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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Draining the Sea

by

Draining the Sea Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Despite her worthy intent, Marcom's ambition here overshoots her execution. Perhaps she needed more time to distill her material. It is not an easy matter to push against the boundaries of language to express unimaginable horror. More likely, her design is flawed. Yoking the Guatemalan genocide with the Armenian one — and with the extermination of Southern California's indigenes, the building of the Los Angeles aqueduct, the transformation of the Los Angeles River into a concrete 'river freeway' and the alienating effects of modern life — is a tall order." Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times (read the entire Los Angeles Times review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A striking literary exploration of the effects of political violence as it reverberates through the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Guatemalan civil conflict of the 1980s, and present-day Los Angeles — from award-winning novelist Micheline Aharonian Marcom.

Draining the Sea is the most ambitious and provocative book to date from acclaimed author Micheline Aharonian Marcom. The story unfurls inside the mind of a man who spends his nights driving the streets of Los Angeles, racked by memories and visions of the Guatemalan civil war, and, in particular, of a beautiful young Mayan woman who died violently in it. He was in love with her, but, it seems, may have played a role in her death. He also is very aware of the United States' complicity in the horrors of that conflict, further twisting his anguish. And in his mind, her fate resonates back to his own childhood as the grandson of survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

Micheline Aharonian Marcom, herself descended from Armenian Genocide survivors, has always been haunted by the long-term effects of atrocity. In Three Apples Fell from Heaven, she told the tale of the forcible deportation and massacre of Armenians with unsparing directness. In The Daydreaming Boy, she imagined a man living in Beirut who is forced to face the emotional aftermath of his brutal boyhood as an orphan of the genocide. Now, in this darkly lyrical novel, Marcom offers a powerful testament about the far-reaching impact of political violence and lost love.

Review:

"Marcom (Three Apples Fell from Heaven; The Daydreaming Boy) looks at the Guatemalan civil war through the eyes of a former American soldier complicit in the killing of civilians in this circuitous novel. As the unnamed narrator, a descendant of Armenian genocide survivors, drives through Los Angeles and goes through his daily routines, he's awash in memories, mostly about Marta, an Ixil prostitute whom the narrator both loved and possibly killed. In a florid stream of consciousness, the narrator continually revisits several themes, events and images: black flies, Marta's brother's murder, Marta's torture and death among them. Throughout, Marcom weaves references and imagery from religion, mythology and Guatemalan, Armenian and American history, and indicts the powers-that-be for turning a blind eye toward the slaughter of indigenous people. Though some may find that Marcom overly romanticizes Ixil life and is ham-fisted in her critique of American consumerism, the novel's evocative imagery and explicit prose can move as well as chill. In the end, though, the book is more demanding than enlightening." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In Micheline Marcom's ambitious novel "Draining the Sea," a nameless narrator collects the dead bodies of dogs, puts them carefully into the trunk of his car and takes them to his house in the Santa Monica Mountains. When he's not driving this stinking roadkill around Los Angeles, he watches game shows on television, ponders the sterility of American life and dreams of a woman in Guatemala.

... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"With the gorgeous prose that has characterized her previous works, Micheline Aharonian Marcom gives us a new work of obsession, tragedy, and the unpredictable trajectories of the heart. Crosscutting between the stories of a half-Armenian man in Los Angeles and a brutalized young woman in Guatemala, Marcom beautifully mines the undercurrents that suffuse their lives." Cristina Garc’a, author of Dreaming in Cuban and A Handbook to Luck

Review:

"[T]he poetic language and vivid images are affecting." Library Journal

Review:

"Although her unsubtle condemnation of American actions in Latin America makes this work somewhat more political than her previous ones, Marcom's unique proficiency in describing souls infected by the viral contagion of violence is again on full display." Booklist

Synopsis:

The extraordinary new novel from the winner of the: 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship 2005 PEN USA Literary Award for Fiction 2006 Whiting Writers? Award

?A new work of obsession, tragedy, and the unpredictable trajectories of the heart.?(Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban)

A powerful testament about the far-reaching effects of political brutality and lost love, Draining the Sea sifts through the incongruities of history and memory, unfurling inside the mind of a man who spends his days driving the streets of Los Angeles, racked by visions of the Guatemalan Civil War and, in particular, of Marta, a beautiful young prostitute who died violently in it?a tragedy in which he himself may have played a role.

About the Author

Micheline Aharonian Marcom was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Los Angeles. She works as a counselor in the Upward Bound program, a federally funded college-preparatory program for low-income high school youth, and lives in northern California.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594489730
Publisher:
Riverhead Trade
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Marcom, Micheline Aharonian
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Los angeles (calif.)
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
Armenian Americans.
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20090303
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.49x5.95x1.19 in. 1.02 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Draining the Sea
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 352 pages Riverhead Hardcover - English 9781594489730 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Marcom (Three Apples Fell from Heaven; The Daydreaming Boy) looks at the Guatemalan civil war through the eyes of a former American soldier complicit in the killing of civilians in this circuitous novel. As the unnamed narrator, a descendant of Armenian genocide survivors, drives through Los Angeles and goes through his daily routines, he's awash in memories, mostly about Marta, an Ixil prostitute whom the narrator both loved and possibly killed. In a florid stream of consciousness, the narrator continually revisits several themes, events and images: black flies, Marta's brother's murder, Marta's torture and death among them. Throughout, Marcom weaves references and imagery from religion, mythology and Guatemalan, Armenian and American history, and indicts the powers-that-be for turning a blind eye toward the slaughter of indigenous people. Though some may find that Marcom overly romanticizes Ixil life and is ham-fisted in her critique of American consumerism, the novel's evocative imagery and explicit prose can move as well as chill. In the end, though, the book is more demanding than enlightening." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Despite her worthy intent, Marcom's ambition here overshoots her execution. Perhaps she needed more time to distill her material. It is not an easy matter to push against the boundaries of language to express unimaginable horror. More likely, her design is flawed. Yoking the Guatemalan genocide with the Armenian one — and with the extermination of Southern California's indigenes, the building of the Los Angeles aqueduct, the transformation of the Los Angeles River into a concrete 'river freeway' and the alienating effects of modern life — is a tall order." (read the entire Los Angeles Times review)
"Review" by , "With the gorgeous prose that has characterized her previous works, Micheline Aharonian Marcom gives us a new work of obsession, tragedy, and the unpredictable trajectories of the heart. Crosscutting between the stories of a half-Armenian man in Los Angeles and a brutalized young woman in Guatemala, Marcom beautifully mines the undercurrents that suffuse their lives."
"Review" by , "[T]he poetic language and vivid images are affecting."
"Review" by , "Although her unsubtle condemnation of American actions in Latin America makes this work somewhat more political than her previous ones, Marcom's unique proficiency in describing souls infected by the viral contagion of violence is again on full display."
"Synopsis" by ,
The extraordinary new novel from the winner of the: 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship 2005 PEN USA Literary Award for Fiction 2006 Whiting Writers? Award

?A new work of obsession, tragedy, and the unpredictable trajectories of the heart.?(Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban)

A powerful testament about the far-reaching effects of political brutality and lost love, Draining the Sea sifts through the incongruities of history and memory, unfurling inside the mind of a man who spends his days driving the streets of Los Angeles, racked by visions of the Guatemalan Civil War and, in particular, of Marta, a beautiful young prostitute who died violently in it?a tragedy in which he himself may have played a role.

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