The escargot did not disappoint.

They were served six to a plate at the restaurant inside the Famous Palace Hotel, each snail swimming in a pool of melted butter and garlic.

They had been seated, Marie and Caitlin and her movie star, beneath a chandelier in the center of the dining room. Marie wore the new clothes the movie star had bought her, a black halter top from Chanel, new jeans without holes in the knees, a pair of high heeled sandals. Marie hadn’t felt the specific need for new clothes, but he had made the offer when they were shopping for Caitlin, and Marie accepted.

“Do you want to try one?” Marie asked Eli Longworth, ridiculously pleased with her food. She was surprised by her impulse to share when she knew, instinctively, that she wanted every escargot for herself, and then, even more.

Eli Longworth shook his head.

“I dig France,” he said. “But not snails. They are like sea bugs. Gross. But you enjoy.”

Marie thought of the French actress. Degoutant, that was what she had said about Americans eating hot dogs. Lili Gaudet could keep her Benoît Doniel. They could rot together in their shared grief. Marie smiled at her movie star; he did not seem particularly smart. She ate another escargot. She broke off a piece of French bread and dipped it into the sauce.

It was a delicious dinner, one of her very best. Marie had also ordered the lobster bisque and the hangar steak, which was still to come. A tuxedoed waiter regularly refilled her glass of champagne. Marie gazed at the beautiful people in the restaurant. Marie was one of the beautiful people. She smiled at a roving photographer who passed by. She ran her hand through Caitlin’s white-blond hair.

“I love them,” Marie said. “Escargot. I do.”

“Order more,” the movie star said. “This restaurant is awesome,” he said. “You look awesome.”

Marie wondered, idly, what it would be like, having sex with Eli Longworth, with his long legs and his perfect teeth. Marie also wished she had not ordered an entrée. Her thoughts had drifted, already, to dessert, to the chocolate mousse that would end the meal.

“Hi Caitlin.”

“Hi Marie.”

“Hi Kit-Kat.”

“Hi Marie.”

“Hi Caty Bean.”

“Hi,” the movie star said, amused, “hello,” but really he had nothing worth contributing to the conversation.

“Soon we are going to have chocolate mousse,” Marie told Caitlin. “You love chocolate mousse.”

“I love chocolate moose,” Caitlin repeated.

Caitlin clapped her hands. She was grinning, swinging her chubby legs, bouncing them off her thick wooden chair.

This was how it was supposed to be, Caitlin and Marie, happy, pleased with each other, with the food before them, with whatever life offered next.

“You need to try the crème brule,” the movie star said. He ordered that, too.

Marie did like the crème brule, though not nearly as much as the chocolate mousse. She happily ate both desserts, drinking champagne between every bite. It was not much of a sacrifice. Marie returned her fingers to Caitlin’s hair, closing her eyes, content.

“We are having fun,” Marie said.

This was what tomorrow looked like.

TAGS: , ,

MARCY DERMANSKY is a novelist, film critic, and avid swimmer.

Her second novel BAD MARIE (Harper Perennial) is out now, released this July. Hailed by the Nervous Breakdown’s own Gina Frangello as “genuinely sexy, dark and subversive but also freaking weirdly hilarious,” BAD MARIE has been selected as a Barnes and Noble Fall 2010 Discover Great New Writers pick.

Marcy’s first novel TWINS (2005) was a New York Times Editors Choice Pick: “A brainy, emotionally sophisticated bildungsroman-for-two.” Years later, readers continue to write Marcy about the ending, wanting to know if Chloe made the basket.

Marcy’s short fiction has been published widely, including McSweeney’s, Indiana Review, Mississippi Review and Fifty-Two Stories.

She serves as a board member of the online literary community Fictionaut and is a film critic for About.com. She lives in Astoria, NY with her husband, writer Jürgen Fauth, and their daughter Nina.

18 responses to “An Excerpt from Bad Marie

  1. Jessica Blau says:

    Very intriguing–I look forward to reading the whole book!

    You know, a while back I was in the HarperCollins offices with my daughter, Ella, and my editor, Kate, handed her a copy of TWINS. Ella has read it maybe THREE times. It’s her favorite book. I have been meaning to read it and will do so now!

  2. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Marcy, Good of you to give us tomorrow, because I now have to know all about today. Your style is artful and surprising, I like the way this piece moves. Looking forward to reading more.

  3. Jessica — I love this story, thanks. It makes me so happy to know that your daughter has read and reread TWINS. I have read and loved The SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES.

    Thanks, Lisa, for your beautiful comment. Tomorrow, it’s usually comes as a big relief. To me, at least.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      Ah, lovely–thanks for reading Naked Swim!

      You know I just went up to Ella’s room to find TWINS and it is gone, so I’m fairly certain she took it with her (she’s gone for two weeks). She is an odd little human–when she loves a book she rereads it over and over again, the way people watch movies over and over again. I must tell you, also, that she turned all her friends on to TWINS so you have a nice-sized fan club here in Baltimore!

      • Ella sounds like my favorite kind of odd. That’s how I used to reread books, and actually, there is a book that Marie compulsively rereads in BAD MARIE, called “Virginie at Sea.”

        How fun to have fans in Baltimore!

  4. Erika Rae says:

    You’ve whetted my appetite for more. Plus, I LOVE the title of the book, as I’m sure do the French, as well.

    ( :

  5. Simon Smithson says:

    So Frenchy, so chic!

    You know, I’ve never eaten escargot. I think now, I’ll have to.

    There’s a breezy kind of elegance here, Marcy. Which speaks of either genius, or a lot of craftsmanship put in to make it seem so effortless. Or maybe elements of both.

    Either way, welcome to TNB!

  6. […] about unsympathetic characters, escargot, and her favorite baby nicknames. You can also read an excerpt from Bad Marie, which involves escargot as well. BAD MARIE, […]

  7. Irene Zion says:


    I’m sorry, but you can’t just whet our appetites like this.

  8. Hey Irene,

    It’s all in the book. I continue to regret not posting a big sex scene in a French actresses’s apartment in Paris, but I didn’t want to give the good stuff away.


  9. Marni Grossman says:

    I can’t wait to get the book and read the rest. And really: is there a higher compliment than that?

  10. […] thumbs up, but full review forthcoming. In the meantime, I found an excerpt from her novel over at The Nervous Breakdown. The escargot did not […]

  11. Greg Olear says:

    I started reading your book yesterday and finished it this morning.

    Last night, I had a dream about Marie, although it took place not in Paris but at The Writers Room (like you, I lived with my wife and then-baby in Astoria, and like you, I was a member there). She was showing me a book she liked.

    So: Marie has seeped into my subconscious, and that’s the true sign of a great book, if you ask me.

  12. Wow. You dreamed about Marie. And we have traveled in the same footsteps. Maybe, one day, then, I’ll live in a pretty house somewhere upstate New York. Near a lake. Thanks, Greg!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Now that you mention it, our house is for sale…

      We lived on Crescent St, a few blocks north of Broadway. There’s a coffee shop on the corner of Crescent and 31st St presided over by four Greek brothers who smoke while they cook. Looks like a hole in the wall, but the coffee, French toast, and egg sandwiches are to die for. If you’re in that part of the hood, check it out.

  13. […] Joining me on the docket will be Marcy Dermansky, author of the fantastic Bad Marie (I read it. It really is fantastic.  I’m not saying that just because Gina liked […]

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