a novel from
Jacob M. Appel

now available from

Press Americana | Hollywood Books International

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Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA
January 2022

A Novel
Press Americana | Hollywood Books International
ISBN 978-1-7353601-3-3  

260 pages
6 x 9

The first nineteen years of Henrietta Brigander's life were distinguished by matchless luxury: summers at Newport and Saratoga, outings on her father's yacht, cotillions on the dance cards of Kennedys and Vanderbilts. Then a schizophrenic break during her sophomore year at Bryn Mawr, following by a series of devastating financial setbacks, left her homeless and destitute on the streets of New York City. Yet Henrietta never looks back. She carves out a niche for herself as "Granny Flamingo, aka The Mad Bird Lady of East 14th Street" and lives an intermittently joyful life that involves numerous admissions to the psychiatric ward of St. Dymphna's Hospital, where she follows the feuds and romances of the staff the way "some gals watch soap operas." During an inpatient stay at St. Dymphna's, Henrietta develops a crush on a malingering patient named Big George, recently arrived in  New York to help out his twin brother, a small-time con artist and forger who has wronged the Astoria Mob. But Big George is murdered on his first night in the hospital, seemingly by another patient who has smuggled a knife onto the unit. Since the official explanation doesn't sit right with Henrietta, she sets out on a quixotic quest to find Big George's real killer, an adventure that takes her from the depths of the criminal underworld to the highest echelons of municipal bureaucracy. All the while, she battles her own internal demons and the sundry misfortunes that come with street life in the metropolis. 


REVIEWS (Humor/Satire)

"I was honored when I got asked to write a blurb for this book—until I found out I was expected to read it. Cover to cover, that is. The whole thing. Like that was going to happen. But I did get through the first ten pages, give or take, and they’re awesome.  Best ten pages I’ve read in…well, ever."
—Tecumseh Muhammed, Granny Flamingo’s #1 Boyfriend

"Shaving with Occam is a wise book that compares favorably to the greatest works in the Albanian language, even though it is not written in the Albanian language. As we say in Albanian, ‘Those who wear feathers may be mad or may be birds, but you must be a mad bird to be certain.’  This book invites readers to be the maddest of birds and to enjoy every minute of it."
 —Nënë Roza, Granny Flamingo’s #1 Sidekick

"What a story! What a lady! What more is there to say?"
—P. J., overnight nursing supervisor, Mount Hebron Hospital, Granny Flamingo’s #1 crush


Jacob M. Appel is the author of more than two hundred short stories and twenty books, including Millard Salter’s Last Day (2017) and Who Says You’re Dead? (2019). His prose has won the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the Missouri Review’s Editor’s Prize, as well as Prize Americana. He is currently an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, he works as a physician in a psychiatric emergency room. 

Visit him at



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