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Saint Mazie

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  6,408 ratings  ·  942 reviews
Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she's the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It's the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty--even when Prohibition kicks in--and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her deare ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Grand Central Publishing (first published June 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  6,408 ratings  ·  942 reviews

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Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can't see the beauty in the dirt then i feel sorry for you. And if you can't see why these streets are special, then just go home already.

jami attenberg has written historical fiction!!

and it's a brassy, sassy novel full of heart and humor but also some really lovely vulnerable moments. saint mazie is an unforgettable character who, ironically, is based on a real-life person who was nearly forgotten. although joseph mitchell wrote about this "queen of the bowery" in one of the pieces from
Elyse  Walters
Mazie Philips Gordon received a leather-bound journal for her 10th birthday.
I don't think Mazie - had 'any' idea that 30 years later-- (a wild street child at the time, who came from poverty, with a dad that was a rat and a mother a simp), would begin to comprehend
the gift her diary - and life would be.

I knew immediately this was a woman with a huge heart, with a sassy- rough exterior mask. There 'ain't- 'need-to-take-credit' for helping out bums in the streets in New York City, as far as Maz
Diane S ☔
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Absolutely wonderful, though when I first started I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book. By the time I finished I felt as if I personally knew Maize, so much so, that if I met her on the street I would give her a big hug. The author did such a great job with this book and the characters within.

The story is told in journal entries by Maize, interviews by the writer of the book in the novel in the present day, interviewing those ancestors of the people who knew Maize and a few narrative e
Angela M
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it

The way in which Mazie Gordon-Phillips' story is told by Attenberg fascinated me. Little is known about the life of the real Mazie , but Attenberg has done such a great job that I felt as if I was reading a non-fiction account and her imagined life of Mazie was for me thoroughly enjoyable.

She was "Queen of the Bowery" known for helping the homeless men on the streets of New York City in the 1920's and 1930's and her story is told in a unique narrative comprised of a fictionalized diary and autob
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love Mazie! Her heart and spirit encompass the world! She follows her own star in everything and time unless it goes against her sister Rosie's wishes. Rosie took Mazie and her youngest sister, Jeannie, from their abusive home and raised them with husband, Louis. The book is her imagined life - taken from an imaginary diary and an imaginary unpublished biography. There are many characters who speak in the novel as they tell of the Mazie they knew. Very, very well-written in a fascinating style ...more
BEST. COVER. EVER. Just look at it, pretty as a picture.

This book was absolutely beautiful. The novel's protagonist, Mazie Phillips-Gordon is a little spitfire. She's tough, spunky, feisty, loving, sentimental, and most of all - generous. Through Mazie's diary entries, we see the world through her eyes during the Great Depression (New York City). Mazie helps the homeless (mostly men) anyway she can. She's a kind-hearted soul and we also learn about her abusive childhood and her unhappy, control
Mazie Phillips-Gordon, a real person, barely gets a footnote in the history of New York City’s Bowery District during the Great Depression. Here we see all sides of this bold, brassy broad through Attenberg’s fragmented, epistolary narrative. The novel intersperses Mazie’s fictional diary entries (1907 to 1939) with excerpts from her unpublished autobiography and interviews with people who knew her.

For two decades Mazie is a ticket-taker at The Venice movie theater. Her devotion to the poor star
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author has been on my radar because she now lives in New Orleans, so when I visited a local independent bookstore for a Christmas gift for a friend, I came away with this. I ended up giving the friend a different book (long story) and then decided to read this during that busy and lazy week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The story of the irrepressible (nonfictional) Mazie, rendered through her fictional journal entries along with the fictional voices of some who knew her or knew of he
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved spending time in Mazie's world -- the New York of the early 20th century comes alive in this book via several perspectives, but Mazie's is the most fun. I loved the idea of a self-possessed woman stomping around downtown doing whatever the hell she wanted at a time when most women's lives were so circumscribed by their roles as wives and mothers. The mood of the book is melancholy -- so much sadness was packed into Mazie's short life. But it's never overwhelmingly dark; Mazie's life is r ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: More than 90 years after Mazie Phillips - the proprietress of famed New York City movie theatre, the Venice - began her diary, it is discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story.

So who was Mazie Phillips? Diary extracts, interwoven with voices from past and present, paint a picture of her adventurous life - played out during the Jazz Age, when romance and booze were aplenty. But the Great Depression looms.

