New Book Explores Mental Illness, Alcohol, Drug and Sex Addiction, and Prostitution in 1970s New York
Lifelong New Yorker Larissa Shmailo presents the novel Patient Women (BlazeVOX [books], 2015). Patient Women focuses on the tragedies, misadventures, and growth of one Nora Nader, born of Queens and darling of the New York disco scene. As the Era of Rock unravels, we follow Nora through her experiences as a runaway, low-dollar and high-class prostitute, party girl, and working stiff, into her story of self-awareness and addiction recovery as she “finds herself capable of both physical and spiritual ascent.” (K.R. Copeland, Midwest Book Review).
At twelve years old, Nora leaves her Holocaust-survivor parents and explores the worst that New York has to offer. From there, we follow her through mental hospitals, alcoholism, and the accidental drowning of her husband on their honeymoon. We meet her fellow prostitutes and travel with them as they attempt to move to other careers. We bear witness to Nora’s tepid experiences in psychotherapy and her extraordinary relationship with her transgender AA sponsor. We go with her as she returns to Queens to learn about her parents’ ordeal in the camps and also recovers her own suppressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. Through Nora, we track the spiral of history, and how individual New Yorkers experience the underside of the 1970s—both its horrors and the redemption that could be found there.
Patient Women reveals its author’s background as an accomplished poet and translator, and has been praised for balancing divergent literary styles while remaining an accessible page-turner. Second-generation Holocaust survivors, recovering addicts, and those experiencing mental illness will recognize their own stories in Patient Women, and find an insightful, well-written mirror that allows them to explore and articulate both their struggles and their triumphs.
Patient Women is a useful tool for individuals and groups studying the disco era and the AIDS crisis of New York in the 1970s and 80s. With its frank and thorough analysis of bipolar disorder and mental illness, psychiatric hospitalization, addiction, recovery, and incestual child abuse, it is of interest to therapists, therapy groups, and reading groups with an interest in recovery issues.
Larissa Shmailo is a poet, novelist, editor, and critic living in New York. Her translations from Russian include the iconic avant-garde opera Victory over the Sun. Ms. Shmailo is available for booking at (212) 712-9865.
More information can be found at www.LarissaShmailo.com, including the Electronic Press Kit for Ms. Shmailo and Patient Women (with high-resolution photos) at www.larissashmailo.com/…/larissa_shmailo_electronic_press_k…. Patient Women is available for purchase through Amazon, and at on-line and physical bookstores.
A press release by Jonathan Penton
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