My Search for Warren Harding (Paperback)

My Search for Warren Harding By Robert Plunket, Danzy Senna (Introduction by) Cover Image

My Search for Warren Harding (Paperback)

By Robert Plunket, Danzy Senna (Introduction by)


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An exhilarating, brutal, comedic masterpiece—an American classic that will “leave you so giddy you’ll go and kick sand in somebody’s face” (Houston Post)

When My Search for Warren Harding, Robert Plunket’s glittering story of literary sleuthing and deceit, first appeared in 1983, it garnered immediate and far-reaching acclaim. Frank Conroy at the Washington Post exclaimed, “The author pulled me in so deftly, moved me up an escalating scale of sly hyperbole so cunningly, that after a hundred pages, I seemed to have turned over the keys, so to speak, of my nervous system”; Florence King at the Dallas Times Herald, “The most exciting event in American letters for a very long time: a momentous book.” More recently, though long out of print, it was canonized in The Guardian’s “1000 Novels Everyone Must Read,” ranked by the Washington Post as one of the top five books of “great American comic fiction,” and praised by Michael Leone in the Los Angeles Review of Books as “a classic picaresque novel in the tradition of Cervantes.”

Set against the fading light of early-1980s Hollywood, our deeply flawed, bigoted, closeted antihero Elliot Weiner is a historian—Harvard BA, Columbia PhD—with a passion for Morris dancing and Warren Harding, “the shallowest President in history.” After Weiner receives a research grant to write a book on the tumultuous life of Harding, he gets wind of a trunkful of the 29th president’s bawdy billets-doux that is rumored to be fiercely guarded by his ancient mistress Rebekah Kinney on her declining Hollywood Hills estate. Nothing and no one can stand in the way of Weiner getting his paws on the treasure, and along the way, as the words dance across the page, a hysterical, guffaw-inducing punchline around every corner, Weiner reaches new lows of humiliation and self-delusion. 


Robert Plunket was born in Greenville, Texas in 1945, and raised in Havana and Mexico City. After an unsuccessful stint as an actor in New York, he moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he became Mr. Chatterbox, the gossip columnist for Sarasota Magazine.  He is now retired and has “found peace and contentment at a lovely trailer park in Florida.” New Directions also publishes his novel My Search for Warren Harding, described by Danzy Senna in the foreword as “one of the best, and most invigorating books I’d read in years, and certainly the funniest.”

Danzy Senna is the author of five critically acclaimed books of fiction and nonfiction, including New People, Where Did You Sleep Last Night, and Caucasia.
Product Details ISBN: 9780811234696
ISBN-10: 081123469X
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English
A riotous debut: The Aspern Papers performed by the Brothers Marx.

— Time

Plunket’s confessional tone, his absurdity, and his lack of boundary between himself and his characters is a forebear too to the kind of humor that flourishes on social media, group chats, and podcasts...nothing this funny is being written today.
— Zsofia Paulikovics - Jacobin

It’s rare for a long-forgotten writer into his eighth decade to get rediscovered. What’s even more unusual about Plunket, and his unlikely return, is how stealthily influential his fiction has been over the decades.
— Alexandra Alter - The New York Times

One of the most original comic novels of the past half century.
— Casey Cep - The New Yorker

A savagely comic take on the Gay Best Friend as a malicious manipulator.
— Mark Harris - The New York Times