Sunday evening, the authors Zadie Smith and Andrew Sean Greer—along with their dates, Ms. Smith’s husband, Nick Laird, and Mr. Greer’s boyfriend, David Ross—gathered in a corner of the Library at the Hudson Hotel, where the Accompanied Literary Society was holding its black-tie Oscar-viewing party. Glasses of Champagne in hand, they assembled their chairs in a semi-circle near a flat-screen TV and prepared to watch Hugh Jackman take his place in front of the Swarovski crystal–encrusted curtain.
With New York magazine’s charmingly casual downtown party at the Spotted Pig canceled this year, and Entertainment Weekly’s uptown celebration at Elaine’s looking like it’s never coming back, the Accompanied Literary Society’s inaugural Oscar party was possibly the only open bar in town, attracting guests like designer Camilla Stærk and club owner Lyman Carter.
“I haven’t watched the Oscars in a long time, but I’m really enjoying it—I forgot how much I love it!” Ms. Smith told the Transom. “I love to look at the dresses. I went about four years ago and I got to see the dresses up close.”
As Sarah Jessica Parker came out onstage in Dior Haute Couture, Ms. Smith, wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress and a red turban, said, “Look at that dress!”
“The boobs!” burst out Mr. Greer.
“The boobs!” Ms. Smith echoed.
“This the first time I’m wearing a tuxedo on Oscar night,” said Mr. Greer. “Usually I throw an Oscar party and dress up as one of the nominated films. I was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon one year and I did Meryl Streep from The Hours another.”
This year, Mr. Greer was rooting against The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for a personal reason. In 2004, he published the widely praised novel The Confessions of Max Tivoli, about a man who curiously aged backward. After Benjamin Button was already in development, Paramount offered to purchase the rights to the novel—with no intention of making it—but Mr. Greer turned them down. (The film was based, mostly in name only except for the aging-backward plot device, on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name.)
“They didn’t steal anything, but it just would’ve been nice if in a single movie review they had mentioned that there’d already been a treatment of this,” said Mr. Greer. “But this is film, it’s not books. If they win, they’re not going to mention my book when they go up there. But of course they wouldn’t!”
Brooke Geahan, the leggy founder of the Accompanied Literary Society, who was teetering about in a dangly, low-cut gold minidress, was pleased at the amount of literature-based films nominated.
“People need to understand that there are not great films without great books,” she said. If Ms. Geahan and her society raised enough money that evening, they were planning to give a grant to a novelist hoping to sell film rights to a book.
To raise the necessary funds, the guests were encouraged to play the blackjack tables lining the hallway. “We wanted to bring a little bit of Monte Cristo glamour to New York,” explained Ms. Geahan.
The socialite Arden Wohl was successfully betting at the blackjack tables with a stack of gold chips in front of her.
“What are the prizes again?” Ms. Wohl asked.
“Oh, there’s lots of great prizes—there’s a brunch, an Oscar de la Renta handbag, and gym or a yoga membership …” responded Ms. Geahan.
Ms. Wohl interrupted. “But is there, like, a trip somewhere?”
Oh, honey. Sometimes we want to escape New York, too.