By Carolyn Kellogg
7:19 PM EDT, August 13, 2013
What's an author assigned to sit next to a much more famous person (Gwyneth Paltrow) at a book signing to do? Write about it, of course.
"Due to the inflexibility of the alphabet I had the questionable good fortune to be seated directly beside Gwyneth Paltrow," writes Christina Oxenberg on her website.
The event was an authors night held by the East Hampton Library. The tony summer haven on Long Island boasts a long roster of both book-inclined celebrities and stars of the literary world: The event was co-founded by Alec Baldwin and its organizing committee includes bestselling thriller author Nelson DeMille, National Book Award-winning biographer Robert Caro, Orange Prize winning novelist A.M Homes and, yes, Gwyneth Paltrow.
"Since she arrived on the late side I had a chance to make some sales to new and repeat customers..." Oxenberg writes. But soon crowds amassed, standing in front of her section of table, with just one thing in mind: Gwyneth. "Then the divinity in question arrived with hubby, children and a couple of massive bodyguards. The worshipers blocked my view of the whole world, abusing my tiny territory upon which to abandon their trash or lean their sorry....." Oxenberg continued.
Oxenberg made a splash in the 1990s with the novel "Royal Blue," which had some parallels to her genuinely royal family. Her mother is Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, second cousin to England's Prince Charles. And she's been exposed to Hollywood-type royalty: Her sister is Catherine Oxenberg of the lavish '80s show "Dynasty."
Lately, Oxenberg's literary fortunes have fallen: She self-published two recent books, "Do These Gloves Make My ... Look Fat?" in 2010 and "Life Is Short Read Short Stories," earlier this year.
However, her social skills are just fine: A bushel of bluebloods turned out for her book release party in April; and she was staying on Long Island at the home of writer Jay McInerney.
Confronted with no readers and a massive signing line for Gwyneth, what did Oxenberg do? She retreated to the snack table. And then she got, depending on how you look at it, inspired or kind of mean.
"I made a plate of miniature sloppy hamburgers, stinky steak sandwiches, and the like and hauled it back to my piece of table," she writes. Her destination: conscientious, healthful eater Gwyneth, who was signing her cookbook "It's All Good."
"Gwyneth’s bodyguards blocked my re-entry despite my assurance I was a just an author and pointing at my name tag, 'No!' they growled, body blocking me. So I was forced to crawl under the table," Oxenberg writes. "And there I sat with my meat products, wafting the excellent smells toward my sleek vegan neighbor. She ignored the siren smells of protein. We never did say hello, although I did try to sell my book to her sleek vegan children. No bites."
She could have gone a little easier on Gwyneth. Or maybe Paltrow and her entourage never even noticed.
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