PartyLines- photographs by Patrick McMullan

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PEN American Center's
2008 Literary Gala

American Museum of Natural History. April 28, 2008. By Tim Murphy

You write about politics in verse. Got anything on Obama? “I used up all the rhymes with Osama bin Laden. ‘Yokohama.’ ‘Slap yo momma.’ All those rhymes are gone.”
Calvin Trillin

What kind of creative treatment would you give Hillary Clinton? “The interesting thing with her is having the prize snatched by the boy. It's a classic high-school musical.” —Tina Brown

Barbara Goldsmith

What are you working on? “I'm writing a memoir. It's a race between finishing my memoir and finishing my life.” —Harry Evans

Alex Kuczynski

Are there any literary parallels to the presidential race? “Hillary Clinton's favorite book is Little Women. Clearly, she's modeling herself after Jo March.” —Susan Cheever

Ahmed Ali

You play an OB/GYN in Helen Hunt's movie Then She Found Me Here. What did you learn? “Anytime you want an ultrasound, I can give it to you. ” —Salman Rushdie

Carl Bernstein

What kind of creative treatment would you give the presidential candidates? “I already did. I sent a nice letter to Barack Obama. ”
Toni Morrison

Dave Zinczenko

Jeremiah Wright is making the rounds again. What do you think of him? “If I were black, I'd fall for him hook, line, and sinker. I'm white, and I fall for him 50 percent.” —Frank McCourt

Francine Prose

Do you read news on the Web at all? “No. I don't even have a Web! I don't even have a cell phone. Christ, I don't even deal with technology.”
Gay Talese

Gary Shteyngart

Your husband is writing a memoir about your marriage. “My question was, ‘What do you know about marriage?’” But you've been married 50 years! “I'm not sure he's paid much attention.’” —Nan Talese

Michael Ondaatje

What's your new novel about? “When a novel is in progress like this, I really can't talk about it at all. You put a curse on it. I can tell you I have 74 pages.” —Michael Cunningham (GETTY IMAGES)

Karenna Gore Schiff

What do you think of the idea of Brooklyn as the literary borough? “Enough already with patting ourselves on the back, just because there's a whole bunch of writers living in Brooklyn. So fucking what?” —Jessica Hagedorn

You made the Observer's ‘Brooklyn Literary 100’ list. “The story is a couple years old already, isn't it?” —Jonathan Lethem

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