Newly minted Paris Review editor Lorin Stein professed not to know what exactly a “Spring Revel” involved: Tuesday night was his first experience of the magazine’s annual fund-raising gala.
But departing editor Philip Gourevitch told The Observer he wanted the evening to be like a dinner party, without too many speeches while people were trying to eat. As he later explained to the seated crowd, “I’m sure you don’t really want to watch videos or Power Points about what it’s like to edit a literary magazine.”
Cipriani’s was packed for what presenter Mary Karr called the “prom for New York intellectuals.” Two enormous red lights projected the Paris Review‘s logo—a bird in a Phrygian bonnet—onto the back wall, and the dinner tables were stacked with Philip Roth books and typewriters. Gourevitch told the guests that (at $500 per person) the magazine expected the evening to bring in more than $825,000.
Roth was in attendance to collect the party’s big honor, the Hadada Award, and Caitlin Horrocks received the Plimpton Prize for “a new voice in fiction.” Karr introduced the young writer by calling her “a topless rodeo,” a compliment for which Horrocks thanked her.
Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg chaired the benefit. Diller claimed to feel intellectually out of place, but said that he was pleased with the display of literary revelry.
“I’m heartened to see so many reporters—uh, supporters,” he said in his toast.
Then, true to Gourevitch’s departing wishes, the crowd was left to dig into their steak and molten chocolate cakes. There were just a few words from the two editors to round out the night.
“Literature is inexhaustible,” said Gourevitch. “Stick around for a drink.”
He gave the stage over to his successor, who spoke of what was perhaps “a silver age of fiction”—but one that was “ours to make gold again.”
“I’m willing to hear your advice,” Stein said, “but I ask you to wait until tomorrow afternoon.”