Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Performance II

It’s hard to imagine what Hunter Thompson would have made of a book reception in the lobby of the Little Nell (my guess is he would have consumed as much of the free champagne as possible, then been kicked out for smoking), but that’s where we were to celebrate Jay Cowan’s new book, Hunter Thompson: A Insider’s View of Deranged, Depraved, Drugged-out Brilliance. The book is great; the title isn’t. Cowan, a friend of mine, wanted to call it I’m Not Like the Others, a line of Thompson’s. I would have gone with something like Fully Loaded: My Life with Hunter, but no one asked me. In any case, Jay lived on Thompson’s compound for years and knows things the rest of us don’t, or didn’t till we read the book. Little details have stayed with me. Thompson loved The Great Gatsby, for example. So do I. In the end, I almost found Thompson sympathetic, which was not my opinion before I read Jay’s book. Then again, a book can do that. Pick it up.
The Little Nell is arguably the swankiest bar in arguably the country’s swankiest town (Aspen, CO), so there was a cheese board and the aforementioned free champagne, all of it wonderfully elegant and anachronistic (say 2007). Then again, beyond our little gathering was the late-February apr├Ęs ski crowd, and a crowd it was. The room was packed. (A decent scotch in this room costs twenty bucks. The best deal on the bar menu is the burger for $17.) These people were partying like it was 1999. Maybe outside the walls the world was in economic collapse and emotional desperation, but not here. I should have gone in and convinced them all to buy Jay’s book (cheaper than the expensive scotch), but the idea didn’t occur to me till I sat down to write this blog. A drink is gone in a flash (not that I’m against a drink now and then), but a book lasts, in many ways. I’m making a simple argument here: books offer good value. Especially now.
On a related note, one of my local independent bookstores, TownCenter Booksellers, in Basalt, CO, is closing its doors. I have a link to them on my website, which I’ll soon have to take down. It’s a tough time for all businesses, retailers especially, but we need places like TownCenter. I read there last year from my new book on the very day I sent it off to my agent. I’d looked forward to returning.