Stephanie Danler’s 2016 debut novel, Sweetbitter, is a fictionalized account of the author’s post-grad years, when she waitressed at an upscale restaurant in New York. A best-seller that came with a hefty advance, the book allowed Danler, then 31, to write full time. The result is a memoir called Stray, out this month. The book is about the years that followed Sweetbitter, but it also dips back into the past to explore the author’s childhood in Los Angeles, where she grew up with her mother, an alcoholic, and then her father, who struggled with cocaine addiction—hence Danler’s adult tendency towards self-destruction. In this online conversation, Lisa Taddeo—whose best-selling debut, 2019’s Three Women, explores similar themes—speaks with Danler about her latest. —C.J.F.
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