Pick Your Poison

I’ve been writing books set in the 1920s, and reading books written in the 1920s. Do you know that Anita Loos’ book Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was considered the definitive description of the Flapper and the tempestuous Twenties? Something got lost in the Marilyn Monroe/Jane Russell movie translation. Apparently adhering to the dubious and decadent mores of the Jazz Age did not fly in strict 1950s Hollywood, and they swept most of the naughtiness under the rug.

Edith Wharton called GPB “the great American novel.” I love Edith, though I really can’t say I agree. I found it too silly, and I generally like silly. But more people read it than The Great Gatsby. It was wildly popular, even syndicated as a cartoon in newspapers for a couple of years. All sorts of serious people praised it, including Faulkner, Huxley, and Joyce, which makes me scratch my head.

Most writers who made their names in the 20s leave me somewhat perplexed anyway. Fitzgerald and Hemingway are probably the most famous, and deeply flawed as human beings, if not as writers. I know, who am I to judge? The nerve! No one will ever teach a course on my books/write doctoral dissertations/make film adaptations not only of my novels but my LIFE, LOL.

But I don’t plan to follow their footsteps and day-drink. I am in absolute awe that some authors can write more or less coherently with alcohol at hand to get the creativity flowing. I’d have to nap before I finished typing a page.

The 20s are particularly known for new cocktails, and the excessive drinking thereof. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was bubbling with champagne on every page. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald had careless bad-boy Tom Buchanan serve his guests Gin Rickeys, easy enough for the Buchanan butler to make. He’d take a highball glass filled with ice, 2 ounces gin, ½ ounce lime juice, and top it off with club soda and a couple of lime slices. Sounds refreshing but tart, in which case a smidge of simple syrup can be added.

As a writer, the Last Word cocktail intrigues me: take 2 oz. gin, 1 oz. green chartreuse, 1 oz. maraschino liqueur, 1 oz lime juice, shake together with ice, then pour into a coupe glass. Drop in a brandied cherry. I might not speak for a while.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have none of these ingredients, or a butler, and you remember my nap situation. What does keep me going? It’s not coffee. I usually have one cup when I wake up, and that’s it. There is a lovely tea station in the kitchen, currently with six kinds of caffeinated and decaffeinated tea bags and loose tea. But most of the time I forget it’s there, which is sad, since I can see the counter from my desk chair. (Look at that cute pink teapot!) I go through several bottles of cold water during the day, and sometimes indulge in a real Coke at lunchtime. Coca Cola is probably my favorite beverage. No wonder they’re not making a movie about me. B-O-R-I-N-G.

So, it’s Coke and bottled water for me. Tea, coffee, or do you need something else to power your day?

Maggie Robinson’s latest mystery is Farewell Blues, named as a BookBub reader favorite for October.

For more information, please visit her website.




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14 Responses to Pick Your Poison

  1. kaitlynkathy says:

    Coffee in the morning for me, orange juice with lunch, and then usually a cup of green tea in the afternoon. I’m trying to drink more water, but I don’t always remember. I drink milk with my supper and the occasional diet root beer or ginger ale. I can only imagine what garbage I’d write if I had a beer or mixed drink in hand! I’m loopy enough sober.

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I can only drink milk with cookies or cake, and I try (unsuccessfully) to not have cookies and cake!

  2. Kay Garrett says:

    I’m a Diet Pepsi person – morning, noon and night. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I believe there are 2 kinds of people in the world–Coke people and Pepsi people. My husband always says no when asked in a restaurant, “Is Pepsi okay?” LOL.

  3. susanvaughan says:

    Decaf for me in the morning, two cups. I can’t take caffeine at any time of the day or I don’t sleep. Water, like you, through the day. I do like a cocktail in the evening, something simpler than those 20’s drinks.

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I know! I’m not a measurer. I imagine if one was already under the influence, the recipes would go out the window anyway. Straight gin! This is why one needs a butler.

  4. A few years ago, at a reception for authors appearing at the Boston Book Festival, the signature cocktail was a Peartini. Delicious. I now make my own version with pear vodka, St. Germain and lots of fresh lime juice. I believe there is supposed to be simple syrup, but I skip that step. I can affirm that drinking one makes you want to drink two, and that would certainly be lights out. Speaking of drinking, it took me years to learn the Dorothy Parker rhyme about martinis, which goes something like this:

    One’s not enough
    Two at the most
    Three I’m under the table
    Four I’m under the host

    Naughty, naughty.


    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I love Dorothy! I discovered pear cider in the UK and it is absolutely delicious. This peartini thing sounds excellent.

  5. This is so amazing because I am, at this very moment, reading Anita Loos’s autobiography! So fascinating.

  6. Alice says:

    What an enjoyable post! Drinks for me are lots of water, decaf or herbal teas.

  7. Art Taylor says:

    I agree on Gentleman Prefer Blondes! I tried to read it last year and just found so much of it silly, as you said—and I was surprised as well by both the popularity and the high praise during the era when it was published. Scratching my head right there with you.

    As for drinks, I’m coffee in the morning, tea early to mid-afternoon, and then a cocktail at 5. And I *do* have all those ingredients!

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I think Anita was very lucky with her friends. She knew everybody that was anybody.

      I must say since I wrote this post I’ve tried to drink a cup of tea every afternoon. Soon I’ll be talking with an English accent. 🙂

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