Marine Park

Mark Chiusano. Penguin, $15 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-14-312460-3
In this flawed but promising debut collection of 17 interconnected stories, 23-year-old Chiusano revisits his native Brooklyn—specifically, Marine Park. The neighborhood, distinguished by its salt marshes, canals, and large waterfront park, serves as the collection’s focal point, bringing together a multigenerational cast of characters. They include a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project in “Shatter the Trees and Blow Them Away”; an ex-high school basketball star turned gun-toting drug dealer in “Ed Monahan’s Game”; and the brothers Jamison and Lorris Favero, whom we follow from adolescence in the early 2000s to adulthood in the present, in eight of the stories. In two of them, “Heavy Lifting” and “Open Your Eyes,” Chiusano is at his best, carefully delineating sibling relationships and building tension. Other stories, however, such as “For You” and “We Were Supposed,” lack any drama beyond a vague longing for the past. And Chiusano’s prose, intimate and limpid (windblown snow creates “sheet-fingers over the layer of frost”), rely too much on easy metaphors such as the extremes of weather—heat waves, blizzards, and torrential rain—to compensate for under-plotted narratives. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, Wylie Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 07/29/2014
Genre: Fiction
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