You wouldn’t think someone from old money, who boarded at Groton and went to Harvard, would drop out from that life and work as a busboy, schoolteacher, carpenter, caterer, journalist, and now a computer programmer for New York City. Yet Lincoln MacVeagh hasn’t entirely forgotten the world he left behind, and his first novel, Paisley Mischief (February Books, June) is, as he puts, it a “tightly packed farce” that looks at the moneyed world of a private men’s club with humor and affection.
He tells Show Daily: “I wanted to write a comedy about money. I think it’s one of the few taboos left, and it’s an important subject. The decisions people make about money are really philosophical choices that affect lots of things.”
After traveling the world and going from job to job, MacVeagh returned to New York City 10 years ago and caught up with his college and high school friends, who, he says, “had moved into the places they always expected to be.” He ended up visiting the Racquet Club on Park Avenue (formally known as the Racquet and Tennis Club) as a guestscores of timesand was both amused and intrigued by what he found. “It’s sort of a bell jar, a perfectly sealed world. One of the interesting things about it is that no transaction involves cash. Once you step inside the club, everything is paid for by a chit, which are little pieces of paper that people sign, so there’s the pretense that money doesn’t matter.”
His novel, revolving around the attempt of a brash Hollywood producer to join the fictional Avenue Club, gives readers an inside view of what it’s like to be a member of such an elite establishment. “Once you get inside that world,” he says, “it tends to be like every other world. The people in the book are goofy and comic in many respects, but they’re also likable, and normal—they’re not caricatures. The purpose of my novel is to take the veil away, and what you see in the end is that fat middle-aged men in the club are just like fat middle-aged men everywhere.”
MacVeagh originally self-published his novel; then one of this friends brought it to February Books, which snapped it up. “I handed my book out to my family and friends when I did the vanity press, but I really am excited at the chance to get reactions from people who don’t know me and are looking at it for the first time without rose-colored glasses on. To me it’s the first real test.” The author laughs, and then adds, “As for Book Expo, I intend to eat up the whole place.”
He is signing today, 3–3: 30 p.m., at Table 3 in the Autographing Area.