What was most remarkable about Chad Harbach’s book party at the Brooklyn Brewery last night was the bonhomie. An agent pointed it out to The Observer as we stood around the indoor picnic tables drinking lager from plastic cups: it helps that Mr. Harbach is a nice guy from the Midwest (there was a lot of Midwestern pride in the room last night), but it makes everybody in publishing happy when a work of literary fiction by a talented first-time novelist not only gets a big advance but also sells well. For all of publishing’s sometime dysfunction, something actually worked.
So the party last night was a veritable peace conference. The Art of Fielding was published by Little, Brown, but editors of literary fiction from across the industry came out to celebrate: we spotted Matt Weiland from Ecco, Megan Lynch from Riverhead, Mitzi Angel from Faber and Faber, Andrea Walker from Penguin Press and Allison Lorentzen from Viking, among others.
Mr. Harbach’s parents were in town from Wisconsin (we were told it was their first time in New York!) and his editor from Little, Brown, Michael Pietsch, gave a speech. We missed this, but apparently he referred to the publicity storm surrounding the novel as “Hurricane Harbach.” The hurricane was due in no small part to Mr. Harbach’s co-editor at n+1, Keith Gessen, who documented the publication of the novel in a lengthy feature for Vanity Fair. Mr. Gessen was there, as was his co-editor Marco Roth, and wine was served by n+1 interns (the brewery staff refuses to touch the stuff).
So sought after was Mr. Harbach (pulled away for introductions by his agent, Chris Parris-Lamb), that The Observer had to get him a beer. Most people had congratulatory handshakes for him, but Jon Jon Goulian, the author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt and a cherished presence at New York book parties, had brought a small memento: a signed Milwaukee Brewers baseball card from the year Mr. Harbach was born.