Today's Book Review

Marcy Dermansky
Bad Marie
240pp. Harper Perennial. 9780061914713

"Sometimes, Marie got a little drunk at work." So opens Marcy Dermansky's hilarious and gleefully unrepentant Bad Marie, a novel about what happens when a lady stops being polite, as they say, and starts getting real. Marie's a baby-snatching, husband-stealing, bad-decision-making stone fox, and it's a testament to Dermansky's skill as a novelist that each staggeringly poor choice on Marie's part only makes the reader adore her more. After Marie's release from prison (accessory to armed robbery, but it wasn't her fault), Marie's old friend Ellen does her a good turn by hiring her to nanny Ellen's two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Caitlin. Unfortunately, Ellen is as patronizing as she is insufferable, and Marie ends up preferring the company of Caitlin--along with Benoît Doniel, Ellen's passive French-novelist husband, whose dolorous paean to a suicidal girl obsessed with sea lions Marie read obsessively while serving out her sentence. Marie steals Benoît, Caitlin, and Ellen's favorite red kimono, and runs off with these items to Paris, where she is beset by a series of increasingly ludicrous situations, with Caitlin (a passionate advocate of the restorative powers of macaroni and cheese) an ever-present companion. Oblivious and irredeemable, Marie is also quite lovable, and her winningness transforms what would otherwise be a bleak novel indeed into a wicked, funny portrait of a remarkable lady whose singleminded pursuit of a good chocolate mousse is admirable in the extreme. Untimely pet death, movie stars, bank robbery, ill-advised trips to a variety of countries: Marie gets to have all the adventures a lady could possibly want, and then some. It is a good thing we did not have this novel as a teenager, is all we can say.

Bad Marie is the September book club book at our beloved WORD bookstore, which means it is TEN PERCENT OFF ONLINE AND IN THE STORE FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER, AHEM. You can purchase it here. If you live in New York you can eat chocolate pudding and discuss the novel with Marcy Dermansky at WORD on October 2; you can also see her read at the KGB Bar on September 9 (an event that's a benefit for Behind the Book, a super awesome nonprofit to whom you should give many of your hard-earned dollars). We are not making up the chocolate pudding. We told you WORD is the best bookstore ever!