Marine Park by Mark Chiusano

Marine Park
Mark Chiusano

Penguin Books

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“. . .a strong sense of a unique voice. . .”

To call Marine Park a collection of short stories is misleading. A compilation of character sketches, short scenarios or vignettes with either a setting in or a main character from Brooklyn at its center would be a more accurate description. The youthfulness of its author, recent Harvard graduate Mark Chiusano, shines through in his stream-of-consciousness style of writing and is also reflected in the nascent maturity of the characters.

Young brothers watch their parents argue and then tussle with each other in Air Conditioning. A yuppie couple on vacation have a spat in Vampire Deer on Jekyll Island. A retired smuggler for the mob picks up one last job in Vincent and Aurora. A young man from Brooklyn goes to Los Alamos in 1944 to work on the atomic bomb in Shatter the Trees and Blow Them Away. The variety of the character sketches intrigues, but each scenario is never fully developed or comes to a definitive conclusion.

Those looking for punctuated dialogue passages, non-run-on sentences, and show not tell, are advised to look elsewhere. Chiusano’s shorthand to describe settings with simple place names while leaving no strong clues of the time period does little to ease the reader’s confusion, particularly if one isn’t all that familiar with Brooklyn. However, there is a strong sense of a unique voice throughout Marine Park, and the reader longs to cheer on the budding author with hopes he receives better guidance in crafting fiction in the future.

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews