Meet Mazie Phillips: big hearted and bawdy, she's the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It's the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty - even when Prohibition kicks in - and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.
When the Great Depression hits, Mazie's life is on the brink of transformation. Addicts and bums roam the Bowery; homelessness is rampant. If Mazie won't help them, then who? When she opens the doors of The Venice to those in need, this ticket-taking, fun-time girl becomes the beating heart of the Lower East Side and, in defining one neighborhood, helps define the city.
Then, more than 90 years after Mazie began her diary, it's discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story. Who was Mazie Phillips really? A chorus of voices from the past and present fill in some of the mysterious blanks of her adventurous life.
Inspired by the life of a woman who was profiled in Joseph Mitchell's classic Up in the Old Hotel, Saint Mazie is infused with Jami Attenberg's signature wit, bravery, and heart. Mazie's rise to "sainthood" - and her irrepressible spirit - is unforgettable.
©2015 Jami Attenberg (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"Saint Mazie is a novel with as much style and moxie as its titular character. I missed Mazie Gordon-Phillips and her family when I was finished reading, but I missed New York, too. By telling this one woman's story, Jami Attenberg has managed to write an ode to New Yorkers of every generation. She is a true poet of the city." (Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
"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)
"I'd love to be Jami Attenberg for a day to see what she sees. The next best thing is to read the touching, funny, and wise Saint Mazie, which is as difficult to categorize as the hard-living, heart-breaking, soul-saving ticket-taker it is about." (Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat)
"As always, Tavia Gilbert is a shining light as an audiobook performer. Her voice is as varied as the diverse cast of characters in this unusually structured novel." (AudioFile)
The character Mazie is based on a real woman from a New Yorker essay--part of the collection--Up in The Old Hotel. At first--when I started listening I wanted to find and read the essay--but then I changed my mind. I decided that if the fiction was this dark and gritty the essay about the real bums and troubled people of the Bowery might just be too much to stand.
The narration and set up of the book takes time to understand. Lots of diary entries and dates, different voices and time frames jump around. After a while it makes sense--but it takes about an hour or two of listening before this happened.
Be aware, the summary is misleading. This is not a flapper, roaring 20's, spunky good time story. Instead, the focus is on poverty, gambling, criminals, domestic abuse, infidelity, heavy drinking, drugs, and people who live on the edge or who have just given up on life. This, at times, is balanced out by depictions of families and individuals that care for, help and support others.
Quite the cast of unusual engaging characters troop past on the streets of the Bowery in NYC in the first half of the 1900's. To me, it is difficult listening--a heart breaking, disturbing, and sad story. Recommended only if you are interested in a visit to a completely different world. In the end, I'm glad I listened to this tale of an unlikely "saint".
Avid reader and art lover
moves slowly but is rich in details of the time period. worthwhile and real.
Writer-book addict with 26 years in central Mexico. Love Kindle Love Audible books Esp by and read by C. Pinkola Estes & Luis Urrea-WOW
It's been 10 days since I finished listening to this book, and I think of my friend Maizie at odd moments in the day...as I wait for my coffee to finish brewing, as I fold the dryer load of warm towels, as I plunge my hands into the dishwater, I wonder where she is and how she is doing and if she is happy and content. In my mind she has continued beyond the confines of the book and tape and lives on from the 1930s and 40s right past my birth year and clear up until now, today, when in truth she must be 120 but in typical Maizie fashion she remains a clear and foxy 20-something selling movie tickets, looking after the men on the streets and ready for a night of dancing.
Drop by for coffee Maizie!
The narrator does a very credible job of reading this somewhat tedious story. She reads each character in their own voice. It's hard though to find anyone in that story that is very like able. Maizie, vibrant and adventurous in her youth gives up on her life at 20 and spends the rest of it in a ticket booth. Depressing stuff.
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