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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Hooray for Cake!

Warning: Copious name dropping ensues.  It’s been that kind of a week.

I go to the occasional book release party here in New York.  It happens.  Folks are nice and invite librarians and bloggers and such to their big release shindigs.  Maybe they feel sorry for us, sitting in our too small offices, living in perpetual fear the our stacks of picture books swaying on our desks will someday fall and crush us unexpectedly.  Or maybe they know how good we are a Texas two-step and wish to utilizes our natural abilities to hoe down.

Whatever the case, I don’t tend to blog book release parties because it’s time consuming and awkward.  What if I highlighted one author and not another?  And, of course, there’s the fact that I go to a lot of release events for books I’m never going to review because if I report on a party then I’m too close to the material to ever review it.  Such is the case with today’s book, alas.  Still, there are some parties you want to record for posterity.  This was one.  And it’s funny but I don’t think I’ve covered a book release party since Lemony Snicket’s The End.  Clearly the time was nigh.

You may recall that not too long ago I interviewed Jenny Boylan, professor, author, and celebrity.  She had a book release party here in town for her fantasy middle grade novel Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror, so I attended.  And who, you might ask, hosted this charming event?  Why, none other than the book’s original editor Brenda Bowen in her fantastic Manhattan abode!  Here is the scene one found upon entering.

Yonder fellow behind the table is Timothy Kreider, who (according to Jenny Boylan), “will be famous in about 2 years; his book of essays and cartoons, WE LEARN NOTHING, will–this is my guess– make him the next David Foster Wallace. Only funnier.”  I mistook him for Brenda’s husband for a good ten minutes at the start of the evening.  Is what I do.  Once the confusion cleared we had a lovely conversation on a variety of topics.  He would later send me a link to an article of his from the Baltimore City Paper entitled When Books Could Change Your Life: Why What We Pore Over at 12 May Be the Most Important Reading We Ever Do.  Check it out, if you get a chance.

Now the title of today’s post isn’t just a declaration of my love for all things cake.  There is a precise moment in Falcon Quinn concerning cake and the degree to which students should cheer for it.  The cake for this particular party became my focus for most of the evening.  As you can see . . .

Hooray indeed!  There were also some themed drinks.  Playing the part of the Sicko Sauce (a beverage that has a tendency to bring out one’s monstrous tendencies) was a delightful concoction featuring more than a dollop of Pims.

People shuffled in slowly.  Some were librarians and publishing folks I could recognize.  Some were . . . well . . . celebrities.  I mean, they were.  For example, there was author Augusten Burroughs.  Some folks were probably intimidated by the presence of the man.  I did not have this problem, however, as I had no clue what he looked like.  So really, it was win-win.  This pattern would repeat itself throughout the night.  See, check this out.  Do you know who these folks are?

If you said, “Why that’s Augusten Burroughs, filmmaker Kimberly Reed, and Obama’s Commerce Dept. appointee, Amanda Simpson!” then you win a cookie.  I did not win a cookie.  They just seemed like nice folks.  Or here’s a harder one:

Answer: Richard Russo, Edward Albee, and Augusten Burroughs. Note the camera around Mr. Burroughs’ neck.  With that very instrument he took this shot of Mr. Albee:

I wonder what it’s like to casually take photographs that could be professional portraits or author photos.  Must be delightful.

But I neglect our hostess!  Yes, Jenny was there, and working the room.  In time she stood to read a selection from her book and give credit to her publisher.  Here you can see her alongside editor Katherine Tegen.

And here’s a shot of the audience.  It is the only shot where you can almost make me out.

Then came the ceremonial cutting of the castle cake alongside Brenda Bowen herself.

Reader, it was delicious.  Particularly the kraken arms.  All in all, a lovely time was had by all.  Thanks to Jenny and Brenda for putting on quite a show.  Thanks too to Jenny Boylan and (I can’t believe I’m writing this) Augusten Burroughs for the images.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. My Boaz's Ruth says

    I can’t get your “Older Entries” link to work 🙁 How am I supposed to catch up on my Fuse News?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      I think it’s temporarily out today. It was working like a dream yesterday. For the Fusenews, just type “Fusenews” into my brand new Search box to the right here. That should solve the problem.

  2. Andrew Karre says

    That instrument is a Leica–an M6 I think. Not your average party snapshot shooter is Mr. Borroughs, I see. Cool.

  3. Ahh, but Betsy – just think how many people are now scratching their heads and going – Oh, My Gosh! I was talking to that funny and charming woman all night and had NO IDEA she was THE Betsy Bird!
    Looks like Brenda and Jenny put on quite the shin-dig – thanks for letting us all vicariously enjoy the evening, and that cake! (kraken arms, indeed!)
    Namaste and a Hug,

  4. Thanks for commenting on my blog! I am honored! And that is one amazing cake. I wish I had your job-what fun!

  5. Brenda Bowen says

    Thank GOD my mother gave me a silver punch bowl. Without it, I would never have had the nerve to have such a party. What a fab blog post, Betsy. I’ve just spilled a secret about that night on my blog, so toggle on over to when you have a moment.

  6. That cake is amazing!!! I love special cakes like that (I love watching cake shows). They are so cool. As to the company – wowsers. I would not have recognized anyone’s faces either but would have thoroughly enjoyed all the literary (and cake) chat!

  7. Oh Betsy, you name dropper you. You put me to shame with this list. However, you failed to mention Luann Toth, SLJ managing editor for book reviews. She is blocking you in the photo. You should have elbowed her out.

  8. My Boaz's Ruth says

    It’s still giving me the File or Directory not found error today.