my pen!

My silver kitten heels were sinking into the mud as I tried to make my way around the 14th Annual Authors Night event in Amagansett on Saturday.

I love reading but I was lost! This event, hosted by Alec Baldwin, “A Celebration of Books and 121 Years of Reading at the East Hampton Library”, was going to take me 121 years just to get through.

Talk about slow going. It was literary chaos. So many people meandering around a muggy tent in the middle of a potato field in The Hamptons looking for stuff to read!
This was like a Barnes and Noble in Jakarta at the height of monsoon season.

But we sweat-covered readers were there, I reminded myself, to actually meet the authors! To talk with them, to learn, to commune.

So I set off to meet some writers. There were so many to choose from- 85 in fact. I knew some of the more popular names: A.M. Homes, Lee Child, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Jules Feiffer, Geraldo Rivera, Wednesday Martin and my boss, Michael Gross.

But I really wanted to meet Robert Caro.

The Powerbroker, his 1974 tome about Robert Moses, sits on my windowsill (and serves as a lounge chair for my cat). Collecting dust. Maybe if I talked to the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, I could tackle the 1,336 pages?

But I had to find him first. The authors were supposed to be, as one would expect from a library-hosted event, seated in alphabetical order. However, Caro was not, as promised, between Lee Child and Marcia Butler.

I tried to leave the B-C section but it was nearly impossible to navigate around the impenetrable line of readers desperate to have Baldwin sign a copy of You Can’t Spell America Without Me, so I changed directions.

The line for Dr. Ruth was shorter and interestingly mostly comprised of women. But now I was in the W-Z section. As I flipped through From You to Two: Dr. Ruth’s Rules for Real Relationships, she told me how much she enjoys this event. “I love for people to look at my books, even if they don’t buy them, I love for them to look.” I both looked and bought.

Another wrong turn landed me in the R’s at Geraldo’s table where he was autographing his memoir, The Geraldo Show.He told me that it “tracks my life and times from 911; it’s my last professional chapter.” He also said that he had to rewrite the book in July of 2016 because “my boss [Roger Ailes] got caught up in that sex harassment thing.”

I trudged past Ndaba Mandela and David Margolick trying to make my way back to the head of the alphabet, thinking that perhaps I’d walked past Caro. But how could I have bypassed four volumes of Lyndon Johnson’s life that he was no doubt signing for adoring fans?

I had a plan. Look for the tallest stack of books! It worked.

I found Caro’s stand! But he wasn’t there. A patient devotee pointed and said that the author had gone in search of a pen.

“Mr. Caro, Mr. Caro!” I yelled waving my Hello Kitty pen.

I offered to loan him my purple pen so that he wouldn’t keep the growing line of autograph-seekers waiting, while I went in search of a more appropriate black one.

Pleased with myself, I muddled through more perspiring bookworms to a librarian-looking woman. After some grappling and the dropping of Caro’s name, she surrendered her personal pen.

I cut to the head of the line of bibliophiles and presented Caro with the newly acquired pen! He took the Bic and began to sign the cover page of The Power Brokerfor an eager tweenager. He stopped. He looked at the Bic. He looked at me. He looked at my purple Hello Kitty pen.

“I prefer yours,” said the bestselling author as he stole my pen back.

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