More than 300 people gathered at North Hills Country Club on May 15 for the 46th annual Richard Dodge Whittemore Friends Of The Port Washington Library (FOL) Book and Author Luncheon. Whittemore was an early advocate and fundraiser on behalf of the library. The luncheon was renamed to honor his memory a number of years ago. Best selling authors Mary Gordon and Jules Feiffer were the guest speakers and Port’s very own best selling author Susan Isaacs was the program moderator.
In opening remarks, FOL president Amy Bass thanked event sponsors and board members for helping to make the event a success. Bass described the luncheon as the FOL’s effort to “strengthen the library’s ties with the community.” “From the size of today’s audience and from the support of our sponsors, we can say that our ties are strong,” Bass added.
Bass spoke of the broad range of people who had turned out for the event, multigenerational families, seniors from the Amsterdam Continuing Care Facility, library directors from surrounding communities, elected officials and just plain folks who love the iconic Port Washington library and FOL, which is dedicated to expanding library resources through outreach, advocacy, fundraising and programming.
Guest speaker Mary Gordon’s most recent work, Liar’s Wife, is a compendium of four novellas about relationships at home and abroad. Gordon was born in Far Rockaway and raised in Valley Stream, in what she has described as a tight knit Catholic community. She told the audience, “I always wanted to be a writer even when I wanted to be a nun.” Gordon’s first novel, Final Payments, which was published in 1978, brought her critical acclaim and she has been an important literary figure ever since.
Jules Feiffer talked about mastering a new art form with the publication of his most recent book, Kill My Mother, a graphic novel. He said, “I finally have the career I always wanted.” Although others may disagree, Feiffer told the audience that he learned to draw at age 80 and embraced the graphic novel. Kill My Mother pays homage to the pulp inspired fiction and comic strips of his youth. The book centers on five women from two unrelated families, linked fatefully and fatally by a has been, hard drinking detective.
Feiffer has been a prolific author during a career that has spanned more than 70 years. He has written children’s books, screenplays, plays and books for adults and children. His work is characterized by biting satire on politics, marriage, love and religion.
When asked if their advice to writers would be “to write what you know,” both Gordon and Feiffer said absolutely not. Their advice, “Write what you don’t know and push the boundaries.”
The Book and Author Luncheon is FOL’s only fundraising event of the year. FOL is an independent non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.