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Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review ‘Saint Mazie’ by Jami Attenberg


Granted, Mazie Phillips is not an ordinary saint; she drinks too much, swears, and has numerous careless sexual relations, but her imperfections allow her to set aside judgement and simply help those who need it most.

Believe it or not, Mazie Phillips is only a slightly fictionalized character based upon the real-life, Mazie Phillips. In this, why didn’t I think of that novel, Jami Attenberg does a beautiful job of researching and arriving at a conjecture that ultimately translates into a realism that is so believable it seems like she peered into Mazie’s mind so we could enjoy a glimpse.


At some point, Mazie moved to Bowery, New York, where she lived with her sister and brother-in-law. On the corner where Bowery fades into Chinatown, in the midst of whatever might take place and whoever passed by, Mazie spent her days in the ticket cage of the theater owned by her brother-in-law.

That front row seat, clearly became Mazie’s observation deck, gave her an intimate glimpse into the inner-dynamics of the city and the individuals that frequented her line of vision. With her outgoing personality and bodacious demeanor, she would not remain content to simply observe, Mazie became a central figure in the community.

Familiar and trusted with a heart of gold and a stomach of steel, Mazie broke out of her cage in the dark New York City night and helped the down-trodden, the addicts, and the mentally ill. Her firm disposition and vocabulary delivered in a strong husky voice apparently left little room for argument, in other words, they responded to her well-intentioned demands. Mazie got results and she gave time, energy, money, and direction to the needy.  

The times were a roller-coaster ride, the Jazz Era, WWII, and the depression, it was tough and things were changing. Like almost everything in those days, Mazie is a dichotomy, at least by most people’s standards, but to those she helped and her admirer’s she was a saint. Through diaries and witness accounts along with some intellectual guesswork, empathy, and a whole lot of wit Jami Attenberg nails it.


Read it, listen to it…Saint Mazie is definitely worth your time!

Published by Grand Central Publishing, Saint Mazie is available at Amazon, Audible and other book retailers.


Review by Sammy Sutton