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.