Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Memento Park by Mark Sarvas

Blurb from Goodreads:
A son learns more about his father than he ever could have imagined when a mysterious piece of art is unexpectedly restored to him

After receiving an unexpected call from the Australian consulate, Matt Santos becomes aware of a painting that he believes was looted from his family in Hungary during the Second World War. To recover the painting, he must repair his strained relationship with his harshly judgmental father, uncover his family history, and restore his connection to his own Judaism. Along the way to illuminating the mysteries of his past, Matt is torn between his doting girlfriend, Tracy, and his alluring attorney, Rachel, with whom he travels to Budapest to unearth the truth about the painting and, in turn, his family.

As his journey progresses, Matt’s revelations are accompanied by equally consuming and imaginative meditations on the painting and the painter at the center of his personal drama, Budapest Street Scene by Ervin Kálmán. By the time Memento Park reaches its conclusion, Matt’s narrative is as much about family history and father-son dynamics as it is about the nature of art itself, and the infinite ways we come to understand ourselves through it.

Of all the questions asked by Mark Sarvas’s Memento Park—about family and identity, about art and history—a central, unanswerable predicament lingers: How do we move forward when the past looms unreasonably large?

My Review:
So I probably would have liked this more had I not kept comparing it to one of the greatest books ever written, The Goldfinch.  Something about the fact that both books kind of center around an obsession with a single painting, albeit for far different reasons, made me yearn for Donna Tartt's effortless character study and insanely beautiful prose.  This book wasn't quite at that level but I was more engaged the more I read.  I liked it a lot.  Something about Matt was both off-putting and yet I was rooting for him.  Plus there was a legal aspect to it (without giving anything away), which always interests me, being an attorney.  The title particularly has left me thinking about the book in a different way than when I was reading it and I can't help but wonder about the characters still.

Memento Park comes out TODAY on March 13, 2018 and you can purchase HERE. This was an interesting intersection between religion and art told vaguely through family history; I enjoyed it and you might, too.
These are the things I associate with Rachel, with the first time I awoke beside her: dusk in the city as the streets downshift with evening traffic, taxicab headlights plangently illuminating the avenues; the tiny crooked streets of Pari's Jewish quarter; bundles of fresh vegetables overflowing the stands of a weekend farmers market, earth-covered mushrooms especially; bales of hay, warm and pungent under the midday sun.

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