The Late, Lamented Molly Marx

The Late Lamented Molly Marx and I became reacquainted a couple of weeks ago when my husband was waiting in the author’s living room. Howard was early enough (or Rob was late enough) that he managed to read three chapters before Rob arrived. “Where’s your copy?” Howard asked me. The answer, of course, is “on the shelf,” but for us that means the bookshelves of either our weekend home or our apartment. So Howard had to wait several days before he dug in, during which he complained that he didn’t have the novel in hand. When I located it, he practically didn’t put it down until he finished. Next he wanted to talk about it, which we did. A lot. When he suggested I include it in my book review section on GenerationBSquared, my first thought was, “oh, but I read Molly Marx a couple of years ago.” My second was, “this is MY website and I can do whatever I want.” And what I want is to tell everyone how good this book is. Genre: um, sort of murder mystery, but not really. And, yes, full of romance and women characters, but definitely not chick lit. Told with charm and wit–Sally Koslow molds language to suit her purpose with remarkable ease–Molly Marx is really about people, how complicated we are a lot of the time, how for us two or three or four seemingly disparate ways of looking at something can all be true at the same time. The characters here are complex to begin with and then change over time. (Even dead people can change, it seems.) A cheating husband may love his wife. A cheating woman may want and need her marriage more than the “other” man about whom she’s crazy. Looked at from “the duration” (Sally’s non-judgmental word for the “hereafter”), life isn’t quite what we expect it to be. It means more, it means less. Shit happens. I won’t give away much of the plot: Molly turns up dead, and the author alternates the chapters between Molly’s eavesdropping from beyond and back story–some of it from before Molly’s death, some of it from the here and now. We meet Molly’s philandering husband, his set-your-teeth-on-edge rich-bitch mother (whom he calls every day, which, for those of use with sons, would be a dream). Her sister and parents are there to be loved and laughed with. Even the detective assigned to the case becomes more real and more brainy every time he appears. More admirable, too. Sally (we really are on a first name basis) actually gets the kid, Annabelle, right as well. It’s hard to write a child character without being too precious or too stilted, and Sally pulls this off. Now for my rant: A book as good as this should get more attention. Sally is not vying with Philip Roth for a Nobel Prize, nor is she trying out Don DeLilo’s post modern conventions. The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a good read, an intelligent read, the kind of book that makes us think but does not necessarily make us struggle. The book has been translated into many languages. (“I can’t imagine why Turkish women would find Jewish mourning customs interesting,” Sally said to me.) It’s not on the shelves of my local library–one needs to reserve it. Still, in this age when sages are bemoaning the fate of the novel, here we have something perfect in its own way that needs and deserves a larger audience. Read the book. Enjoy it. Get back to me about it. (Clicking on the cover picture will take you to the Barnes & Noble Website.)