Early praise for Clara at the Edge

     Clara at the Edge is a weird and engaging story of a widow, some wasps, and a traumatic past, a story that explores the importance of human connection.

Seventy-three-year-old widow Clara Breckenridge takes up her home, which is scheduled for demolition, to tow it to Jackpot, Nevada.  Along for the ride are her estranged adult son, Frank, and a magic swarm of wasps.  Those wasps once defended Clara from her abusive father, and they have been her protectors ever since.

During her unique journey, Clara must face her deepest fears and unlock her internal secrets.  She reluctantly attempts to reconnect with her family, find a path to happiness, and satisfy her magic protectors before they fade forever.

Clara is a fascinating, feisty character whose magical wasps seem to function as a subconscious outlet. Now at the end of her life, Clara has spent forty years alone; her wasps drive her to unshackle herself from this self-imposed isolation.  When she is confronted by violent youths attacking her and her home, Clara puts her own safety aside in the hopes of preventing a dark future.

The writing is haunting and lyrical, and frequently ripples with humor and heart.  Clara’s is not the only lens through which events are seen; the perspectives of her son, the locals in Jackpot, and a potential love interest also play in.  Subtly shifting points of view give the narrative a dreamlike feel, but they also help to anchor its otherworldly aspects.  For example, while the purple wasps at first seem like hallucinations or signs of a fractured mind, it becomes evident that most of the people around Clara also notice their strange behaviors and colorations.  It is clear that there is an outside force pushing Clara.

Enchantingly languid pacing serves as a counterpoint to the story’s ever-present countdown: even if the truth about the wasps and Clara’s fate isn’t clear at first, there’s less than a month to root it out.  Clara truly is as the edge of something greater than herself.  As she finds herself surrounded by new friends, estranged family, and the ghosts of those she lost, Clara’s story unspools in a compelling and engaging way.—Foreword Reviews

In her seven decades on earth, Clara Breckenridge has survived the untimely loss of her husband, the tragic death of her daughter just months later, and now, in her waning years, a ruthless displacement from her home by unfazed city developers.  But Clara is unshakable.  She loads her house–its aging structure in all its glory–onto a flatbed truck and moves it closer to her son, Frank, in Nevada.  Throughout his adulthood, Frank and Clara have maintained a complicated estrangement.  Clara, feeling daunted by the task of laying straight her failures as a mother, is empowered by the magically real colony of wasps that has followed and protected her since adolescence.  Regardless of whether or not the buzzing morsels of wisdom exist outside her head, Clara is determined to pull her son (and herself) back into the magic circle of love that has been empty since his father and sister passed.  In alternating, omniscient, wasp-on-the-wall perspectives, Fox’s writing says yes to every surreal and absurd possibility life offers.”BOOKLIST

Clara’s blurbs

“Who knew wasps could be protectors, champions, and the best friends a girl ever had?  Maryl Jo  Fox has written a wild, enchanting, constantly surprising story of one woman’s resilience, courage, and    redemption through what may be a kind of magical insanity.  Clara At the Edge kept me buzzing on  every page.”

___ Diana Wagman, author of Life #6, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets

“This dazzling combination of riotous imagination with bottomless compassion makes this such a stellar  debut. Readers will surely remember Clara and her crew— they are utterly distinct, and beautifully  realized.”

____  Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master,  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and four others.

“We will follow Clara anywhere.”

Walter Kirn has written 8 books, most recently Up in the Air and Blood Will Out.

+ + + +

Critical comment on Maryl Jo Fox’s short fiction

. . . Maryl Jo Fox’s “Marker” brings us a post-apocalyptic tale regarding an artist’s capture and near-escapes from the vain dictator who rules her world.  As the warlord stages twisted beauty pageants and forces refugee artists to paint her image, the narrator can do nothing but flee uselessly towards the borders of her failed society.  Cruel and evocative, “Marker” shouldn’t be missed by anyone interested in the quickly emerging slipstream genre.

Matt Bell, NewPages.com

Re Bat City Review, Number 2, 2006, Biannual