In Virgina Woolf’s classic essay “A Room of One’s Own,” she recounts a luncheon at Oxbridge where the excellent food and the flushed wineglasses have led to a place where there is “no need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. We are all going to heaven and Vandyck is of the company—in other words, how good life seemed, how sweet its rewards, how trivial this grudge or that grievance, how admirable friendship and the society of one’s kind, as, lighting a good cigarette, one sunk among the cushions in the window–seat.”
Dinner at the International Spy Museum didn’t quite live up to these heights, but it was still lovely nonetheless. I was seated between Karen Rinaldi, the publisher of Bloomsbury Books, and author Walter Mosley, whose book from that publisher (I can’t remember the name!) comes out next February. He described it to me as an existential sex novel; it made for some rather….interesting dinner conversation. (I’ll admit that I brought back a galley of the book.) I also met William Boyd, a British novelist that my colleague Bookdwarf is a big supporter of. Earlier in the day, I had picked up a copy of Boyd’s new novel Restless (coming out in September from Walker Books), and became engrossed with it during the Metro ride back to the hotel. Bookdwarf had me get a copy signed for her — I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get my copy signed if we can convince the publisher that they should send Boyd to Cambridge. Even just talking to him for a few minutes, I could tell that he’d be a riveting reader.
The evening ended at a crowded party in a bar next to Politics and Prose, the famous DC bookstore. A lot of us independent booksellers ended up in the parking lot out back, drinking and swapping gossip about the dinners we’d just come from, and figuring out our schedules for the next few days. It was a relaxing way to end the day.