The Scene: The 1990 Book & Author luncheon, presented by The Times Orange County on Thursday at the Red Lion Hotel in Costa Mesa. Up for literary dialogue: authors Scott Turow ("The Burden of Proof"); Bette Bao Lord ("Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic"); and Itabari Njeri ("Every Good-bye Ain't Gone: Family Portraits and Personal Escapades"). About 700 book lovers gathered to lunch, listen to the authors, buy their books, and have them autographed.
Overheard: Lots of excited whispers about Turow (debonair in a perfectly cut charcoal suit with a fresh orchid in the lapel), whose face became famous overnight when it appeared on last week's Time magazine cover. "He's handsome," said one woman, hugging Turow's shiny new hardback under her arm. "Smart too," replied her lunch partner. " Very smart," said someone nearby.
The Food: Iced tea, crisp salad, sauce-laced chicken, creamy shredded potatoes and carrot cake. A harpist serenaded, while guests dined and chatted.
A Sign of the Times: Each table was set with a stand-up card portraying a glass of cool water against a desert backdrop. "Just Ask," the card read. Stated on the back: "Remember, Southern California is a semi-arid desert where water is precious, and two-thirds of our supply has to be imported from hundreds of miles away." (Courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.) We didn't hear anyone ask.