To visit Nora's author page, please click here.
Andromeda, a beautiful teenage girl whose mother has just killed herself, and Sam, a failed thirty-something writer in a miserable marriage, spy on each other across the interior courtyard of their New York apartment building. Through their diaries we learn just how much these two lost souls have in common. When school lets out for the summer, what promises to be an exciting modelling career leads Andromeda to prescription-drug abuse and misery. On the hot night when Sam rescues her from the grips of a security guard at a shop where she's been caught shop-lifting, love apparently blooms. A variety of written artefacts introduce a narrative chorus of other voices that includes Sam's money-obsessed wife, Andromeda's best friend – a gay homeless drunk with whom she passes her days cutting school on a park bench, a neurotic teacher of Kafka, Andromeda's boy-crazy grandmother, and Sam's 'plasticated' mom.
Straddling the literary territory between social satire and feminist cautionary tale, Miss Thing is both a serious commentary on the not-so-clearcut differences between reader and writer, and an anti-novel that's a foil for love stories and the facile definitions they peddle.
Praise for Miss Thing
‘Nora Chassler has written an original and exuberant first novel. With a beguiling mix of voices, it's a romance, a mystery, and a coming of age story set in New York City. Her writing is fresh, poignant, wide-awake – and very funny.’ – Galaxy Craze
‘Windblown, storm-tossed, passionate and electric, Miss Thing is exceptionally compelling fiction. It is also the first time you'll encounter the name Nora Chassler. It won't be the last.’ – Alan Furst
'[A] shimmering debut novel ... ambitious, intricate' – The Independent
'Chassler is based in Scotland but hails from New York, and her first book is absolutely in that city's bright, sardonic and witty tradition ... What is truly enjoyable enjoyable about the book is the old-fashioned love story at its heart. When I say old-fashioned, I mean somewhere between Nabokov and Bret Easton Ellis ... Chassler's characters elicit real emotion. They also make you laugh out loud. their individual stories grip you to the last and leave you wanting more.' – Chris Dolan, The Herald
'Nora Chassler’s debut novel marks the arrival of a distinctive new voice onto the Scottish literary scene ... this debut is to be admired for the audacity of its central conceit and the overall stylishness of its execution.'
– The List
About Nora Chassler
Nora Chassler grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and attended state schools. She graduated from Hunter College where she earned a degree in English and Film Studies. She has worked as a fashion model, a Repatriation Case Worker and a housewife. She now lives in Dundee, Scotland, with her partner, the poet Don Paterson, and her daughter, Frances. She is working on her second novel.
To read an interview with Nora in The Sunday Times, please click here.
An extract from Miss Thing
Basically, you just know to look in the sky for the moon and not under the park bench you’re sitting on – that’s Heidegger’s Comportment. He says it’s an inherent logic, an ingrained connection between me and the world. Well, sorry guy, but on a subtler level I don’t know where the hell to look. Today (back in school after being subjected to a lecture / saki-soaked lunch special with a sleazier-than-ever Lew) I embarrassed myself in ‘Kafka in Context’ because I hadn’t noticed that the protagonist in The Judgment, uh, kills himself at the end. Plus, I like, REALLY LIKED IT. I read it like THREE FUCKING TIMES.
‘Andromeda, he throws himself in the Vltava,’ said Anorexic Trish with an unsightly shake of her skeletal skull. Everyone else joined in the general concern, including ‘He’s my gay teacher’ Rob. They, the whole class, all eight of them, gave me the look I’m getting a bit bored of: it’s the ‘your mom killed herself’ look. Whatever. You know what I DID notice in the story? The big gesture. The big gesture of his dad standing over him while he lies in bed. His face like a totem pole. I waited a few minutes so it wouldn’t seem too obvious I was running away, slowly packed up my bag, smiling at it, then slipped out the door and down the back stairs, past Lew’s office and out the back. He called after me, ‘Hot date?’
Now the yuppie’s dog’s at my knees. Escobar is nowhere to be seen. His shopping cart’s here. But it’s always here. He keeps a tarp on it.
Anyway, after that catastrophe I went across Montague Street and then across Pierrepont and into (another forbidden chain) Duane Reade, where I found myself staring into a locked case of expensive hair products. The labelled manageress, Cherise, came over and asked me if I would like to see something. Even though I only had five bucks I said yes, thank you. She opened the case, took out a metal jar, which was pale blue and cost twenty-one dollars, then went to show an old man where the Cheesenips were. I wanted this goo. I took another one off the shelf. When Cherise came back I handed one jar back and kept the other in my hand. Then I perambulated. Browsed the make-up. Flip-flops. Fondled a loofah. If someone said anything, I would explain, ‘I’m sorry I was preoccupied as my mother has just killed herself.’ I held the line in my head like a mantra. The repetition cleared my mind.
I went to the back wall. Feet stuff, Dr. Scholl’s, bunion pads. I made sure no one was around, that there were no convex mirrors in the corners of the ceiling, then peeled the quilted sticker off, the one that sets the alarm off – and just dropped the goo in my bag before buying a pack of American Spirits at the counter. (I’ve switched. Lew said, ‘If you must smoke at least get the ones without chemicals.’ OK OK OK.) Cherise called after me on the way out: ‘You have a good one, sweetheart.’ I felt like she was giving me the stuff. Like she knew about my mom. I ALMOST CRIED.
I was still technically on my lunch break but since I never eat lunch I had half hour to kill before Botany. We continue to dissect oranges. Anyway I just went back to school, took the stairs up to my favourite bathroom – the handicapped one on the eighth floor, the one with the private lock and good view – and locked myself in. I stood in front of the mirror: matting, sculpting, teasing. All the things they told you you could do with it on the back of the jar. It looked really awful. Try as I might, I couldn’t wash it out with hand soap.
I gave up and leaned out the window and smoked, being very careful of my coiffure, which might have exploded like Debbie Harry (Hairspray) with the slightest heat. It was such a clear day. The Brooklyn Bridge was sparkling. The sky was blue as an enamel egg. The Twin Towers (monstrous spokes) were gleaming. Down below Ed Hanes and Anorexic Trish, who I guess is his girlfriend, were arguing. She was playing with the buckle on her very expensive ‘hobo’ bag. He was pacing around her in circles, smoking one of those dumb miniature cigars he sometimes has. Then he looked up and saw me.
No matter what comes of it; no matter what he thinks, or decides to call it, I can truthfully say that Ed Hanes, ex-jock, Ritalin snorter and sometimes club-promoter, loved me. He put his hand out and squeezed Trish’s shoulder, still looking up, then turned her away and they went towards Boro Hall.
Now the Yuppie is standing right behind my bench, on top of the Holocaust memorial. It is just a bit of marble, three feet square and flush with the ground (guarded, though, by this pathetic knee-high fence). There’s something wrong with the memorial even without him on top of it. Why the Lilliputian monument for six million? Even the dog (‘Midas’, no less) looks embarrassed. He’s hiding behind a tree.
You know what my Comportment is? How I can see him? Because I’m pretending I’m looking over my shoulder up the slope to Riverside Drive, smoking and squinting hard. Like I’m looking for someone in a window. I’m fiddling with my bag, searching for cigarettes, for water, for matches, for my phone (which I only use as a clock, which never rings its Work-of-Art-in-the-Age-of-Mechanical-Reproduction Bach ring). He won’t acknowledge me for all my show of busy-busy-busy. He’s fucking standing there in the Holocaust Memorial staring at his sneakers.
We are grateful to the Scottish Arts Council for a grant towards the publication of Miss Thing.