By Amy Phillips Penn

I’m thrilled to share that I’m writing a book about Elaine’s for Skyhorse Publishing.

The publishing world is a mystery to me. It’s also an enigma to a myriad of other writers, published or waiting for that perennial big break. Good luck with that.

There are stacks of stories about famous authors being rejected enough times to make wallpaper with their “I’m sorry to inform you” letters who then go on to produce best sellers or win Pulitzers.

It is a mystery indeed, and the more you know, the less you understand it.

Elaine’s, the Upper East Side restaurant and home-away-from-home for celebrities and writers, was as mystifying as getting published.

Getting into Elaine’s was one thing; segueing into her inner circle and the “right” tables was another.

Gaining entrée in itself is a bizarre phenomenon.

You can knock on a lot of doors, kiss a lot of froggy editors, and still the anathema of the “unpublished” is wagging its dog-eared tail at you.

So… from whence did my book offer come?

I write a weekly column for New York Natives.

I have penned box loads of columns over the years, most of them having fun with society and polo.

My column is astutely named “Vintage Gossip,” a New York soupçon of the good, the bad, and the unmentionable, back when.

Elaine’s had it all.

“The first time I met Elaine she scared the s**t out of me, and I don’t scare easily. I’m a New Yorker, after all.”

That’s the first line in my column and it gets even scarier.

The column was illustrated with Elaine holding garbage can tops, as if she was welcoming in the New Year, escorting a persona non grata back to the real world, or preparing for a duel.

Elaine hasn’t haunted me yet for the “scary” attribute, but you just never know.

Instead of the Beetlejuice-meets-Elaine fantasy going viral, I received an email from Nicole Frail, an editor at Skyhorse Publishing.

She asked if I wanted to write a book about Elaine’s.

Writing a column reminds me of an old Rolling Stone’s song, “Yesterday’s Papers.”

As soon as one column goes to print, you mind set bull’s-eyes into the next topic… and the next.

The Elaine’s column was a few weeks back, but boomeranged on in.

Elaine’s was a blast, and Elaine was as mysterious as the writing world.

I said yes.

I hope that Elaine would get a proverbial New York kick out of my future tribute to her. Let’s assume so because haunted garbage can tops aren’t sexy.

Celebrities who haunted Elaine’s, on the other hand, were: Woody Allen – sexy in a Woody Allen kinda way, and then there’s Michael Caine, George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, Val Kilmer, Ford models, and all those New York “social x-rays” gone busty.

Was Elaine’s the perfect hostess? I think not.

There is a mystique of how she handled her customers, which wasn’t exactly with Swiss finishing school etiquette or even New York private school, patent leather polish.

“Elaine learned the art of sucking up to people by insulting them. Elaine was the Toots Shor of the writing world,” says writer Michael M. Thomas, who found Elaine “refreshing.”

A Fort Knox of anecdotes are gold digging on in.

If you have any you’d care to add of your own, just bang the garbage top loudly. We’ll bang ours back.


Featured image courtesy of Static

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