LOS ANGELES, May 30—Ira Silverberg had not seen his former client Laura Albert in almost a year. The last time was in a Manhattan courtroom, when Ms. Albert stood trial for pretending to be a young man with H.I.V. named JT Leroy. She wrote books under this name, and had Mr. Silverberg, a literary agent, sell them to publishers without telling him who she really was. When Mr. Silverberg found out, he was heartbroken and furious. He denounced Ms. Albert publicly and shut down the account.
Mr. Silverberg was sitting by the pool yesterday afternoon at Hollywood’s legendary Chateau Marmont, preparing for the first night of this year’s Book Expo America, when his partner, the author and former New York Times columnist Bob Morris, cautiously got his attention.
“You will never believe who’s here,” Mr. Morris said.
Mr. Silverberg needed little prompting. Ms. Albert was with a couple of guys, he said later—sleazy-looking, kinda agenty, unclear what the lot of them were talking about. Maybe she was in town shopping a book.
Mr. Silverberg’s friends—Weinstein Books publisher Judy Hottensen and Fresh Air producer Amy Salit—couldn’t believe it when he told them the story last night over drinks in the Marmont garden. “Fraud does not age well,” Mr. Silverberg told them, noting that if he had said anything to Ms. Albert, it would have been something like that.
But Mr. Silverberg did not approach Ms. Albert for a chat. And he wasn’t going to, until shortly after midnight, he received a phone call from Ms. Salit, who had retired minutes earlier to her hotel.
“Laura Albert is here,” Mr. Silverberg told the table after hanging up. “She’s in the lobby.”
This time Mr. Silverberg got excited at the prospect of confrontation. For a second he thought about inviting her to join the table for a drink. But after a bit of giggly, intense chatter—what is she doing at BEA? Is she looking for a book deal?—he paid the bill and coolly led his party inside. “I wish I had my sunglasses,” he said, putting on his normal glasses as though they might do just as well. “I want to see Miss Thing,” he said.
But alas, it was clear as soon as Mr. Silverberg walked into the lobby that Ms. Albert had already disappeared. He looked around a few times and finally decided to call it a night. “She’s not here,” he said.
And with that, he and Mr. Morris went to their room. Big day tomorrow, was the feeling—for the best, perhaps, that this thing had not come to pass.
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