I’m excited to share my story for The New Yorker on how I helped bring Dorothy Parker back to NYC.

The Improbable Journey of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes

Dorothy ParkerOn February 6, 1965, Dorothy Parker signed her last will and testament in her small suite at the Volney Hotel, on East Seventy-fourth Street, in Manhattan. A friend named Pauline Kraft signed as a witness, as did an employee at the Volney named Richard M. Moyer. Parker’s French poodle, Troy—short for Troisième, because she was the third of her litter—was by her side. Her second husband, the writer and actor Alan Campbell, had died two years earlier, of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. Parker was seventy-one, small and thin with big dark eyes, and suffered from a weak heart, bursitis, and reduced eyesight. Widowed, with no heirs, she had spent months mulling what to do with her estate. After her debts were paid, her assets amounted to some twenty thousand dollars, but her estate also included future royalties and licensing fees for her body of literary work, which was substantial.

Read the full story at NewYorker.com

Big News: Viking Welcomes Shapiro’s ‘Amelia’

From Publishers Weekly, Oct 11, 2019

Viking Welcomes Shapiro’s ‘Amelia’

After a five-house auction, Emily Wunderlich at Viking won a narrative nonfiction book titled Amelia and George for a rumored mid-six-figure sum. The author, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, was represented in the North American rights deal by Peter Steinberg at Foundry Literary + Media. The title documents the decade-long relationship between Amelia Earhart and George Palmer Putnam (a publishing magnate) and focuses not on the whereabouts of her plane but on why she died. As Steinberg explained, the book shows that her death was caused, in part, by “her clandestine lover turned husband’s disregard of danger in the face of maintaining financial success during the Great Depression.” Steinberg added that he feels the book will “change history’s view on Amelia Earhart’s life and death.” Shapiro is a documentary filmmaker.

That Day I Went Time Capsule Hunting in City College

As a lifelong Lower East Sider, there are swaths of northern Manhattan that were once undiscovered to me, like the 35-acre City College of New York campus in Hamilton Heights. I had read that the college’s Gothic revival buildings were filled with gargoyles and grotesques that evoke a “Noo Yawk” version of Oxbridge, where even Harry Potter might feel at home. It was long on my New York bucket list.

Recently, Untapped Cities was offered a glimpse into many of the secrets of the Hamilton Heights campus, including forgotten tunnels and bell towers. On a simmering weekday evening in July when students were out of session, we were greeted by the 138th Street and Amsterdam Avenue gate by 25-year-old Dalton Whiteside, a cheery City College alum and enthusiast, in a straw hat and snappy outfit that suggested he was a time traveler from another century.

Continue reading at Untapped Cities


Please save June 12 for a really special event I think will sell out!

As a Dorothy Parker fanatic all my life I am beyond excited – the first poems I ever memorized were by her. (She was my mom’s favorite writer too.)

This summer the Algonquin is celebrating the Centennial of the Algonquin Round Table (was on Jeopardy! last night!) – five New Yorkers have been selected to have a talk – representing writing, music, comedy, history, and poker. Holy shit I’m representing writing. And I’m first up on June 12!!! WHAT?!

There will be a page launched by the Algonquin on June 5th with a link for Open Table for my friends and the public to reserve a spot in the Round Table Room for dinner. It’s limited to 30, so people should act fast. It’s a special menu, so it’s around $50 or so, plus drinks. The person who has arranged this wonderful celebration thinks it will sell out.

The schedule is:

  • 6:00 cocktails at the Round Table
  • 6:30 seat for dinner
  • 7:30-8:00 dessert and Round Table talk

Guests must have dinner reservations. You can’t come and sit at a table and drink water; but there is no ticket to attend.

My talk will be around 30 minutes. It will go to around 830-ish.

Just giving a heads up to those who are planners! June 5 is the date to book when the link will go live after heavy promotion! Put in calendar. My date again is June 12.

P.S. Nobody really knows the exact date of the 1st Round Table lunch; it wasn’t written in a newspaper like the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s generally known to be the first week of June 1919, when Woollcott returned from France.

My birthday is in early July so if anyone wants to give me a great early birthday gift please come – Did I mention I’m beyond excited??? IMPOSTER SYNDROME STARTS NOW!

New Yorkers in the house? – PAPERBACK LAUNCH – Save the date


Join me Tuesday February 19 – 730 pm ( to about 9) for a celebration of the paperback edition of The Stowaway in the very lush Kgb Bar’s Red Room (85 East 4th, East Village) (Have you ever seen this room above the regular room we associate with KGB – so divine!) My launch night is part of THE LAST TABOOS series hosted by debonair author Tony Perrottet! Alcohol, exotic dancing, live jazz. More details and event FB Page to come. No cover – just come. (Paperback is out January 1, 2019) (YAY!)

Who says a Lower East Side subway rider can’t get profiled by the internet’s oldest nature magazine? An interview with me at Terrain!

Lost Stories: An Interview with Laurie Gwen Shapiro

I met Laurie Gwen Shapiro in Northern California one fall evening. In a cozy courtyard on the University of California-Berkeley campus, I was chatting with an editor from The New Yorker when, mid-conversation, we got interrupted by a dark-haired woman.

When I learned she was writing about a teenager who stowed away on a 1928 expedition to the Antarctic, I forgave her interruption. I love a good adventure story to remote places, and the unbelievable tale of how teenager Billy Gawronski jumped into the Hudson River to sneak aboard Rear Admiral Richard Byrd’s ship triggered my imagination.

Read the full interview here

My featured piece for Lapham’s Quarterly, my favorite history magazine

The Little Mayors of the Lower East Side

My ninety-seven-year-old father Julius recently amazed me by describing how, when he was hungry during the Great Depression, he would get an occasional free slice of salami from Izzy Pinkowitz, the “official” mayor of East Broadway, who happened to own the Hebrew National sausage factory on his Lower East Side block. How official? “Back then it was official,” he answered, after finishing his favorite old-fashioned cookie, the chocolate-covered Mallomar. “Look into it if you are so curious. The old street mayors of New York would make a good story.”

Father knows best. It is a good story.

Read the full story at Lapham’s Quarterly