Sensual, resilient and undaunted, this week’s Shelfie picks feature heroines who survive in their own, inimitable style. Our recommendations are from bookseller Hannah Oliver Depp of Politics and Prose. The Washington, DC landmark, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, is famous for their events featuring the world’s most famous authors. In her own words, here are three books Depp loved.
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg (Grand Central Publishing, 2015)
“Attenberg brings to life the story of the ‘Queen of the Bowery,’ Mazie Phillips-Gordon, from her best to her hardest times; it’s a unique novel of one of the most fascinating historical figures you’ve never heard about. A young woman narrating not only her coming of age, but the far more interesting life beyond it, Mazie is bigger than life and as real as the situations she finds herself in.
“She walks the streets of New York, bangles jingling, sharing what wealth and energy she has. Mazie isn’t a sob story but part lesson in street smarts, part spiritual exploration of what makes us keep working against all odds. Written in journal form with ‘interview’ interludes, the reading experience is an intimate and exciting one. Though the book covers a wide range of times and experiences, Attenberg never falls prey to heavy handedness and instead sweeps the reader into Mazie and her compatriots’ world.”
Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosely (Vintage, 2015)
“As is his wont, Walter Mosley jumps across genres in this fantastic romp of a read. I could not get enough of Debbie, a porn star who quits the endless loop just in time for her ‘producer’ husband to die not only in his mistress’ arms but in a pile of debt. This book is snarky, sexy, and as unstoppable as its main character. Every family has a Debbie: bold, experienced and witty. How they got that way is rarely as glamorous as they may appear.
“If you are not familiar with Walter Mosely, he is able to defy every genre expectation and write plot-driven novels with fantastic prose. Debbie is a good place to start with one of our most diverse men of letters. How Debbie gets out of debt and once again raises her star will have you reading late into the night.”
Euphoria by Lily King (Grove Press, 2015)
“Euphoria is a sexy book. It is also heartbreaking, almost physically brutal, and it transports you to an older world seen through fresh eyes. A slim volume, it depicts the heart of an academic discipline, three characters, and the echoes of a generation. Masterfully embodying a fictional version of the life of Margaret Mead and her second and third husbands, Euphoria show King at her most skilled as a novelist, showing the usually bottled emotions of humans as their most primitive desires violently tear through their veneers.
As Emily Eakin remarks in Sunday’s forthcoming New York Times Book Review, ‘The steam the book emits is as much intellectual as erotic and King’s signal achievement may be to have created satisfying drama out of a quest for interpretive insight.’ Enjoy a novel capable of turning the quest for euphoric knowledge into literature and discover the author that is Lily King.”