People who are fortunate enough to attain eighty years of age usually celebrate their longevity with a party; few octogenarians mark the milestone in life with the publication of their autobiography. Step forward Michael Chastanet O.B.E. C.M.G for the official launch of his book ‘Room at the Top’ on Saturday 20 February at The bookYard at the STAR Publishing compound in Massade. The event was hosted by Mae Wayne of STAR Publishing, accompanied by her husband, the writer Rick Wayne. Specially invited guests included Sir Derek Walcott, the French Ambassador Eric de La Moussaye, the Cuban Ambassador Jorge Soberon and the Venezuelan Ambassador Leiff Escalona. Other dignitaries and gems of Saint Lucian society donned their finest to share in the prestige of the occasion.
The bookYard is the conception and creation of Mae Wayne: publisher, avid reader and lover of literature. Mae, looking every inch a dedicated follower of fashion in a dazzling dress made by Queen Esther of Kuumba Designs, introduced the evening and the man of the night, Michael Chastanet. She explained the inspiration behind The bookYard: how she lamented the disappearance of book stores and, with it, the loss of a meeting place for those who cherish the feel of a book in their hands and who love to turn the pages and discuss the contents with like-minded folk.
Thanks to Mae’s determination to keep a tradition alive, we are now locally blessed with a store at The bookYard stocking works by international and Caribbean writers, with emphasis on our homegrown talent, encompassing fiction, non-fiction, poetry and books for children. Chastanet spoke about his life. When asked by Mae if, in spite of his success, there were any regrets, he referred to never having completed further education.
He revealed that he had twice commenced studies at university: firstly on a basketball scholarship but he dropped out when his father fell ill; secondly to pursue law but he abandoned the course in favour of shipping. Given all he had achieved without a degree, Chastanet wryly concluded that life had not been so bad for him after all.
Having had their curiosity whetted with glimpses of Chastanet’ life, the audience eagerly queued to purchase autographed copies of the book. While mingling they sipped wines courtesy of CPJ Caribbean Producers St. Lucia Ltd, and savoured appetizers provided by Coco Palm. Guests took the opportunity to venture inside the book store to purchase from the collection of books and stationery and were pleasantly surprised to discover a line of T-shirts designed by Rick Wayne and bearing some notable and newsworthy catchphrases.
Mae Wayne intends that The bookYard become a meeting place for those seeking culture, literature or just plain relaxation. For the added enjoyment of patrons, a coffee shop will open mid-March; a boutique with gift shop is already operational. Opening hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. Besides book launches, The bookYard is also ideal for other artistic events such as fashion shows and music promotions.
For further information, contact the STAR on 450 7827.