“Clown Girl”

January 22, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments

I know it’s only January, but I’m going to have to say that so far, Monica Drake’s Clown Girl is my favorite novel of the year.

Powell’s Books has a subscription club called Indiespensable that promotes books from independent publishers.  I don’t subscribe, but I do look at their selections every month, and that’s how I found Clown Girl.

Clown Girl lives in Baloneytown and she hangs out with a lot of other clowns.  It’s a story with a simple plot and straightforward themes – the role of the artist in society, loss and redemption – but that is absolutely amazing.  Monica Drake makes Baloneytown and its denizens completely believable.  She’s created this seedy, seamy, surreal universe and populated it with what are probably the very last characters I would ever imagine wanting to read about – clowns, I ask of you – and made it infectiously charming and even poignant.  There are also moments of slapstick that really work, something I imagine is far easier to demonstrate physically than to write.

Clown Girl stands alone.  It’s one of the most original novels I’ve ever read.  As a debut novel, it really makes me anticipate what Monica Drake has up her sleeve for her next work.  Instant cult classic.



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  1. “It’s one of the most original novels I’ve ever read.”

    It is not as original as you think. Witness…. James Powell’s A DIRGE FOR CLOWNTOWN!

  2. I don’t particularly mean it’s original to do a story about clowns. I agree with Shakespeare that there is nothing new under the sun.

    I apply the term ‘original’ to the universe the author has created and shown through a character’s eyes, especially when the character itself is multidimensional.

    Good call, though – where did you turn that story up?

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