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Elaine's: The Rise of One of New York's Most Legendary Restaurants from Those Who Were There Hardcover – June 9, 2015
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"Restaurants are places to eat, but some few restaurants are about much more than food. Elaine’s, for decades a fixture on New York City’s Upper East Side, attracted crowds of celebrities from the entertainment industry as well as wannabes and people who simply craved proximity to the famous. George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, Elaine Stritch, and Woody Allen all hung out there. Paparazzi hovered at the restaurant’s front door to capture candid shots of actors and writers coming and going. At the restaurant’s center, the incomparable, tart-tongued owner, Elaine Kaufman, held forth, hopping from table to table and even eating off her customers’ plates. Her jealous regard for customers’ privacy made Elaine’s a relatively safe haven. Penn has collected reminiscences of Elaine’s from folks who made it a sort of second home. Their anecdotes give the rest of us brief access into the orbit of the notorious even when their stories reveal more about the storyteller than about Elaine’s and its denizens." Booklist
About the Author
Liz Smith is a popular gossip columnist also known as the Grand Dame of Dish. Her work has appeared in the New York Daily News, Newsday, New York Post, and Chicago Tribune. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Natural Blonde.
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ELAINE'S is a trip: to the remarkable alchemy of a fabulous joint that Elaine Kaufman created on 2nd Ave. and 88th. Amy and her fellow sharers evoke the madly unique experience—and character—that was Elaine. I’m particularly struck by the strong sense of family that people who were a part of it all felt in her establishment, in her presence—one and the same, I guess--and the many mentions of how she changed people’s lives. Elaine had a habit of encouraging writers and running tabs for them while seeing that the very well-to-do paid their fair share. Not a bad legacy for a tough broad who was able to punch guys in the face, give beautiful women the cold shoulder and expel the likes of Geraldo while sticking up for the little guy. The place was glamorous as hell, but also a neighborhood haven for the brilliant and gifted...and the rest of us. It was the Democratic Republic of Elaine's. Amy Penn, with considerable insight and pizzazz, brings the magic to us on a platter.
It's not a coffee table book . It for the night table .
Happy Dreaming , Catherine Gropper
I don't understand some of the reviews of this book. I think they were looking for Everyone Comes to Elaine's, or similar. This book isn't that, but it doesn't pretend to be. It's simply a collection of people's memories of Elaine/Elaine's. Some friends of the authors, some high society, some celebs. A good, quick read.
I enjoyed most of the regular people's stories more than the celebs, although the ones that involved Norman Mailer and Gay Talese were great. There were many phases to Elaine's. A living landmark for so many years in uncharted territory for both women restaurant owners and for a restaurant in this location.
It's sad that it had to close, but there was no Elaine's without Elaine. Still makes me sad to walk past it.
But NOTHING truly captures the spirit of Elaine's like this book. Of course there is one HUGE drawback: while right sized for most of my reading, it's half of what I would Iike to read by the inhabitants of Elaine's world in this essay based chapter by different writers. Where to start: Keith Hernandez in the restroom? No that's too sensational. How about the patron who Elaine helped through the death of his wife. No, not humorous enough even though it does show the true Elaine. How about Elaine in Europe? NOW we're talking!!! Total comedy, pandemonium and shenanigans much to the chagrin of travel companion Jessica Burstein. Still Elaine Madsen probably encapsulates it best with Elaine's quote, "I'm a f'ing legend". Yes, she knew it.
Read this book to know a flavor of NYC, the culture of famous writers, the 60s through the 90s, celebrities. No, no, no. Read this book to receive a touch of Elaine and Elaine's. THAT is the gift and well worth it where this book and these writers try to convey their luck at being invited to Elaine's party. Even if she did eat off their plate and then charge them.