Author: Amy Phillips Penn
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Number of Pages:
How I Got It: from publicist
A tribute to legendary restaurateur Elaine Kaufman and her renowned Manhattan creative melting pot. Elaine’s was a world-famous New York restaurant that became home to writers and celebrities. Owner Elaine Kaufman was known to be “New York feisty,” controversial, often rude, always blunt, with the flare of Gertrude Stein and Dorothy Parker. Elaine was highly respected and also frequently feared, and Elaine’s the restaurant received the public’s love and praise time and time again. Woody Allen held a regular table there, and Elaine’s was even featured in Allen’s Manhattan and Billy Joel’s song “Big Shot.” Throughout the years, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and countless celebrities, politicians, socialites, private eyes, athletes, artists, and the biggest names in Hollywood became Elaine’s regulars. Most emphatically, Elaine’s raison d’être was to nourish “starving writers” with encouragement, introductions to Pulitzer Prize winners, and free food and alcohol. These struggling authors responded to Elaine’s support with profound gratitude. Elaine passed away in 2010, forcing the restaurant manager to close shop shortly after. “There is no Elaine’s without Elaine,” she decreed. However, the memories remain and are recalled by a variety of Elaine’s regulars in this moving, oftentimes amusing, collection of personal essays.
Having never been to New York, my only knowledge of this legendary restaurant is from the Billy Joel song, and having always thought that the artistic salons of Paris and any gatherings of artists always sounded so romantic, I figured that Elaine's would have been my kind of place. Except I probably couldn't have gotten in. Which would have made me want to go there even more. The essays in the book paint a woman who was brash and took no shit, but knew virtually every writer, director, and actor (that was worth knowing) in The Big Apple. This book is (I assume) a wonderful compilation of nostalgia for anyone who had the privilege of meeting Elaine and had the honor of participating in the wonderful going-ons of the restaurant, but for the person who had no such luck, it is the next best thing. Elaine's transports a reader through time and space to New York in the sixties through the aughts, from Club 54 and Andy Warhol to Chris Noth and the The Sopranos, we get to be part of the "in" crowd and hear great stories about the cool kids and the woman they all adored, Elaine Kaufman.
** Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **