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The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The Humorous Story of a One-Woman Train Wreck--Winner of Black Lawrence Press's Big Moose Prize

Meet Zelda McFigg. She is 4-feet 11-inches tall, 237 pounds, and convinced that she could be somebody, if only someone would recognize her inner beauty and star quality. Cousin to Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces) and Homer Simpson, Zelda runs away from home at age 14,
...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published September 13th 2014 by Black Lawrence Press
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Will Byrnes
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
People believe anything that’s in writing
A word to the wise to scoundrels everywhere. And there are plenty on display in Betsy Robinson’s satiric whirlwind.

So you think you’ve got it bad? You might consider the case of one Zelda McFigg. She had a pretty tough go of it at school. The hand she was dealt must have been delivered from the bottom of the deck by a particularly hostile card sharp. Despite having a pretty decent brain, Zelda got stuck with short, fat, and malodorous when stressed.
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Cheri
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, vermont, nyc
Edit: 4.5 Stars!

”My name is Zelda McFigg, and, until recently, I weighed approximately two hundred thirty-seven pounds. I am four foot eleven inches in stature, and I have not had sex. Ever. Also, I have never been anybody’s favorite, and this last fact, in my opinion, is an injustice of the highest order perpetrated by all persons I have ever met.”

Funny, quirky, with a character that reminded me a bit of Eleanor Oliphant, with that charm that is distinctly different than your average character,
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Julie
Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: New York

snow umbrella--
the sound of closing it,
alone again

--Mantaro Kubota

A reader like me could make herself dizzy trying to pick just one book to capture the state of New York in print.

I mean, what would it be? A vision of old New York, narrated ever so wistfully by Edith Wharton? A Harlem Renaissance, in rhythm and blues, by Langston Hughes? An edgy, mid-twentieth century version of New York life communicated to me through the cigarette smoke of J.D. Sa
...more
Kevin Ansbro
"Sloppy people should not be allowed to have pets, and certainly not birds who would never choose to live in such conditions. Have you ever seen a sloppy forest?"
—Zelda McFigg

This winsome-yet-poignant story, a testament to one woman’s truth, traverses recent decades and had me rooting for our eponymous heroine from the get-go. The lady in question is binge-eating, animal-loving New York English professor, Zelda McFigg. She stands four-feet-eleven, weighs in at two hundred and thirty-seven po
...more
Dolors
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Irreverent fighters
Recommended to Dolors by: Betsy Robinson
I am rather clumsy when it comes to cracking jokes or assuming an unaffected demeanor, so I will spare you the agony of trying to imitate the first-narrator voice of Zelda McFigg, the unusual heroine in Betsy Robinson's book. As a matter of fact, I don't want to give you an account of Zelda's misadventures from miserable adolescence to even more miserable adulthood, so I will also skip her phase as animal activist, her bizarre experience with Mike, the Beat poet, or her pursuit of the American D ...more
Margitte
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Zelda McFigg was born the antithesis of Hollywood perfection and unintentionally knew what her purpose in life would be. She would have the audacity to live her life and remind everyone, she would meet on her journey, of everything they did not want to be. In fact, she was everything the winners feared and despised. The sight of her made them stagger in resentment. In life's experiments she would become a one-woman control group.

Born to an absent father, a drunken mother, dependent on herself fo
...more
Jennifer
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
For readers who make the smart decision to read this book, Zelda McFigg is a character they won't soon forget.

Author Betsy Robinson describes McFigg as a cousin to Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces and Homer Simpson. Indeed, much of this book's humor, particularly in the beginning, is reminiscent of "Confederacy's." If you find that humor to be hilarious (as I do ) you'll like this. However, if that's not your cup of tea -- you've been duly warned.

McFigg is an obsese, hapless, sm
...more
Melinda
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Zelda a woman on a never ending path of permanent self discovery. At 14 years of age Zelda ventures out into the big wide world, stumbling, surviving. As she pursues her sojourn she faces obstacles and her fair share of breaks - all filled with a variety of fellowmen. She is flawed, fully aware of her shortcomings often her worst adversary, still she marches on in search of who she is. Brutally honest in telling of her life story including missteps, dubious choices, you quickly become her bigges ...more
Betsy Robinson
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: lovers of A Confederacy of Dunces, Homer Simpson, literary fiction
HUGE, 50% off, sale at Black Lawrence Press with code FICTION50 at checkout. Many BLP titles are on sale through May 31 in order to make up for loss of sales while Amazon is prioritizing essential supplies.

4/28/20 Update Hot off the webcam: Zelda McFigg back story video--the third book video in my quarantine project to learn to make videos and use my editing software. (Will Byrnes, you have a cameo. Thank you! Assuming you are pleased by my use of your wonderful photo.)

Shelf Awareness review:
Zel
...more
Katie Postlethwaite
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Zelda McFigg is a one woman show.

Zelda is not an immediately likable character. She has a number of flaws, both physical and emotional which impact people's perception of her – and she is keenly aware of it. She also has a fine complement of skills and an entertaining way of using them to her best advantage. I enjoyed this character very much. I found her comical and endearing. The first person narrative gives the reader a sense of intimacy and Zelda is astonishingly candid in relating her feel
...more
Lorilin
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
What an unexpected gem of a book. Zelda McFigg (amazing name, by the way) is a character I won't soon forget. The woman is so very unique and refreshingly complicated. Zelda is clever and opinionated, but also has a hard time standing up for herself. She spurns superficial social nice-isms, yet she's strangely fixated on manners and politeness. She is fussy and sometimes snobby, but also so clearly lonely and desperate for connection that I couldn't help but find her endearing. As a character, s ...more
Kelly
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Author Betsy Robinson calls Zelda McFigg a "cousin to Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces) and Homer Simpson." I can't really speak to the Homer Simpson comparison, because I was never really a fan of the show. However, I immediately saw similarities to Ignatius J. Reilly...and, I must add, Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones' Diary).

Don't let the Bridget Jones reference scare you off! Ignatius, who surely would prefer to be called Mr. Reilly (and for which reason I will continue to call him Ig
...more
Katrina V.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-galley
I'm not sure which of these facts about Zelda McFigg is most pertinent to her character: she's a runaway, morbidly obese, a writer and actress, a teacher with zero credentials, a virgin, and chronically sure of her own abilities when they come to other people's problems, though rarely as applied to personal issues.

Zelda's path in life is a winding one -- after running away from her alcoholic mother to New York City, she briefly lives with the once famous Mike the Poet, bringing him back from hi
...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Also, I have never been anybody’s favorite, and this last fact, in my opinion, is an injustice of the highest order perpetrated by all persons I have ever met.”

By God, you WILL be uncomfortable and experience moments similar to smell-o-vision, that's how well the author describes Zelda's sweaty condition.


Zelda McFigg ‘the early years’ at the novel’s start reminded me of an old childhood book our teacher used to read to us, Amelia Bedelia but more if she was sent to work in a seedy side of tow
...more
Fred
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-favs
Betsy Robinson has created in McFigg a colorful character of deluded and even defective sensibilities about the world and her place in it. You would find McFigg wholly unlikable were she to occupy the cubicle (or class room as the case may be)next to your own. Folks with weaker temperaments may even find her singularly loathsome. Similarly to Toole's Ignatius J. Riley, Robinson's Zelda McFigg is a bundle of condescension tethered with fine strands of ineptitude and served with an incredible knac ...more
Kate
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Zelda is definitely an unforgettable character and I know when certain random events unfold from now on, I will think, well this is a Zelda moment! The teacher/pupil 7th grade sexual component however was the only drawback for me in this book. It was fast paced and I enjoyed the book overall.
Çavlan
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very funny and clever!
Bower Lewis
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Zelda McFigg has never been anyone’s favorite. We learn this straight off from Zelda herself and the disclosure sets the tone for what is to come as we wander through her trials from age fourteen to nearly fifty in the novel The Last Will and Testament of Zelda McFigg. While Zelda considers the world’s general disinclination toward her to be “an injustice of the highest order perpetrated by all persons I have ever met,” to this reader, the revelation seems fairly understandable. In the wild, she ...more
Bonnie Kassel
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reading
The opening paragraph of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg, "I have never been anybody's favorite, and this last fact, in my opinion, is an injustice of the highest order perpetrated by all persons I have ever met," is among the best I've ever read. And these insightful, clever sentences are peppered throughout every single chapter of the book. What a delightful read!

