The Great Game

“We like spies,” said Ken Auletta. The Transom was at a book party Wednesday night for Jennet Conant’s A Covert Affair, which concerns Julia Child’s O.S.S. service, talking with the New Yorker writer and with Sports Illustrated group editor Terry McDonell. “We’re looking for them,” Mr. Auletta said, glancing around the party. “We haven’t found any, though.”

“I have identified several,” Mr. McDonell said. “As always, Ken requires numerous sources, which get in the way. I prefer speculation.”

“The guy behind Terry doesn’t look like a writer,” Mr. Auletta pointed out ominously.

“I’m more interested in the women spies,” Mr. McDonell said.

The conversation was cut short by the clinking of a glass. Ms. Conant thanked everyone for coming. Tasked by host Perri Peltz with explaining “why we’re eating deviled eggs,” she guessed that it had to do with a 1950s theme. “Every hors d’oeurve has mayonnaise, I think,” Ms. Conant said.

Calvin Trillin didn’t mind. Shortly before sampling the pigs-in-a-blanket, he said that he was a great fan of Child’s, though he admitted that his memory of her has blurred due to her many imitators. His favorite? Former New York Times writer Molly O’Neill, whom Child would call on Sunday mornings to “sort of” compliment her on her pieces.

“She’d always say, you know,” Mr. Trillin raised his hands, his voice warbling, “‘Well, what’s wroooong with BUTTER?'” He dropped to his normal octave. “Molly does it perfectly. She could go on the road with that.” –Dan Duray


The Great Game