Thursday, December 3, 2015

Dorothy Parker Drank Here: A Novel by Ellen Meister

Dorothy Parker Drank Here: A Novel.  Ellen Meister. Penguin Group (USA). February 2015. 336 pp.  ISBN#: 9780399166877.

One finds a very special book in the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan in 2007.  The signatures of famous writers and artists are listed and those who sign it get to stick around their earthly life, in Spirit that is, as long as they wish until they yield to the “white light” awaiting their final entry and promising peace and love with those who have gone before them.  It’s hard to resist that light for most of those entered on that list, but Dorothy Parker has no problem with that.  She’s fiercely focused to stick around forever.  When the book is closed, no one can see her; when the book is open, she can be seen and even felt by the observer. Her signature in the book guarantees her permanent residence at the famous hotel and free drinks in the bargain.  Now, she’s on a mission!

Norah Wolfe is an assistant producer for a declining, actually failing, TV show, thinks if she can get an interview with Ted Shriver, a 1970s famous author who is now a recluse, the TV show will be saved.  Ted Shriver, however, is dying of a brain tumor and still punishing himself for his behavior that led his ex-wife to insert plagiarized paragraphs into Shriver’s last published novel, which all but destroyed his literary fame.  He knows Audrey Shriver did the dastardly deed out of pure, unadulterated hate because of his adultery but he refuses to make that information public.

This then is the plot line – to get Ted to expose Audrey in public, on air in Norah’s show.  He’s not buying.  It also turns out he could save himself with some risky brain surgery but he’s not buying that either. 

While the plot is simple, what really makes this novel funny and special are the multiple scenes with fanciful, ironic, and spirited dialogue between Dorothy, Ted, Norah, and later Audrey and her friend.  Dorothy’s sense of humor is droll but comic.  She’s a better investigator than Norah and Dorothy has a keen perception of what to say and do at just the right moment.  The outcome, however, is far from what is expected.  Intriguing indeed!

Dorothy Parker Drank Here: A Novel is a grand read created by a clever, talented writer, Ellen Meister, whose novel is, again, a reader’s delight!  Great read!

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