It’s not too often that a book party and a self-confessed obsession converge, let alone in a high-end bookstore just down the street from Carnegie Hall, but last night’s soiree at Rizzoli for the launch of a posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein‘s travel writings for Playboy came perilously close to bringing out the fangirl in me. For in another life, post-USENET and pre-blog, I spent hundreds of hours maintaining an archival site with the most rudimentary HTML skills, a frightening amount of drive and a lot of wide-eyed glee. Suffice to say that Silverstein’s prodigious and prolific output, dedicated work ethic and lifelong quest for creative freedom appealed to my early twentysomething self in a big way.
Which was why it was both weird and wonderful to meet Silverstein’s literary executor and nephew, Mitch Myers, himself a new author of the essay collection THE BOY WHO CRIED FREEBIRD (also available for purchase along with the travel collection) and his mother Peg, also Shel’s sister. In another venue, perhaps, I might have tried to talk their ears off; instead a sense of blessed reticence came over me and it was enough to express my admiration for Silverstein’s work, some of which was clustered in a section overlooking the throng of partygoers including Playboy editor-in-chief Christie Hefner, HarperCollins Children’s publisher Susan Katz and TK.
As Ron made the rounds (and took the pictures) I did at least manage to ask Myers what other projects might be coming from the estate pipeline. He smiled, giving little away. “Expect a few surprises,” he replied with a twinkle in the eye, knowing full well there’s a repository of unpublished material that many enthusiasts like me would be happy to see available for public consumption.