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The Late, Lamented Molly Marx: A Novel Paperback – June 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description
The circumstances of Molly Marx’s death may be suspicious, but she hasn’t lost her joie de vivre. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly, thirty-five years old, is delighted to discover that she can still keep tabs on those she left behind: Annabel, her beloved four-year-old daughter; Lucy, her combustible twin sister; Kitty, her piece-of-work mother-in-law; Brie, her beautiful and steadfast best friend; and, of course, her husband, Barry, a plastic surgeon with more than a professional interest in many of his female patients. As a bonus, Molly quickly realizes that the afterlife comes with a finely tuned bullshit detector.

As Molly looks on, her loved ones try to discern whether her death was an accident, suicide, or murder. She was last seen alive leaving for a bike ride through New York City’s Riverside Park; her body was found lying on the bank of the Hudson River. Did a stranger lure Molly to danger? Did she plan to meet someone she thought she could trust? Could she have ended her own life for mysterious reasons, or did she simply lose control of her bike? As the police question her circle of intimates, Molly relives the years and days that led up to her sudden end: her marriage, troubled yet tender; her charmed work life as a magazine decorating editor; and the irresistible colleague to whom she was drawn.

More than anything, Molly finds herself watching over Annabel--and realizing how motherhood helped to bring out her very best self. As the investigation into her death proceeds, Molly will relive her most precious moments--and take responsibility for the choices in her life.

Exploring the bonds of fidelity, family, and friendship, and narrated by a memorable and endearing character, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving, and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story, and all heart.

Amazon Exclusive: Sally Koslow on the Secret to Unlocking Creativity

Run, Writer, Run

Four years ago, I decided to write a novel. I confess to equal parts insanity and hubris, since at this time I’d never completed anything longer than a magazine article--and we’re talking a sprightly 3500 words, not a treatise in The New Yorker.

After I began my project, a curious thing started happening. About fifteen minutes into my regular morning runs, ideas for the book began sprouting like weeds. This source of creativity became so dependable that I hit the track with paper and pen and became Gretel in Nikes, gathering metaphors, characters’ names, dialogue snippets and whole branches of plot, which I’d hurry back home and--dripping with sweat--build into my work-in-progress.

Within eighteen months, I finished and sold my novel, Little Pink Slips. On May 19th my second book, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, will be published and a third is well underway. I doubt I could have written so much so fast without these runs, when my brain served up ideas, almost by osmosis, and all I had to do was take dictation.

Proud of my running discovery, I mentioned it to a shrink-friend. (If you live in Manhattan, like I do, you’re required to have at least one friend who’s your own private Gabriel Byrne/Paul Weston.) What he told me was that creative types will often report doing their best work early in the morning, when they’re closest to their unconscious source of creativity. Beethoven, for example, though no jock, had the ritual of a morning stroll during which he’d scribble musical notes into a sketchbook. Having transported himself during the walk and limbered up his mind, he’d return home and get down to business.

Doing the right kind of exercise as soon as you wake up, my psychiatrist-friend explained, replicates and extends our dream state, freeing us to snag ideas, feelings and sensations generated by our unconscious. What he means by the “right” kind is repetitive--a.k.a. boring--activities where the outside world fades away, not golf or tennis or even a dance class, where you need to strategize or follow instructions. This was excellent news for a klutz like me, with so little eye-hand coordination she’s lucky she can type. It’s also important to minimize distractions, to leave the iPod at home and exercise solo.

We can all tick off the standard benefits of exercise: protecting us from heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, obesity, osteoporosis and stroke, along with the upbeat effect it has on both our mood and our butt. But who guessed it’s also a shortcut to creativity? Hans and Franz had it right, exercise pumps us up, making our minds more nimble, allowing our subconscious to cross-fertilize. One good idea drives another in a daisy chain, which is much of originality, connecting the dots between concepts no one else has put together.

