Marine Park is a debut short story collection by Mark Chiusano. Chiusano is well-published and his interlinked short story collection follows the stories of two brothers, Jamison (the older) and Lorris (the younger) as they grow up. The stories are told from many different points of view and from different points of time throughout the boys’ lives. A few of the stories focus on only one of the brothers, but all of the stories have a strong tie to the setting of Marine Park. Marine Park is an interesting place that resides too far from Brooklyn to be reached easily, but it still has a feeling of being just on the outer reaches of a city.
I enjoyed the description of the landscape and how its location – both in being close and remote from the city – makes it an interesting and very unique place to explore through the eyes of the characters.
The collection holds seventeen stories ranging from short (5-7 pages) to long (15-20 pages). Each story stands on its own, but somewhere there is a tie back to one of the brothers and a very strong bond with Marine Park. Many of the stories lacked in a clear conflict and I didn’t feel like Chuisano pushed his characters far enough at times. In “Why don’t you,” the tension just started to build as the story was ending and I was left to wonder how all the pieces were meant to fit. Others, like the story of Vincent and Aurora, where a wife is pitted against her husband, were so rich in subtext, you felt the tension buried deep within the characters.
Chiusano’s collection is a good debut and the stories are written well, thought through and distinctive in voice. The stories are written without true dialogue, more so as recollections of events having occurred. This technique makes the stories and characters feel quiet and loud at the same time–an interesting style. Chiusano is very consistent and forthright with his characters and voice. He’s a joy to read and I will pick up future collections to watch how Chuisano’s storytelling style evolves.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.