1/10: The Phillips gi
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
Recommended to TL by: karen
Shelves: favorites
*some minor edits*

“We all lose sometimes. Life’s plenty easy when you’re winning. It’s what you do when you’re down. That’s the real test.”

“There ain't nothing wrong with being alone, which is what I am, or what I have been. It's when it turns to loneliness, when you get to feeling blue about it all, that you're in trouble. There's the problem, loneliness.”

“These people all woke up this morning and reminded themselves to be human beings. Not everyone knows how to do that. No vermin, my people.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-finished
I really liked the idea of this book, and it has some good elements that do not reach full effectiveness because the overall structure just doesn't work.

Presented as an assemblage of diary entries, autobiography excerpts, and interviews with people who know (or know of) the title character, this is the fairly obviously-told story of an unconventional woman (the opening chapter makes sure the reader is told this over and over and over again) who is very interested in the streets. And the people
This is a love letter to New York City. Mazie isn't really all that saintly but she does take us all over NYC from the early 1900's through the 1930's, a rich time in this country's history. She starts out as a pretty self-absorbed young girl, determined to do whatever feels good, everyone else be damned if they don't like it. As time moves on, her world view changes. Broken men return from the war. Prohibition turns hard working people into criminals. The stock market crashes and more people ar ...more
Diane Barnes
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really wonderful book about Mazie Phillips Gordon, a real life Queen of the Bowery. Joseph Mitchell wrote a profile of her for the New Yorker, but other than a few details available in public records, not much is known about a woman who saw a need and tried to fill it. Jami Attenberg has fleshed out her story with an unusual narrative using a fictional diary, and fictional interviews with people who knew her. The result brings to life a story of a big-hearted woman who had known a lot of pain in ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Saint Mazie is the fictionalized biography of Mazie (Gordon) Phillips, a woman who lived and worked in depression-era Manhattan. By day, Mazie ran a movie theater in the Bowery, and by night, she walked the downtown streets of the city, caring for homeless men by giving them money, calling ambulances for them when they were sick or injured, and listening to their stories. The book consists of diary excerpts and recollections of people who knew her or were connected to her in some way. These memo ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book held a lot of promise, and has, at its core, an absolutely great true story. There was a real Mazie Phillips who did work as a ticket seller at a movie theater on the Lower East Side in the heart of the Bowery from the 1920s to 1940, and who, during the Depression and afterwards, gave handouts to the homeless men populating the area. She was a "Personality" with a capital "P" and seemed to take pride in being an eccentric - a "tough broad" - who boozed and flirted and eschewed the trad ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A most extraordinary book about an ordinary woman who may have stood out because she helped the homeless men on the street of NYC after the Wall Street crash of 1929 and after. Of course there’s much more to the story. It starts when Mazie, this ordinary girl moves to New York City at the age of 10, leaving behind an abusive father and a tormented & weak mother.
On the day of the move to NYC, her older sister Rosie gives Mazie a diary to write in. From there we pick up her story. Mazie's family c
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mazie Phillips is the daughter of a bad father and his oppressed wife. At some point in their childhood, the eldest sister Rosie left home and got established in New York City. A year later Rosie came and got the two younger sisters, Mazie and Jeanie. Rosie by then had a husband named Louis and the two of them proceed to raise the younger sisters.

The form of the novel is a bit wonky. Mazie's story is told from several intermingled viewpoints including her diary, people who knew her over the yea
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Based on a Joseph Mitchell profile from the New Yorker, this story reminds you that your story is not always yours to tell, or even decide if it sees daylight. Mazie ran a theater but found the streets more interesting than the screen. In fact, it seemed she loved her NYC more than she did any of her men. This love translated into concrete compassion during the Depression, which is where you might think the "Saint" part comes from. But saints are beloved, are our intercessors, because they lead ...more
Greg Zimmerman
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(First appeared at

