introducing readers to writers since 1995

April 02, 2004

Soup and Guinness Served Separately

by Ron Hogan

matzo.gifDocumentary filmmaker Laurie Gwen Shapiro moonlights as a novelist, or maybe it's the other way around. Anyway, I was at the Astor Place B&N to listen to her read from her second novel, The Matzo Ball Heiress. It's the latest example of "chick lit" specialist Red Dress Ink's steady improvement in the quality of its titles. (Not that there weren't a lot of gems in the imprint's first two years; there were, but some were gems in the rough.) As you'd expect from somebody whose debut got noticed by folks like Ruth Ozeki and Tom Perrotta, Shapiro's got the total package--character, plot, and voice--wrapped up pretty neatly, and it showed in the passages she read Thursday night which (a) explained the four ways a prosciutto-and-Swiss panini is a decidedly treyf Passover meal and (b) captured a 17-year-old stoner's dismay at discovering Hunter S. Thompson is old enough to be his dad.

bombshell.gifAt the after-party a few blocks away, as guests drank Guinness and ate matzo ball soup from the 2nd Avenue Deli, I chatted with Shapiro's Red Dress Ink compatriot Lynda Curnyn, who had just received a finished copy of her latest novel, Bombshell, which has her best cover yet. (I have to admit I'm also wild about Shapiro's cover, with that facial expression that reminds me of my long-lost copy of Coffee, Tea, or Me?) We talked about her gradual adjustment to writing fulltime after having done her first books around a day job at Harlequin and about what's she working on now: a few short stories for various anthologies and a murder mystery. She also had good things to say about another upcoming Red Dress title, Michael Weinreb's short story collection Girl Boy Etc.. (I've got an advance copy, so we'll see how it fares soon enough...)


You do know that COFFEE, TEA OR ME? was reissued in trade pb last year. I picked up a copy and enjoyed it a lot, though because the reissued version is extremely upfront about being ghostwritten (by Donald Bain, who's ghosted for quite a few folks) I kind of treated it as fiction. Fun stuff.

Posted by: Sarah at April 2, 2004 08:26 AM
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