The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

Zelda McFigg has a need to set straight the record of her life. In her seriocomic fictional memoir, the 4' 11", 237-pound, single 49¼-year-old maps her inauspicious life. Her story begins in 1975, when 14-year-old Zelda ran away from her upstate New York home and a neglectful, drunken, single mother and was forced to "pursue alternate routes of survival." With acting aspirations, she headed for Manhattan, becoming a cleaning lady and an assistant to a washed-up poet who once appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Afterward, she meets a "baby-doll-faced" heroin addict committed to animal rights; confronts a mouse-phobia; acts in avant-garde, Off-Off Broadway theater showcases for no pay; lives in "concentration camp" barracks while doing props for a New England summer stock theater company; and winds up as a part-time hall monitor-turned-English teacher in the Moose Country, Vt., school system. There, she mentors a student of Native-American descent, who, like those in the rest of the town, harbors secrets.

Zelda's life journey is circuitous and paved with a slew of absurd, comic blunders. "Invention is the most valuable life skill one can have or teach," she explains as she copes with three decades of chronic disappointments and disingenuous people. Yet, she remains resilient, undaunted by the fact that wherever life takes her, she's a misfit and a loner. In the end, the wit of Zelda's narrative voice as created by novelist/playwright Betsy Robinson will finally allow her to connect and be recognized in the world of readers' imaginations. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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