Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

joseph Alsop, the retired Washington columnist, hadn't yet read it and admittedly the subject matter wasn't the sort he would have attempted writing, but questions about how relevant entertaining is to conduct of business in Washington quite obviously annoyed him.

"I sometimes wonder if fun is what is really going out of style," he growled.

Lorraine Cooper had skipped the chapter on her and John Sherman Cooper in Lucy Moorhead's new book, "Enteraining in Washington," because "I know what I know," she said. "Its what others know that interests me."

Then, coming down on the side of relevancy, she said, "People in different parts of this government don't see each other every day. Every one's got to eat, you know."

Susan Mary Alsop thought the best chapter in the entire book was the one one Joseph Alsop, from whom she has been divorced five years.

"I think he's still in love with her don't you?" said an optimistic Emily Preyer who, with her husband Rep. Richard Preyer (D.N.C.), the John Sherman Coopers and Susan Mary Alsop gave Tuesday night's party for Lucy Moorhead.

A few nights earlier, in New York, another Moorhead friend had taken Washington's social measure at yet another publishing party feting the author. "New York," said Marietta Tree, "is less a gossip town than Washington. People don't know each other because they go places in interest groups. It means you can be anonymous.

Tuesday, nobody could possibly have been anonymous in Susan Mary Alsop's Georgetown house, decorated with her versions of red, blue and green rooms - "like the White House," said Emily Preyer.

There were the Clayton Fritcheys, the David Brinkleys, Edward Bennett Williams, Gretchen Poston, French Ambassador and Mrs. Francios de Laboulaye, British Ambassador and Mrs. Peter Jay, the James Symingtons, the Rowland Evanses, the Robert McNamaras, Rep. and Mrs. Jonathan Bingham, the Russell Trains and Griffin Bell.

Bell, the attorney general, said quite flatly that "no, I do not" think it is important to entertain or be entertained in Washington. But a few sentences further on he amended that a little, saying he thought it important to see people, and a nice way to see people is to be entertained.

"But I've never done any business at a cocktail party though I see lots of people I do business with." He motioned towards Rep. Preyer, who is on the oversight committee for the Justice Department.

Lucy Moorhead, who has spent 20 years on the Gerogetown social circuit as wife of (and hostess for) Rep. William Moorhead (D-Pa.), states unequivocably in the opening sentence of her book that "entertaining matters in Washington."

Her thesis: "It eases the process of government and it helps to know the other players in the never-ending political game of check and check-mate, where only the players change. The shifting tides of power are always in motion in official Washington."

Moorhead's examination of various parties - "Washington's peculiar art form," wrote historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in his introduction to her book - drew upon the experiences of friends. Like Susan Mary Alsop.

I was delighted but I didn't think of myself as a hostess living in that small apartment at the Watergate," said Alsop. "I was quite shy about entertaining after having been married to Joe. But Washington is very loyal, so I served dinner at that little Sears-Roebuck table there."

Moorhead calls Susan Mary Alsop "one of those people you can count on to make an effort no matter what seat they've been given at dinner." Moorhead calls them "glue" and believes every hostess needs some. "A party full of bigwigs can be very difficult otherwise because who's going to listen to them?"