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Dorothy Parker Drank Here


Dorothy Parker Drank Here

“Dying is easy; comedy is hard,” jokes Peter O’Toole as fading film legend Alan Swann in the film My Favorite Year. For legendary writer Dorothy Parker, death might be easy, but it sure is boring. As in her previous novel, FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, Ellen Meister’s latest outing, DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE, revisits the charmingly caustic writer as she’s experiencing life’s final curtain. Not surprisingly, she finds it lacking: “Then she saw it --- the white light. For a moment, she felt the pull, but caught herself in time. No thank you. Eternal happiness was simply not what she was cut out for. She would stay right here, where that was, and let darkness overtake her.” 

Well, at least her purgatory is the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, an establishment she helped put on the map, along with her fellow writers and members of the famed Algonquin Round Table. How is she able to shun the white light? Thanks to a little guestbook kept by the former manager that enables the signers to be able to stay on if they choose, as long as the book is open. The only downside to this immortality is the lack of company. But Dottie finally spots a suitable companion for her after-life in Ted Shriver, a disgraced writer with a brain tumor, content to live out the rest of his miserable life in a room at the famed hotel. If only he’d agree to spend eternity with her.

"...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."

Norah Wolfe is a frenzied TV producer for the struggling news show “Simon Janey Live”and a huge fan of reclusive writer Ted Shriver. She’s convinced that if she could score an interview with Shriver, it can save the show, along with her job. She persuades her boss to let her stay a few days in the hotel, where hopefully she can ensnare the poor writer, who has kept a low profile for the past decade or so after a plagiarism charge ruined his career. With the help of the magical guestbook, Norah finds an unlikely ally in the former Mrs. Dorothy Parker, who wants to help her, but also is serving her own agenda: ensuring she has a drinking buddy for eternity.

But Norah and Dottie aren’t the only ones interested in this wondrous guestbook. Edie Coates, the bitter sister of the hotel’s former manager (also deceased) and creator of the guestbook, desperately wants to get her hands on it to sell it and make a fortune, and finally stick it to that louse brother of hers. But all plans hinge on Shriver cooperating, which is not going to happen without a fight. Even when certain secrets come to light proving his innocence of the plagiarism charge, among other things, Shriver is content to pine away in his self-made purgatory, atoning for his sins committed against his second wife, Audrey. But it’s up to Norah and Dottie to change his mind, and the pair will jump through all sorts of hoops to do it.

DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE continues the mythology of Meister’s earlier novel, where the spirit of the barbed-tongued writer lives on at the Algonquin. The reader is taken on a madcap adventure, but one also grounded in the reality of a few of the main characters. We not only get to learn of Norah’s and Ted’s complicated backstories, we also gain insight into the soul behind the barbs of Mrs. Parker. 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.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on February 27, 2015

Dorothy Parker Drank Here
by Ellen Meister

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425278093
  • ISBN-13: 9780425278093