Jami Attenberg's fantastic new novel Saint Mazie is about a hard-partying maneater named Mazie Phillips-Gordon. Mazie's a real person — a subject of a New Yorker profile in 1940 about how she opened the Manhattan theater she owned to down-on-their-luck dudes during the Great Depression. But Attenberg's novel uses a fictitious diary, as well as "interviews" with some people whose relatives knew Mazie, or who knew Mazie themselves, to co
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
mazie is delightful, flawed and interesting. i really enjoyed this new novel from attenberg. the telling of the story felt a bit fractured, given the multiple perspectives and the jumps between past and present. while this could be representative of mazie's life it did leave me slightly detached as a reader - i would get sucked right into a diary entry from mazie, only to have the moment broken by a new voice. this is a very minor quibble, though. ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
“There ain’t nothing wrong with being alone, which is what I am, or what I have been. It’s when it turns to loneliness, when you get to feeling blue about it all, that you’re in trouble. There’s the problem, loneliness. And now I’m never really alone anymore, day or night. Even if I walk the streets by myself, I’m surrounded by people. It’s like being in the cage, only inside out.”

This was a beautiful, sad book. Jami Attenberg really knows how to write a bittersweet, page-turning story.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars: SAINT MAZIE is a novel inspired by the life of Mazie Gordon-Phillips who was “the Queen of the Bowery” in New York during the 1920’ s-1940. Maizie was known for walking alone in the streets of New York City helping the downtrodden. She was committed to the NYC community and gave all the money she had to the homeless she passed. She got them into flop houses, called ambulances, gave them soap and train tickets home.

Jami Attenberg used Maizie’s diary and then her own imagination to cre
It’s the Jazz Age, but for every person who spends the night reveling at a speakeasy, many more spend their waking hours working but barely surviving. Prohibition and the Great Depression bring additional problems and heartache. Through it all, the brave and hardy struggle on, but in New York, in the Bowery, one woman will eventually emerge as the soul of city. Mazie Phillips, rescued by her older sister from a weary and brow-beaten mother and a cruel and despicable father, will herself become a ...more
JoAnne Pulcino

Jami Attenberg

It’s the Jazz Age with booze and romance in the air. Larger than life character, Mazie Phillips is a good time girl who never misses a night on the town. She is overcompensating for a childhood of abject poverty. She is the proprietress of THE VENICE, the famous New York City movie theatre.

Along comes the depression and Maize’s life changes radically. She opens the doors of THE VENICE to those in need, tends the sick, hands out coins and becomes the beating heart of the
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written so uniquely this book was wonderful. Full review to come.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, 2016, new-york
Loved this novel set in the 20s and 30s and featuring a big-hearted and captivating protagonist (based on a real person!) Terrific read.
Stephanie Anze
At the age of ten, Mazie Philips receives a leather bound diary as a birthday gift. From that day forward, she begins to chronicle her life in New York city. As she grows older (and bolder), Mazie begins to work as the ticket seller for the Venice Theater, owned by her brother-in-law Louis. Its in this manner that she is introduced to the disenfranchised and poor. Soon Mazie takes action and marks a difference for those in need.

Based on the real-life heroine Mazie Philips Gordon, this is a ficti
This rating/review is based on an ARC I grabbed at work. Thanks to the publisher/B&T for sending it. If anyone else wants to read the ARC copy, I'd be happy to pass it on!

The novel is framed as the diary of Mazie Phillip, a real life jazz age New York theater proprietress, interspersed with documentary-like interviews with people who knew her/knew of her. While I was in the tail end of this book, I definitely looked up Mazie online (like her NYT obituary, which is a legit obit not just a death n
Melissa I
ARC has 325 pages. Just a note; no big deal. I'm so thrilled this picked up pace because I didn't want to DNF a second book this year. I only ever did that with one other book, many, many years ago and one this year. Once it picked up pace it def got more interesting. The verdict is still out though. I'm giving a 4 star....I think....that's subject to change. I think the slow start is influencing my uncertainty and I don't want that to be a factor.

I Loved this book.....or I Loved the premise of
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I'm the author of Instant Love, The Kept Man, The Melting Season, The Middlesteins, and Saint Mazie. My sixth book, All Grown Up, came out March 2017 and my latest novel, All This Could Be Yours, is forthcoming in October 2019. You can find me on twitter @jamiattenberg. I'm originally from the Chicago area, lived in New York City for twenty years, and am now happily a New Orleans resident. ...more

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“We all lose sometimes. Life’s plenty easy when you’re winning. It’s what you do when you’re down. That’s the real test.” 8 likes
“There ain't nothing wrong with being alone, which is what I am, or what I have been. It's when it turns to loneliness, when you get to feeling blue about it all, that you're in trouble. There's the problem, loneliness.” 7 likes
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