The Magazine

The Gossip Gal

Liz Smith loves to eat, schmooze, and drop bold-face names.

Apr 11, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 28 • By JUDY BACHRACH
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Better than the simple listing of names, however, is what Liz does with these ingredients. Here she is a true chef. Widows are never mentioned in her citations without being rewed to the word "merry" (cf. Casey Ribicoff, the widow of the Connecticut senator, and Tita Cahn, "the merry widow of Oscar songwriter Sammy Cahn"). The least meritorious are paired with the happiest descriptions. Thus: "the TV genius Chuck Barris" or--my own personal favorite, a reference to a Sony executive--"the handsome CEO Nobuyuki Idei of Tokyo."

And that's not all. Liz is a master not only of guest lists, but also of what I like to think of as the conditional guest list: "I suppose if Oscar and Annette de la Renta and Nancy and Henry Kissinger hadn't been in the Dominican Republic, they'd have been there with us," she reports of some luncheon no-shows. That, I should add, is about the only tangy dish you're going to get on these or any other celebrities mentioned, because Liz doesn't like to waste her ammunition on a book.

Besides, she's a lady, our Liz. She's perfectly capable of turning words into bullets--"Discomfort Food" is how she refers to the fare of avant-garde restaurants--but usually prefers not to. This is why my own mother warned me against reviewing this book ("Judy, she's been nice to you . . . ").

And full disclosure--something I always prefer to stick at the end of a review--Liz has been nice to me. She once invited me to lunch in New York at Le Cirque, and then wrote "Seen lunching at Le Cirque: Judy Bachrach." She will call a spade a teaspoon. She is probably the only person in the world who uses the word "enlivened" as a synonym for "escorted"--as in "Maurice Tempelsman, the man who enlivened Jacqueline Kennedy's life after she divorced Aristotle Onassis."

I don't really want to enliven Liz's book. But honestly. Anyone who can't stand the kitchen--and then writes about it, at considerable length--deserves a little heat.

Judy Bachrach is a contributing editor of Vanity Fair.