Though recommended by the tipsy authors, I never filled a glass while reading this book and my favorite chair was my morning throne, with the sun or cloud cover lighting the pages—but for a couple of weeks, this was my reveille, because my soul rises to meetings with intriguing women and intelligent literature, and I got my daily dosage each time I re-opened Drinking with Dead Women Writers.
First of all, Elaine Ambrose and AK Turner must be commended for the concept and title—and who knows how many books never make it past the edge of the shelf because of uninspiring covers. This book looks great and feels good in the hands.
Whether contrived or not, all of AK Turner’s stories are written in the present, while Ambrose meets her spectres at a time already locked into the past. These playful rendezvoux take the reader alternately across the mist of time. Turner successfully plays with our suspension of disbelief, because we want desperately to believe that Virginia Woolf is here with us, hair still wet as though she just arrived from her dip in the river. Her women are in the flesh. We are at the table when Dorothy Parker tells Turner to drink up, and we feel woozy after the second bottle is gone.
Elaine Ambrose passes through that mist away from us and keeps her writers where they rightfully belong—dead and buried—they are shades who beckon her to a contemporary meeting place but we get the story after the curtain has closed again behind her. When Edna St. Vincent Millay tossed the cork over the banister, we could all appreciate it as we would a bard’s tale—but we didn’t get to smell the cork. When Ambrose sweated and drank margueritas with Erma Bombeck in the Old Town Tortilla Factory, the reader enjoys one funny woman with another as through an open window to a dream. Was it yesterday that Louisa May Alcott ranted about toy mice wearing Civil War costumes? Seventy-five years ago? Ambrose keeps her dead women at bay from us—she is allowed intimacy and shares it with us, but we are distanced and we have no illusions about the dead being dead. This is delightful fantasy.
Ambrose’s humor and Turner’s straight man-with-a-prod quips keep the chortles coming, and I can only holler for more. Drinking with Dead Women Writers should have a place under the Christmas tree for any lover of literature.
The book can be found at Amazon or go to www.MillParkPublishing.com.