Tag Archives: luncheon society

The Luncheon Society/True Prep author Lisa Birnbach/San Francisco-Fior D’Italia/September 22, 2010

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Behind every well-written satire lies a fountain of truth.  In 1980, Lisa Birnbach, then a young feature writer for The Village Voice , found herself working on a project 38 other writers had rejected.

It would be a small book with Workman Publishing, a quirky imprint in Manhattan known more for their calendars and a series of successful “How To” books.  Yet, in the course of ten short weeks, Lisa created what became a field guide for a declining species of an American subculture: preternaturally wealthy WASPS, their tribal customs, behaviors, etiquette, families, and mating rituals. However, as a graduate of Brown and Riverdale Country School , it came as second nature.

When it hit the shelves in October 1980, the initial printing redefined modest. The book cost $4.95 and was sold only in soft cover.  However, 2 ½ million copies and 41 printings later, The Official Preppy Handbook  remained on the New York Times Best-Seller list for 38 weeks. Critics raved and Birnbach demonstrated a sharp eye for social commentary and biting satire. In fact, The Official Preppy Handbook (OPH) remained Workman Publishing’s best-selling title until the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” series came along in 1984.  

For a book that has been out of print for a quarter century it has aged rather well, like those featured within its pages.  Copies can be purchased on eBay for as high as $150 and signed copies (like mine) are sold for as much as $250 to $300. Continue reading

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The Luncheon Society is online. Finally.

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We are pleased to annouce that The Luncheon Society finally has a web presence. We should be fully live by September 1st.

When The Luncheon Society consisted of only 3 people in San Francisco, there wasn’t a need for a robust online persona but now that that we have grown to roughly 1,400 people and have added a Los Angeles and a Manhattan footprint, this was the right time to move forward.

For the past 12 years, The Luncheon Society has been a three dimensional gathering of ideas and people, surrounded by wonderful food in great locales.  We want to augment the experience for those who join us and offer something special for those who cannot attend due to distance or schedule.

The Luncheon Society website will be an evolutionary process.  It will start off modestly, but in time is will grow to encompass the whole experience. We’ll figure this out together.

Here is what we hope to accomplish:

  • It will be much better to announce and manage The Luncheon Society gatherings from this website.  It’s the most efficient way to communicate to a group that has gotten progressively larger over the years.  
  • I want to be able to post notes from past Luncheon Society gatherings online (when permissible) so that everybody can experience what we have learned at these events.
  • Most of those who join us are authors who have books out. I want to make sure that everybody within The Luncheon Society has a chance to learn about the book and purchase it online, if they are unable to attend.  If you want the books autographed, I’ll handle the details.
  • Finally, I also want to highlight The Luncheon Society community.  We have so many writers, pundits and others who hang out at these gatherings; I want to make sure that their thoughts are distributed throughout the group.

I want to keep The Luncheon Society going, long after the last table has been cleared and after the last dish has been put away–because this is all about the art of conversation.