Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Elizabeth Marro

Elizabeth Marro is former journalist and the author of Casualties, the first novel to explore the homecoming of an Iraq-war veteran from the perspective of a mother and a civilian whose successful business career depends entirely on the defense industry. Marro wrote the novel in San Diego where she has lived since March 2002.

Recently I asked Marro about what she was reading. Her reply:
After years of reading about Kelly Link, I’m finally reading her stories. I’m deep into her collection, Get In Trouble and I don’t want to come out. Right now I’m half way through the story, “Secret Identity.” At the end of a paragraph which gives us a young woman waking up hungover, urine-soaked and utterly humiliated who seeks at least some relief shower. She goes for the scalding hot shower but quickly turns the faucet back to tepid which is “Better than she deserves.” The last line “What you deserve and what you can stand aren’t necessarily the same thing” struck me as so true on so many levels that I had to just stop and think about it before reading on.

Link’s imagination fearlessness when it comes to trying out voices and structure are thrilling. She understands how to evoke compassion and empathy in the reader without a shred of sentimentality.

I’m reading lots of short story collections right now. I love short stories. I struggle to write them so perhaps this is why I am so drawn to them. I want to understand how to make a short piece work. Every week I’ve been tearing the short stories or chapter excerpts from the New Yorker. Recent favorites have been “The Beach Boy” by Otessa Moshfegh, Alice McDermott’s “These Short, Dark Days,” “Jelly and Jack” by Dana Spiotta, and a re-read of Alice Munro’s “Lichen.” Other collections I’ve read in the past six months and loved:

Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai

Why The Devil Chose New England For His Work by Jason Brown

The Big Lonesome by Jim Ruland

Venus Drive by Sam Lipsyte

Although I am not easily drawn to memoir, I’ve just finished two that struck me to the core for very different reasons. Brian Turner’s My Life As a Foreign Country is more than a memoir, it is a meditation on war and on humanity rendered one piercing, beautiful sentence at a time. Tanya Ward Goodman’s Leaving Tinkertown, a beautifully written memoir of losing her artistic father to Alzheimer’s, helped me at a time when a dear friend may be facing the disease.
Visit Elizabeth Marro's website.

My Book, The Movie: Casualties.

The Page 69 Test: Casualties.

--Marshal Zeringue