I don’t usually write about book launches, but then again, the most interesting thing I could say about most book launches is that a lot of people stood around drinking cheap wine from plastic cups and wondering why the cheese is always cut into those little cubes. Last night, however, I joined a group of Chicago booksellers and media for an event worth writing about—and other publishers and authors should take note.
Wanting a memorable way to launch her forthcoming novel Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties, author Renee Rosen worked with her publisher, Penguin NAL, to plan an evening that reinforced the theme of the book. Invited guests were treated to a special edition of Untouchable Tours‘ sampling of Prohibition-era Chicago, with Rosen joining guides “Rocco” and “South Side” to highlight the locations and historical figures that populate her novel. The professional guides’ patter was corny but entertaining, while Rosen’s welcome interjections provided insight into her settings, characters, and research. (Seeking verisimilitude, she toured one of Chicago’s few remaining killing floors—an investigation that caused her to lose her taste for lamb.)
Attendees disembarked from the bus to enjoy a party at an authentic 1920s speakeasy in the basement of The Green Door Tavern. Among other perfectly legal libations, bartenders served up a special signature drink, the Dollface Stinger, and Manhattans made with Templeton rye (reputed to be Al Capone’s favorite hooch).
And nary a cheese cube in sight.