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    Who’s Here? Who’s Queer? Who loves books about Chinese food?

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | December 29, 2007

    So I went to a party last night at the home of a high school/college friend who is gay. It was basically me, four straight women, and 40 gay men (plus like one random straight guy who had been brought along without advance warning on what he would encounter. The Evite was titled “Who’s Here? Who’s Queer?”).

    I sometimes think I was “grandfathered in” as a straight friend, because I knew the host before he was out.

    At one point I bumped into one of the other XX chromosomal beings at the food table, and she actually said, “Oh my god, another woman!” It was a fabulous party for me nonetheless as like 40 percent of my gay friends were at this party (this is what happens when you share eight years of overlapping schooling with the host)

    (This gets to the book, just be patient).

    Anyway, one way that you can tell a gay party (there are many, but here is one) is that it will be December and half the men will be wearing short-sleeved T-shirts. And the sleeves will be cut above the straight-gay arm demarcation line. (You know what I am talking about). I was sitting observing this, and wondering aloud, “So are there like, T-shirts that are marketed and designed for gay men? How do they all find shirts with sleeves so short?”

    My friend, Brett, explained. “No, the secret is that where straight men buy mediums, gay men buy smalls. That is why the Banana Republics, Gaps and Abercrombies in Manhattan are always sold out of smalls.”


    At the party, I was sitting talking to someone about my “book on Chinese food in America” (about 37 percent of my conversation in social group settings these days revolve around talking about Chinese food.) Suddenly a guy swoops in on our conversation and asks why I am talking about “a book on Chinese food in America.”

    I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but responded, “Um… because I wrote one?”

    And he said, “Oh my god, you’re Jennifer 8. Lee! I loved your book! We publish your book.”

    Turns out he works in the audio books department of Hachette and had read a galley of the book as it was just lying around. He now strongly recommends it to his friends (especially if thy are Asian-ish or love food) — enough so that the guy who was with him (friend? bf? other?) was reading it too.

    So the publisher is still debating whether to create an audio version of my book (CD or iTunes or whatever) and he has been a strong advocate in meetings. Because it is audio book-friendly — narrative arc but discrete chunks of chapters. Anyway, I am crossing my fingers.

    We had an interesting conversation about his takeaways from the book (of which there were impressively many!). One impact: when he had delivery from a nearby restaurant, he said he “got” where the deliveryman that had shown up at his door had come from and gave him a better tip (perhaps my economic impact will be to raise tips for deliverymen in New York).

    That was my first encounter with a reader who had not been sent a galley by me, my publicist or a sales rep.


    Topics: Book Musings, Chinese Food | No Comments »

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