On Books I’ve Never Read

Everyone claims to be perusing Proust, but who are they kidding? Confessions of a literary faker.

By Barbara Guggenheim

It’s a recurring nightmare. Dewar’s calls. They’re interviewing me for a whiskey ad and everything’s going well until the final question: “What’s the last book you’ve read?” If I were telling the truth, I’d have to mention Jackie Collins. But I’m ready with a list: Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s The Medium is the Massage.

Have I read any of these? Absolutely not. Faking what you’ve read is a widespread offense, and I’m a serial offender.

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Musical Chairs

Where do you rank in the social pecking order? The answer depends on where you sit.

By Barbara Guggenheim

My last dinner party had barely begun, and my actor friend (let’s call him Sam) was already unhappy. “I’m out of here right now if you don’t change my seat,” he threatened as the cocktail hour got underway. My husband, Bert, had carefully seated Sam who, God knows, needs a new film, next to a key director who might just do him some good But, no, Sam insisted on being seated next to his wife, violating age-old rules of placement, or the art of table seating. While it’s become quite common at Hollywood dinner parties to seat husbands and wives together, I find the resulting flirting deficit usually makes for dull events.

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