Clown Girl
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Clown Girl

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  2,726 ratings  ·  257 reviews
INTRODUCTION BY CHUCK PALAHNIUK:: In this darkly comic novel, Clown Girl lives in Baloneytown, a neighborhood so run down and penniless that drugs, balloon animals, and even rubber chickens contribute to the local currency. Against a backdrop of petty crime, Clown Girl struggles to find her place in the world of high art; she has dreams of greatness and calls on the master...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Perseus Books Group (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jan 15, 2009 Ciara rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to be annoyed by the book's author
Shelves: read-in-2007
i am re-writing this review & re-rating this book with a lower rating thanks to a barrage of comments from the book's author, as well as the author's obnoxious ass-kissing friends. these folks made me really stop & think about how i felt about this book, & i came to the conclusion that i liked it even less than i thought i did initially. i usually reserve my one-star ratings for true stinkers--books that made me froth with loathing. this book was just disappointing & dull. it was...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

I've talked here before concerning the surprising things I'm learning about books these days, now that I've been a daily critic myself for about nine months now, and especially two factors that more heavily influence what we think of a book than a lot of us realize -- of where we in particular are in our own lives when we read the book (in terms of age, experience, career level, etc), and also how much we've hea...more
Thursday was my first meeting back with the Oakdale Prison book group, and this was the book we discussed. I've been interested in this book since it was first released (how to deny the attraction to the rubber chicken?) and was pleased to have the chance to read it, but somewhat concerned about the dynamics of the discussion with male convicts. That's because this is something of a girl's book. Not chick-lit -- it's not about shopping or boys or ladder-climbing, but then again, it is, but not w...more
Anita Dalton
Drake spins a marvelous tale but the real reason I think I loved this book so much is not only that Nita speaks to me in an almost eerie way, but also because Drake inverts the traditional chick-lit story by stating outright what it is that makes these clumsy, clueless, grandiose, insecure women appealing. She makes it clear from the very title what Nita is. She’s a clown. No mincing words. Nita is a clown and Drake shows how hard it is not to be a clown when hiding behind makeup, clothes, image...more
Nov 30, 2007 Lynn rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Finishing this book was a real chore. I found Clown Girl to be amateurishly written with way too many run-on silly similes. The main character is never likable and I was never able to relate to her or understand why anyone would do anything she does. The far-fetched, melodramatic scenes never allowed me to get into the book at all. I could never suspend disbelief. Monica Drake is trying hard to be quirky, but the plot is essentially a conventional romantic comedy that flops on the comedy part: A...more
I guess Drake was making up her own genre—clown noir—or maybe I’m just not familiar with it. If she was, then she could look to Katherine Dunn as the foremother of the genre, but a mother whose teat she needs to keep suckling…as in, she’s not there yet.

It was neither subtle nor flagrantly funny. I felt like it needed to be one or the other, or a juggling act of both. I actually think it would be quite good as a movie. Then everything she tells us would be shown instead.

Basic synopsis: Clown Gir...more
Jaina Bee
Jul 19, 2008 Jaina Bee rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jaina Bee by: Kate
What an interesting experience to read a book the whole way through and not once, ever, did I like —or even care about— the protagonist. I didn't care if she got a happy ending, and, frankly, would have preferred a catastophic demise. I kept feeling like the book would deliver a good sucker punch, but it just kept loitering in the zone between odd and annoying. I couldn't even properly hate it. And this is a book about a CLOWN.

Jennifer Graham
It's so hard to write a comedic novel--especially one that allows for genuine human absurdity rather than some forced ironic posturing. Clown Girl somehow finds the perfect center of black comedy: the space where the humour comes not from a diminishment or belittling of the protagonist's pain but a bottomless acceptance of it. Kafka, Chaplin, Emmet Kelly, and W.C. Fields are all invoked here, quite appropriately. Slapstick collides with existential conundra; our heroine's search for love, commun...more
Feb 07, 2009 Angela rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angela by: Powell's
Shelves: indiespensable
I'd seen and nearly bought Monica Drake's first novel a few times in bookstores before it arrived as a Powell's Indiespensable selection. The story is a lighthearted, absurd tale of Nita/Sniffles, a woman trying to make ends meet working as a clown while dealing with a dysfunctional long-distance relationship, a lecherous ex-boyfriend landlord and his vindictive girlfriend, an agent with none of her interests in mind, and a cop who conveniently reappears to save the day whenever Nita is picked u...more
I found myself thinking about Confederacy of Dunces about 1/4 of the way through this book. That's not a good thing, either; I hated Confederacy of Dunces. Although there are no overt parallels between Nita and Ignatius, both continued their string of self-defeating screw-ups long past the point of wearing thin. As far as I'm concerned, Nita and Ignatius will be forever labeled the most incredibly, mind-blowingly, tragically annoying characters in contemporary literature.

