29 January 2015

Review: Marine Park by Mark Chiusano

Marine Park by Mark ChiusanoFrankly, I always have trouble reviewing short stories. Of course, I can't talk about each of the seventeen stories in this debut collection individually, and of course, some had a bigger impact on me than others.

What I can say about Mark Chiusano's Marine Park is that, as a whole, the stories glow with authenticity. The personal relationships, especially between brothers Jamison and Lorris (who appear in several pieces), seems real enough to be universally familiar, even to those of us who didn't grow up in the far end of Brooklyn.

Chiusano captures life in the working-class neighborhood of Marine Park throughout the seasons and across generations. Regardless of profession, education, or age, the denizens of the close community move to the local rhythms fed by everyday occurrences like learning to drive, shoveling snow, picking out a Christmas tree, and attending a funeral.

Inevitably, however, some stories failed to drawn me in--one that takes place in a bar when a young man is out without his girlfriend, another that's about herpes. These and other less successful stories were more about an event or moment in time than they were about the people. But when he focuses on his characters, on husbands and wives, on brothers, and on friends, Chiusano is at his strongest.

Regardless of a few weaknesses, most of the stories Marine Park are emotionally solid, and several times I paused over Chiusano's prose, as here when a young man is thinking of his "no-good girlfriend":

He didn't need Margie. He knew that now. . . . He didn't need anyone. He was enough. He could make a new world, just out him, right here.
We're lucky that the young Mark Chiusano (in his early twenties), has long, promising career ahead of him. Read this collection and them put him on your watch list.

Published by Penguin Random House / Penguin Books, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780143124603
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Kailana 1/29/15, 8:31 AM  

I have a hard time reading short story collections, too. I am just a novel person. I start collections and love stories, but end up putting them aside to get back to and never do. Most of the books on my bedside table are short story collections...

Jen Forbus 1/29/15, 6:26 PM  

O.k. I definitely will! Sounds good.

Belle Wong 1/29/15, 10:58 PM  

I find this happens a lot when I read short story collections - I'll love some stories more than others. This happens even with edited anthologies. But I am really glad I'm reading more short stories this year!

Daryl 1/30/15, 9:40 AM  

i always feel cheated by short stories .. they're like amuse bouche offerings in restaurants .. the chef tempts you will a taste … you want more …

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/30/15, 3:38 PM  

I love a good short story collection.I'm going to check this one out.

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