BookHampton hosted two full-house book signings with Doron Weber and Ali Wentworth on Presidents’ Day weekend.
On Saturday, Doron Weber read from his book Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir (Simon and Schuster). The book is the life story of Weber's son Damon, who died after a heart transplant when a common infection went undetected.
A combination of the author's remembrances and Damon's blog posts (which give Damon a voice that's not just typical kid but also one whose illness made him wise), Immortal Bird relates Damon's early illnesses (he was born with a malformed heart), successful surgery and flourishing of health, spirit and personality that led to Damon's acting career. Fans of the HBO show "Deadwood" may remember the kid with the shock of red hair featured early in the series — that was Damon, whose natural instinct as an actor was a predictor of a strong career to come.
However, as some children with Damon's heart trouble do, he developed PLE, which results in the body's inability to absorb protein, in effect starving itself. There is no cure.
Weber began writing Immortal Bird as a way to deal with Damon's illness and death. "Without the book, I don't know how I could have gone on. I was so happy language existed; it gave me a place to go. Writing was essential to me. It was salvation."
Immortal Bird tells a personal story of a child lost too soon, and of the medical professional whose arrogance led to an unnecessary and untimely death. It's told with grace and humor and lets us all get to know Damon Weber, whose light went out too soon. (Note: Jeremy's recent blog post about Immortal Bird is here.)
On Sunday, Ali Wentworth regaled the packed bookstore with stories of growing up in Washington, DC and returning as an adult, (with stops in Hollywood, stage and screen in between), all included in her New York Times best-selling memoir, Ali in Wonderland (Harper).
Ali's mother, Muffy Cabot, was social secretary for Ronald Reagan, as well as the only Democrat in the Reagan White House. Ali grew up surrounded by newsmakers and world leaders — her stories of swimming with Henry Kissinger are unsettling and funny: while he used their pool for exercise, Kissinger was convinced Ali's stepfather was a spy, so their phones were tapped as well.
Ali went on to become an actress and comedian; you've seen her on "In Living Color," "Seinfeld" (Schmoopie from the infamous "Soup Nazi" episode) and much more. However, her marriage to George Stephanopolous brought her back to the world of her childhood in Washington, one that's very different from what she remembers.
"When you marry a Greek, you marry Greece," Ali laughed , as she told the story of their oldest daughter's baptism as an infant in the Greek Orthodox tradition. Involving oils and full immersion, it shocked the WASP-y Cabot side of her family. She had the standing-room only crowd in stitches as she poked loving fun at George and her daughters, who were also in attendance.
Afterward, during a question and answer session, an audience member asked Ali what makes a good sketch comic. "A good sketch comedian isn't afraid. You have to have a lack of inhibition. You can't be afraid to get ugly. And a lot of it is good instinct."
Signed copies of Immortal Bird and Ali in Wonderland are available at BookHampton.
This Saturday, February 25th at 2:00pm in East Hampton, join us for a very special event: Alec Baldwin returns to BookHampton to read selections from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, in honor of Dickens' 200th birthday. Our full calendar of events is available on our website.
Photographs © Jeremy Nussbaum