"The Fruit Cocktail Diaries," a study in real-life -- Brian Carmody and Gretchen Hayduk turn their lives as waiters into fodder for books

By Matthew Flamm
Updated February 10, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

You can’t call them slackers: Brian Carmody and Gretchen Hayduk, authors of The Fruit Cocktail Diaries — the latest entry in the Generation X literary pantheon — work too hard. They got the idea for their novel, which alternates between the diaries of a twentysomething gay waiter and a twentysomething straight waitress, about four years ago, while holding down waitering jobs and sharing an apartment in Manhattan. Once they discovered they both kept diaries, there was no stopping them.

”I’d get up in the morning, have some coffee, and write something,” recalls Carmody, 28, ”and Gretchen would be at one of her jobs, I don’t know which one, and I’d call and read it to her over the phone.” ”We’d pick topics,” says Hayduk, 31. The novel, which they are now turning into an as-yet-unbought screenplay, isn’t strictly autobiographical, say the writers. ”I’m writing not just my story, but many stories,” explains Carmody, who still waits tables in Manhattan.

In addition to being hardworking, they’re ambitious. Before they even had a publisher, the team sent sample pages of the Diaries to Late Night With David Letterman, hoping to be asked on. (They weren’t.) They found their publisher partly by making a cold call to St. Martin’s Press and asking for the editor who had acquired Douglas Coupland’s Generation X. ”We learned we really work well for ourselves,” says Hayduk, a graduate of Columbia University’s film school who has left a trail of low-paying jobs across New York City, ”as opposed to working for somebody else.”