The Wolfe Pack’s annual gala is a lively affair. The Black Orchid Banquet, always held on the first Saturday of December, features toasts to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, to their creator Rex Stout, and to many of the other characters who enliven the series. There is also singing, as each table competes (informally) to create a (semi-)spontaneous and wholly witty tribute in song to oversized detective.
And there are awards.
AHMM and the Wolfe Pack presented the sixth Black Orchid Novella Award—or BONA—this year to Robert Lopresti, for “The Red Envelope,” which you will be able to read in just a few months in our July/August issue. The Nero award for best novel went to Dana Stabenow for Though Not Dead. (If you can’t wait for your Lopresti fix, Rob has a different story, “Shanks’ Ride,” in the April issue.)
Last year’s BONA winner James Lincoln Warren flew in from L.A. to attend this year’s banquet, and he offered the first toast (in rhyme!) to Rex Stout. Rob Lopresti came up with the lyrics to our table’s song, sung to the tune of Ain’t Misbehavin’.
The Black Orchid weekend began with a Friday night book discussion of Poison a la Carte at Pete’s Tavern just south of Gramercy Park. Saturday afternoon was devoted to the Assembly, which featured several interesting presentations. Bob Gatten discussed Rex Stout’s work during World War II: in support of the war effort, he wrote some clever dramas to combat racism and to promote world peace. Equally fascinating was David Naczycz’s discussion of the history of beer (Wolfe’s favorite beverage) in New York; Mr. Naczycz is the proprietor of the tour company Urban Oyster.
The weekend concluded with a Brunch Hunt, in which participants teamed up and followed clues to find the location of the brunch.
We always enjoy running with the Wolfe Pack.