the next good book

Mercury Pictures Presents

By Anthony Marra


408 pages

What’s it about?

Maria Lagana and her mother come to Hollywood from Italy to escape their past.  Maria forges a new life as an associate film producer in a B movie studio while her mother gravitates to her Italian relatives living in L.A.  When World War II hits, Maria and her family become enemy-aliens in their new country.  At the same time the movie studio Maria works for begins to crank out propaganda films that reinforce fear.  Maria continues to find her way, but the irony of her work life versus her personal life is hard to ignore.

What did it make me think about?

The complexities of war.

Should I read it?

Anthony Marra is on the short list of authors I love!  “The Tsar of Love and Techno” is a favorite and I also enjoyed “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena“.  Every sentence is dense with meaning- which makes his stories especially interesting, but readers might find some paragraphs slightly laborious….  I myself just enjoy his writing, “Despite their love of cigarettes, physical inertia, and bootlegged grappa of questionable potability, the great-aunts exuded immortality.  Perhaps credit went to their Mediterranean diet.  The olive oil served as embalmment, the fats and salsas preserving agents, endowing the Morabito sisters with the suspect agelessness of filling-station pastry, a three-pack sealed in cynicism, nonperishable people dreaming of decay.”  If you are a plot-driven reader then these may not be your favorite books.  If you can take some time and just enjoy the writing, you will be rewarded with rich, interesting characters living through difficult times.


“Annunziata marveled at her daughter’s folly.  The better you know someone the less understandable they become. That’s what intimacy is- not a threshold of knowledge but a capitulation to ignorance, an acceptance that another person is made as bewildered and ungovernable by her life as you are by yours.” “Almost as much as she missed Kurt, she missed the person she had been when she was a mother.”  

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