THE EASY HOUR
Like her first novel, Fat Bald Jeff, Stella's sophomore effort is a comedy of working life. Lisa Galisa (yes, it rhymes) sells sportswear at Chicago's Fishman's Department Store, where she seems destined never to earn the coveted brown senior salesperson name tag. She does get to play Maria Callas as part of a storewide Greek Islands marketing theme (catering to "the shipping magnate in all men"), just what she needs to take her mind off being mocked in print by society columnist Babbington Hawkes, just because she threw up on him at socialite Honey Dietrich's Halloween party (to which the Fishman's staff is always invited, in exchange for keeping quiet about Honey's penchant for buying half-price irregulars). Her luck changes, however, when her friend Fred Wysocki asks her to help launch a retro-themed "Easy Hour" that evokes 1960s jet-set decadence at the tavern that his Korean-Polish family runs in the working class neighborhood of Bridgeport, where Lisa grew up. The Easy Hour becomes a hit with Bridgeport locals and high society alike. Honey hires Lisa to be her personal assistant, and soon Lisa is planning an Easy Christmas party for the social set. She's also falling in love with science teacher Ray Fuchet (yes, it rhymes), who works as a Fishman's janitor during the teachers' strike and plays Aristotle Onassis to her Callas. The funny, raffish Lisa is a more likable, less self-absorbed heroine than the one in Stella's debut, and this sparkling novel probes the humiliations and class divisions of the workplace with intelligence and wit. 3-city author tour.(Apr.)
FYI:Stella was a founding editor of the political and cultural zine Lumpen, well known in the Chicago area.
Release date: 04/01/2003