August is nigh -- which means so is TOUCHSTONES at The Mount, my new annual interview series at Edith Wharton's country estate, in Lenox, MA. I hope so much to see some of you there. To better the odds, I've assembled a 4-part travel/info dossier (below) and today published "Guesthouse of Mirth," about Wharton's entertaining principles, on Slate, in the hope photos will seduce.
The series begins Friday, August 8, and continues for three consecutive Fridays. Doors open 5:30pm, interview+Q&A is 6pm-7pm, followed by drinks/nibbles/jazz on the grand terrace overlooking Wharton's gorgeous gardens and the mountains beyond. For dinner there are a slew of excellent restaurants to choose from. I had no idea the food scene is so happening up there; like Brooklyn but better.
Note that August is high season for the Berkshires, so hotel rates aren't cheap and dinner reservations are necessary. Airbnb offers good alternatives as well.
For general info, there is: www.berkshires.org
Freely forward this to anyone.
- CAR: It's a lovely day trip (3-hour drive from NYC; 2.5 hours from Boston). Also: Carpooling. Driving directions can be found here.
- TRAIN: The closest train stations are Amtrak in Albany (40-minute drive to The Mount) and Metro North in Wassaic (50-minute drive). Bet that's a pricey taxi ride, but presumably car rentals are cheaper there than NYC, so that's something to consider.
- BUS: Peter Pan has a 12pm-3:30pm NYC-Lenox, and a 10am-1:25pm Boston-Lenox.
-The Briarcliff Motel
Adorable mod kitsch, wifi and breakfast included
-Red Lion Inn
Quintessential New England charm (but not overdoing it)
-The Lenox Club
Handsome olde New England
-Black Swann Inn
Great location -- on a lake, down the street from The Mount -- standard decor
Grand old New England style, walking distance to The Mount
-Econo Lodge The Springs
-Comfort Inn & Suites
Handsome modern French bistro
-Church Street Café
Lovely American bistro
Italian preparations of local food in an 1840s farmhouse
Very good seasonally inspired pasta bar, but very small
-The French Patisserie
Lenox (one in Great Barrington, too)
Great for lunch
Farm fresh contemporary American
-The Meat Market
Very casual nose-to-tail butcher that also serves meals outside
-Mission Bar & Tapas
All kinds of small eats; not sure if you need reservations
Casual but great pizza and salads
4. AUTHOR CHEAT SHEET
Some of you have asked which authors I think you'd like best, so here's a cheat sheet. While assembling the lineup for this debut year of the series, I arrived at very specific criteria: Writers with warmth, depth, and range who'd published memoirs -- to ensure I'd be onstage with people who are comfortable talking about any old thing.
-Aug 8: ANDRE DUBUS III: Good People of Massachusetts: Newburyport's most famous novelist, and also perhaps most charming man, writes about our beloved town, plus love, sex, and infidelity, like no other. If you haven't read TOWNIE yet, walk don't run (also: YEAT). The NYT called his most recent novella collection, DIRTY LOVE, "staggeringly good." Think Updike, but for the new millennium.
WEB SITE: www.andredubus.com
-Aug 15: JOANNA RAKOFF: We met and became friends when I first moved to New York in 2000, and her novel, A FORTUNATE AGE, and brand-new memoir, MY SALINGER YEAR, are brilliant evocations of late 1990s/early aughts lit'ry lady-dom (I consider myself an authority). If you were once a writer trying to make it, or are one now, or like books, or cities, or coming-of-age stories, you will love her. Also, J.D. Salinger, hello.
WEB SITE: www.joannarakoff.com
-Aug 22: SCOTT STOSSEL: The editor of The Atlantic magazine and genius who commissioned my "All the Single Ladies" cover story is one of the most brilliant people I've ever worked with, a talker par excellence, and also chronically anxious, as he recounts in hilarious and painful detail in his recent memoir, MY AGE OF ANXIETY. I'm looking at you, friends/family members who struggle with anxiety.
BOOK REVIEW: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/books/review/my-age-of-anxiety-by-scott-stossel.html
-Aug 29: JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN: When I was an undergraduate at Colby College, Jim Boylan was everyone's favorite fun/young/cute/funny creative writing professor (I never wrote fiction, so I didn't have him)--but not long after I graduated, he became a she. In 2003, Jenny published the best-selling SHE'S NOT THERE, a memoir of her transition from man to woman, and has since published two more, and become national co-chair of GLAAD, the LGBT media-advocacy group. She is, in short, a wonderful person. And really funny.
WEB SITE: www.jenniferboylan.net