Scott Brick lends his talent to Silver's multilayered coming-of-age novel. The story unfolds from the point-of-view of 12-year-old Ares Ramirez and his hardscrabble '70s childhood in a remote Southern California desert community, and much of the focus surrounds Ares's relationship with Malcolm, his mentally disabled six-year-old brother. Malcolm's autistic symptoms render him uncommunicative, which poses a tremendous challenge for Brick, as Silver chooses to portray Malcolm's mannerisms and behaviors mostly through Ares's reflections. Yet Brick rises to the occasion, with compelling results. Brick delivers especially heartfelt performances as the two principle female characters: the brothers' bohemian mother and an enigmatic school librarian. The novel's structure may not lend itself to an easy transition to audio, but as the action transforms from preteen angst to dark explorations of violence and family dysfunction, listeners will appreciate Brick's ability to navigate the terrain. A Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 18). (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Twelve-year-old Ares Ramirez has a life as unique as his name. His mother, who has a taste for men who don't stick around, raises Ares and his mentally handicapped brother, Malcolm, on the shores of the isolated Salton Sea in the California desert. Ares is saddled with far too much responsibility while his mother flits through life as a free spirit, leaving him to watch over the brother Ares thinks he damaged by dropping him accidentally as a baby. Ares looks elsewhere for the attention and acceptance he's not getting at home, finally finding it in the kindly librarian who tutors Malcolm and her dangerous foster son, Kevin. Ares's new friend leads him on a path of destruction with a tragic end. New Yorker contributor Silver (No Direction Home) writes a dark and devastating coming-of-age story. Even though most readers will not have lived the tough life that Ares has, they are sure to relate to his search for a place in the world. Highly recommended for most collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/07.]
A stunning second novel from Silver (No Direction Home, 2005, etc.): the coming-of-age tale of a boy growing up in the California desert with his autistic brother. In 1978 Ares is 12 years old, a little man in charge of his younger brother Malcolm, who is mute, odd and fiercely defended by their mother Laurel, a counter-culture masseuse. They live in a trailer on the shore of the Salton Sea, a dying saltwater lake in the desert between Palm Springs and the edge of nowhere, a desolate place peopled by misfits and the tenacious few willing to live the hardscrabble life. Laurel practices a sort of loving carelessness with the boys, expecting Ares to fix meals, take Malcolm to the dentist, act as go-between with the school. Ares acquiesces, in large part because of the crippling guilt he feels in regards to Malcolm; having accidentally dropped him as a baby, he thinks he's responsible for Malcolm's condition. Laurel believes Malcolm to be perfect and hates the school that wants to test and label him, to steal his innocence with a diagnosis. The school librarian, Mrs. Poole, begins to work with Malcolm at her home, and there Ares finds a world of order and rules, a conventional normalcy as exotic to him as any desert fossil his mother brings home for display. At Mrs. Poole's he meets her foster-care son Kevin, a 15-year-old with a history of violence who becomes Ares's first real friend. Silver's novel is full of looming menace-the pock-marked bleakness of the landscape (used at night for military practice), the violence Malcolm seems capable of (the school finds a shallow grave of birds he's killed), the very real risk of Kevin, sociopathic and strung out on drugs-but perhaps the mostdangerous threat is Ares's growing adolescent rebellion, which jeopardizes their already fragile family. Finely wrought characters and an illuminating portrait of the secret world of autism makes for a powerful, often tragic tale. Agent: Henry Dunow/Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner
"A stunning novel...Finely wrought characters and an illuminating portrait of [a] secret world...make for a powerful, often tragic tale." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Marisa Silver's The God of War is a novel of great metaphorical depth and beauty. It stays with you like a lesson well and truly learned." Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
"The God of War is such a stunning dive into a desert landscape few have understood and loved as deeply as Marisa Silver. It is no man's land, and every man's land there, her people wage epic battles for their lives, for their loyalties, and for their very fierce versions of love." Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales and Highwire Moon
"Marisa Silver's The God of War is as gripping as it is beautifully written. By the end I ached for these brothers, Ares and Malcolm, as if they were my own family, and I will not forget them." Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
"Marisa Silver is the author for whom we've all been waiting. With unabashed voice she steadily, bravely, unerringly tells a heartbreakingly beautiful story for our time. The God of War is the truest novel I've read in ages." Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight