In her last novel, The Middlesteins, author Jami Attenberg wrote a tale of family life in the modern Midwest. For her next one, Saint Mazie, due in June 2015, she goes back in time to Depression-era New York City. Here’s a look at the beautiful jacket art for Saint Mazie along with a note from Attenberg.
What I love about the cover for Saint Mazie — I kissed my monitor when I saw it, illustrator Mark Stutzman and art director Catherine Casalino did amazing work — is that it does two jobs at once. It tells a story all its own — but it’s also true to the story of the book itself.
There’s this intense young woman with a cigarette surrounded by this downtrodden skid-row swirl of people, the architecture of the city propping the whole thing up. Like if you only ever saw the cover and never read the book, you’ve already been told a story.
Saint Mazie is inspired by the real-life Mazie Phillips, who was profiled by Joseph Mitchell in Up in the Old Hotel: a boozy, bawdy, chain-smoking broad who ran a movie theater downtown during the Depression. She was known as “The Queen of the Bowery” because she was the heartbeat of the neighborhood, but also for her tireless efforts to help the homeless men she saw every day. I look at this cover and I think well, there she is, there’s the Queen, and there’s New York City.
More than anything,I am happy for Mazie herself, that she gets to have a beautiful book cover of her own.