Phoebe is an artist making very little money designing wine labels for a winery in Sonoma. Her house is in foreclosure, she’s divorced, turning forty, and beleaguered on every front. Enter Marc Chagall’s ghost, visible only to her, who appears to help her retrieve one of his own paintings that Phoebe’s father found during the liberation of France. Meant for Phoebe and her mother, the painting never made it into their hands. In this debut comic novel, Phoebe and Chagall hunt down the painting in the South of France with help from a cast of characters including two sisters who are witches, a San Francisco Art dealer, and a misguided French innkeeper. Their snooping also leads Chagall to a few out of the hundred paintings that went missing during his lifetime. With skill and tension this book pits characters who appreciate art for its beauty against black market art dealers, evil collectors, and the mysterious German pawn hired to deliver the goods.
FROM THE AUTHOR: Phoebe and the Ghost of Chagall took form in that pinball arcade of the mind where all unborn novels hang out, where ideas ricochet and the good ones ignite the winning lights and set off the sirens. The first ball that slammed around was this wonderful notion that in lean times, struggling artists in Paris used to pay for their meals with art. I started wondering what happened to all those placemats that Picasso adorned with a Minotaur, or that little oil painting that Chagall handed over to pay for his cassoulet. Then of course I became increasingly obsessed with Chagall himself, a man who lived through two wars and was always one step ahead of serious trouble because, first, he was a Russian, and, next, he was a Jew. I read a fascinating tidbit that a hundred of Chagall’s paintings went missing after World War I and were not retrieved during his lifetime. For three years, then, I was pumping quarters into only one pinball machine called: Where does missing art go and, if found, who owns it?
Jill Koenigsdorf began writing at the age of ten and has never looked back. Her story “Browsers and Grazers” was published in the Chautauqua Review and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Jill’s stories have been published in ZYZZYVA, Tin House, The Southwest Review, and American Short Fiction. Her non-fiction pieces have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Sunset Magazine, The New Mexican, and New Mexico Magazine. Jill also received the McGinnis Award and a Peregrine Prize.
Publication Date: October 26, 2012
trim size: 6 x 9