By Ellen Meister
By Ellen Meister
Author of Farewell, Dorothy Parker and The Other Life
ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS FROM THE PUBLISHER:
“Not even death can keep Dorothy Parker down in this sad and funny story.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE] does a lovely job of imagining the voice of Dorothy Parker with equal parts wit, heartbreak, and practicality.” —Booklist
“...a quick, charming read that will delight Parker fans and stoke the curiosity of those unfamiliar with her great wit.” —Library Journal
“This is a wacky tale with hilarious cameo appearances by some of Dorothy Parker’s favorite dead celebrities—Robert Benchley, Tallulah Bankhead, Groucho Marx, and Lillian Hellman—and liberally sprinkled with Parker’s signature acerbic humor, wisecracks, and put-downs.” —Publishers Weekly
Author Ellen Meister has been captivated by Dorothy Parker’s audacious voice since her teen years, when, as an aspiring writer, she discovered Parker’s smart, cynical wit and her entirely modern understanding of the human heart. In 2013, Meister delivered Farewell, Dorothy Parker, a nuanced tale that introduced the acid-tongued Mrs. Parker to a whole new generation of admirers. Meister’s delicious novel celebrated the legendary writer/critic while it garnered rave reviews and increased the online presence of her Dorothy Parker Facebook Page to nearly 160,000 friends. That’s a testament to the enduring appeal of the irreverent Parker, the most celebrated and scathing wit of the twentieth century, whose quotes are as relevant now as they were last century.
Meister once again re-imagines the wickedly funny Parker in DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE (Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; December 1, 2015; $16.00), and this time she’s seeking a kindred spirit to keep her company on this side of eternity. The late Mrs. Parker has been wandering New York’s famed Algonquin Hotel—the literary landmark where she and her famous lunch bunch held court and traded barbs—for forty years, hoping to convince a drinking buddy to join her in literary limbo rather than disappear into the afterlife’s eternity.
She thinks she has found the perfect candidate in Ted Shriver, a brilliant literary voice of the 1970s whose iconic first novel made him a household name. Ted’s promising career was derailed by a disastrous plagiarism scandal, turning him into a curmudgeon and a recluse. Now that he may be dying of cancer, Shriver is holed up in the Algonquin and refusing all treatment. Parker wants the jaded writer to sign the infamous Algonquin guest book so he’ll be able to spurn the white light along with her, but Shriver stubbornly refuses.
Twenty-nine-year-old Norah Wolfe, a driven assistant producer on television’s long-running Simon Janey Live, believes that an interview with the elusive Shriver could save her soon-to-be-cancelled show and maybe even the writer’s life. Of course, that’s if she can convince him to help clear his name of the plagiarism charges and have the life-saving surgery. Norah has been a Ted Shriver devotee since age thirteen when her mother gave her a copy of his literary masterpiece. And in the fifteen years following her mother’s death, Norah has been harboring a deeply buried secret that she can’t bring herself to reveal. With spirited help from Dorothy Parker, mysteries are unveiled and lives forever changed as Norah learns moving lessons about the cost of keeping secrets and the dangers of letting tragedy define you.
DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE showcases the iconic writer’s wit as well as her unexpectedly poignant wisdom, a powerful combination that continues to fascinate the public nearly a half century after Parker’s death. Meister brilliantly captures the pathos and insouciance of the formidable title character in an unforgettable tale that will resonate with Parker fans and newcomers alike.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ellen Meister is the author of several novels, including Farewell, Dorothy Parker, and The Other Life. She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University School of Continuing Education and runs an online group where she mentors aspiring women authors. She lives on Long Island with her husband and three children.
Penguin Random House (http://global.penguinrandomhouse.com/) is the world’s most global trade book publisher. It was formed on July 1, 2013, upon the completion of an agreement between Bertelsmann and Pearson to merge their respective trade publishing companies, Random House and Penguin, with the parent companies owning 53% and 47%, respectively. Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, and Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and Brazil; DK worldwide; and Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial’s Spanish-language companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally across almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.
“Between the martinis and the bon mots, there’s bite and charm in [DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE], which conjures the spirit of the titular literary wit.”—Closer Magazine
“This well-written story rolls right along after drawing you in at page one. Meister has a flare for the quips for which Dorothy Parker was so famous, making the reader feel as if the venerable Mrs. Parker has sprung back to life, never to leave us again.”—Dish Magazine
“Classic wit, sparkling zingers and rapid-fire one-liners . . . park reality at the door and let this book sweep you up into a nostalgic tale punctuated with contemporary themes.”—Lincoln Journal Star
“The writing is stellar, making it difficult to put the book down.”—RT Book Reviews “It’s a great comic complement to novels like THE PARIS WIFE and LOVING FRANK, and if you’re not a fan of Parker’s or Meister’s already, you soon will be.”—Book Reporter “DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE is a wild ride, pairing the well-researched wit of Dorothy Parker with a contemporary story of success and failure, romance and family. Meister’s brilliant interpretation of Parker’s ghost in the modern world keeps the novel from ever veering into the land of cliché as she brings to life—or rather, brings to ghostliness—the spirit of one of the most famous writers of the Algonquin Round Table.”
A Conversation with
Your previous books were stand-alone novels. What prompted you to revisit the world of Dorothy Parker this time?
When I wrote Farewell, Dorothy Parker (2013), I had no intention of writing a follow-up book. In fact, the ending was pretty definitive, not leaving any room for a sequel. And yet Dorothy Parker wouldn’t leave me, even as I worked on a new novel that had nothing to do with her. So at last I acquiesced to my muse and asked my literary agent if the publisher might be interested in a prequel, and within days I got a call back. The answer was a resounding yes, and so I ditched the book I was working on like a bad date and got right to work.
Are you surprised by the enthusiastic—and growing—response to Farewell, Dorothy Parker?
In a way, it did take me by surprise. Those of us who are passionate about our literary heroes are often very proprietary—we don’t want anyone else getting too close to our idols. So I worried there might be resentment that I had the audacity to take on Dorothy Parker as a character. But there was far less of that than I expected. Most readers and reviewers understood and appreciated that it was an homage, which was quite gratifying. One critic even said, “It is clear that Meister had a lot of responsible fun paying tribute to her.” I love that!
How is DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE different?
To start, most of the action takes place in the Algonquin Hotel, so the setting is different. And there’s a new cast of characters for Mrs. Parker to interact with, including a stubborn and cantankerous literary icon—a dying recluse who doesn’t give a damn what the rematerialized Dorothy Parker (or anyone else for that matter) thinks of him. He’s a great foil. And the other main character, Norah Wolfe, brings so much hidden emotional baggage that Parker feels compelled to intervene.
You run the hugely popular Dorothy Parker Facebook Page with (160K fans). What do you think Dorothy Parker would say about her huge Facebook following?
Very little, I suspect, as she always felt so undeserving.
How do you account for the huge social media popularity of a woman who’s been dead for 47 years?
Dorothy Parker is America’s greatest literary wit, and her writing feels as fresh today as it did in the first half of the twentieth century. Not only that, but her understanding of the human heart is timeless. In truth, I believe she has always inspired legions of fans. Social media has simply brought them out into the light.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve heard from kindred Dorothy Parker fans?
I’ve been surprised—as well as honored and delighted—to learn that there are people who became fans only after reading Farewell, Dorothy Parker. It inspired them to pick up a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker . . . and now they’re hopelessly hooked.
In these Dorothy Parker books, you seem to channel the iconic writer/critic effortlessly, though you once noted that capturing her language “nearly wiped me out.” Was it any easier this time around?
Maybe a bit easier, because I’ve been living with her voice for so long at this point. Mostly, though, I was less anxious about it, because I knew that if I stopped, focused and listened carefully, I would hear it. In this book, the voice that wiped me out was Groucho Marx’s. He makes an appearance for only a few pages, but sweet fancy Moses! That voice is so unlike anything you hear today that capturing it was like learning a new language . . . and trying to speak it without an accent.
What’s the hardest part about capturing Dorothy Parker’s voice?
The hardest part is the pressure I feel to do her justice. I insist on honoring her memory, and that can be a heavy burden.
One of the messages in DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE is that “…we’re all damaged. The tragedy is letting it define you.” Do you think Dorothy Parker would agree?
Yes. I think she struggled all her life with heartbreak, and tried damned hard to not let it define her. . . though her repeated suicide attempts point to limited success in that regard. In her poetry, however, she often played out the scenario with greater success. Consider these lines from Indian Summer: “But now I know the things I know/ And do the things I do/ And if you do not like me so/ To hell, my love, with you!”
What’s up next for you? Will we meet Dorothy Parker again soon?
Right now it’s hard to say. But the door is open. So if the muse walks in with something fresh and inspiring, I’m ready.
December 2 to 9