“One thing the blues ain't, is funny.” Stephen Stills

But he never read Judith Podell’s Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obsessions. Working in the same tradition as Woody Allen, Grace Paley and Nora Ephron -- think stand-up comic as narrator -- Podell’s characters sing the blues about life, love and loss in ways that would be heartbreaking if they weren't so funny.

“The blues tells a story.” John Lee Hooker

And that’s exactly what Podell does in this tightly written collection. The title story, “Blues for Beginners,” a riff on how to write the blues, struck such a familiar chord when it was originally published, it was instantly claimed by the world at large as something that somehow belonged to all of us. Throughout the other nine stories, Podell continues to hit all the right notes -- whether she’s writing about Greenwich Village in the 70s or Washington, DC in the 80s, group therapy, magic brownies or sex in a fallout shelter -- she takes us back to a time when first jobs, like first loves, weren’t how we were going to spend the rest of our lives.

“The Blues is Life.” Brownie McGhee

That’s what Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obsessions is all about as it touches on a range of obsessions that include cigarettes , psychoanalysis, sex, love, death and cats, written in a voice that is fresh, funny and poignant.

"Judith Podell's stories are poignant, funny and written from the heart."