Sterling's new book and gelatin salads from 'Mad Men' [Updated]
Roger Sterling's book "Sterling's Gold: Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man," is coming to a real bookstore, it was announced Tuesday. The book was a part of the recently concluded fourth season of the show "Mad Men."
The fact that Sterling is a fictional character portrayed by the Emmy-nominated John Slattery was not an obstacle to publisher Grove/Atlantic (although the rights were a bit tricky). Slattery, Grove/Atlantic chief Morgan Entrekin says, "gets all the good lines."
Those lines include such classics as "Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons, and eventually they hit you in the face" and "When God closes a door, he opens a dress."
And that's pretty much what you'll find in the book -- Sterling's choice lines from the show in a slim 176 pages. The book isn't a memoir, Sterling's silver-plated past won't be explored. The introduction, penned in fact by show creator Matt Weiner, explains: "I'm not a writer. On some level, that's a point of pride because it steered me away from the cliche of autobiography. I had no desire to waste your and my time trying to turn a list of events into a campaign of triumph."
It's interesting that a show as textured and detailed as "Mad Men" goes for such a light treatment. Couldn't we have been as excited about a Roger Sterling memoir as a collection of Roger Sterling bon mots? Does it mean that we collectively can't believe that TV watchers aren't readers, or that readers aren't TV watchers? Or is it simply that it takes a lot of time to write a book -- more time than the TV writers and publishers could find?
Not that there's anything wrong with a lighthearted TV tie-in, especially one as charming as "Mad Men: The Illustrated World," which arrived in my office not quite in time to catch the end of the television season and is in stores now. Created by illustrator Dyna Moe (get it?) it's an official "Mad Men" book, with illustrated, half-silly riffs on midcentury office life, hairstyles, interior design and fashion. Can you say Joan Harris paper doll? I knew you could.
"Mad Men: The Illustrated World" crosses the line from fiction into reality too, but in a more recognizable way. It includes stories from actor Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) on how he learned to tie a bow tie and Bryan Batt (Salvatore Romano) on getting the perfect '60s-era couch.
It also has some helpful hints: how to take the commuter train home from New York City, how to pick up a stewardess, and how to throw an election-night party. There are several recipes -- including lots and lots and lots of cocktail recipes -- and sometimes the strangeness of the food calls for plenty of liquor.
For example, if you're hoping to throw a party Tuesday to watch the 2010 election returns, you could celebrate 1964 style with this:
Vienna Sausages with Dipping Sauce
1 cup red currant jelly
1 cup yellow mustard
1 5-ounce can Vienna sausages
In a saucepan on low heat, stir together jelly and mustard until the mix is a smooth consistency. It's your choice to heat the sausages or serve cold, but always serve dipping sauce warm.
[For the record at 4:20 p.m., Oct 28: An earlier version of this post said Tuesday's election returns will be for 2008. ]
Astonishingly, I have eaten this dish, recently (with sausages that were shrink-wrapped, not canned) and -- yes -- served it to guests. Some of whom even knew what the ingredients were. Everyone agreed: It's kind of good. Honestly. It's enough to make me want to try the Steak Diane or Peas with Bacon -- if not Betty Draper's Garden Jewels Loaf gelatin salad.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: John Slattery as Roger Sterling in "Mad Men." Credit: AMC / Associated Press