Last night at the New York Public Library, amusingly Chuck Noblet-esque writer-gay Henry Alford quizzed New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead about her new book One Perfect Day. Henry wore a powder blue tuxedo, but in keeping with the theme of wedding-industry excess that the book decries, he had a different outfit for the reception afterwards. Kurt Andersen and David Remnick were there. So were Emily and Doree.

Emily: So we came into the subterranean chamber beneath the NYPL into a room of New Yorker writers and curious would-be brides ...
Doree: And publishing types!
Emily: Right! and NYPL event regulars, who are a breed unto themselves... and Kurt Andersen and David Remnick.
Doree: And Nick Denton. Who, oddly, went to college with Rebecca Mead!
Emily: I bet he did do that oddly.
Emily: And then we waited while "White Wedding," a sappy slow-dance song, and "Perfect Day" played on a loop.
Doree: Yes! And champagne was chilling in a bucket onstage, and there were roses.
Emily: Henry set the tone at the outset of the talk by promising to be "as fawning and homosexual as possible" and he sure was.
Doree: He CERTAINLY was.
Emily: That's the peril of these NYPL things. It's always "me and my friend onstage talking about the great book I wrote," and the only opportunity for any dissent or real discussion comes during the Q&A, but the only people who ask pointed questions at Q&As tend to be loons or people who obviously miss college.
Doree: Ha! Or people who are looking for The Answer. Like that guy there with his girlfriend.
Emily: Oh! RIGHT! Did you write down his question? It was pretty priceless...
Doree: I have this written down: "she'll cry or whatever" "how do you actually DO that stuff"
Emily: Here is what i have written down. "I find that when you try to discuss this stuff with your woman" (at that point everyone gasped/chuckled, which tells you a lot about the crowd) "you'll want to get into it from a sociopolitical standpoint, and she'll, like, cry or whatever." As you know I came up to this couple afterwards, shared an elevator with them and counseled them about their relationship (because i am so qualified).
Doree: And??
Emily: Well, they're not engaged, but they're just trying to figure out whether they have the same priorities. The girl said "I don't even want to get married, I just want to have a huge party"
I was like "So have a huge party!" Sigh.
Doree: Sigh indeed. Maybe the book will help them.
Emily: It seems like this book is going over big among people who are maybe a little jaded and bitter about the institution of marriage and maybe less-big among the ladies who, say, don't even have a boyfriend but still spend at least an hour a day on
Doree: Right. Ladies for whom their wedding day is the culmination of years of hopes, dreams, etc. Rebecca wants to pull the wool from people's eyes. But do they want the wool to be pulled? No.
Emily: It's similar to the Leslie Bennetts book in that way.
Doree: Which is interesting, because she slammed the Leslie Bennetts book in the New Yorker.
Emily: Oh! right. Well I don't mean they come from the same critical perspective. Just that they are both predicated on robbing women of their cozy illusions.
Doree: And both books have been getting lukewarm or even hostile reviews from other women. A lot of the reviews of the Bennetts book were like, really nitpicky, i thought, of her as a person.
Emily: Right, just as Jodi Kantor's review of Rebecca's book basically said, "my grandma cried harder at my fancy wedding than yours did at your courthouse one."
Doree: There's a lot of self-righteousness being thrown around.
Emily: In both instances, the story shifted from what the book was ostensibly "about" to how the woman who wrote the book lived her values. I think there's a perception, in both instances, that Leslie and Rebecca wrote a book from a place of "I figured something out, and I'm giving you this GIFT of sharing my wisdom with you."
Doree: Right, which then opens them, as people, up to criticism, i guess?
Emily: It rightly should, I guess.
Doree: I thought Rebecca kind of dodged that question, about whether it's possible to have a wedding that's in between the courthouse and the $27,000 blowout that's the national average. Like, you're either a courthouse wedding person, or you've bought into the wedding industrial complex.
Emily: You're right, she just sort of explained what the word "average" means.
Doree: Right? That was weird!
Emily: The thing about having a British accent is that it's easy to sound very polite! But it's also easy to sound very condescending.
Doree: And it makes it easy to shut down a conversation with a pithy remark. I was almost moved to defend the Disney weddings because she was so condescending about them. Ok, yes, they are shocking! But... should we judge them from our lofty perch?
Emily: That was when it really seemed like she was just being a snob about AMERICA.
Doree: And the way she was making fun of the Disney PR woman was mean
Emily: I feel like there's a lot of that in her writing, and it's very entertaining. The cutting detail, not underscored... like the Disney PR woman's unforgettable aquamarine contacts that made her look "almost animated," or Cindy Adams feeding Jazzy a pastry from her mouth. One does get the sense, though, that she approaches these things from a perch of wry, superior amusement. And so after the reading Nick Denton had a party for her! Huh.
Doree: Mm.
Emily: That shrimp was weird. Sort of soggy.