You can’t wait for the creativity gods to send you an IM. I say, writers, lace up your sneakers. Maybe you’re just one long run away from finishing a novel that’s going to hit the top of the chart.--Sally Koslow

(Photo © James Maher) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Molly Divine Marx is dead. No one is quite sure how—murder, suicide, tragic accident?—and even Molly's own recollection doesn't explain much. Narrating this charming novel from an afterlife limbo known as the Duration, Molly follows the investigation of her death while keeping tabs on the living she left behind. Nearly everyone is a suspect: Barry, Molly's philandering plastic surgeon husband; Kitty, her controlling mother-in-law; Luke, Molly's lover; and the cabal of wifely hopefuls who line up for a shot at Barry before Molly's casket is safely in the ground. Longtime magazine editor Koslow (Little Pink Slips) knows her way around expertly tuned phrasing, and Molly is a delightful gem of a heroine. Equal parts self-deprecating, wry and sassy, Molly is honest about her faults and easily forgiving of the others' as she reviews her life with a hearty dose of honesty and humor. Though the anticipated delicious revelation doesn't quite live up to expectations, the narrative's heavy dose of hilarity and heartbreak will win readers over. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345506219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345506214
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,119,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By E. Griffin VINE VOICE on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If after death you had the choice to visit your family and friends, and understand their thoughts, would you? Molly Marx is 35 when she dies in an unexplained bicycle accident, and she chooses to "visit" during the first year after her death.
Molly is married to a successful plastic surgeon (who comes equipped with a stereotypical over protective Jewish mother), has a four year-old daughter she loves with all her heart, close relationships with her family, good friends, a fulfilling and creative career, and a handsome, romantic lover. Molly's life is cut short during a bicycle ride in Riverside Park on a rainy day, and she suddenly finds herself in a place called the Duration.
From the Duration, and newly equipped with a fully functioning bull*&$) meter, Molly watches as life goes on without her. Nicely juxtaposed with important events that occurred before Molly's death, the reader is treated to perspectives of Molly's life from her memories, current events, the thoughts of her loved ones, and even an NYC detective who is trying to discover how Molly died. In the end, we discover how Molly died is less important than how she lived, and how pieces of Molly lived on in other long after she was gone.
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is simultaneously funny and sad. Molly's life was complicated and messy, and her death brought out the best and worst of her family and friends. It is an engaging book, keeping the reader immersed to discover how Molly died and what happens afterwards, and an enjoyable read from beginning to end.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Molly Marx, beautiful thirty-five year old wife of a rich plastic surgeon, narrates the intricate tale of her life and mysterious death from the Duration, a purgatory-like stopover between Life and whatever lies beyond. Although Molly's narrative voice is wry and funny, the story of her troubled marriage to her cheating husband, her own infidelity and her complicated relationships with her extended entourage of friends and family is very serious subject matter indeed.

From her vantage point in the Duration, Molly is able to not only follow the events which ensue after her untimely demise, but is able to look back at the choices she made in her life which led her to be on that Riverside Park bike trail where she dies. The novel opens with Molly observing her own funeral, and then following the police investigation into her death which continues throughout the book. Until the very end of the novel, the reader is left in limbo as to whether Molly's death is accidental, suicide or murder.

Although I found parts of this novel very touching, and I thought that the author maintained a lively, witty voice for her title character, overall I was not drawn into this plot. In fact, for the most part I found the plot off-putting. The main reason was that I could not get a handle on what message the author was trying to convey.

The book is too frothy to be really poignant. The grim topics of death, adultery and guilt are often handled in the breezily farcical manner that many a chick lit heroine uses to describe her battle with ten extra pounds or her propensity to spend too much money on shoes. This might not be so unnerving if the reader was not forced to keep reminding herself that she is being told about these events by a dead person.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was looking forward to reading this book because the opening was so clever, so witty, and clever and witty aren't easy to come by these days.

But while clever and witty are artfully handled by the likes of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, they can easily become ponderous if attention is paid primarily to the form and not so much the substance. Given the plot outline and the tone of the work, I had hoped for fresh insight and something at the very least touching. What I got, though, was Erma Bombeck meets Our Town via Here Comes Mr Jordan.

Without revealing the end of the book, the plot is at best a cheat. After leading the reader on to expect one thing, the author decides in the last dozen pages that the book is about something else entirely, but what that something is is so trivial and shallow that one feels more than a little bamboozled for having worked his way through 300 pages to get there (one cannot escape the feeling that the author ran out of time and had to get it off the following day).

Nor is there anything fresh or original about the characters. You have the heroine (surprisingly shallow), the philandering husband (though the heroine is no slacker herself), the anal-retentive and disapproving mother-in-law, the Bohemian best friend, the difficult sister and so forth. None of them are fully realized, even the heroine. And while the dialog isn't exactly forced, neither is this how people really talk to each other (unless Manhattanites talk to their friends and family members in a remarkably superficial way).

The structure of the book is also somewhat annoying but convenient for those who tire of the seeming endlessness of it and want to speed through to the end, alternating as it does the expository chapters with those that advance the "plot".
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