Party for Duck Duck Wally by Gabe Rotter

Gabe Rotter Duck Duck Wally PartyI’ve been meaning to go to one of the Media Bistro shindigs for media professionals, like yours truly, for ages. After seeing Laurel Toby speak, I even moved the post-it reminder a bit higher up on my monitor. I finally managed to roll over to one a couple of weeks ago. Horror author and poet Maria Alexander and I rolled over to the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive, which is a fairly swanky, if odd, location for a book party. Aside from just hanging out being, you know, media-like, the Media Bistro party was also to celebrate the release of Gabe Rotter’s first novel Duck Duck Wally. Maria and I missed the hotel the first time we drove by because it is a boutique hotel and thus not very hotel-looking, so it blended into the landscape. I almost always stay in boutique hotels when I travel. The service and the suites always feel more personal than in like a Hilton or whatever. And there are usually bowls of green apples, no matter which boutique hotel it is. As I live in Los Angeles, I don’t stay in hotels here and neither Maria nor I had been to anything thrown by this particular organization before. We both went with mildly dressy professional and black. I know the color scheme is a shocker. When I saw that the hotel was actually next door to the Michael Kors store on Rodeo, I thought it was perhaps some sort of weird psychic flash which had caused me to just buy a bunch of black Michael Kors clothing this season. A good omen.

The party was fun. Maria and I chatted with a variety of interesting people. It seemed like the screening process for the guest list had not done much to weed out PR folks, but everyone was nice, if a bit aggressive about what everyone else’s writing credits were. People at the party kept grilling me on various resume points and I kept having to answer, yeah, I’ve done that too, until even I noticed that maybe I’ve accomplished one or two things. I had the epiphany that I’ve been published kind of a lot. I sort of thought I would have written the Great American Novel by now. And I haven’t. So I don’t usually think of myself as someone who gets my words out there as much as I guess I do. I didn’t meet the Media Bistro hostess Michelle Thatcher even though I’d Googled her photo beforehand, but the man of the hour, author Gabe Rotter, was gracious and pleasant. Maria found him smug, but I like that in other people. I aspire to be more aware of the good stuff in my own world, so I feel smug people are onto something there.

Amelia G Maria Alexander Duck Duck Wally PartyI just finished reading Duck Duck Wally and it is a brisk and entertaining read. The basic story is about a guy who gets caught up as collateral damage in an extortion plot after years ghost-writing lyrics for an extremely popular rapper. It is a funny and clever book with a humorous cast of characters. The book was probably intended to be more earnest than it comes off, but it is an enjoyable read.

Not everyone shared my take on the book, although, let’s face it, the blogosphere does not exactly have a dearth of people willing to write up books they have never read. Someone named Josh over at Gawker started a thread which objected partly to the style of PR used to hype the book and objected most strenuously to the racial stereotyping. I think Josh is the nick for Gawker’s After Hours Editor Joshua David Stein. Gawker commenters point out that they believe they have seen fake rave reviews of the book around the net before it was even released. Apparently publisher Simon and Schuster is really behind the book and handed out fake gold chains as promo at the East Coast launch party for the book.

That the book tells the story of a short white Jewish dude who ghostwrites rhymes on the DL for a rap artist named Oral B only somewhat excused the charged racial implications,” Gawker’s Josh writes, “Like the novel’s protagonist, its author Gabe Rotter is a short Jewish guy himself. Yesterday we got a “tip”—probably just deep cover publicist shill—that though the book was sold as a novel, “The rapper in the book is based on a few of the MAJOR rap stars, who really do have some fat white Jewish dude writing most if not ALL of their rhymes.”

First of all, I’ve said it before and I’ll most likely say it again, but the music industry needs to deal with its obnoxious attempts to pass off one person’s work as another’s. Maybe it takes more than one person to make a good record. Duh. There is nothing wrong with that and I am sick to death of the music industry’s attempts to belittle the contributions of most members of any team that actually puts something good together.

Secondly, I honestly was made a bit uncomfortable by how hard the author hit his ethnic characterizations of Indian, Jewish, Black, etc. characters, but they did all mostly have characterization beyond race or heritage and I didn’t find any of them terribly unrealistic. I was able to overlook it because I enjoyed the writing, but, in general, I find people who go on too much about their background tiresome. I don’t care if they are Daughters of the American Revolution or just have a second cousin once removed who is a famous actor. I am interested in the person and what the individual does and I don’t think background counts for either much extra credit or a get out of jail free card.

Maria Alexander Duck Duck Wally PartyLastly, the notion that Duck Duck Wally is somewhat autobiographical is obvious, but that it is wholly autobiographical is kinda silly. I mean, Gabe’s bio says he comes from Long Island and his character is from Westchester. (For those who have never lived in New York, this is a joke; for those who have not, it’s not like a really big belly laugh or anything.) Duck Ducky Wally is entertaining enough to stand on its own without some publicity flack trying to convince the world that Gabe Rotter secretly writes for 50 Cent. Apart from everything else, in the real world, this sort of thing is done with contracts and NDA’s and overcontrolling press access. It is not done with shoeboxes of cash and mini-uzis. Publicity BS which tries to push the idea that maybe Gabe Rotter really is the protagonist Wally Moscowitz kinda messes up some of my enjoyment of the fiction, because it makes me start thinking about which areas were not 100% realistic. For one thing, I’ve stood right next to Gabe and, I admit he was not naked, but, if he is fat, he is one hell of a dresser. I hope that, in real life, Gabe Rotter owns a dog and loves it as much as his character loves his. I’m not going to ask him, though, because the expression of dog love in the book should be a work which can stand on its own.

The Luxe Hotel, by the way, is no exception to the rule that all boutique hotels must feature bowls of green apples. I took one for the road on the way out. Oh, and it turns out that, when I was choosing between black dresses to go in, the dress I actually chose was Alfani and not Michael Kors. Good thing I don’t put that much stock in omens.


Posted by on September 24, 2007. Filed under Blue Blood. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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