Narberth native Beck Dorey-Stein gets real about her time working as a White House stenographer in her recently released memoir, From the Corner of the Oval (Penguin Random House, 352 pages).
A graduate of Lower Merion High School, Dorey-Stein moved to Connecticut for college, then worked in New Jersey before landing in Washington, D.C. There, she juggled five part-time jobs. When she applied to be a law firm stenographer on Craigslist, she didn’t imagine where it would one day land her. After going through the interviews she says, “Within a month I was at the White House and within three months I was on Air Force One.”
In her role as a White House stenographer for the Obama administration, Dorey-Stein was in whatever room the president was when he conversed with the press, and was entrusted with recording and accurately transcribing his words.
An avid writer, Dorey-Stein’s memoir came naturally. “I always loved to write and I continued to write when I got to the White House,” she says. “I continued to write down what I saw and write down all my feelings about it.” Through that, she’d written most of what would become her book, she says.
The result is From the Corner of the Oval, which she describes as “a coming-of-age memoir that happens to take place in the White House.” It’s “a fun summer read about a young woman entering the White House, making a bunch of mistakes that we all make in our 20s, and then also having Barack Obama as a supporting character,” Dorey-Stein adds.
Dorey-Stein hopes the memoir will change perceptions about White House culture, as it gives insight into the constant dedication required to work there. “Your personal life is put on hold in service of serving the president,” she says.
While the book revolves around the White House, readers also experience the struggles of day-to-day life, including love triangles and tricky co-workers. Dorey-Stein says the book was therapeutic and provided an outlet for reviewing her own experiences.
On the heels of From the Corner of the Oval, Dorey-Stein already has plans for a second, albeit fiction, novel in the future.