Clown Girl

Genre: Fiction; Author: Monica Drake

The plot points of Monica Drake’s Clown Girl are a parade of quirks: Down-and-out clown Nita (stage name: Sniffles) waits for her beloved to return to Baloneytown. She pays the rent with demeaning party gigs — twisting balloons into pietàs — while developing a Chaplinesque version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Add in a pot-dealing ex and a rubber-chicken subplot, and it seems like a formula for disaster. Amazingly, Drake finds an emotional through-line in Nita’s stubborn dedication to comedy in the face of disappointment. Riffing on language and revising her jokes in nervous flurries, Nita is the most endearingly teary clown since Smokey Robinson. A-

Originally posted February 16 2007 — 12:00 AM EST

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