Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Late Lamented Molly Marx ... a Juicy Read!

My sister Sally's second novel , The Late Lamented Molly Marx, has just come out and I heartily recommend it. It's a really good read on many levels - interesting, complicated characters with contradictory motives, acting like real people - not always in their own best interests. It's a grand tour of the Upper West Side, through the eyes of Molly, someone longing to be in the game but who is, unfortunately, dead. She watches the drama of her post-mortem from an undisclosed location dubbed The Duration. She has died in a grisly, mysterious bike crash, but it's more of a meta-mystery of human behavior than a typical murder mystery. Sally totally nails our endless interior monologues - Molly can tap into her loved-ones thoughts while she watches her husband, daughter, sister, parents, best friend, lover [yes! lover!], mother-in-law, and the detective assigned to her case all interact, trying to determine what happened to Molly. Since Molly herself does not remember what happened, it is a mystery unfolding for her too.
On a surface level, this is an elegant comedy of manners; well-to-do Manhattan Jewish culture is invoked down to the last bagel, each buttery babke lovingly described. Molly herself was a magazine stylist, and the descriptions are lush - her tall blue hydrangeas in just the right vase, a tour of her upscale lingerie drawer. A fun peek for those of us who are more LL Bean and Bendels, more Costco than Zabars. (When I lived in Manhattan, I could never figure out how that social strata seemed to know all the rules, all played out with perfunctory kisses and hugs.) Molly, hailing from Chicago, is somewhat of an outsider to all this, learning the rules through marrying Barry, an East Side plastic surgeon. He is my favorite character - superficial but aware of it, charming and self-centered, occasionally atoning for his character, adoring Molly while he sleeps with everyone in sight, all orchestrated by his perfectly coiffed, manicured mother.Was there ever a nastier mother-in-law? Not accidentally, she is named Kitty. Watch out for her claws.

These characters will stay with you - and you'll have some great laughs, too. My personal favorite was the newcomer to The Duration, an admissions officer from Princeton, gunned down by the deranged parent of a spurned applicant. Sally's writing is witty and wise. Great job, Sally!

PS You can read the first chapter on

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