Library Salutes Distinguished Authors

A crowd of 152 authors and readers celebrated our community of literary talent Saturday night at the first-year anniversary party of the Palisades Branch Library building. The cocktail reception honored the writers of Pacific Palisades, whose rich tradition, including Will Rogers’ humor and Bertold Brecht’s irony, continues to this day. Writers, who are by nature an elusive group, seasoned by their own isolation, never quite sure of the permanent value of their work, were overjoyed to socialize with like-minded souls. “This is so wonderful to honor writers,” said Pepper Edmiston, author of “Cookie Jar ABC. “It should be something that happens every year.” Palisadian writers mixing and chatting among the library’s bookshelves and tables represented a world of research, imagination, humor and pathos. Their titles encompass memoirs, such as Virginia Li’s recollections of life in China, Ann Kerr’s personal history of living in the Middle East, and Judy Muller’s experience as a national correspondent; histories, such as Betty Lou and Randy Young’s books the Palisades and Norman Thrower’s history of map production. Novelists included writing couple Josh Greenfeld (“The Return of Mr. Hollywood) and Foumiko Kometani (“Passover”), William Eisner (“Done in by Innocent Things”) and Ken Wales, whose novel “Sea of Glory” is based on the true WWII story of four chaplains on a doomed ship in the Atlantic. Nonfiction writers illuminated subjects from teen-power politics (Sara Boyers) and business management (Paul Doucette) to film festivals (Kenneth Turan) and seaports of the south (John Harrington). The library, showing off its warm texture and rich collections, offered a comfy, civilized venue for the literary evening. “We wanted to do something special and we thought ‘Who could be more appropriate than to honor these authors?” said Mitzi Blahd, president of the Friends of Palisades Library, with a membership of 1,000. Blahd was assisted by her board, including her husband, Bill, Shirley Cabeen, Patricia Curtis, Lynn Gaines, Alice Ann Inglis, Louvenia Jenkins, Nancy Mekelburg, Marcella Miller, L. Bruce and Marjorie Norman, Gayle Rabinovitz, Coral Rugge, Elsie Scarano, Kathy Slattery, Gina Vincent and Sunny Finerman. They worked on the prodigious task of not only uncovering over 200 authors in the Palisades but also tracking down their addresses in order to send invitations. The conversation crackled with the energy of the collective group of communicators. Open and receptive, each author was eager to share news of his or her latest endeavor. Jon Winokur, author of books ranging from tomes on word etymology to golf, has completed a new book “The War Between the State: San Francisco Versus Los Angeles.” Judy Muller (“Now This: Radio, Television…and The Real World”) is a fulltime professor at the USC/Annenberg School of Communication, and Judy Mazel (The Beverly Hills Diet) expects her latest book “Slim & Fit Kids,” which focuses on kids and diet, to come out this fall. Veteran writers showed up on the unusually rainy night for Los Angeles. Victor Boesen, 95, was accompanied by his niece Jane, whom he referred to as “my parole officer.” The author of nine nonfiction books, Boesen’s book “Doing Something About the Weather” set the tone for the evening. Looking his usual dapper self, dressed in shades of beige, documentary film director Nick Webster, 91, relished questions about his autobiographical work. “How to Sleep on a Camel” includes recollections of his film career covering such stories as “I Remember,” about a former prisoner returning to the concentration camps and “Walk In My Shoes,” a personal look of African Americans across America. “So how do you sleep on a camel?” a guest asked. “I never slept on a camel,” Webster said. “My wife came up with the title. The subtitle, ‘Adventures of a Documentary Film Director,’ tells it all.” In the end, writers’ work does often tell, if not all, much of what they’re thinking about. The opportunity for writers to meet and talk among themselves and the guests at Saturday’s night party was exceptional.