Widow, mother, bigamist, “former” con artist— Ludmila,
a.k.a. Worthy, now manages a failing strip club in Tampa.



Twenty years earlier, she traveled the world pulling cons from Mexico to the South of France and slowly surrendering to the madness of her partner, Theodore.

Now, for the first time, she spins the tale of their wild, ruinous love affair, and attempts to explain her role in his fate…or perhaps pull her greatest con yet.

With linguistic artistry and confessional force, Worthy weaves a lively tale about finding our way in the world as love is inevitably lost and left behind.



Listen to Worthy


Here around Tampa sometimes Leo and I have been on a horseback ride. We love animals and sight of hay and dirt, even if we don’t have skill for riding. Down Brandon Way, past all the supermarkets and dollar discounts and Kentucky Chicken drive-ups, there is pastures and quiet country. And we will drive out there, sometimes just for nothing drive on Sunday morning. Traffic goes the other way to church, and we have our church out there with the pigs. Also wild turkeys and deer, you don’t expect in Florida how much wildlife is there. We keep their company.

Smells of nature can be a message of meaning. If you have only false aroma, some fragrance in a can, you will have nothing to comprehend. Even in a smell we consider to stink, there contain some idea to contemplate. Yes, it may be danger, don’t eat this rotten fish, or it is there for saying, you are too far from your humanity, remember that you also can smell, as any living body, and will definitely smell when you become corpse.

Darkness coming over us here this afternoon, my friend. But you knew we were going deep, so no surprise we must have a party this afternoon. Yes, right away! Let us bring out some chip and dips, some beer to put in the champagne glasses, white chocolate from Switzerland, and music from good old banjo days or why not calypso? We will take Leo out from his back office where he lives too much, or too little! Maybe Rebecca is in the bathroom cleaning, I think so, and she can join.

If you can’t go to the country and smell the shit until Sunday, have your party in a dark room. Pretend it is midnight. In some case, immediately almost could be too late.

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Worthy Review by the Tampa Bay Times

In a way, Lisa Birnbaum's novel Worthy fits into one of the hottest genres of the moment: the crime novel with a wildly unreliable female narrator, a la Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train and all those other shifty young ladies.

But in Worthy, the mystery is less a matter of crime than of identity. Its title is one of the names of its narrator, although only one. She's also known as Ludmila, and Katrina, and who knows what other monikers. "I shouldn't be trusted," she says, "which I have told you as I beg you to believe me."

This is the first novel by Birnbaum, a University of Tampa professor who is also a nonfiction and short story writer, poet and spoken word performer.

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