Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” was too big to lug around to the New York Public Library’s gala last night. So Ian McEwan’s slim “On Chesil Beach” stayed hidden under a reporter’s notepad until McEwan himself was spotted.
“I’ve just rewritten it,” the British novelist said. “I’m doing a movie of it. I changed the ending slightly, but I can’t say more.”
McEwan was sitting at a small table, a Library Lion medal hanging from his neck on a thick red ribbon. The library honors several individuals each year for cultural and educational achievements.
Franzen, standing across the room, wore his medal too. So did the other recipients: singer Natalie Merchant, playwright Tony Kushner, journalist Isabel Wilkerson and biographer Stacy Schiff.
Later in the Rose Main Reading Room, they all gave their medals back, so they could receive them formally.
Schiff wore hers through dinner, at the same table where she worked on her book “Cleopatra: A Life.”
“Frank Bruni has my seat, she said.
The evening had a non-medal-wearing honoree: Catherine Marron, a former investment banker who recently ended seven years as the library’s chairman. Her gift was her chairman’s gavel.
“I’ve never had to use it,” Marron said, suggesting the civility of the trustee meetings she presided over.
Once the Library Lions and Marron had cleared the stage, Anthony Marx, the library’s president, came to the lectern.
“We are a nation with many challenges,” he said. “There are new ones every day. In fact, I’ve had some of my own the past few days. But my friends, the library is forever. We are not shrinking. What we have been will always be needed and honored. No matter the stresses of the day, what we all want to is to keep civilization going.”
Marx was arrested on drunk-driving charges Sunday while using a city-owned vehicle, police said. He pleaded not guilty yesterday in New York State Criminal Court in Manhattan, said his attorney, Daniel S. Parker, who declined to make any additional comment.
Otherwise it was business as usual at the gala, with folks brimming with their own news.
Teddy Schwarzman, son of Blackstone Group LP’s Steve Schwarzman, said that his film company, Black Bear Pictures, has just started production on “Broken City,” starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Black Bear is also developing “King of Heists,” about a 19th-century New York bank robbery.
Joshua Steiner, a senior adviser to Quadrangle Group LLC, said he is moving to India for a six-month sabbatical starting in December. To prepare, he has been reading “India Calling,” by Anand Giridharadas.
Evercore Partners Inc. chairman Roger Altman just finished Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” “I liked it but I didn’t love it,” Altman said. Next up will be something nonfictional. “I try to alternate.”
And interior decorator Thomas Jayne said a client in Palm Beach is decorating her walls with masks made by British sculptor Oriel Harwood.
“They’re modern faces, and in between their lips are pipes that hold candles,” Jayne said. “They can light up the entire room.”
For the late-night dance party in the Celeste Bartos Forum, the library had put up a disco ball. The deejay played ‘80s music as the library’s Young Lions danced.
Marx’s case is People vs. Marx, 2011NY080995, New York Criminal Court (Manhattan).
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)