Monday, September 13, 2010

Time Flies

Thirty years ago, Jean Auel's first novel, The Clan of the Cave Bear, hit the racks. Starring Ayla, the first feminist, it was a best-seller, and has stayed in print since, joined by other international best-sellers in the Earth's Children™ series that made Jean rich and famous.

To celebrate the novel's publication, Crown Books threw a party at the Japanese Garden in Portland, held in the newly-built tea house.

Because we had met Jean through some mutual friends at a science fiction convention, my wife and I were invited to the shindig at the Japanese Gardens, which is one of the most outstanding examples of such outside of Japan. (They also had a party at Tavern on the Green in New York City a couple weeks or so later, and as it happened, I was in NYC visiting a publisher and went to that one, too. Got a puzzled look from the publisher: Don't I know you? Yep, I was at the party in Portland. I happened to be in the neighborhood.)

We have stayed in touch with Jean and her husband Ray over the years, and when Crown decided to throw a thirty-year-anniversary party for her at the same venue, we were invited to that one, too.

Last evening, and a fascinating experience. Many of the people who were at the first party were at this one. There was a big board with pictures taken at the soiree thirty years past, and there we were, circa 1980, and it was kind of spooky looking at folks who had gone gray- or white-haired and wrinkled.

Not us, of course. We look the same, but ...

Jean's agent, Jean Naggar -- also my agent -- and her husband Serge were there. Mostly I work with her daughter Jennifer these days, but we had a nice chat. And there were a slew of Auel kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, most of whom weren't born thirty years ago, all running around. Good finger food, free beer and wine, some short speeches and presentations -- Jean Auel gave Jean Naggar a small token of her esteem -- a solid 24k gold medal the size of a Liberty head dollar with an image of the books she'd written engraved on it. Probably weighs two or three ounces, and figure out what that is worth in today's market ...

There was an archeologist who had been a resource for Jean (and whose digs she later supported) who gave her a print from a Native American museum and a blanket from Pendleton. One of the sons did a short and funny intro. It got dark and we had a clear view of the Portland skyline. An altogether delightful event.

I'm looking forward to the next one, thirty years from now ...

(The picture of Daryl Hannah is a kind of in-joke. Jean hated the movie version of her novel.)

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