Beginning with the basics, the author Betsy Robinson knows how to write. She has an awesome grasp of punctuation, sentenc
...more
Rodd
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Betsy Robinson describes her character Zelda McFigg the first cousin of Ignatius J. Reilly and Homer Simpson. Being a fan of "The Confederacy of Dunces," I looked forward to meeting the title character in "The Last Will and Testament of Zelda McFigg." What I found was a breezy, easy read that dealt with events in the lifetime of a morbidly obese woman from the time she left her mother passed out on the floor of their Manhattan at 14-years old. In the 40 years, give or take, she conned her way th ...more
Karen
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely delightful book! The Last Will and Testament of Zelda McFigg by Betsy Robinson is both funny and heartbreaking.

Zelda has a caustic sense of humor (which I suspect she may share with Ms. Robinson) and some of the funniest and saddest lines I’ve ever read. This book has some of the cleverest sentences that I have come across in a long time.

Zelda’s journey takes her many places, from NYC to Vermont and back again. Zelda’s relationship with one of her students, Donny, reminds me
...more
Mary Lins
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complete
"The Last Will and Testament of Zelda McFigg" by Betsy Robinson, is a wonderfully fun and funny read! Readers who love a quirky and unpredictable protagonist will enjoy the adventures of Zelda McFigg, who runs away from home at 14 (disappeared father and drunk mother) takes acting lessons, has an unfortunate experience regarding animal rights activism,, and at 21 finds herself teaching English to 7th graders, ironically her own last year of formal education!

What makes Zelda so likable is her hum
...more
Maura Weiler
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Betsy Robinson has pulled off what few have accomplished- she's created a character who is endearingly abhorrent. That's right - Ms. McFigg is so horrifyingly off-putting that I wanted to close the book, yet found myself peeking out from behind the hand I'd put over my face and reading further. The comparisons to Ignatius Reilly are spot on.

I've always been dazzled by the panache with which nervy people can con the world when they so choose, but the fact that Zelda accomplishes it while also bei
...more
Pengaween
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I won this book through GoodReads First Reads, and the author left me a very nice personalized note inside. I immediately thought, "What a nice note!" Immediately after that I thought, "Oh no, what if I don't like the book and have to give a bad review to a person who wrote me a nice note!?"

Luckily that won't be a problem. I enjoyed this book. It was fun, quick, and easy to read. It was a little dark and also a little light and uplifting at the same time.

The book shows us a somewhat random yet
...more
Laura
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a belated review as I finished Zelda weeks ago, but she has been with me since. Zelda McFigg despite flaws and errors in judgement, reminds me so much of people I've known -- giving her whole heart, caring and teaching, but often invisible, ignored and underestimated, but instead of giving up or becoming indifferent, they keep going and giving.

"Here’s what I know: This book a testament of conviction and truth—my conviction, my truth—which says that no matter what New Age gurus tell you,
...more
Jaycob
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hearing a book compared to Confederacy of Dunces is something that automatically peaks my interest. Friends I've recommended that book to have sometimes complained that Ignatius as a character is too cringe inducing and difficult for them to sympathize with. I think those people would enjoy Zelda McFigg, who despite the comparison, is too sympathetic to really hold a candle to Ignatius. The absurdity and condescension is there in parts, but Zelda is too self aware (compared to Ignatius at least) ...more
Emily
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Zelda McFigg is not a likable woman. She is cruel and self-absorbed, but she is also in many ways a victim of her food addictions, her self doubt, and her need to be accepted.

The Last Will and Testament of Zelda McFigg is impossible to put down--as I read, I went from hating Zelda to feeling like I *am* Zelda. She is uncomfortably raw in her anxieties and her desires, and even though the novel is far more plot-centered than internal, Zelda's large, dramatic antics somehow foreground smaller, mor
...more
Jenny Demonic
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Take a spin with Zelda McFigg (and watch her get taken for a ride) in this witty novel from Betsy Robinson. Zelda, an amazing narcissist who has herself convinced everything she does is for the betterment of all, constantly finds herself alone and needing validation from all the wrong people. An obese con-woman who fails to see her tragic flaws, McFigg is always looking for the next person who will finally appreciate her and give her the credit she believes (and, on some items, the reader agrees ...more
Phyllis
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Full-on comedic satire, wrapped around a sturdy nugget of love. Zelda describes herself as four foot eleven inches, approximately 237 pounds, from the start of the story when she is 14 years old straight through to the end at forty-nine-and-one-quarter years of age (Zelda's still with us; this is just the end of the book but not of Zelda). Her quirky life story doesn't sound like the American dream, but she makes the most of it at every turn.
Joey Gremillion
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Captivating! Everyone should have a Zelds McFigg in his or her life!
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