"Dorothy Parker Drank Here" is replete with the celebrated flapper-journalist's acid wit, sharp tongue and legendary one-liners.
Ellen Meister's re-creation of Parker, the Algonquin Round Table's best-loved member, began with Meister's 2013 novel "Farewell, Dorothy Parker." This latest offering, a prequel, again showcases the writer's wit — as in, "I was almost happy once. But then we ran out of gin." It illuminates, too, Parker's wisdom about the human condition.
As the novel opens, Dorothy has been long dead, haunting the halls of New York's historic Algonquin Hotel, gin and tonic in hand, searching for someone who will keep her company. She finds just the person — Ted Shriver, once a brilliant literary figure whose reputation has been irrevocably tarnished by a plagiarism scandal. Dorothy claims he was once a drinking buddy who interviewed her for an Atlantic Monthly article. Now, slowly dying of cancer, Ted lives the life of a recluse in a room at the Algonquin.
Meanwhile, Norah Wolfe, an ambitious TV producer, has been trying to locate Shriver for a documentary. She and the ghostly Dorothy join forces to rescue Ted from certain death.
Meister took on a daunting task in this book, and some readers will find she did not quite accomplish it. While witty, her magical realism approach does not quite succeed.
Katherine Bailey is a book critic in Bloomington.