One of the things I realized recently is when I write a book it has to fulfill a certain list of qualifications before it can be written. And that list grows with every book.
When I wrote my first few books it just had to have characters I believed in. If I could hold onto a character in the book, then they would guide me through. Then I started thinking about ideas and message, how to communicate my politics without speechifying. (I hate speechifying.) Two books ago I realized I needed to infuse my books with compassion. If I can’t see a way to be compassionate toward the subject and characters, then I can’t write this book. Now form and structure are important to me. I need to be inventive, but I also need to make sure these elements reflect the theme as well.
Every time I write a book the rules change, even if it is only slightly. (But it is never just slightly in the end.) In this way I am always learning, always starting over, always a child again.
There are few things more humiliating than shopping for clothes as an overweight woman. We hear the statistics about how obesity is a major problem in the United States and still, there are a handful of stores where we can buy clothes. At most of those stores, the clothes are hideous and if you…
I thought for certain I would be happy by the end of this trip to get back to the states for the simple reason that I would want to be among English speakers again. But I can’t tell you how much I love not understanding what anyone is saying around me. There are no distractions, just clean uninterrupted thinking. In the US I find myself having to leave a cafe if someone is talking too loudly next to me. I can’t not listen. But here it’s just a beautiful world of white noise.
New European airport game is trying on fancy perfumes in duty free for different personae, eg expensive call girl about to meet elderly wealthy gentleman, excommunicated nun finally free, boozy dutchess spending her inheritance without a care in the world, sleek Parisian businesswoman chasing a big deal, dopey American writer pretending to be something she’s not.
Tonight is the last night of my events. I had already finished with this book a long time ago - I wrote it in 2010 it came out in October 2012! So this has just been a bonus round. A pleasant little reminder of a family I used to know.
In my head I am already on to the next thing. I always have to have a next thing, it’s what keeps me sane. We work to get more work. There is no other point in doing any of this.
When I return to NYC it will be fall. I will drive upstate and pick up my little dog at the farm where I have left him, and bring him home again. The cool air will be good for the both of us. In the mornings I will walk him for an hour, and then I will read for an hour, and then I will get down to the business of writing another new book. There have been a bunch of characters waiting for me, shifting around nervously and energetically in my head, chattering, like schoolchildren in the morning.
This trip has been amazing but the real work, the real joy, waits for me when I get home.
Two beautiful blurbs for Saint Mazie from two amazing writers!
"With Saint Mazie, Jami Attenberg has crafted a tale that is somehow both a love song and a gut punch at once, and will leave you all the better for having read it. When I finished reading, I wanted to start all over again.”—Therese Anne Fowler, author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
“Jami Attenberg is a master at creating complex and compelling characters. She did it with Edie Middlestein of The Middlesteins, and she’s done it again with Mazie Phillips-Gordon of SAINT MAZIE. While Mazie is an actual historical figure, in Attenberg’s adept hands, she blossoms as a multidimensional woman who helped the down-and-out in New York City during and after the Depression, while stirring up her own mischief and bad behavior. A wonderful and thoughtful read, as relevant then as it is today, SAINT MAZIE is not to be missed.”—B.A. Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger