Saint Mazie


So for the past few months, the magazines and blogs I read have been talking up this book, Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg.  Well, it hit on all my favorites, NYC in the turn of the century, movie theaters, and strong female characters.  So I ate a butterscotch and took my self down to the Abington Public Library.  Luckily, this book didn’t seem to be a big draw for the local Abingtonians.  I started it that night.  While a bit slow at first, the book definitely picks up and is easy to read.

Based on the real life person, Mazie Phillips Gordon, who comes from a tumultuous childhood to lead a fascinating (and equally tumultuous) adult life).  This book, takes the idea that for her 10th birthday, yound Mazie receives a diary in which to record all her deepest secrets.

After her older sister leaves the house b/c of her abusive, drunk father, Mazie is left with her younger sister and emotionally unavailable mother.  Her sister eventually comes back and takes her two sisters with her to live in New York with her husband in midtown NYC.  There, her sister and husband become defacto parents.  Always a headstrong individual, Mazie chafes under the rules that she is required to follow and spends her time drinking and carrying on through the lowest parts of the city.  One day, her brother-in-law suggests she start working at the family run theater where her sister has been working.  The Venice theater becomes Mazie’s home away from home and slowly she finds meaning in her own life through the people who come to the theater.

The main story picks up after the depression hits.  Mazie becomes a voice for those left on the street, forgotten in a time when there was such turmoil in the city and across the country.  The story alternates between Mazie’s diary and conversations the imaginary documentarian has with people who knew her, people whose family members knew her, and the individual who found the diary to put the story in perspective.

The story takes turns that you don’t really expect, but it’s still a story of a woman trying to find herself and her meaning into adulthood.  It seems like a short read, probably due to the layout of the diary entries, and I found that I finished it within a week.  Overall, the book was a good quick read, but I didn’t love the whole thing.  I wanted to learn more about some of the people she encountered, and maybe more about her early life with her family.

Oh well, not every book can be the best book of all time.  But I would still recommend this.

True Crime

I have not a felonious bone in my body.  Except maybe sometimes speeding.  Except that probably barely counts, right?  RIGHT??

Anyway, at the same time, I am fascinated with true crime stories from the past.  A while ago, I was way into the “Gangster” era of crime books….John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, etc.  Fascinating.  The book “Public Enemies” was high on my list of things read during that time.  Later turned into a pretty forgettable Johnny Depp movie, this book charts the rise and fall of the most notorious criminals of that time period:


Public Enemies

From there I fell into several other books, most notably ones about John Dillinger and of course, Bonnie & Clyde.  Nothing remotely redeeming about any of these people, but fascinating to read about.

Which brings me to the latest book I’m reading…..whilst “working”….


Wilderness of Ruin

This tells the story of a case during the late 1800’s of a young boy who was found to be a serial abuser and killer.  Set in Boston, it takes the reader from Chelsea, Charlestown, and finally South Boston where the young boy’s murders happen.

Not only about that case specifically (although it is the main narrative in the book), it also includes brief looks at history of crime reporting, the insanity defense, the rise of newspapers, and, weirdly, Herman Melville.

I didn’t know anything about this story….not even a little bit.  It’s a shocking crime, and the book takes you into the mind/life of the young killer.  Just 12 years old when his crime spree started, Jesse Pomeroy was considered the youngest criminal in this type of torture and murder.  There was a lots of arguments about his sanity, his childhood, and how “dime store novels” might have influenced his crimes.  Interspersed during this time is the great fire of Boston.  Another thing I didn’t know about.  It’s one of the main reasons the Trinity Church is now in the Copley Square area.

What I found most interesting about this book is the lessons on how the criminal insanity defense came about and how it was used on several cases of the era.  As someone obsessed with pretty much all the “Law and Order” iterations, this gave a background on some of the stuff I had no idea about.  Initially, it was considered “moral insanity” rather than a mental health issue.  It’s fascinating to read this part of history and then look at what we have in society today.

I bought this book on an ebook sale….which I love.  But now, I can’t put it down.  Or, turn off my Kindle app rather.  (This is one I’m reading during the downtime at work).  For those interested in the crimes and criminal justice in this country, this book is a great introduction.

Things about books! Book Things!

I’m a sucker for book stuff.  Not just books….but stuff about books/reading.  It’s probably a sickness.  I’m not sure what it would be called….but I must have it.

Recently I found via Facebook the Storiarts company:  Storiarts

I of course LOVE everything they do.  I immediately bought a pair of the Pride & Prejudice Writing Gloves pictured here:


My desk/office is habitually cold.  Like, deep arctic cold.  (I have my theory that its because of the men in the office….they like to screw us peons out of our comfort).  So these were perfect for me.  I can continue to type and access all my various spreadsheets.  I know, I fell asleep just typing what I do at work.  You get me internet.

I also purchased this lovely Sherlock Holmes scarf.  I love scarves.  Winter is my jam because I can wear scarves without looking like a crazy person.  Even if I might be one.


A long time ago, in a land probably far away….but most likely in Virginia somewhere, I bought a necklace similar to this one:


I wear it all the time here at work.  I think of it like a talisman.  A wearable vision board.  I’m hoping by wearing it, I will either get inspired to write a book, or to find a job that involves books (see previous posts).  But for now, I’m stuck with spreadsheets.  I guess that’s valuable too.