Peter Mehlman Signs Book Deal with Bancroft Press

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Peter Mehlman, Emmy Award nominee and former writer for Seinfeld, to make his fiction debut with Bancroft Press.

Peter Mehlman

Peter Mehlman, best known as a Seinfeld writer for the series’ nine-year duration, but also a contributor to the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times Magazine, GQ, Esquire, NPR, Mademoiselle, and many others, has now turned his expert humorist eye to novel writing, and Bancroft Press, one of the country’s leading indie book publishers, has signed him to do a comic novel tentatively titled “Friday Night’s Alright.”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to showcase Peter’s new artistic turn,” says Bancroft publisher Bruce Bortz, who connected with Mehlman through their mutual friend, publicist, Julia Drake of Los Angeles. “Julia sent me the manuscript, which I forced myself to read while my father was dying this past spring, and “Friday Night’s Alright” made me laugh so many times out loud, I knew I couldn’t resist.” The novel follows the story of one middle-aged man from Long Island and his impromptu decision to break out of his “everyday” routine by breaking the law.

“If Seinfeld was a show about nothing,” adds Bortz, “then Mehlman’s new novel is, in some ways, a book about nothing – a hilarious and somewhat quirky page-turner that will have you constantly cocking your head and asking: ‘How’d we get here?’ But, just as soon as you begin wondering where the stories within stories within stories are leading you, Mehlman is right there to draw you back in with a wicked grip. That’s the mark of a truly gifted novelist. Peter’s a master of the webbed story, challenging the traditional Starting Line to Finish Line plot format, and the end result is a series of indelibly interwoven characters, narratives, and comic situations that leave you wishing you could pick up his next novel even as you turn the final page in this one.”

In explaining his turn to novel writing, Mehlman says, “Truthfully, as heady and fantastic an experience as it was, Seinfeld always felt like a pleasant little career detour. ‘Friday Night’s Alright’ is much more in line with my dreams and aspirations than, you know, ‘shrinkage.’ After Seinfeld and my years creating shows at DreamWorks, it was so great to write full sentences again. I was thirty pages in before I realized I was writing a novel. Hard work was never my thing, but I couldn’t stop working on this… that’s how much of a pure joy the whole process was.”

“I’d sent the novel to a few large houses and got incredibly gratifying response – up to the point of actually committing to publishing the novel,” Mehlman recalls. “The future of reading seemed to be in such of flux that one editor confided to me that ‘everyone’s a little scared to commit to anything these days.’ But the first wonderful feature of Bancroft was: Bruce Bortz was in a position to say the word ‘yes.’ Actually, no, that was the second wonderful feature; the first was that everyone at Bancroft saw things in the novel that I never did . . . a true sign that the novel had found a welcoming home.”

Bancroft Press has always made it a policy to seek out authors who challenge traditional conventions, whether in story content or style, and, in Peter Mehlman, it believes it’s found both. “Not only does he challenge conventional character and plot devices by focusing on a family that actually loves each other, but he manages to do so while keeping you on your toes the entire way,” says Bortz. “Of course, it’s hardly surprising that we found such a comic gem coming from the pen of Peter Mehlman. This is, after all, not just the guy who invented such Seinfeld terms, now part of the lexicon, as “yada, yada,” “shrinkage,” and “spongeworthy,” but the writer who helped create the unforgettable scenes in which such coinages became famous. Peter’s a true humorist, whether he’s writing a satirical newspaper column, a novel, a screenplay, a TV show, or a documentary.”

Bancroft plans to publish “Friday Night’s Alright” in September 2014.

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Bruce Bortz
Bancroft Press
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Elizabeth Leiknes
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since: 04/2011
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