Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pub Talk: Laurie Viera Rigler

Laurie Viera Rigler at Alice's Teacup.

On August 15, I went to an event for CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, Laurie Viera Rigler's marvelous fiction debut. Her reading/signing was held at 6pm (teatime!) at Alice's Teacup Chapter II, which is situated in an old townhouse on East 64th Street.

Rachel Ekstrom, the hardworking associate director of publicity at Dutton & Gotham Books, arranged for me to meet her and Rigler a half-hour beforehand. Joining us was new assistant publicist Sarah Muszynski, who thought up the event and arranged it with Alice's Teacup. (She's a devotee of the 81st Street shop.)

We had a jolly good time discussing Jane Austen--that's "Miss Austen" to you--her world and her works, and the flame war over whether Fanny Price in Mansfield Park was a prig. (I'm not making this up; I saw it my own self.) I've never had a better pot of Lapsang Souchong anywhere, though I take issue with the website's declaration that the water is "boiled to 180 degrees"; also the violent turquoise walls--guaranteed to insult any complexion. They're bleached out in the photo above, but are in their glaring glory in the two below.

And what's with the butterfly-wing motif? There was a caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, but no winged insects that I can recall; or fairies. A Google search turns up a Gnat in Through the Looking-Glass, who tells Alice about the Bread-and-butter-fly, which survives on a diet of weak tea and cream. I know: I'm a nitpicker. A digressive one.

Sarah Muszynski in borrowed wings, glowing at the success of her brainchild.

The event itself was held in a room at the back of the second floor. For $30, attendees got a pot of tea, scads of scones and a copy of the book, which Rigler signed afterward. Several people bought multiple copies.

Every book event should be so cozy and cheery! The room was overflowing with readers (I counted 24 women and 3 men, including some in an adjoining area), many of them committed Janeites, happily sipping tea and making friends with their neighbors. No stone-faced hipsters here.

It's amazing what a good setting, good chow and a good book can do. Plus a good presentation, of course. Rigler's an excellent reader and speaker, and the audience gobbled her up with their scones. We were all thrilled to learn that's she's hard at work on a sequel.

Laurie Viera Rigler reading to a rapt audience at Alice's Teacup.

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