Monday, May 14, 2018


Q: You’ve invited an author (living or dead – this is a hypothetical question) to your house for dinner and now you’re nervous. Describe the meal you want to serve that will impress her or him so much you become new best friends.

- from Susan

I’d be too intimidated to invite James Joyce, frankly. He’d be brilliant, I’d be like, “More soup?”

Annie Lamott is all good cheer and humor, but it’s hard to keep up your side of the conversation when you just want her to keep entertaining you. Singing for her supper? Not fair. Ditto David Sedaris, who would probably cut me into small pieces in his next breathtakingly brilliant book of essays. I’m fortunate in that I have entertained a lot of terrific contemporary authors and loved every minute: Deborah Crombie, David Corbett, Terry Shames, Cara Blackand more. So I will reach back beyond the possible future guests in real time to a fantasy I’ve had for a long time: Jane Austen.

Jane would be much too polite to cut me to ribbons, much too self-deprecatory to hog the conversation or the filet mignon in parsley butter, and so curious about this coarse but more female-empowered world we live in that we’d never run out of conversation topics.

I expect she’d have some subtle but tart reflections on the current political leadership we face: “I thought you radical Americans didn’t like kings?”

And on tweets and social media in general: “But how does one learn to write well if one does not think through what one wishes to say first?”

And about current courtship trends: “You cannot seriously mean that the young man walks straight up to an unaccompanied young woman in a…a…drinking establishment and begins speaking without a formal introduction? And, please, do not tell me what dire consequences to her virtue that might have.”

I would try to steer the conversation to safer topics like how she achieves such tension in a story that no matter how often I’ve read it, I still wonder if it will come out ‘right?” Over asparagus tips, roasted fingerling potatoes, and cider, we will bond, I just know. And the dessert, a classic panna cotta with raspberry coulis and mint leaves, served with tiny cups of espresso, will seal our friendship.

Me and Jane, best buddies. I can dream, can’t I?

And, by the way, if Jane can’t make it, but any of you, my esteemed Minds, can, you are cordially invited to dine chez moi!

(Note: I tried to find out if the photo of panna cotte was protected, emailed the site owner, but didn't get a response. If it is, my deep apologies and I will try to take it down or give credit.. But it was so perfect.)

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