Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"The Patron Saint of Ugly"

Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Prairie Schooner, Mississippi Review, Calyx Journal, SouthWrit Large, and other journals. Her novel Shrapnel won the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Still Life with Plums: Short Stories was a finalist for both The Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year.

Manilla applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Patron Saint of Ugly, and reported the following:
It’s a simple scene: Grandpa Ferrari and Nonna arrive at Garnet’s house to celebrate her First Communion. Grandpa parks his car at the foot of the hill, walks halfway up the steep steps, and pauses to swab sweat from his neck, grumbling: “You trying to give me a heart attack with those steps, Angelo?” Right behind him is Angelo’s brother who fans the flames: “You need an elevator to get up this hill, Pop. It’s even worse in the winter.” This seemingly trivial act reveals the disdain Grandpa feels for Garnet’s father, who couldn’t even buy the right, flat-lotted house. So much of The Patron Saint of Ugly is about sibling rivalries: Garnet and her brother, Garnet’s father and his brother, even Grandpa Ferrari and his brother back in Italy. It’s also a novel about the way parents can, or cannot, love their children. Grandpa can’t love his youngest maybe-not son, but neither can Angelo love his youngest child, Garnet. He just can’t get beyond the port wine birthmarks covering her body that look like a map of the world. It doesn’t matter that she may be able to perform miracles—and indeed that only adds to her freakishness in his view. Still, Garnet craves her father’s love, just as Angelo craves the love of Grandpa Ferrari.
Visit Marie Manilla's website.

Writers Read: Marie Manilla.

--Marshal Zeringue