Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I am reading at Sidewalk for One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change Saturday, 9/26

The fifth annual One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change, New York City edition, will be held at the Sidewalk Cafe on Saturday, Sept. 26th. This event was curated by Valery Oisteanu, and will be MC'd by Ron Kolm,

Readers include Claudia Serea, Tom Walker, Allan Graubard, Kat Georges, Peter Carlaftes, Ronnie Norpel, Bill Wolak, Larissa Shmailo, David St-Lascaux, Yuko Otomo, Steve Dalachinsky, Shelley Miller, Carl Watson, Wanda Phipps, Jeff Wright, Ilka Scobie and Kelvin Daly.

All thanks to Michael Rothenberg for creating this wonderful world-wide event for peace!

Sidewalk Cafe
94 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
6:00 pm
(212) 473-7373

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Books for Readers review of Patient Women (full text)

Probably the biggest surprise of my summer reading was Patient Women by Larissa Shmailo. Shmailo is a highly accomplished poet, editor, and translator (see my review of her poetry in Issue # 169) . She does a lot of so-called "mixed" media, and she blogs at She is productive and successful, and lives a rich life in the arts.
She is also a survivor and child of survivors, and in her new novel Patient Women, she fictionalizes pieces of her life and recreates passages from her parents' lives as well as creating searing poems ostensibly written by her character Nora Nader.
There is plenty of recreational sex and drugs and drinking and also sex work, and brilliant recreations of the downtown milieu of New York City in the nineteen seventies. Much, much sensation and despair and struggle. There are whorehouse discussions during down time about what you want in an ideal client, and there are stunning shocks: at one point, Nora finally finds a man who has potential as a long term partner. They marry-- and he drowns on their honeymoon.
Nora's life is out of control, but the novel is completely in the novelist's control. In her great confidence in her own powers, Shmailo moves towards the end out of the straight narrative into a series of experiments in story telling and genre.
The bulk of the book is the grim narrative of Nora's dive into the lower depths and her grumbling return to sobriety through the efforts of a saintly trans friend who is dying of AIDS. Then, Nora begins to press her mother to repeat and explain family stories of their time in concentration camps under the Nazis: how they survived intact. She includes her mother's stories as free-standing short works, and it becomes increasingly clear that the family was not intact at all. The stories throw Nora into a near psychotic state of remembering that seems like too much for one person to bear. She says goodbye to Chrisis, her dying sobriety sponsor. She gives support to a dying stranger, money to a beggar. She notices that the world is still around her. And then come the poems, which act both as a reprise of the themes and events of the novel and also also as unnarrated evidence of Nora's talent and hopeful future. It is a gamble, to end a novel with so many passages in a different genre, but it pays off beautifully: Nora doesn't forget, perhaps doesn't even move on completely, but she can be with people. She can create.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Great review of my new novel, Patient Women, in Books for Readers

I'm deeply grateful to Meredith Sue Willis for her review of Patient Women (read below). She has fully understood my protagonist's (and my own) salvation: we can create; we can be with people.

Books for Readers review of Patient Women

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Connotation Press Interview

I'm delighted to be interviewed by the wonderful MegTuite in the current issue of Connotation Press,with excerpts from my new novel, Patient Women, and a PTSD poem.
Connotation Press interview with Larissa Shmailo

Great review of Patient Women by Meg Tuite!

Dive into the deep end: read this novel! Unforgettable and mesmerizing!
By M. Tuite on August 27, 2015
There are many categories of writing, but as readers there are two distinct places we tend to go: either `escape from reality' mode or `dive into the deep end' through writing that unnerves us on a personal level. The poems/stories or novels may be situated in different continents, cultures, even species, and yet they confront us with fragments of ourselves that defy diversity.
Shmailo's work takes me to places in my life that I am both afraid and compelled by. There is no escape here. It is about recognition and a fortitude that didn't exist before. It is about finding oneself again, in amazement and thankfulness, through another writer's words.
Here are some quotes from Shmailo's novel, Patient Women.
"There was anger in the house, anger in the very walls."
"Home life acquired a dangerous sameness."
"Nora had learned to detect the subtlest shifts in the affective atmosphere of her home: she became expert in detecting and defusing the charges, like a teenage bomb squad."
"Nora kept rattling him like a jammed door she was sure she had the right to enter."
"God writes straight with crooked lines, Nora..."
Shmailo takes the reader into the world of a strong, sensitive, acute protagonist, Nora, who moves through many lives in this novel. She is a sex worker, a brilliant woman, an incest survivor, a woman who takes us into the streets and wrestles with her/our inner/outer demons. "Patient Women" is a novel everyone should read. There is no shrinking back from the violence Nora experiences and witnesses and the power of Shmailo's brilliant writing that takes us inside all of it.
Don't miss out on this! Get a copy and find yourself mesmerized and changed by "Patient Women". WOW!!! Unforgettable!

Blog Archive