Famous Baby by Karen Rizzo

famousbabySome people seek fame. They become actors, politicians, models, musicians, professional athletes, or comedians; knowing that once they make it to the top not only will their careers be followed, but so too will their personal lives. Then there are others who are born into fame, never having a say in the matter. Some of these people include royalty, heirs and heiresses, and the children of actors, politicians, etc.

Imagine though growing up a seemingly ordinary girl, but—because your mother’s full time job is to document your every disgusting (but adorable) habits as an infant, all of your childhood anxieties, and your misadventures through puberty—you are also a famous kid. Thanks to your mother’s memoirs, her womens’ rag articles, and obsessive blogging, complete strangers know the most intimate details of your life and now that there is Twitter, you are forever being watched and tracked.

Nineteen-year-old Abbie Sternberg is Karen Rizzo’s FAMOUS BABY. And she’s not about to suck it up from the sidelines anymore. Moving to Tuscon, Arizona immediately after high school to escape her ambitious, overbearing mother Ruth, Abbie is drawn back home to Los Angeles upon learning that Ruth now intends to exploit Grandma Esther. Esther, whom Abbie adores, suffers from both Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer. Preparing for Esther to move in with her, Ruth had rigged the entire house with cameras and promised her readers “to share with all of you, my surrogate family, this particularly personal and intimate experience.”

To spare her grandmother from becoming the next Youtube sensation, Abbie secrets her away leaving Ruth desperate and scrambling with her agent and former lover Harry, as well as her new-age ex-husband Justin, to reclaim Esther before the media, Ruth’s web sponsors and loyal readers discover she’s missing. A humorous and poignant mother-daughter-grandmother story FAMOUS BABY is also filled with a delightful cast of supporting characters who help Abbie, Ruth, and Esther come to terms with their current conundrum and surprisingly tragic past.

Karen Rizzo is the author of THINGS TO BRING, SH#!T TO DO…and other inventories of anxiety (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2006), a non-fiction look at her twenty years of personal lists. THINGS was a BookSense pick for “The Best of 2006…‘Fascinating Lives.’” Karen’s essays and stories have been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Living Fit, Fit Pregnancy, Salon.com, Beatrice, Fresh Yarn, and on NPR. One of her essays received the 2004 MAGGIE Award for Best Essay in a West Coast Consumer Magazine. Her short story, “Don’t I Know You?” can be found in two Random House Anthologies of women’s writing, Crème de la Femme and Life’s a Stitch. Her plays have been performed at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and Samuel Beckett Theater, and ARCADE in Los Angeles.

This deft first novel from Rizzo, author of the memoir Things to Bring, S#!t to Do… and Other Inventories of Anxiety, uses a driven professional blogger and her resentful daughter as a springboard for a satirical exploration of the modern American family. After publishing one celebrated novel, L.A. writer Ruth Steinberg fails to deliver a follow-up, instead turning to nonfiction and the popular “Full Nest Blog,” mining her own life, and that of her husband, Justin, and daughter, Abbie, for material. Now 18, Abbie is estranged from her mother, whom she has dubbed “the First Lady of Cyber Exploitation” for chronicling Abbie’s entire life online. Ruth’s newest scheme is to broadcast her dying mother Esther’s final days over webcam, but Abbie catches on and spirits her grandmother away to Tucson, Ariz. Ruth, along with Harold Klein, her agent and onetime lover, launches an attempt to find them before word of their escape gets out. Meanwhile, Eric Smith, an earnest young filmmaker, is trying to persuade a skeptical Abbie to cooperate with a documentary about her life as a “famous baby” of the Internet age. Rizzo’s wicked take-down of “mom bloggers” concludes on an unexpectedly but convincingly sweet note, making this a very pleasing debut.
– Publishers Weekly

by Karen Rizzo

“What a great read! This memoir told in lists is something I can totally relate to. In real life, our days aren’t filled with prose — they are fits and starts shared with reflection and angst. Rizzo portrays this and tells her story beautifully. A perfect gift book!”
–Margie Scott Tucker, Books, Inc., San Fransisco, CA — Book Sense Pick for Best of October 2006

“As I read Karen’s lists, so often I thought they were my lists. This is real life cut to the bone! If I ever meet Karen, after I hug her, I’ll thank her for sharing her family and friends, her dreams, and her wacky life.”
–Ilene Beckerman, author of Love, Loss, and What I Wore and Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness

“Who would have ever known that the veracious fugue of your entire life lies hidden between the lines of the small list you made that now sits crumpled in your back pocket? Karen Rizzo knew, and in Things to Bring… coaxes the simplest fragments of her own lists into a hilarious and moving narrative of astonishing resonance. I dare you not to read this book in one sitting.”
–Marc Parent, author of Believing it All, Turning Stones and the editor of The Secret Society of Demolition Writers

“Karen Rizzo has found a spare and elegant way to tell a story. A hilarious story. A poignant story. An enormous story. Things to Bring, Sh#!t to Do… is a F#!king amazing book.”
–Tracy Poust, Executive Producer/Writer, Will & Grace

“Things to Bring . . . is the thing to bring if you want to read an enchanting and totally unique book. Reading Karen Rizzo’s lists of things to do might not be as productive as buying groceries or painting your house, but it’s so much more delightful and fun.”
–Michael Patrick King, Executive Producer, Sex and the City