In the past week, the New Haven Review celebrated the launch of its three books with two parties: one in Brooklyn, for Rudolph Delson's How to Win Her Love, and one here in New Haven, at the Kehler Liddell Gallery, for Charles Douthat's Blue for Oceans and Gregory Feeley's Kentauros. Sadly, I couldn't go to the Brooklyn party, but I did go to our party last night. The first reason to throw book parties, obviously, is to sell books. There's also the opportunity to involve the press (thank you, New Haven Independent!) and to generate the only thing that really sells books anyway: word of mouth. But that's just what it looks like on paper. When I was at the party last night, what struck me was none of the above, but that grand and elusive thing that parties, whether for books or not, are supposed to be about: community. From where I was sitting—playing for the event with fellow musician Craig Edwards—I watched as people came in groups of two or three, or by themselves. There is much to absorb the lone person at Kehler Liddell these days (you really should check out their current exhibition), but soon enough, those lone people and small groups turned into bigger groups, combining and recombining as people introduced themselves and their acquaintances, seemingly to people they'd just met. When Feeley and Douthat read from their work, we all turned off our cell phones (thanks to the amplification system not abiding such things) and listened. And when they were done, we got back to meeting each other.
Was it a good party? Yeah, we sold books. But it's more important that everyone came together to celebrate—not just the books, and not just the wonderful people who wrote them, but the fact that we've started something here that we're all a part of.