The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick


What a wondrously imagined recreation of the lives of MFK Fisher, her husband, Al, and his best friend, Dilwyn Parrish. I feel as though I have traveled from Laurel Canyon, California to Dijon, France, and then on to Vevey, Switzerland with them, eating the sumptuous food and experiencing the angst that they endured from their impossible arrangement.

Ashley Warlick does not cast aspersions; her writing is completely objective in its telling of this love triangle.

There were a thousand ways to think about it: they would live like a family, like monks, like roommates, like freaks. He (Dilwyn) loved them both, and this was the only way to do it. He shuffled on the cobblestones; he was drunk. He doubted he could stay drunk forever, but in his slurriness he could see a dumb kind of chance for this to all work out. The three of them would make art, maybe great art. p. 216

For Dilwyn Parrish is an author and illustrator, Al Fisher is a writer, and his wife Mary Frances would become the famous author MLK Fisher.

Dilwyn, nicknamed Tim, and his young wife Gigi were friends with the Fishers in California. When Mary Frances slid herself into Tim’s bed one night, their relationship was irrevocably changed, even if Al didn’t quite know it yet.

Gigi went on to follow her lover, while Tim and Mary Frances formed an ever closer, and passionate bond. Their story reminds me of Hemingway, who laid first with one lover than another, trying to have it all without acknowledging that sacrifice is part of what polishes relationships into jewels. And now I’ve just done what Warlick did not, put my own opinion on an arrangement that could never work. For me, or these friends and lovers.

What does MFK Fisher write? When asked by a publishing house this was her perhaps fictitious answer: “Hunger,” she said. “I write about hunger for all kinds of things.”

In The Arrangement, Ashley Warlick depicted this hunger perfectly.