My Lunch With Leslie and Lesley

By Neal Comment

When I first came up with the idea of inviting Leslie Schnur and Lesley Dormen out together, I just thought that the similar first names would make for a cute gimmick on which to hook an item, but the two authors ended up having much more in common. Within five minutes of sitting down for lunch Monday, they had discovered that they’d grown up within thirty miles of each other in Ohio and took turns commiserating that neither had heard about the Jewish Book Council auditions before last weekend’s NYTBR story.


The two continued to compare notes on the life cycles of their recently published books. Schnur (left) admitted that even with her pre-authorial career as the former editor-in-chief of Delacorte and Dell, she was occasionally caught off guard, but she also agreed with Dormen that by not publishing until this moment in their lives, they were able to manage their expectations somewhat more realistically. “I don’t need to be a #1 bestseller,” Schnur quipped about her new novel, Late Night Talking, “but I’d like to be a #21 bestseller.” Dormen was even more modest in her aspirations for the linked story collection The Best Place to Be, concentrating on literary regard. “It seems like total serendipity if that intersects with a cultural moment,” she reflected, “but the cultural moment is Devil Wears Prada, and that’s not what I’m writing.”