PEN Center USA's 23rd annual literary awards festival went off without a hitch at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Monday night -- except for the small fact that its lifetime achievement award winner, Joan Didion, was not in attendance.
"Unfortunately, Joan Didion's doctor advised her at the last minute that she could not travel to Los Angeles," PEN said in a statement Tuesday.
On Monday night, it was California Gov.
As if to make up for her absence, a parade of stars was in attendance.
Then a carpenter, Ford was hired by Didion and Dunne to build their beach house in Malibu. "I was the first thing they saw in the morning and the last thing they saw" -- he paused -- "before cocktails."
Didion and Dunne, whose 2003 death was the subject of Didion's National Book Award-winning memoir "The Year of Magical Thinking," gave Ford "support and validation that I'm grateful for," he said. "She means a lot to me, and I wish she were here for me to tell her that."
In Didion's stead, Anjelica Huston read a message from the author. "So many people in this room are part of my deepest life," she said, including Harrison, Bret
Those who did make it to the event included Chris Hedges, a
Mark Boal, who won the screenplay award for
There were many literary award winners; some took the presence of the stars in their midst in stride. "I'm not going to accept this award until Harrison Ford gives me a kiss on the cheek," joked Ramona Ausubel, who won the fiction award for "Nobody Is Here Except All of Us."
Gilbert Hernandez, who received the graphic literature award for his outstanding body of work, looked elsewhere, citing the surreal yet accessible work of
Other award winners included Amanda Auchter for poetry for "The Wishing Tomb"; Joy Harjo for creative nonfiction for her memoir "Crazy Brave"; Michael Harmon for children's/young adult literature for "Under the Bridge"; Ed Leibowitz for journalism for the article "The Takeover Artist" in Los Angeles Magazine; Steh Rosenfeld for research nonfiction for his book "Subversives"; Dan O'Brien for drama; and Randol Contreras, who recieved the University of California Press' Exceptional First Book Award for "The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream."