From the award-winning, bestselling author of Chang & Eng and Half a Life, a new novel about Lucille Ball, a love story starring Hollywood's first true media mogul. This romance begins with the conceit that the author's grandfather, Isidore, may have had an affair with the I Love Lucy star.
Such reverie is more intoxicating than a tall glass of Vitameatavegamin ... if you want a biography of the comedian, look elsewhere ... So much of what The Queen of Tuesday describes hews to the general outlines of our cultural memory that it’s easy to elide Strauss’s creative license, but the alterations start right on the title page: I Love Lucy ran on Mondays — not Tuesdays ... if you give yourself over to his premise, The Queen of Tuesday is a striking exploration of how fame confounds the lives of prominent and obscure people ... Strauss conjures up those heady days of I Love Lucy with such vibrancy that it’s impossible not to hope that everything might work out after all ... what makes The Queen of Tuesday so peculiar and fascinating is the story that Strauss weaves through it about his grandfather, Izzy ... impossibly daring ... tragic and poignant.
...ingenious and bittersweet ... To better stress her relevance, Strauss finds a way to work in a Trump ... Darin takes a while to insinuate himself into the story, which makes The Queen of Tuesday feel somewhat off-kilter. Rather than a historical novel leavened and complicated by the novelist’s presence, the book often feels divided into segregated lumps of 'auto' and 'fiction' ... But even someone who grasps what Strauss is doing and likes it might wonder whether a novel about a comedian should be funnier ... Strauss finds his footing toward the end, balancing Isidore‘s and Lucille’s real lives and the romance he’s dreamed for them.
As in Strauss’s other books, the movement here is perpetual and multidirectional; it never stops, and it’s never driving exactly where you think it’s going. A close comparison would be to certain American filmmakers like Altman, Cassavetes, or the Safdies—always churning, developing ... Strauss takes his time ... the truth-telling is devastating ... The book could be conceived as a series of frames of reference that move around, sometimes containing each other and sometimes not ... One of the (many) painful lessons the book teaches is that we can’t ask questions...of human relationships because there are no answers that are comfortable for everyone. The book’s setting provides a broader frame of reference than either of the two marriages; we shuttle between Isidore’s world, the dawning suburban microcommunity in Long Island; the Desilu Ranch in California, where Ball and Arnaz fake happiness; and the various studios where Lucille thrusts and parries with suitor colleagues/male oppressors. Somehow we get a very clear sense of these places, down to their smell, with fairly spare description ... The author asserts himself, here as elsewhere in his books, through his rigorously playful approach to language ... as a document of history, both family and otherwise, it reads like a dream painted in bold and fearsome strokes.