Friday, March 19, 2010

A Literary Luncheon

My friend Josie and I drove out to Shelton Laurel yesterday to have lunch with longtime friends, Drew and Louise Langsner. Louise's sister and niece were visiting and I was looking forward to seeing them again. Both are authors and I've blogged here about them before this.

I met  Ellen Graf and Eula Biss back in 1978 when John and I were attending a woodcarving class at Country Workshops, run by Drew and Louise.

Back in '78, Justin was about six months old and he attended the class in a Snugli on my back. Ellen was there too and Eula (not pictured below, alas) who was a little older than Justin, spent much of her time in a pack basket on Ellen's back.
Who knew that thirty some years later Eula would have an adorable year-old boy -- Juneau by name?
 Who knew that Ellen would have three more children and eventually a second marriage to a man she'd only just met -- in his native China? 

Who knew that she'd go on to write about this marriage in the critically acclaimed The Natural Laws of Good Luck?
  Who knew that the baby in the pack basket would become an noted essayist? Her first book -- The Balloonists
and her second,  Notes from No Man's Land (which I blogged about last year,) have won praise from some pretty high-faluting literary types . 

But here's the really neat thing, the REALLY AMAZINGLY COOL thing -- this book Notes just won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award!!!

This is a major, major award and it feels kinda neat to say I knew Eula when.

We had an amazing lunch of winter squash soup, garnished with hot Indian pickles, and a savory Chinese dish that Ellen prepared, made of pork, leeks, celery, garlic, and lots of ginger, which we ate rolled up in lettuce leaves. (And I made the panna cotta I was going on about a while back.)
 What better way to spend a very beautiful day?

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Poetry24 said...

What a lovely story Vicki. Yes, the road ahead is, no doubt, sprinkled with surprises for all of us.

Congratulations to Eula (a beautiful name, by the way). And there can't be many better ways to spend the day. Being with those you care for, over a wonderful meal....perfect.

Alan Burnett said...

"Who knew" and "who would have thought" are both phrases which help me get up on grey, cold winter days. They are the very stuff of life itself.

Pat in east TN said...

Sounds like you had a nice afternoon, and, of course, 'who knew'!

There are several people whom I have crossed paths with who have reached fame in one way or another and it's neat to say, "I knew them when ...."

joanna said...


What a nice circle of friends,,,
the food looks awesome -- the table setting inviting,
Lively conversations were probably a live and a foot.

Congratulations to Eula

it is a different thing to be able to carry off to use the braided narrative, with multiple characters and be successful without losing your readers.

Not many writers can pull this off.

Which one is you in that picture -- Pray tell Vicki?


PattyF said...

I'm constantly amazed when people I know "grow up" to do incredible things with their lives that seem unexpected, and I get to say, "I knew them when."

It sounds like you had a wonderful day and made more memories to add to your collection. Good for you! (The soup looked yummy, too!)

Friko said...

lovely story, Vicki.
When we knew someone who grows up to do something special in the days when they wore nappies,(diapers) - it gives you a slight edge, makes you feel proud, too.
But it also makes you feel old.

Jean Baardsen said...

We also need to look in the mirror once in a while and say, "Who knew?" and pat ourselves on the back. Glad you had such a lovely day!

NCmountainwoman said...

And I suspect the same could be said of Eula...she's thinking she knew Vicki Lane way back when...

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Martin! Yes, after the dreary days we've been having it felt wonderful to be out and seeing friends.

The very stuff of life -- so true, Alan!

Oh, Pat! What glorious weather we're having. Louise sent me home with raspberry plants which I'm going to go set out later!

Joanny, I'm the one in the red shirt, holding the baby -- in the old picture. I was behind the camera (I like it that way) in the luncheon picture.

The soup WAS yummy, Patty!

Almost everything make me feel old these days, Friko. I wonder why that is? Something in the water, no doubt.

True enough, Jean!

Could be, Mountainwoman!

Lisa Ursu said...

Wonderful post.
Friends and food. I love the way you presented this.

Hats off to Eula!!!

On Jean's comment...I love it!

jennyfreckles said...

I once read a very acid comment - the writer said she didn't know why people cooed so much over the birth of a new baby : "You'd never say: 'How wonderful! Mrs X has just given birth to a balding 42 year old accountant'"....But perhaps if you knew the baby would grow into a prize-winning writer, maybe you would!

joanna said...


sorry my text should have read as

a "difficult" to be able to carry off using the braided narrative with multiple characters and to be successful without losing your readers. Not to many authors can pull it off.

And you look pretty much the same except for the color of your hair..


Tipper said...

Looks like a nice day for all! And it is so wonderful to see our long time friends succeed!