Saint Mazie

Saint Mazie

A Novel

Book - 2015
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"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"--
Publisher: New York : Grand Central Publishing, ©2015.
ISBN: 9781455599899
Characteristics: 325 pages ;,22 cm.


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ArapahoeAnnaL Mar 30, 2018

Wonderful story of a brash, bold, good-hearted woman living in 1920's and 1930's NYC. Mazie is smart and classy, although part of a working class family and without formal education. Her life is unconventional; she chooses love but not marriage. She spends her middle years caring for the "bums" made homeless by the Great Depression, sharing money and necessities. The book has a complicated structure composed of diary entries and interviews, not always in chronological order. Based on a New Yorker profile by Joseph Mitchell.

Mar 08, 2017

Mazie Phillips’ story opens in1907 when she receives a diary for her 10th birthday. Rescued from her abusive parents and poverty in Boston by her sister, Rosie, she is now a New Yorker. Mazie LOVES New York. She loves it streets, the men and women who live there, the air, everything. The diary entries are typical of a developing young lady. As the Jazz Age blossoms, Maize blossoms. The entries are spasmodic until about 1916.
Rosie had married a wealthy man who owns the Venice movie theater. Now Rosie is sick, and Mazie needs to help at the theater. Her brother-in-law, Louis, needs someone who is honest and good with money. Therefore she is put in the ticket cage. She feels like a caged animal.
Mazie knows everyone in the neighborhood---from the bums to the upper lower class. That’s who lives in the Bowery. Then the Great Depression hits. Poverty and homelessness become more widespread. By this time, Mazie owns the Venice and throws it open to those most in need. Oh, she’s still showing the movies, but those who need a warm/cool place to stay for awhile are welcome.
The diary entries continue to be spasmodic and include a chorus of voices that help fill in Mazie’s story. While Attenberg’s story ends in 1939, the “Queen of the Bowery,” as she was known, died in 1961.
I was attracted to this story for two reasons: 1) Supposedly more than 90 years after Mazie began writing in her diary, it’s discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story. However, readers never hear from the movie-maker until the last third of the book. It didn’t work for me. 2) Maize was a real person living; she was profiled in Joseph Mitchell’s Up in The Old Hotel, a collection of short stories based on real people.
I was never able to get into the plot or the characters. In my opinion, Attenberg wasn’t able to pull off the story. That’s why I’m giving Saint Mazie two out of five stars.

Feb 20, 2016

It was hard to get a feel for any of the characters in this book or many of the events. Mazie Philips seems to have been an interesting person. It also seems that her life was unknown and there's not much to tell. I wish there had been more.
This book focusses on Mazie's years as a ticket seller at a movie theater in New York before and during the Depression. The unfortunate are everywhere in her neighbourhood, she sees them daily from her booth at the theatre and gets to know them and their stories.
Mazie was an unconventional woman of her time. She lived by her own rules. This book makes her out to be first a party girl, then a lonely woman with doubts. I hope the real Mazie had more happiness in her later years than this book suggests.
The real Mazie was unknown in history (during her time) invisible saint to the downtrodden. Jami Attenberg may have used all the information available, I don't know. But there wasn't a lot here to keep a reader going.
The real Mazie would have been interesting to read about; this Book-Mazie is just too vague

Dec 22, 2015

An interesting book, based in part upon a real-life woman who was featured in a personal essay in the New Yorker many years ago. Her story is told here in her own words as diary entries, as well as in 'interview' impressions of others. I liked this well enough to go put the author's other books on my 'must read' list.

Sep 06, 2015

Using basic facts about a real New York City woman who lived during the Depression, Attenberg has created historical fiction using format of oral history to tell the story. Mazie never married, she had the same job in a movie theater for her entire working life, and yet this gritty, earthy woman impacted the lives of many of the lower east side’s homeless. She walked the streets at night looking for those she could help. A Jew, whose best friend was a Catholic nun, drank and swore, yet had a heart of gold. She was the glue that held her fragile sister together after the death of Mazie’s brother-in-law. I probably wouldn’t have liked Mazie, the author never makes her loveable, as Mazie shows her love for humanity through often brusque actions.

Sep 04, 2015

I really enjoyed this Lower East Side adventure. Full of interesting persons and personalities. Powerful women doing powerful things.

rere3 Aug 20, 2015

Very imaginative! I missed her when I finished. I got little confused who had the diary but the structure did work for me.
I went back and read the essay the book was based on. I think Mr. Mitchell would have liked the fictional turn - I think Mazie would too.

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