Girl Clown-- 09/28/04

I've been wanting to tell you about Bozoette's Girl Clown -- and here I am late on a rainy afternoon with my HTML editor open so why don't I stop dancing around with an introduction and start telling you...

I knew of Mary's journal (and her book) before JournalCon and became a reader of her journal at mid-summer. (Her journal is interesting; if you have not read her pages, I suggest you check it out -- she is interesting and amusing.) She was one of the first people I met at JournalCon 2004 and, although in the swirl of panels and people, we really did not have much time to talk, I could tell that she would be someone really worth spending time with in conversation and discussion.

When Nancy and I got back to Rhode Island I knew I had to read Mary's book... so I ordered a copy... and it came.. and I let it sit for days and days. Partly this was because I was in the midst of Neal Stephenson's The Confusion (the second book in The Baroque Cycle) and was so busy with work and life and such that I had very little time to read... and partly because I was afraid to read it. I mean, what if it wasn't good? What if it really sucked? So... finally... one day I picked it up and told myself I would start reading it the next day... and I flipped open to the first page, just to see how she started it... and I read the first page and turned the page as the girl clown got off the bus and found her way to the circus, not Ringling Bros, a smaller circus, one that travelled through some of the smaller cities of the south, met two of her fellow clowns... and realized I had read almost two dozen pages into the book while standing... and very reluctantly put it aside because I had hours worth of stuff to do before I would have time for reading.

"Hey, Nancy, you gotta read Mary's novel -- it's really good -- uh, but not until I finish it."

That night I picked up Girl Clown again, did not want to wait until the next day... read about a third of it before my eyes just didn't want to focus anymore, knocked off another third the next night, finished it the third night (reluctantly -- I wanted the story to go on).

The story is set in a somewhat unusual setting -- a circus, but it is not Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey going from arena to arena, nor an exotic and glamorous Cirque du Soleil; this is a three ring travelling big top circus. (If this were a baseball novel, it would be about a triple-A team.) And we get a backstage look, seeing everything from the viewpoint of the performers rather than that of the audience. And this world is lovingly (but realistically) depicted. She supplies just enough inside information and vocabulary to make it seem real without turning this into a Dummy's Guide to the Circus. The people we meet are people -- I could see them, could recognize them, could recall people I've known just like some of them -- not just pieces moved about on a narrative chessboard. This novel is not some intellectual attempt at deconstructing existential angst, it is a story... a clear (and engaging and, at times, moving) narrative about real living and breathing and sweaty human beings who want to get through the day and have a good performance and make people laugh or gasp or applaud, and after the show, if they're going to be at the same site the next day (so they don't have to take everything down and pack up the trucks and drive half the night to the next town) they just want to knock back a few beers, hang out with their friends, maybe have some smoke, maybe even get laid.

Girl Clown is engaging and amusing and entertaining and, although this book is complete and stands on its own, I am really glad to hear that Mary is working on a sequel. Girl Clown does not feel like a first novel (one started as part of NaNoWriMo last year!); the writing is solid and professional... and I look forward to reading her next book... and the one after that... and the one after that...

Girl Clown is available from Amazon, but I had great service ordering it from Lulu.com (three bucks less than Amazon, so that should cover your shipping).

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