ARCHIVE: Guess Who’s Coming to Tea


With his latest novel just named Best Book of 2009, Colum McCann (left) comes to “The Lincoln Center of Red Bank” for the first in a series of NovelTeas author events, hosted by Kim Widener (below). (Photo by Brendan Bourke)

(First published on Red Bank oRBit November 3, 2009)

KimWidenerSMALLWhen last we looked in on Kim Widener, the Rumson-based patroness of the arts had partnered with Jacquie Dalton under the name BookIt! Author Based Events, producing personal appearances by famous writers at venues around Monmouth County — with the women even opening their very own literary salon-slash-lounge in The Grove at Shrewsbury.

It was a move we applauded, since we like to get invited to parties — and also because we (a) like books, (b) like seeing more book-themed happenings, and (c) like to cover those happenings as much as possible.

Alas, neither the business partnership nor the storefront at The Grove would see their way through to the end of 2009 — but in carrying on their separate ways, Kim and Jacquie simply doubled the ante on the celebrity author-based excitement (and hence, the cocktail parties). We’ve already reported on some of Jacquie’s recent activities under the BookMarkIt! name over at Brookdale Community College — with much more to tell you about in the weeks to come — and we thought that an update was in order on the many new projects in the works from Kim.

NovelTeas® is the name via which Widener is now hosting speaking engagements, signing ops and receptions featuring name-brand authors — matched with such prime locales as the “black box” Marion Huber performance space inside Red Bank’s Two River Theater. It’s a room which, strangely enough, plays host to the one-woman show Tea For Three this weekend (check our little feature on the show right here in oRBit).

Next Tuesday, November 10, NovelTeas presents its inaugural event in Red Bank, when bestselling storyteller Colum McCann visits the Bridge Avenue arts center for an appearance keyed to his acclaimed novel Let the Great World Spin.

“The lobby and the Marion Huber Theater at TRTC are beautiful, elegant spots for smaller events, such as this,” Widener tells us by email. “It seems fitting to host McCann at the ‘Lincoln Center’ of Red Bank.”

A veteran writer of novels, regular contributor to top-of-the-pile magazines (The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, GQ, Paris Review) and Academy Award nominee for his 2005 short film “Everything in This Country Must,” the NYC-based McCann uses a famous day in the history of the World Trade Center — not 9/11 (although that date serves as implicit inspiration), but Philippe Petit’s infamous real-life tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in 1974 — as a framing device for a range of disparate New York stories. Spin’s storylines of an Irish monk, a Bronx hooker, a city judge, an alcoholic, and a group of grieving mothers who lost their sons in Vietnam are set against “the art crime of the century”, with naming it Best Book of 2009, and the 2009 National Book Award committee naming McCann as a finalist for its Fiction category.

“The beauty of the book is that it is about 9/11 without being about that day,” says Widener. “Let The Great World Spin gets my vote for The National Book Award, which will be announced later this month.”

“I had forgotten the feeling I had on 9/11; the feeling that we…inhabitants of a  Wall Street community, of a New York suburb, of New Jersey, of America, were all in something together. This novel reminded me of that feeling.”


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