Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"Love Sold Separately"

Ellen Meister's books include Dorothy Parker Drank Here (2015), Farewell, Dorothy Parker (2013), The Other Life (2011), The Smart One (2008) and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA (2006), as well as numerous essays and short stories. She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education, mentors emerging authors, lectures on Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, and does public speaking about her books and other writing-related topics. Meister is the voice of Dorothy Parker on her hugely popular Facebook page.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Love Sold Separately, and reported the following:
In Love Sold Separately, a down-on-her luck aspiring actor named Dana Barry gets an opportunity for fame and fortune as the host of a Shopping Channel show. Dana, who can be impulsive and self-sabotaging, is about to sign the contract when she notices an alarming clause. Apparently, if she takes the job she’s going to have to give up performing on stage with her acting troupe, Sweat City.

When she brings it up to her manager, who is also her best friend, they have this exchange:
“Sorry, hon. It’s nonnegotiable.”

“When were you going to tell me?”


“I’m serious, Megan. Were you going to let me sign this and not find out until it was too late?”

“I’m looking out for you.”

Dana’s eyes burned as she stared, stung by the betrayal. “So you’re my mother now? I thought you were my friend.”

“I’m your manager.”

Dana grabbed the stack of contracts from her. “Not anymore.”
The argument continues until her manager finally spells it out:
“It’s an experimental theater group that’s going nowhere and will get you nothing. In a typical year, how many people see your performances there? A hundred? A hundred and twenty? And most of them are related to the actors. It’s a sweet little group of friends, but don’t kid yourself. Sweat City is not launching careers, it’s holding them back.”

“But that’s my decision, not yours.”

“Don’t do this, Dana. Don’t blow everything for this useless little group.”

“Useless?” Dana could hardly believe what she was hearing. She knew her group did good work, knew they were some of the most talented actors she had ever met.

“You know what I mean,” Megan said. “I get it. It’s fun. It’s enriching…”

“It’s art,” Dana said.
This all happens on page 69, and it gets to the very heart of Dana’s character, showing her impulsivity, but at the same time, her dedication to acting and her loyalty to her fellow thespians. Dana is not in it for the fame. If she was, the Shopping Channel gig would be a slam dunk. So yes, page 69 illustrates the internal struggle that drives of narrative of this Shopping Channel murder mystery.
Visit Ellen Meister's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dorothy Parker Drank Here.

--Marshal Zeringue