cover image Leaving Losapas CL

Leaving Losapas CL

Roland Merullo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $19.95 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-395-53377-2

Leo Markin, the protagonist of Merullo's beautifully realized first novel, is an ex-Marine tortured by his memories of the war in Vietnam. This conflict shook his faith in Catholicism and his trust in the military--which had been another kind of religion for him. It likewise made him question the canons of his Boston childhood--the ideals of Manhood, Family and Patriotism. We find him first very far from Boston on Losapas, a Micronesian island. Here Leo has arrived at peace with men and women who, he says, live so gently with the earth and one another that to speak about sin among them was almost to invent the concept. But then comes an emissary from the bigger world ``back home,'' and Leo is forced to make a choice--what truly is his home? Against his will, he's drawn back to the ethnic Boston suburb where he'd grown up; there he learns that to live in Losapas he had to leave it. The author handles these themes with expert care, and without a trace of mawkishness. (Jan.)