Book Cover: Diamond Lane

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The Diamond Lane

New edition: 2014
New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Reluctantly back home in L.A. after 16 years in Africa, documentary filmmaker Mouse FitzHenry longs for the harsh, teeming jungle life her dark lens took in so lovingly. Wrenched stateside by a family emergency, with her longtime boyfriend/collaborator in tow, Mouse is instantly beleaguered by a past she’d leapt continents to escape and a present she can only face armed by reels of celluloid.

In this rollicking second novel, Karbo ( Trespassers Welcome Here ) reveals familiar subjects – the phony glitz of Hollywood, the fairy-tale lure of love and marriage – with precision, compassion and humor as if we are seeing them for the very first time. Mouse’s paramour Tony, a Brit who calls her “poppet,” adores L.A. and all that it can do for him and for his screenplay, Love Among the Elephants . “Based on a true story” about their courtship in Africa, the script has been given the go-ahead by a producer who insists on dubbing it Love Among Gorillas. Mouse, meanwhile, caving in to maternal pressure, agrees to marry Tony and then proceeds, with the help of an old flame, to film around her unwitting fiance a documentary on the entire process of their betrothal called Wedding March. A flawless, page-turning story emerges as Mouse and Tony manage – often with hilarious subterfuge–to keep their projects secret from one another. With its laugh-aloud moments and a cast of brilliantly drawn characters, this is a tale to treasure.

Praise for The Diamond Lane

When THE DIAMOND LANE first came out, it was admired for its edgy style and hailed, for good reason, as “A deft, tragicomic social satire – of Los Angeles and the movie biz in particular and modern mores in general – noteworthy for the complexity of its characters, crisp prose, and loopy comic style.” (Library Journal) The New York Times loved it--declaring it one of the best novels of 1991 – ”A wonderfully comic novel about savvy Hollywood outsiders trying to get in – and to juggle their disastrous but funny love lives.” In the twenty-two years since publication, things have changed – or not. Filmmakers do not, perhaps, lug around the miles of celluloid and the burdensome cameras and sound recorders that they once did. Mobile phones ring all the time now, and perhaps Solly can reach his target-connections in New York more readily that he could then (perhaps not), but the convoluted relationships between art and commerce, truth and fiction, love and rivalry, wit and sadness that Karbo explores in THE DIAMOND LANE have not changed. This novel still feels knowing and audacious and up-to-the-minute.

Cheryl StrayedJane Smiley, Introduction, 2014 edition

This kind of novel is a devil to pull off . . . and Ms. Karbo has done her job brilliantly.

The New York Times Book Review

It is a testament to Karbo’s skill at high comedy that the ending of this book — a funeral rather than a wedding — leaves you smiling.

The New Yorker

This astringent, humorous novel tackles two subjects ripe for satire: the Hollywood movie industry and marriage — both notoriously fickle institutions requiring blind hope to sustain life.

The Los Angeles Times

A flawless, page-turning story . . . this is a tale to treasure.

Publishers Weekly
Book Cover: Motherhood Made a man out of me

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Motherhood Made a Man Out Of Me: A Novel

New Edition: 2016
New York Times Notable Book of the Year

A novel of babies and friendship, mothers and fathers, and the havoc of procreation.

Brooke and Mary Rose are best friends. Brooke is the mother of a six-month-old. Mary Rose is pregnant. Brooke is married to Lyle, though, at times, she wonders why. Mary Rose would be married if Ward, the father of her child, werent already. Ward and Brooke are cousinsA comedy of manners and biology, Karbo gives a laugh-out-loud look at the wonders of pregnancy and motherhood. It is a world where the women are fierce and strong and the men duck and cover; a world that is turned upside down when the expecting mother turns out a most unexpected child. Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me celebrates the courage and strength of women and the bonds that join them in the motherhood.

Praise for Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me

Brilliant! The righteous, thoroughly American Karen Karbo delivers a swift kick in the kegels to those sappy What to Expect When You're Expecting moms in her funny and appallingly honest novel Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me.

Vanity Fair

Is there any aspect to being a mom – stretch marks, fat sagging over the top of the elastic waistband, baby spit-up everywhere – that Erma Bombeck hasn't already trampled into the ground? Fortunately, yes. Motherhood Made a Man Out Of Me should be clutched to the 'corn-silo-sized' breasts of every new mother.

The New York Times

Karbo (The Diamond Lane) is at her best writing tongue-in-cheek riffs on sports and modern life and manages a successful marriage of the two in her sassy, satirical new novel. (She) relishes her characters' war stories of pregnancy and labor; the novel, without taking itself too seriously, proves in its cheeky details a fun (and accurate) sendup of the timeless trials of womanhood.

Publishers Weekly
Book Cover: Trespassers Welcome

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Trespassers Welcome Here

New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Village Voice Top Ten Book of the Year

A captivating first novel concerning Soviet emigres in L.A. whose loves collide and veer in unexpected directions. With sparkling prose and deft wit, Karen Karbo delivers an unforgettable array of all too human characters as they struggle to both assimilate and to understand American culture.

Praise for Trespassers Welcome Here

The Russians have come – and they're fascinating. Karbo's first novel, about Soviet emigres in L.A., has passionate characters colliding in love, jealousy, politics, and the ongoing cold war between the sexes. An extraordinary debut that combines compassion with raucous comedy.

The New York Times