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One of the twentieth century’s stand-out style icons, Babe Paley epitomized New York jet-set cool in the 50s and 60s. Along with style maven Slim Keith, Paley was one of the original celebutantes and GOSSIP GIRLs to make it big in American culture. Her clique was dubbed THE SWANS by Truman Capote.
Here are some of my favorite Babe looks…
Truman Capote supposedly drew on Babe Paley and the other Swans — his close friends — as inspiration for what was to be his final book, ANSWERED PRAYERS. Esquire magazine printed the first few chapters from the book. The social fall-out was disastrous. The SWANS never spoke to Capote again. Despite a generous advance, Capote did not finish the book. And died soon after.
ANSWERED PRAYERS is my favorite Capote book. It’s unflinching. And snarky. And heartbreaking. I can only imagine how he would have finished the novel. Perhaps Paley and the other Swans receive a gentle reprieve from Capote’s honest, but cruel, words.
Paley died at the age of 63 of lung cancer. Ever the society professional, she organized her own funeral, dictated the lunch menu, and personally handed out her last remaining possessions.
I can only wonder what her last thoughts might have been. Was it a life worth living? A life worth remembering?
One day. One day soon. I will make it to Powells. The largest independent bookstore in the WORLD. Their staff picks on the website are consistently reliable.
It’s also nice to stick it to the Man once in awhile and order a book from a place you know has heart and soul (yes, that’s you Amazon — I see you trying to trick me with “customized” emails and free shipping — and though I fear I will soon fall victim to the the Kindle — why did you have to make it so darn cute! — I have made myself swear to myself that I will always buy a few books a year).
Back to the freebie. Those wonderful wacky folks at Powells (I’m imagining book elves) are offering a FREE PDF copy of The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott, of which I’ve heard mah-velous things. As a sucker for young adult sci fi and fantasy (yes, that’s you Harry Potter, Ender, and Artemis Fowl — but damn, why no girl?), I’m excited to read.
SYNOPSIS FROM PUBLISHER:
He holds the secret that can end the world.
The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.
The records show that he died in 1418.
But his tomb is empty.
The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects — the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.
Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.
[From PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY] Twin 15-year-old siblings Sophie and Josh Newman take summer jobs in San Francisco across the street from one another: she at a coffee shop, he at a bookstore owned by Nick and Perry Fleming. In the vey first chapter, armed goons garbed in black with ‘dead-looking skin and… marble eyes’ (actually Golems) storm the bookshop, take Perry hostage and swipe a rare Book (but not before Josh snatches its two most important pages). The stolen volume is the Codex, an ancient text of magical wisdom. Nick Fleming is really Nicholas Flamel, the 14th-century alchemist who could turn base metal into gold, and make a potion that ensures immortality. Sophie and Josh learn that they are mentioned in the Codex’s prophecies: ‘The two that are one will come either to save or to destroy the world.’ Mayhem ensues, as Irish author Scott draws on a wide knowledge of world mythology to stage a battle between the Dark Elders and their hired gun — Dr. John Dee — against the forces of good, led by Flamel and the twins (Sophie’s powers are ‘awakened’ by the goddess Hekate, who’d been living in an elaborate treehouse north of San Francisco). Not only do they need the Codex back to stop Dee and company, but the immortality potion must be brewed afresh every month. Time is running out, literally, for the Flamels. Proceeding at a breakneck pace, and populated by the likes of werewolves and vampires, the novel ends on a precipice, presumably to be picked up in volume two. Ages 12-up.”