Listen to an excerpt from Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg, read by Tavia Gilbert
Read an excerpt from B. A. Shapiro's The Muralist:
Alizée painted at a makeshift desk, an overturned shipping crate with one side sawed off to accommodate her legs. According to the label, it once held uniforms for butchers; she hadn’t known butchers wore uniforms. She worked in a warehouse that jutted into the Hudson River where eight different mural projects were being created side-by-side, and armies of artists clutching charcoal or brushes or marble pestles bustled through the yawning space.
Two years ago, she’d returned to the States after seven years in France. Seven more than she would have chosen, but she’d learned early on that the vagaries of fate had far more power than she did. She was nineteen at the time and had been living for that moment, had done battle with her family, her friends, even her art teachers, to realize it.
Nevertheless, at the first sight of Lady Liberty, she was swamped by a wrenching sadness and that odd sense of floating above her own head. From afar, she watched the shadows darken the space around her as she stood on the ship’s deck, searching for people bustling with energy and opportunity, the ones she remembered and the ones she knew weren’t there anymore.
Writing the Past: Jami Attenberg and B. A. Shapiro
Monday November 16, 2015
|Photo Credit: Lynn Wayne (Shapiro)|
Authors Jami Attenberg and B. A. Shapiro read from and discussed their new novels which take history as their foundation while creating wholly original new characters. In Saint Mazie Attenberg uses a character from Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel as inspiration for her tale of a hero of Depression-era New York told through invented diary entries, interviews and more. In B. A. Shapiro's The Muralist historical characters like Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackson Pollock bring to life the mystery of the disappearance of a WPA artist.
About Saint Mazie
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 ninety 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 Maize is infused with Jami Attenberg's signature wit, bravery, and heart. Mazie's rise to "sainthood"--and her irrepressible spirit--is unforgettable.
About The Muralist
From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Art Forger comes a thrilling new novel of art, history, love, and politics that traces the life and mysterious disappearance of a brilliant young artist on the eve of World War II.
Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940 amid personal and political turmoil. No one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind recently found works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?
Jami Attenberg is the author of a story collection, Instant Love, and four novels, The Kept Man, The Melting Season, The Middlesteins, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, and, most recently, Saint Mazie. She has contributed essays and criticism to The New York Times, Real Simple, Elle, The Washington Post, and many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
B.A. Shapiro is the New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist, The Art Forger, The Safe Room, Blind Spot, See No Evil, Blameless, and Shattered Echoes. She has also written four screenplays and the non-fiction book, The Big Squeeze. The Art Forger has been on many bestseller lists—including the New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Amazon, and Kindle—and has won many awards including The 2013 New England Book Award for Fiction. She lives in Boston and is working on her eighth novel.
This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.