Thursday, May 11, 2006

City of Sisterly Love

On our first official day of sunshine (April 25), Kim and I hopped on an Amtrak train from Penn Station to 30th Street Station in Philly and then checked into our hotel (Club Quarters). We strolled down Chestnut Street in downtown Philadelphia to soak in the sunny afternoon (after three days of rain) and admired the cobblestone side streets and Georgian homes. Then off to the train station once more to high-tail it to Ardmore for a quick pre-reading dinner with Marisa de los Santos, her hubby David Teague, and Jennifer Weiner at Plate. In our haste, we boarded an R5 express train to Bryn Mawr by mistake. Whoops. Our Italian ticketmaster who slightly resembled Robert Benigni scolded us for being on the wrong train. "Did you not hear them say Express? Where are you going? No, you're not!" I hid my hands to prevent our Gestapo guard from holepunching them. When we arrived in Bryn Mawr, he suddenly became chivalrous and escorted us off the train.

Our cabbie to Ardmore proved even more entertaining. A lively, longtime Philly resident and uncle to Beyonce's choreographer(!). "You know her booty shake, she does?" Uh huh. "Well, my nephew taught her that! All her moves she owes to my nephew." When we alighted from his cab, Riley informed us we were in one of the wealthiest communities in America. "I hope you got money cause you're gonna need lots of money here." Luckily, we were only able to stay one night.

We shared our first springtime margarita with Marisa and David at the bar and then Jennifer joined us later for dinner. The crab-stuffed bites of rainbow trout wrapped in proscuitto reminded me of miniature versions of the square watermelons grown in Japan. I congratulated and praised Marisa on her new book Love Walked In. I can't wait to see Sarah Jessica Parker as Cornelia on the big screen. Our conversation was mostly of books. I had just finished Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. An enthusiastic Allegra Goodman fan, Jen had just bought her latest, Intuition. Kim finished England, England by Julian Barnes on the plane. Marisa had just started fellow May Queen contributor (and incidentally the person who had introduced me to both Jen and Marisa) Julianna Baggott's book Which Brings Me To You. (I noticed the other night that David is thanked in the acknowledgements by Julianna.) We also discussed Philly schools and how Jen's agent Joanna Pulcini was handling putting out the fire caused by the Harvard sophomore plagiarist who had cribbed pages from Joanna's client Megan McCafferty's work. Jen very kindly picked up the tab. Thanks Jen!

After our delightful dinner, we were whisked off to nearby Wynnewood for our reading at Borders. Valerie Cucinotta, the events coordinator there and a consummate pro, greeted us at the door. Jen scurried off to find a copy of The Thrall's Tale -a book Marisa had recommended to her. When we were finally seated before the audience, the front row shouted to Jen, "We're your groupies!" I have never seen such a sense of ownership and protectiveness as I have in Jen Weiner's fans. They love her as they would a treasured best friend who left them behind in middle school and went on to become a rock star. Their love and admiration for her is that intense. After the contributors read, we took questions from the audience which not suprisingly were mostly for Jen and Marisa who were more than happy to offer their humorous stories. The crowd was interested in the process of bringing their novels, Love Walked In and In Her Shoes, to the silver screen. Marisa confessed she thought George Clooney is the only movie star with enough old Hollywood glamour like Cary Grant to play Martin in the film version. Jen was also there to promote the pre-release of her paperback version of Goodnight Nobody, but she had to field a fair amount of questions about her grandmother's role in the film In Her Shoes.

I was delighted to meet my friend Wendy's parents at the reading. Wendy's mother told me that when her daughter was a teenager they had hatched an idea for a mysteries series with a character named Gwendolyn Mumsley. Love it! I was sad to bid farewell to this city of surprising beauty, generous friends, and cheesesteaks. Yum! Thanks to Valerie for the photo at Borders (L to R: Nicki, Kim, Marisa, and Jen)!


Blogger Kelly B said...

1. Climb highest mountain in NY State.
2. Finish dissertation.
3. Buy more land.

6:36 PM  

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