Yes, they're that bad.

I read this book because of Chuck Palahniuk’s recommendation. It was ok. In many places it could have been a lot stronger. The premise is far out and absurd, which can be really fun. A good example of this is Palahniuk or Douglas Coupland’s work. This book, I think, reached for that level of entertaining absurdity. However, the thing that makes the other authors work fun is that, even though it is ridiculous when you think about it, while you are reading it you are totally sold. It’s only when y...more
Aug 21, 2007 Zoe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artists, whores, everyone in between
Shelves: 2007books
Monica Drake worked on this book for a long, long time. Longer than most people ever work at anything. Her writing is careful, beautiful, strange, frantic, and wonderful. Clown Girl tells the story of Nita/Sniffles/Juicy Caboosey, a performance artist working as a clown who loses her boyfriend, her baby, her dog, her rubber chicken, her urine, and her mind (at times) while trying to stay true to herself and her art. Throw in a pot-growing ex-boyfriend/landlord, a friendly cop, an agent who wants...more
Caitlin Constantine
I picked up this book with high expectations, considering that some writers I really admire and enjoy had good things to say about this book. Almost right away, I found myself irritated. I kept reading, though, because I wanted to believe that the brilliance and humor I'd heard about would appear, but it never did. At the end I found myself grasping for reasons to appreciate it, but I failed. Even the much-vaunted class/gender/social analysis did nothing for me. You mean to tell me that sometime...more
Rachell Taylor
When I first read that Chuck Palahniuk was referring this new author Monica Drake, I went straight to the bookstore and put her first novel Clown Girl, on order. I waited patiently for two months for the book to come in, and finally when I got it, the introduction made me more anxious than ever. But, as I started to read I found myself completely able to set it down. While in most places it is curiously written and I did slide over the pages with an amused smile, it wasn't a shocker, it wasn't h...more
This book was so disappointing.
Only a few ideas repeated over and over pointlessly: the clown ethics, how I miss my boyfriend, sickness. Once you get into the schema, you can tell 10 pages in advance what is going to happen - oh yes now she's going to get into troubles with that. It tries to be grotesque but there's not a good laugh in the whole book, nor a surprise, a strong emotion, or a tragedy. The fake ass and breasts can be funny at first, but after the image is repeated 30 times in the s...more
Zack Rock
Monica Drake never seems to allow herself to revel in the stark absurdity of her character's situations, instead opting for a humanizing approach that harms both the absurdity and humanity of the novel. She also has difficulty transforming the physical pratfalls of clowning into humorous prose, describing Sniffles actions without embellishment under the assumption that we, like her, have a history of clowning to draw from when we read such passages. The clowning should have been the author's pri...more
I was obviously drawn by the rubber chicken on the cover and, primarily, the introduction by Chuck Palahniuk. This is the story of Nita (aka Sniffles the Clown) who is trying her best to maintain on the income she receives from clowning, while also trying to pay clown college tuition for her boyfriend, Rex Galore, who has been missing in action for some time. Life in Baloneytown is sometimes hilarious, sometimes brutal, but always interesting. Through brushes with the law, trips to the emergency...more
May 01, 2008 Mindy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mindy by: Vegan Don
Shelves: library-book, fiction
Monica Drake did write a book, get Chuck Palahniuk to write an introduction, and find a publisher. That's more than I’ve ever done. I’ll give her that. But she didn’t hold my attention, arouse my sympathies, or teach me anything. The characters were extremely flat despite their many layers of thick clown makeup and their occasional juggling-turned-arson mishaps. Drake tries desperately hard to be quirky and cool, but the book is rather boring and completely unsatisfying in terms of language, cha...more
Oct 25, 2008 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by:
Shelves: fiction
I fear, after reading the other ho-hum reviews of this book, that perhaps teaching has destroyed my brain because I was completely charmed by Clown Girl. I found Nita reminiscent of Steve Urkel in her propensity for doing the exact wrong thing predictably in every situation the novel places her, but I was rooting for her the entire time. And let me say, for the first couple pages Rex Galore shows up, I was surprised by the story. Any story that can surprise me 7/8ths from the end I consider a wi...more
This book, by a new novelist, sends the reader on a strange trip through Baloneytown, a section of an unamed city peopled by offbeat characters. The writing style is colorful, descriptive, action-based even when the protaganist is thinking about what she's going to do. Lots of angst, lots of symbolism, sorrow, laughter, you name it. Highly recommended, especially for people interested in writing and examining writing styles. Forward by Chuck Palahaniuk sets up the reader for a fun time.
This is one of those books that challenges the readers sympathy, and it would be easiest to simply dismiss the work as a bit too precious and contrived. It's flippant post-modern examination of the meaning of life and identity, from a woman,a self-professed clown who is trying unsuccessfully to maintain some lofty ethics while compromising wildly and trying desperately to keep her self suffiency.

