Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author Laurie Boris stops by...

Today I'm happy to welcome Laurie Boris, author of The Joke’s on Me, who's guest blogging here today.

Laurie Boris is an award-winning writer, former graphic designer, and closet stand-up comic. Her first novel, The Joke’s on Me is a story about family love and redemption as seen through the eyes of feisty former actress and stand-up comic Frankie Goldberg.

Behind the Scenes of The Joke’s on Me

The Joke’s on Me, a contemporary novel about the homecoming of former stand-up comic Frankie Goldberg (and the lighter side of family love and forgiveness), was born during the three years I worked for a small home business in Woodstock, New York, where the book is set. My ex-bosses, a husband and wife who ditched Manhattan for the rustic-post-hippie-chic of Woodstock, were very hands-on and absolutely fascinating. As were their friends. While I didn’t base any of my characters on specific people, they did pool themselves into my mental melting pot as I developed Frankie’s ex-hippie sister, Jude, Jude’s favorite ex-husband, Lev, their teenaged son, Ethan, and several other minor players who popped in and out of the Goldberg house.

Woodstock itself is a fascinating place, a character all its own. Formed as an artist’s colony, it gained international fame by lending its name (and none of its real estate or Porta-Potties) to a certain music festival in 1969. Since then, many people from the Woodstock generation, mainly those living in Manhattan, like my ex-bosses and their friends, have gone from vacation rentals to summer/weekend homes to actually moving upstate full-time. And since then, the locals have had to contend with what usually results from a sudden influx of well-heeled transplants: hikes in property taxes, zoning board battles, and crowded streets.

Upon one of these crowded streets, during the drive back to the office after bolting down lunch one Friday, Frankie Goldberg was born. Already running late, I was in my Toyota, idling on the main drag waiting for the driver ahead of me to finish a long conversation with a female pedestrian who’d been crossing the street. A “hello” in passing would not have bothered me (hey, I’m a laid-back, Woodstock sort of gal), but apparently these two were catching up as if they hadn’t seen each other in fifty years instead of (I imagined) at the health food store the previous weekend. I honked, but the woman, dressed like an upmarket gypsy, merely smiled and waved, jingling an armload of bracelets, emanating (again, I imagined) a patchouli cloud. Then I heard Frankie’s voice in my head. She was practically doing a stand-up routine about this woman, her wardrobe, her sex life or lack thereof, how annoying Woodstock had gotten since she left it, and how incense and tie-dye should be illegal.

Then she began to tell me her story, of the older sister she barely knew and could barely tolerate. Of being the thirty-something daughter of a mother who wasn’t supposed to be in a nursing home, forgetting Frankie’s name. Of leaving Hollywood in desperation, and facing her own love/hate relationship with the small town where she grew up, and the people in it.

Local readers may recognize some of the geography and the personalities (and no, the family B&B was not Bob Dylan’s former abode) but I think the themes and conflicts are universal: like it or not, sometimes the only place you can go is home. Even if it smells like patchouli and environmentally-correct cleaning products.
Sounds like a great read. For more information about the book, visit

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  1. Thank you for letting me visit, Rashmi!

  2. It's so fascinating to me how books are birthed by their authors. Often the only voices in my head are those of my Inner Critic and other ne'er-do-wells that have yet to motivate creativity.

    I have never been to Woodstock - but did spend a few years in Peekskill, New York. Thank you for this behind-the-scenes peek at what appears to be a really great read!

  3. My inner critic is really loud, Sally - thanks for stopping by.

  4. Thank you, Sally! No matter how I try to bludgeon the old IC, it keeps getting up again.