"THINK LIKE a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail," says Oprah.
I'VE HAD a crush on the actor Denis Leary ever since I met him backstage one night at Carnegie Hall.
Now I've developed a crush on his writer wife, Ann Leary. She refers to herself like this: "I'm a celebrity wife, for God's sake. I wouldn't want to read the novel of a celebrity wife!"
But I did want to read Ann's new novel -- "The Good House" -- and sure enough it landed on the best-seller list and, in my opinion, is the 'must read' of the month.
Writer Leary has a heroine you'll never forget. Hildy is a 50-ish, semi-successful realtor in a small New England town. And Hildy is a "secret" alcoholic. At least her love of a glass or two of wine, or a whole bottle from a stash in the basement, keeps her thinking of herself and her "problem" as secret. I hate giving too much away in writing about a new work of fiction and suffice it to say, Hildy is descended from a line of Salem witches. She has a gift for self-analysis that borders on the hysterical and her description of her divorced and gay ex-husband and her two daughters making an "intervention" in her life, is priceless. Ann Leary's fascinating inner dialogue demands attention and you never know where Hildy's thoughts will take you. "The Good House" offers a number of fascinating characters and smart plot moves that continually surprise. The book is from St. Martin's Press.
The author already gave a big interview to the New York Times Fashion and Style section, conducted by Judith Newman, on Feb. 1, and I can't improve on that.
I was struck by this quote from Tribeca Productions' Jane Rosenthal, who has already optioned the book for a movie. "Oh, Meryl should be Hildy, of course!" But, of course. Still, don't wait for the movie. You need to read this novel about a woman operating at full speed, drinking -- usually alone but sometimes with others, insisting she doesn't have "a problem" but knowing she does.
It was refreshing to read a description of Ann Leary by another writer, Julie Klam, who calls her "pathologically modest."
The humor in this serious fiction is quite outstanding and I don't want you to miss it. And, how about the rest of the wine in that bottle?
I AM still recovering from my shared Feb. 2 birthday dinner with the great actress Elaine Stritch. I was drinking; she wasn't. (She is as pure as the driven slush!) But Elaine was really on a tear and she seems determined to go live in Birmingham, Mich., when she isn't acting and singing -- against all my expert advice.
If you would enjoy viewing this 88-year-old talent on theater, music, show biz and romance -- tune in to "Theater Talk" on Channel 13, New York's PBS station, where she'll be appearing with music director Rob Bowman and actor Hunter Ryan Herdlicka for a rollicking interview.
It runs Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m., Feb. 17 at 12:30 p.m., Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m., and other times, too, but I'm getting tired of typing. (Oh, about the "romance" -- for years in my youth, I inherited many of Elaine's boyfriends who had discovered that, though she adored them, she couldn't go "all the way" because of her religion. I had a very good time with Elaine's discards and made some valuable friends. This makes her furious!)
In the New York Port Authority, they were giving out cards and chocolates the other morning that signaled a new novel titled "Secret." (Of course, promoters say that this is the new "50 Shades of Grey.")
The card urged us to go right to SecretNovels.com and enter a New Orleans Girls Weekend Sweepstakes that would take you free to the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter where you could take part in FestiGals. To get in on this, you needn't buy anything, but go to http://www.readitforward.com/2013/02/14/secret-new-orleans-girls-weekend-sweepstakes/.
Does anyone have time to do all this? I guess so.
But I don't have a robot yet and I have to go do the dishes.
NICK SYMMONDS is one of the hottest (in every way) runners in the world. He is the five-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian in the 800-meters. Last summer Nick attempted to court Paris Hilton. (He even sent a note asking her father's "permission.") Things didn't get too far -- lucky for Nick.
Recently, he's been in New York to run in the Millrose Games track meet -- he is aiming for his sixth U.S. title. He is also aiming to connect with supermodel Michelle Vawer. Ever the gent, he sent her a note to join him at dinner at Frank Sinatra's legendary Italian hangout, Patsy's. No word yet if Michelle broke her diet.
Nick is a "handsomer, younger version of Brad Pitt." Oh, come on Michelle, loosen that Versace, and mangia!
Oh, and Nick has also recorded a strong pro-gay message, one of the few sports stars to take this brave step.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)