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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is one of the glories of American literature and has been ever since "Slaughterhouse Five" was published in 1969. He is also something of a local hero here in New York since he lives in a brownstone in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan and has a place in the Hamptons. So the other evening some "friends of Kurt" gathered to salute the man and his latest novel, "Timequake," over a glass at Elaine's.

So it goes, as the narrator remarked every time a character died in "Slaughterhouse Five," so it goes.

Playboy hosted the party on the entirely legitimate grounds that since it was excerpting the new book in its December issue, it might as well do a little promotion. So Executive Editor Kevin Buckley did the honors along with Publisher Richard Kinsler and John Rezek in from Chi, abetted by a half-dozen tall blondes all of whom had been featured in the magazine. Plus any number of young women who work for Playboy and could just as easily have graced its pages.

Being a great one for observing the priorities, I went first to the bar and then to greet Mr. Vonnegut, the man of the hour. "When are we going to that joint of yours [The Blue Parrot] in East Hampton?" he inquired of me. "We'd better do it soon," I said, "They close the place at Thanksgiving and go surfing."

Kurt, who was wearing a rather elegant gray suit, looking less like an oversized teddy bear than he usually does, introduced me to a tall young blonde woman who was most pleasant indeed. She looked about Kurt's height. "How tall are you?" I asked, being a reporter and wanting to get these things right. "I'm only 5 feet 10, but I am wearing heels." Then Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and his wife Alexandra came up. Alexandra is even taller than the blond. I was starting to feel like Ricardo Montalban's vertically challenged but faithful retainer, the one who opened every episode with his cry, "Da plane! Da plane!"

Said Jill Krementz of Kurt, "He hates crowds. I don't know how we got him here." Jill is a great photographer who has produced almost as many books as Mr. Vonnegut. Oh, yes, she is also married to him. She then introduced me to a beautiful woman who writes classy bios, Annette Tapert. Bill O'Reilly of Fox Television said his new novel would be out in April. Best-selling Brit Anthony Sampson arrived. He knows all about Europe and stuff.

Then Dr. Ruth Westheimer came in and cozied up to me at the bar. Dr. Ruth is like that, always cozying up. "They're all back there, Dr. Ruth," I told her, "the literary lions. You can't miss them," I said. Maybe she would cozy up to Vonnegut or to Oz Elliott or Bill O'Reilly. Oz was wearing a splendidly striped shirt and perhaps Dr. Ruth would fancy that.

"Why?" Dr. Ruth inquired, "what party is this?" I told her about Mr. Vonnegut and how as a POW he was saved from the fire bombing of Dresden by being incarcerated in a meatlocker. She liked that story. Remember the line about Warhol, that he'd go to the opening of an envelope? For Dr. Ruth, a postcard is sufficient. All the photographers took her picture.

Joe Queenan was there, that very funny fellow with a scalpel's edge to his wit, and Frank Ucciardo of Channel 11 and Pat O'Haire of the Daily News (the Post columnists were all at a party to launch Cindy Adams' new perfume, Gossip), and Lou Colasuono, who was editor of the News but is now in PR. And that funniest and most literate of essayists, Calvin (Bud) Trillin.

Then a young man introduced himself as Abe Hirschfeld's grandson. Or was it nephew? And asked me for my card. I didn't have one, which was fortunate, as Mr. Buckley explained the lad had passed himself off as someone else to crash the party. Right along then came Abe himself, who recently lost an election for Manhattan Borough president, is under indictment for some financial business I don't understand and is reportedly suing Mort Zuckerman and his Daily News (but only for 6 cents, says Abe) for reporting he was under investigation for allegedly trying to hire a guy to bump off his partner.

"We never have lunch anymore," Abe told me in his amiably accented manner. "Well, you lost the election," I explained. "You can imitate me but I can't imitate you," said Mr. Hirschfeld. Nor was I under indictment. But I thought it better not to mention that. When Abe finally left, his "grandson" and another chap were asking for business cards and chatting up Playboy centerfolds.

After the party I got a table for dinner and Elaine and a federal agent named O'Brien joined us and then Jean Doumanian the movie producer came in with Jaqui Safra, who is Woody Allen's financial adviser, and took the next table. With them was a fellow from San Francisco who used to work here in New York.

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