By JOHN WILLIAMSThe eager crowd milling in the lobby of Town Hall on Tuesday night looked ready for the opening of an A-list movie. For one thing, Daniel Craig was present. “James Bond is standing over there,” a man said. A stranger next to him, a woman in a large furry hat, peered over. “Is he really? How exciting!”
The occasion was brainier, if less glamorous, than a 007 premiere: the 50th anniversary of The New York Review of Books, the literary institution that began during a citywide newspaper strike in 1963. Robert Silvers, the publication’s 83-year-old editor and co-founder, was M.C. for a night of readings and reflections by some of his longtime and more recent contributors.
Though charming and literate, a less visually dynamic public event is hard to imagine. Still, ticket holders were kept waiting outside for about 30 minutes after the scheduled start time while a handful of high-powered cameras were set up inside the auditorium. (Martin Scorsese and a crew have been filming the journal’s celebrations this week to help it commemorate the anniversary.)
Even knowing that Joan Didion was among the readers scheduled to appear, the crowd still let out a few audible gasps when Mr. Silvers announced that the writer would be the first to take the stage. Ms. Didion did so daintily, the rock-star essayist now visibly a lioness in winter at the age of 78.
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