Bloomberg News

Scene Last Night: Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen

October 20, 2011

(Changes actress in 11th paragraph to Sigourney Weaver and designer in 13th paragraph to Shelley Starr.)

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Novelist Jeffrey Eugenides was nursing his second Manhattan of the evening -- “It’s my book- tour drink of choice” -- while author Jonathan Franzen enjoyed the city’s silhouette.

“I am seldom stirred anymore by the sight of the Manhattan skyline,” said Franzen. “Tonight I was spontaneously stirred. It’s a beautiful city.”

The publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux threw a book party last night for Eugenides’ “The Marriage Plot” at the Top of the Standard, a venue in line with the publisher’s lavish marketing efforts that have also included a Times Square billboard.

The last book party the publisher threw for Eugenides celebrated his 2002 novel “Middlesex,” which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. That one took place at Fiamma in SoHo, chef Michael White’s restaurant, now closed.

“It’s been a long time since anyone threw a book party this fancy,” said Jamie Pallot, executive director of multimedia at Vanity Fair.

“It’s the most glamorous literary party of the year,” said architect and author James Sanders, who had his book party at a bar called the Park.

Among the guests were novelists Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith; the editor of T Magazine, Sally Singer; the editorial director of the New Yorker, Henry Finder; and Lorin Stein, editor of the Paris Review.

The literary future was represented by two seniors at Princeton University who are creative writing students of Eugenides, Megan Hogen and Alyssa Loh.

“I feel like, even if I had been to hundreds of parties, this one would still be the best,” Hogen said.

Bachelor Pad

One great thing about the ultimate bachelor pad Esquire magazine has assembled in the Brooklyn area known as Dumbo is that it doesn’t matter who shows up.

Sigourney Weaver and Mario Batali were expected last night at a fundraiser for the Natural Resources Defense Council. They didn’t come, and it was no big deal. The apartment itself is entertainment.

The gym has a rubber floor that looks like leather or slate. It cost about $8,000. The bicycle cost $10,000. “The idea was to blow the budget,” the room’s designer, Denise Kuriger, said.

The magazine recruits brands as marketing partners to decorate the apartment -- Asics paid for the gym. The bedroom closet is stocked with Ermenegildo Zegna suits. Much of the furniture was designed by Shelley Starr. there’s a Bloomberg terminal in the living room.

Clock Windows

Many of the 300 guests congregated around the four massive clock windows on the apartment’s main floor. They are a remnant of the apartment’s original function as the clock tower of a cardboard factory built in 1915. The Walentas family’s Two Trees Management Co. converted the building into condominiums, finishing this unit last. No one has ever lived here.

The working clocks’ roman numerals and hands are the original ironwork. The faces are now glass, offering expansive views of the city.

The three other floors, including a partially open deck, are nested within the apartment, accessible by a glass elevator or an open staircase.

Several bachelorettes talked about the party food: pulled- pork sandwiches (delicious), mac-and-cheese squares (an Esquire party fixture, apparently) and pigs in a blanket (with a croissant-like wrapping).

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

--Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Lili Rosboch.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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