Books by Maggie Estep

Maggie Estep grew up moving throughout the US and France with her nomadic horse trainer parents. She attended the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Co. and received a B.A. in Literature from The State University of New York. Before

Released: May 1, 2009

"Fresh and surprisingly real."
Family is open to definition for three wildly unconventional women, their assorted lovers and a pack of rescue dogs. Read full book review >
FLAMETHROWER by Maggie Estep
Released: Sept. 26, 2006

"The mystery is, as usual (Hex, 2003, etc.), a shambles. But Ruby's loopy, laconic brand of inconsequence makes her something of a distaff Kinky Friedman."
Ruby Murphy, the accidental Coney Island detective who loses jobs and lovers a lot more easily than she acquires them, ends up in the middle of somebody else's losses. Read full book review >
HEX by Maggie Estep
Released: March 1, 2003

Ruby Murphy works at the Coney Island Museum, lives in Coney Island with her two cats, who dine on organic turkey meat, and hangs out with a variety of friends who, in their superficial grotesquerie, would belong in an amusement park if only they were amusing. On a hot subway, Ruby impulsively pretends to well-dressed, scarred Ariel DiCello that she's a private detective. Heedless of Ruby's subsequent confession, Ariel promptly hires her to follow her boyfriend Frank, who works at Belmont Race Track and seems to be up to hanky-panky. Ariel, who lives at the Chelsea Hotel, where Sid Vicious died—a typically indiscriminate detail that may be a clue, or just clueless—gets Ruby a job at the track as a "hot-walker," someone who exercises horses after they race. Ruby doesn't like getting up at dawn, but she loves horses and snoops around as best she can between practicing yoga and piano, comforting a friend after a botched breast augmentation, and nursing an old boyfriend dying of cancer. Frank, it turns out, is indeed fooling around on Ariel, but his real betrayal may involve a strange sort of loyalty. Even so, Ruby manages to protect another victim, identify the villain, and buy more turkey for her cats. Read full book review >
SOFT MANIACS by Maggie Estep
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Nine linked stories by East Village novelist Estep (Diary of an Emotional Idiot, 1997), who tries to milk fresh narrative out of the dried-up cow of Downtown counterculture. After a few pages, everyone here is as recognizable as bachelor uncles at a family reunion—and not just because Estep shuffles the same half-dozen characters into the deck from which she deals each story. In "Horses," for example, a circus clown falls in love with Katie, the lion-tamer's daughter, but loses her when she moves to New York to become a photographer. In "The Patient," we meet Jody (who had once dated Katie's father), a prodigiously oversexed psychiatrist who drives her boyfriend to near-suicide by making him impregnate an elderly lesbian. Joe, the narrator of "Circus," meets Katie, and the two carry on until Joe pulls a reverse Katie and abandons her for a circus job. Meanwhile, in "Teeth," Jody seduces one of her patients by masturbating during his session but dumps him when he refuses to sleep with a whore she brings home. Kate's sister Alfie is a lesbian bike messenger who sometimes sleeps with Indio, a guy from work ("The Messenger"). Jack, the patient Jody dumped in "Teeth," starts screwing around with Katie in "Animals." Jack is a petty criminal who's into Caravaggio and gets jealous when Katie decides to go on a yachting expedition with an ex-boyfriend ("Monkeys"). Last, in "One of Us," Jody herself is institutionalized, having married Toby (another of her patients) and been driven crazy trying to adopt the baby that her elderly lesbian friend gave birth to shortly before her death. Which is all very sad. Probably. Pomo angst that seems far more transparent than transgressive, written in the kind of faux-blasÇ prose ("I had a rambling apartment in Brooklyn and I fucked my girlfriend Jody in every part of it") that would make Henry Miller think it was written by kids. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1997

MTV's favorite performance artist, a self-styled rebel poet, now commits herself to print in this utterly conventional, at times semi-literate, narrative: an episodic tale of romance in the East Village, with interspersed memories of a screwed-up childhood. Zoe, the posturing narrator of this ``document of Emotional Idiocy,'' is a young woman much like the author: She plays bass guitar, writes porn novels for money, and saves her true self for poetry. She also works part-time as a receptionist in an S&M dungeon, which is perhaps where she learns to be so blasÇ about sextalk. Zoe's ``emotional idiocy'' no doubt results from her dysfunctional past. Her parents divorced early on, and she grew up in places as varied as Colorado and France. Later, she joined her itinerant father as he bummed from job to job as a horse-stable manager. Eventually, though, she ends up living in a New York tenement, where her neighbors include hookers, junkies, strippers, a Heavy Metal guy, a Hefty Lesbian, Japanese fashion students, and a superintendent with an unusually long penis. She and her best friends join together to form Idiots Anonymous, a group with membership restricted to ``dope fiends, sex addicts, or thieves.'' Such is the cool world of la vie bohäme: Zoe herself studies Burroughs's Junkie, makes the obligatory pilgrimage to Morocco, becomes a ``shaky junkie chick,'' and then detoxs and rehabs. Her desultory sex life includes lots of bad guys, masturbation, and some obligatory lesbianism. In the narrative's present time, she's keeping vigil in the closet of her latest ex, a.k.a. ``Satan.'' Poetical outbursts (e.g., she's ``scrubbing the metaphoric toilets of love'') only add to the pretentious claptrap here. Heroin chic, S&M chic, ``the arts'' as a lifestyle choice—all sound like a great idea for a Broadway musical, if only Jonathan ``Rent'' Larsen hadn't gotten there first. (Author tour) Read full book review >