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Worthy is the story of Ludmilaor Worthy, as she comes to be knowna former” con artist from Eastern Europe managing an eccentric, failing strip club in Tampa for her lover, Leo. Though there is much she won’t reveal, she gradually unravels the story of her love affair twenty years earlier with Theodore, an erratic literature professor who embraces an ideology built around what he calls the Four Books: Mann’s Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man, Nabokov’s Despair, Melville’s The Confidence-Man, and Camus’s The Fall. Seduced by the scofflaws in these novels, Theodore and Worthy transform themselves into confidence artists, a tempest of shared madness that carries them from New York to Mexico City to the South of France. Despite her sly humor calculated to charm, Worthy’s picaresque narrative leaves the listener with deepening questions, from what happened to Theodore to the reasons she abandoned her son Mirek.
With the linguistic acrobatics of Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing and the confessional force of The Fall, Lisa Birnbaum weaves a lively tale of elusive truth about finding our way in the world, as love is inevitably lost and left behind.
Lisa Birnbaum’s work in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and spoken word performance has been supported by numerous grants and writers’ residencies. Her writing has appeared in such journals as Connecticut Review, Puerto del Sol, Quarter After Eight, and Kestrel. She teaches writing and literature at the University of Tampa and lives in Tampa, FL.