Clown Girl by Monica Drake

Clown Girl

Drake has created a novel that blends the high comedy of early film stars--most notably Chaplin and W.C. Fields--to raise questions of class, gender, economics, and prejudice. Resisting easy classification, this debut novel blends the bizarre, the humorous, and the gritty with great skill.

Details Clown Girl

TitleClown Girl
Release DateJan 4th, 2007
PublisherHawthorne Books
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Dark, Humor, Adult Fiction

Reviews Clown Girl

  • Ciara
    i am re-writing this review & re-rating this book with a lower rating thanks to a barrage of comments from the book's author, as well as the author's obnoxious ass-kissing friends. these folks made me really stop & think about how i felt about this book, & i came to the conclusion that i liked it even less than i thought i did initially. i usually reserve my one-star ratings for true stinkers--books that made me froth with loathing. this book was...
  • Tom Quinn
    Clown Girl was first recommended to me by Goodreads' own super-duper book/reader matching algorithm. It was one of the very first suggestions I ever got after joining, in fact. But it wasn't available at my local library and so it sat on my to-read shelf for three years or so, until I decided to go back and purge out titles that it looked like I'd never get around to reading.Delete, and on to other things.A couple months passed by and I read a fe...
  • Jason Pettus
    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)I've talked here before concerning the surprising things I'm learning about books these days, now that I've been a daily critic myself for about nine months now, and especially two factors that more heavily influence what we think of a book than a lot of us realize -- of where we in particular are in our own lives when we read the book (in terms of age, experienc...
  • Lynn
    Finishing this book was a real chore. I found Clown Girl to be amateurishly written with way too many run-on silly similes. The main character is never likable and I was never able to relate to her or understand why anyone would do anything she does. The far-fetched, melodramatic scenes never allowed me to get into the book at all. I could never suspend disbelief. Monica Drake is trying hard to be quirky, but the plot is essentially a conventiona...
  • Tali
    I guess Drake was making up her own genre—clown noir—or maybe I’m just not familiar with it. If she was, then she could look to Katherine Dunn as the foremother of the genre, but a mother whose teat she needs to keep suckling…as in, she’s not there yet.It was neither subtle nor flagrantly funny. I felt like it needed to be one or the other, or a juggling act of both. I actually think it would be quite good as a movie. Then everything sh...
  • Supreeth
    “When life sucks, throw yourself into art.” 3.5Nita lives in baloneytown. Her heart’s hollow and she’s lowkey depressed. She’s a clown with big clown dreams. She’s all paranoid about caulrophiles and claurophobics; these words are all over the book shot randomly everywhere.The author has tried to paint a Kafkaesque world, where she’s dominated by her quote unquote Boyfriend and everything else. Kafka is referenced all over the book ...
  • Anita Dalton
    Drake spins a marvelous tale but the real reason I think I loved this book so much is not only that Nita speaks to me in an almost eerie way, but also because Drake inverts the traditional chick-lit story by stating outright what it is that makes these clumsy, clueless, grandiose, insecure women appealing. She makes it clear from the very title what Nita is. She’s a clown. No mincing words. Nita is a clown and Drake shows how hard it is not to ...
  • Jaina Bee
    What an interesting experience to read a book the whole way through and not once, ever, did I like —or even care about— the protagonist. I didn't care if she got a happy ending, and, frankly, would have preferred a catastophic demise. I kept feeling like the book would deliver a good sucker punch, but it just kept loitering in the zone between odd and annoying. I couldn't even properly hate it. And this is a book about a CLOWN.Weird.
  • Kathrina
    Thursday was my first meeting back with the Oakdale Prison book group, and this was the book we discussed. I've been interested in this book since it was first released (how to deny the attraction to the rubber chicken?) and was pleased to have the chance to read it, but somewhat concerned about the dynamics of the discussion with male convicts. That's because this is something of a girl's book. Not chick-lit -- it's not about shopping or boys or...
  • Caitlin Constantine
    I picked up this book with high expectations, considering that some writers I really admire and enjoy had good things to say about this book. Almost right away, I found myself irritated. I kept reading, though, because I wanted to believe that the brilliance and humor I'd heard about would appear, but it never did. At the end I found myself grasping for reasons to appreciate it, but I failed. Even the much-vaunted class/gender/social analysis did...
  • Jennifer Graham
    It's so hard to write a comedic novel--especially one that allows for genuine human absurdity rather than some forced ironic posturing. Clown Girl somehow finds the perfect center of black comedy: the space where the humour comes not from a diminishment or belittling of the protagonist's pain but a bottomless acceptance of it. Kafka, Chaplin, Emmet Kelly, and W.C. Fields are all invoked here, quite appropriately. Slapstick collides with existenti...
  • Audacia Ray
    I am drawn to books about people living on the fringes of culture but the protagonist of this book is a twenty something down on her luck white girl living in (aka gentrifying) a "bad" (aka full of poor people of color) neighborhood and being a clown. There's a lot of hand wringing over whether she will or will not do one or both of two terrible things: date a cop she's flirting with (ohgodnoooo) and do clown fetish related sex work (obvs not an ...
  • Tracy
    There are metaphors inside of metaphors inside of, you get the idea. This book is more than what is on the surface; at times made me uncomfortable, at times I chuckled out loud. I enjoyed this odd little gem and found it irresistible.
  • Zoe
    Monica Drake worked on this book for a long, long time. Longer than most people ever work at anything. Her writing is careful, beautiful, strange, frantic, and wonderful. Clown Girl tells the story of Nita/Sniffles/Juicy Caboosey, a performance artist working as a clown who loses her boyfriend, her baby, her dog, her rubber chicken, her urine, and her mind (at times) while trying to stay true to herself and her art. Throw in a pot-growing ex-boyf...
  • Angela
    I'd seen and nearly bought Monica Drake's first novel a few times in bookstores before it arrived as a Powell's Indiespensable selection. The story is a lighthearted, absurd tale of Nita/Sniffles, a woman trying to make ends meet working as a clown while dealing with a dysfunctional long-distance relationship, a lecherous ex-boyfriend landlord and his vindictive girlfriend, an agent with none of her interests in mind, and a cop who conveniently r...
  • Sarah
    I fear, after reading the other ho-hum reviews of this book, that perhaps teaching has destroyed my brain because I was completely charmed by Clown Girl. I found Nita reminiscent of Steve Urkel in her propensity for doing the exact wrong thing predictably in every situation the novel places her, but I was rooting for her the entire time. And let me say, for the first couple pages Rex Galore shows up, I was surprised by the story. Any story that c...
  • Mindy
    Monica Drake did write a book, get Chuck Palahniuk to write an introduction, and find a publisher. That's more than I’ve ever done. I’ll give her that. But she didn’t hold my attention, arouse my sympathies, or teach me anything. The characters were extremely flat despite their many layers of thick clown makeup and their occasional juggling-turned-arson mishaps. Drake tries desperately hard to be quirky and cool, but the book is rather bori...
  • Hal Issen
    Much to amuse, but in the end the promise of hyper-realistic clownishness as an analogy for life and love isn't kept. 10 out of 10 for difficulty & vision 7 out of 10 for execution. Extra points for the shout-out for William Claude Dundenfield.
  • Angella
    I read this book because of Chuck Palahniuk’s recommendation. It was ok. In many places it could have been a lot stronger. The premise is far out and absurd, which can be really fun. A good example of this is Palahniuk or Douglas Coupland’s work. This book, I think, reached for that level of entertaining absurdity. However, the thing that makes the other authors work fun is that, even though it is ridiculous when you think about it, while you...
  • Fabio
    This book was so disappointing. Only a few ideas repeated over and over pointlessly: the clown ethics, how I miss my boyfriend, sickness. Once you get into the schema, you can tell 10 pages in advance what is going to happen - oh yes now she's going to get into troubles with that. It tries to be grotesque but there's not a good laugh in the whole book, nor a surprise, a strong emotion, or a tragedy. The fake ass and breasts can be funny at first,...
  • Erik
    I found myself thinking about Confederacy of Dunces about 1/4 of the way through this book. That's not a good thing, either; I hated Confederacy of Dunces. Although there are no overt parallels between Nita and Ignatius, both continued their string of self-defeating screw-ups long past the point of wearing thin. As far as I'm concerned, Nita and Ignatius will be forever labeled the most incredibly, mind-blowingly, tragically annoying characters i...
  • Robert
    To be honest I wasn't too crazy about Clown Girl. I didn't like the writing style or the characters. I felt quite alienated. However the premise is interesting and there are some funny bits. Disappointing imo.
  • Geoffrey Kleinman
    Monica Drake creates a world where clowns just are part of the scenery. Her main character is extremely well drawn and her struggle to find her muse, live her life and relate to others is superb. A strong debut book. I'll absolutely pick up whatever Drake does next.
  • Richard Thomas
    Such a wild, strange book. It was funny, dark, and oddly erotic at times, and I really enjoyed this. I had only read some of Monica's shorts prior to this, but really found this to be an entertaining, thought-provoking, and touching novel. I can't wait to see what she does next.
  • Luis
    This book in one statement: Nita spirals down into a messy slippery funnel of her world then back to redemption.Or: Nita makes stupid decisions then gets herself into a lot of mess then stupidly tries to clean up the mess until she realizes she just needs to STOP acting, just relax, be calm, get away from people pulling her down, appreciate some people that genuinely want to help her, and fucking save her little life left.The writing needs a litt...
  • Lucas Deal
    4.0 heartsWhat I love most about this book is the absurdity. You have this girl who tries to get by working as a clown, all while "juggling" a horrendous long distance relationship, a landlord that just happens to be her ex-boyfriend and his malicious girlfriend and a cop who keeps saving her from whatever petty crime she attempts next.It's whimsical and Nita/Sniffles is certainly not picture perfect. Many reviews I've read have wanted to complai...
  • Lily
    Clown Girl is not a goofy funny novel, but it isn't supposed to be, regardless of what preconceived notions you get from the title and the picture of the rubber chicken (Plucky!) on the cover. What Clown Girl is is a great first novel from a very talented writer. I can't wait to read more of what Monica Drake has to offer. Thank you, Chuck Palahniuk, for recommending this gem.Nita has decided she is a clown. Not a commercial sell out, but a real ...
  • David
    Amazon has been recommending this book to me for a long time, and I finally decided to take them up on it. I should have done so a lot sooner. Man, whoever have thought Amazon would recommend me something that was actually GOOD? Considering they recommend the Spanish version of novels to me (I can't read Spanish and have never given Amazon the idea that I could), you wouldn't think so. However, "Clown Girl" makes up for all of the bad recommendat...
  • Zack Rock
    Monica Drake never seems to allow herself to revel in the stark absurdity of her character's situations, instead opting for a humanizing approach that harms both the absurdity and humanity of the novel. She also has difficulty transforming the physical pratfalls of clowning into humorous prose, describing Sniffles actions without embellishment under the assumption that we, like her, have a history of clowning to draw from when we read such passag...