[Washington Babylon ]Sally Quinn: The life of the party | Harper's Magazine

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[Washington Babylon]

Sally Quinn: The life of the party


The Washington Post recently announced the winner of its “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest, and Kevin Huffman, (who Wonkette aptly described as “nothing more than a composite of all preexisting Washington Post op-ed writers, yet somehow even whiter”) took the gold. Almost simultaneously the Post unveiled what has to be one of the worst columns of all time: “The Party,” by Sally Quinn, in which Ben Bradlee’s wife “offers tips and advice on how to entertain with style.”

Here’s Quinn on the mission of her column:

We all entertain. You may not call it that. You may not like to think of it as that, but it’s the truth. Anybody who has ever had a friend over for a cup of coffee or a beer has entertained. The question is, how do you do it, and how do you do it right? Entertaining well is not about which fork to use. Anybody can go to the store and buy a book on etiquette, which will ease their minds on the details. What those books don’t tell you about is the spirit of entertaining.

This week Quinn is back with another column which will certainly be of interest to the 0.01 percent of the population that gives a shit about “the spirit of entertaining.” Here’s her two cents on the burning issue of whether a husband and wife should be seated together at dinner parties:

My answer is emphatically no. Here’s why: The whole point of going out to dinner is to meet people, make new friends, see old friends, learn something, make connections and share something of yourself with others, not to mention having fun. It’s very hard to do this if you are sitting next to your spouse. I find that it saps the energy from the table when spouses are practically in each other’s laps.

And the Post wonders why its readership is declining.

Note: Check out this delightful 1998 profile of Quinn by Harry Jaffe. “Sally Quinn has been floundering around for the last couple of decades, when she failed first as a journalist, then as a novelist, before emerging as a hostess in a Washington society that even she admits is in its death throes,” Jaffe wrote. “Which brings us to a central question: Who appointed Quinn as the mouthpiece for the permanent Washington establishment, if there is such an animal?”

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