Fiction. 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, and at age 49 ¬ writes this furiously funny memoir to "set the record straight" about her lifetime of indiscretions.
Behind Zelda's rollicking tale of destruction lies a story of exile. Exile from oneself. Readers will see much more about Zelda than she knows about herself. Says author Susan Trott (The Holy Man series and many other books), "Ingenious comic author Betsy Robinson, in finely wrought prose, tells the life story of Zelda McFigg. Zelda is a heavyweight, seemingly guided or misguided by a ruinous wrath and the feeling that dishonesty is the best policy. Robinson designs a remarkable pilgrimage for Zelda and uncovers under her many, many layers, a sorrowful affectionate heart."
The Something Wordy Blog calls the book "Mark Twain-esque [with an] undercurrent flowing through it: direct, call-a-spade-a-spade honesty, that had me laughing, while I actually wanted to cry."
"Zelda is an iconic voice of our media-struck age, ferociously trying to rectify the gross injustice of her non- celebrity. A character angry, proud, and desperate to be seen." —John Sayles, writer and filmmaker
"A thoroughly delightful new novel—in parts funny, tragic, angry, heartbreaking, caustic, absurd and totally all-too true. A comic geshrei from the heart, and pleasure from first page to last!" —Steve Kaplan, script consultant, author of The Hidden Tools of Comedy
|Publisher:||Black Lawrence Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Betsy Robinson is a fiction writer, journalist, playwright, and freelance book editor for indie publishers and individual writers. For almost seven years she was managing editor of Spirituality & Health magazine until the economy imploded and she was downsized out of the job. What followed was a year and a half working on her third novel, THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ZELDA MCFIGG. Her first novel, Plan Z by Leslie Kove, was published by Mid-List Press in 2001 as winner of their First Series Award for the Novel. Her play scripts have been produced at the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Theatre in the Works (Amherst, MA), in Los Angeles, Off-off Broadway, on cable TV, and in Iowa where she won first prize in the Dubuque Fine Arts 1-Act Contest. In 1987, with her mother/writing partner Edna Robinson, she was awarded a Writers Guild East Foundation Fellowship to write unproduced movies. A Bennington College and National Theater Institute graduate, Betsy is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre where she's had many workshop productions and first performed her one-woman one-act Darleen Dances.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this entertaining, insightful seriocomic fictional memoir. Absolutely recommended, for sure 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 for survival, and a mission to become an actress, she had no moral compasses from anyone to guide her through the pitfalls of adulthood. It resulted in her making big mistakes that would ultimately catch up with her later in life. She ended up being an illegal teacher for more than thirty years as well. The only love she understood was food. And more food. And then some more food. Until she became so obese that no one in their right social mind would want to be in her presence. At the age of 14 she knew she had to leave her mother's house. Thus began a journey of survival in which she exchanged her intellectual abilities for a roof over her head; watched ruthless people steal her horses and plow themselves all the way to successful lives; experience the shock of betrayal where she least expected it. But in the end she did not give up. She stood up for herself and wrote her memoir, just to prove a point! "Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." - Mark Twain. Zelda McFigg's survival kit contains a healthy dollop of humor which is the most important lesson she is teaching us in this book. Would I recommend her as a role model for young people? Of course not! A person who eats her problems away, seek love in mountains of fodder, makes catastrophic decisions and becomes an experienced lock-picker? Nope, it ain't gonna work, right ? But still, everyone should read this book to understand how the American dream worked for her. She was dirt poor, unattractive, unlovable, and undoubtedly obese. But she did have something else: a cheek to persist. And a gentle grace which defined everything for her. This is everyone's story who had to take on the world single handedly and won (or lost). The narrator's voice is so authentic, it does not fit into any literary molds. But it is this individualistic cry for recognition that makes this book worth reading. .
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 being utterly artless and odoriferous is further testament to her fabulousness. Her one redeeming quality is her work ethic post-fabrication. Once she's talked her way into a job, she has the wherewithal to work hard at it, if not to gather the appropriate credentials. Over time, I grew so fond of Zelda that I found myself outraged whenever she ran up against consequences and had to remember that many of her problems were self-created. While not a fan of the poor choices Zelda makes to escape a difficult childhood and beyond, I can't help but applaud her ferocious survival instinct. My thanks to Ms. Robinson for bringing this fascinating character to life.
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 would be a discomforting person to know. Unattractive both inside and out—and with a propensity for compounding her dearth of appeal by riding her bicycle to social or professional engagements, understanding that it will exacerbate her chronic body odor, or comforting herself with foods she knows will cause her flatulence—she is frank about her (often horrifying and destructive) actions, as well as her thoughts and justifications. In life, it’s unlikely that she’d be my favorite, either. But, as a character in a work of fiction, Zelda is mesmerizing. Her unsympathetic qualities never drift toward whining or pity plays, and they ultimately render her highly sympathetic and entertaining. At the age of fourteen, Zelda tells her intoxicated artist of a mother “I’m very fat and I want to die.” Rather than respond, dear attentive mummy simply shakes a can of paint. “She shook it so hard her face turned red. Then—crash, splat—she passed out on the floor.” Zelda empties her mother’s wallet and catches the next train to New York City. And thus begins several decades of ever evolving escapades in which destruction and deceit are sometimes the fuel, sometimes the fallout, and oftentimes both. The book is superbly written and the story is thoroughly engrossing. I cringed again and again at Zelda’s choices while remaining eager to see what she’d do next. To anyone who likes a bit of quirk in a novel that pulls no punches, I’d highly recommend The Last Will and Testament of Zelda McFigg.