Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
It’s always a bit of a crapshoot when I purchase a book at the airport. This one jumped out at me because I lived in NYC for seven years, and because I find the 20s and 30s fascinating.
The book is based on the real-life Mazie Gordon, although it isn’t an actual biography. It’s fiction, a collection ostensibly based on Ms. Gordon’s journal. The author Jami Attenberg employs an interesting method to tell the story: the reader is the ‘author’, to a degree. We read Mazie’s diary entries, but we also read interviews that the author conducts to try to learn more about Mazie. It jumps around in time in that the interviews take place in the present and are interspersed, but the diary entries themselves follow a linear path.
Mazie never married. She worked her whole life in the ticket booth of a theater on the Lower East Side, and due to the money she made, she was able to offer money to those who were living on the street due to the great depression. She died in 1964; you can read her obituary here.
I think it’s a fine book. I wouldn’t say it’s a must read, and it’s not interesting enough for me to read it non-stop; I read about 1/3 then just put it down for a couple weeks. I only picked it up again because I rarely give up on a book. And I was mildly pleased with the ending.