Synopses & Reviews
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 Mazie is infused with Jami Attenberg's signature wit, bravery, and heart. Mazie's rise to "sainthood" — and her irrepressible spirit — is unforgettable.
"A raw, boisterous, generous novel with a heroine to match and New York in its soul, Saint Mazie offers proof again that Jami Attenberg is a brilliant, lion-hearted storyteller." Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements
"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
"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
"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
About the Author
Jami Attenberg is the author of a story collection, Instant Love, and three novels, The Kept Man, The Melting Season, and The Middlesteins, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. It will be published in nine countries. 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.
Read an exclusive essay by Jami Attenberg