Nora Chassler was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1972, and grew up in New York City. She has an undergraduate degree in English from Hunter College, CUNY, in New York, and a Masters in Creative Writing from St Andrews. She has worked as a model and a social worker. She lives in Edinburgh.
Her first novel, Miss Thing, was published by Two Ravens Press in 2010. Her second, with the ambitious title Grandmother Divided by Monkey Equals Outer Space, was published by Valley Press in 2015. A collection of ‘fragments, pensées and table-talk’ titled Madame Bildungsroman’s Optimistic Worldview followed in July 2017.
New York City, 1982. The Martians – Carrie, Eli, their mother Viv and her teenage boyfriend, Arnie – live in a one- bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. Viv smokes marijuana continually, laying out her bizarre version of reality to anyone who will listen. Eleven year-old Carrie’s budding OCD manifests in attention to detail at the expense of the big picture. Her angry older brother Eli just wants to make it to a showing of The Shining that isn’t sold out.
Around the corner – ‘above the smaller dry cleaners’ – the psychic Miss Rosa’s neon rose glows above the street. Keener on recounting the past than predicting the future, Miss Rosa (a.k.a. Phoebe Curtis) befriends the Martians one by one, and shares a part of her story with each of them – a story that resonates disturbingly with their own lives. But the Martians have other things to worry about: can Carrie afford a Red Devil costume for the Halloween parade? Who really has the longest fry? And how will Viv buy pot and pay the rent?
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In this collection of ‘fragments, pensées and table-talk’, Nora Chassler turns her attention to the great questions of contemporary life and literature, aided by a papier-mâché mannequin named Madame Bildungsroman. Together, they exclaim visions and visitations, proclamations and protestations, fierce one-liners and bittersweet memories; each offering a unique insight into the mind of one of our most original writers.
"Offers a brilliant perspective on existence through fragments and aperçus: ambiguous, acerbic, moving and searingly intelligent."
— Regi Claire
"There are very few books you wish to reread immediately upon finishing, but this was one for me. I highly recommend her other books as well. In a hundred years it’s possible having known Nora will be the other thing I am remembered for."
— Sean Ono Lennon (on Instagram)
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