"If fun is outlawed, only outlaws will have fun." she wisely (if not originally) says early on.

How ca...more
A brilliantly honest, hilarious book. Clown girl doesn't have much of a life plan, but has it all worked out -- sort of. I so much wanted a happy ending for her. But the ending is completely up to her and how she handles the lemons that are perpetually lobbed at her from the peanut gallery.
May 03, 2007 Geoff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Clown Fans
Monica Drake creates a world where clowns just are part of the scenery. Her main character is extremely well drawn and her struggle to find her muse, live her life and relate to others is superb. A strong debut book. I'll absolutely pick up whatever Drake does next.
Christy Ford
Nov 30, 2009 Christy Ford rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who liked RENT, or who like reading about those worse off than them.
Recommended to Christy by: Jonathan
This didn't really do it for me.

To begin with, it was fairly predictable. With this genre, that's not necessarily a bad thing - basically you have the redemption ending and the die friendless in a gutter ending, pick one - it's how you get there that counts. Even internally, this didn't have many surprises though: It was pretty easy to guess what Rex was going to end up like even from the first mention. Again, that can work, sort of like watching a train wreck, but I don't think it helped in thi...more
So, I was looking at Chuck Palahnuik books, and this one came up (on my Kindle) and I read the description and just decided to dive in on it. I will say this, this was a weird, funny, exceptionally entertaining read, but it made me feel a little funny about the story and the characters because I wonder if people are really like this. I don't want to give too much away, but we're talking about people who are clowns, doing corporate gigs, and they border on prostitution (well, later in the book th...more
Abi Joya
Monica Drake’s Clown Girl is acclaimed as “…more than a great book...[it:] is its own reality.” (Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club) The book started off rather slow, abstract and obscure and stayed that way through most of the book. Clown Girl really is its own reality. The ending, however, makes up nearly the entire worth of the book. The theme of the book is illustrated very well by Eugene Ionesco: “No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from...more
Clown Girl is not a goofy funny novel, but it isn't supposed to be, regardless of what preconceived notions you get from the title and the picture of the rubber chicken (Plucky!) on the cover. What Clown Girl is is a great first novel from a very talented writer. I can't wait to read more of what Monica Drake has to offer. Thank you, Chuck Palahniuk, for recommending this gem.

Nita has decided she is a clown. Not a commercial sell out, but a real artist, and she's modeling herself after her absen...more
Monica Drake is a decent writer. She plays with the language the way clowns play with pratfalls and cream-filled pastries. There's no doubting that among the pages of "Clown Girl" is hiding an author with enough charm and wit to pen a book brimming with both humor and heart.

This, however, is not that book.

The story follows young Nita (you can call her Sniffles) who is struggling to make ends meet. Working the circuit in her home land of Baloneytown, Nita twists balloons into vague religious shap...more
Monica Drake is a woman after my own heart. It sounds bizarre but I love clown stories. She is also the second author recommended to me by Chuck Palahniuk – and this one panned out. The book is slightly like Suicide Blonde in that it takes place in a weird world. But in Monica Drake’s case, it feels intentional and appropriate. Her main character, Nita or Sniffles, is a clown living in Baloneytown. She aspires to do art with her clowning – Kafka inspired pieces grand-enough to get her into Clown...more
Apr 25, 2013 Mariah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: One of my friends that also loves Palahniuk to see what she thinks of it, nobody else
Recommended to Mariah by: Amazon
Shelves: owned
I had been meaning to read this book for quite some time because it was recommended to me on Amazon and Chuck Palahniuk is a fan of Drake's (and also wrote the introduction to the book) and since I am a Palahniuk fan I figured it must be a good book! I finally got around to reading it two years ago, and it was not a good book. The main character was annoying and helpless and I was irritated by everything she did 90% of the time. I didn't think the book was funny, or clever or even interesting. I...more
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