Invariably, the guests at book parties are either better looking than you (friends of the author) or more successful (colleagues). Last night’s launch for Dave Itzkoff’s new memoir, Cocaine’s Son, was no exception: roughly fifty people filled powerHouse Arena‘s cavernous space in DUMBO, and besides the family and friends there were editors, Times co-workers (look, the svelte and stylish Brian Stelter!) and a shaggy Klosterman-type who, given the Klosterman blurb on the back of the book, may have very well been Chuck Klosterman himself.
Itzkoff arrived punctually with his parents, suggesting he may actually be as boyishly nerdy as he appears (which is not unlike Klaus Baudelaire, but with a penciled-in beard). Just joking! It made sense that his parents would be his guests of honor, as the memoir recounts Itzkoff’s relationship with his father.
A powerHouse employee asked the crowd to get themselves a round of applause for coming out to Brooklyn, which the Timesmen and -women in the room had first heard about last year. Before he read, Itzkoff thanked all the attendees for making the “greatest sacrifice of all”—missing new episodes of American Idol and Jersey Shore. (Among more notable gigs, Itzkoff compiles the in-print Arts section’s “Arts, Briefly,” which became strikingly more hilarious immediately after he took it over. His twitter feed is also highly recommended.)
Itzkoff’s father, dressed in a Stewart-plaid button-down tucked into jeans, with hair as white as cocaine, listened with his arms folded mostly, occasionally nodding subtly. He laughed when a guest asked, after the reading, how the author grappled with writing about his father, because journalists might write unflatteringly about people sometimes but, in this case, “you can’t burn your sources.” Itzkoff answered that he was lucky because his subject had a “pathological commitment to truth”. “‘You gotta write what you gotta write,'” he recalled his father saying. “‘It’s gotta be your story.'”
Afterwards, Itzkoff signed my book, forgetting the K in thanks. Then he greeted Stelter, who cracked a joke about whether he should’ve bought the book here or on Amazon, to help raise the sales ranking. It’s Itzkoff, though, who, as always, had the better punchline: “You could do both.”