A Very Hot Granta Party

rushdie 1 A Very Hot Granta PartyAddressing the crowd from the cash register-cum-bar, John Freeman gave a classic old-media rallying cry.

“Magazines and bookstores are in the same boat,” he told the crowd. “We’re all floating or sinking together.”

Mr. Freeman hosted his first release party as Granta editor on Thursday night at Three Lives & Co. But whatever his trepidation about the fate of independent bookstores and literary quarterlies, the place was packed—and speaking to The Observer later, he credited it to the magic of Twitter. Apparently NewYorkology had retweeted the party announcement.

The celebration found Mr. Freeman on familiar turf: He used to live on 10th street and recalled visiting Three Lives frequently, wishing they had coffee. Before assuming the position of Granta‘s acting editor in June, he was a prolific reviewer, president of the National Book Critics Circle, and Granta‘s American editor. (The quarterly is based in Britain.) He kept a pen tucked behind his ear throughout the night, presumably in case of emergency editorial situations.

It was a cozy gathering (practically a wedding, Mr. Freeman said); at times, almost too cozy. The ceiling fan labored mightily, but sticky guests soon realized it would be smart to join the smokers out front. Novelist Joseph O’Neill, perhaps the only partygoer who was sweaty due to physical activity, had come straight from the Marine Park golf course, and deposited his sack of clubs behind the bar. Salman Rushdie kept cool with a glass of rosé and a short-sleeve striped shirt.

And Then We Came to the End author Joshua Ferris wished to go on record calling Mr. Rushdie’s snappy attire “handsome.” He did not, however, wish to go on record regarding his next book’s recent selection as an Observer “status galley.”

“I’m scared of the record,” he said.

Of course, “the record” is different for novelists—who knows what could have been on the record (i.e., true, life experience) and what’s off, or made up? But why is it, wondered Mr. Ferris and fellow writer John Wray, that readers only ever assume the bad stuff is drawn from life? Never the scenes of joy or amazing sex.

Mr. Wray, whose novel Lowboy came out in March, was named a Granta Best Young American Novelist in 2007. He and Mr. Ferris noted the recent number of Granta gatherings and speculated that the magazine was trying to increase its presence “United Statesically.”

“They’ve finally forgiven us for the war,” Mr. Ferris said.

They predicted that Granta would become “studlier” under Mr. Freeman’s leadership.

Mr. Freeman felt it would be “more international.” Granta 107 features work by Mary Gaitskill, William T. Vollmann, Marmoud Darwish, Kenzoburo Oe and Mitch Epstein.