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Draining the Sea Hardcover – March 13, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Marcom’s acclaimed previous novels, Three Apples Fell from Heaven (2001) and The Daydreaming Boy (2004), explored the reverberations of the Armenian genocide in the blurred memories and fantasies of her protagonists. Again emphasizing the persistence of atrocity, her latest novel explores the psyche of a man haunted by a young Mayan girl who was brutally killed in the Guatemalan civil war. Although our protagonist knew some sort of love with the innocent Marta, and his mind continues to revisit real or imagined encounters, his apparent complicity in her horrifying torture and murder stains his memories with a sad longing that may or may not properly be called guilt. The feeling is intensified by the contrast between our protagonist’s dead and solitary life of freeways, television, and sanitized food in Los Angeles and the vibrant, if simple, patterns of life in Guatemala. We learn that our protagonist’s mother was scarred by the Armenian genocide. 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. --Brendan Driscoll

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (March 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489734
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489730
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,654,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pinkhydrangea on November 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
A gorgeous, disturbing meditation on genocide. Marcom delves into the depths of the civil war in Guatemala and the Armenian genocide linked through the consciousness of one half-Armenian/half-American man in Los Angeles. Flashing back and forth in time, memories, and sensibilites, this is a novel that is often difficult to read but rewarding to those who persist. Its renderings of horror are as unfliching as its great lyrical gifts. No one in the world writes like Micheline Marcom. She is one of literature's unsung heroines.
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By RaeAnn Swanson on March 11, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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