Daniella believes her lost mother is a World War II spy, but is terrorized by a dream of a war-torn jungle, raining fire. At forty, with her life and career stalled, Daniella is visited by four dead ancestors, who try to help her put her life back together. When this fails, propelled by curiosity about her recurring dream, she travels to the nuclear testing grounds at the Bikini Islands, to find out her mother's real role in the war and its aftermath.
Guernica World Editions (World Prose)
200 pages |
Laura Marello’s latest novel, Gauguin’s Moon, seethes with an intoxicating blend of wit, pathos, and hilarity that keeps us laughing even as it confronts us with disturbing truths -- both personal and political. Her narrator, Daniella, is a 40-year-old artist who wakes one morning to find her home invaded by her dead mother, dead aunt, and two dead lovers, “all stylish people -- my mother and Aunt Charlotte in the l940s, Upper West Side, Chanel / Houbignant, we’ve won-the-war-and-dominated-Europe sort of way; and Andrew and Elaine in the l980s, Laurel Canyon, Calvin Klein and Armani, greed-isn’t-good-but-it-looks-good sort of way.” Over the ensuing pages we move in and out of Daniella’s past, her dreams, and her artistic visions (half-reclining terracotta women, for example, who are “neither here nor there, like me”; a mysterious cliff-top doorway with a view of ocean and sky; a landscape of rain and fire). We follow her as -- aided and abetted by her dead companions -- she abruptly leaves the East Coast for California, delves into her past, and finally travels to Micronesia, where she begins to uncover the sources of her lifelong disorientation. Gauguin’s Moon is a book about the interweaving of life and art, the power of dreams and images, and our sacred responsibility for one another.
Constance Solari, author of Sophie’s Fire
Gauguin’s Moon equates in style, invention, research and empathy with Margaret Atwood’s and Gail Godwin’s work. It has their imagination, and incisive self-examination. Young Daniella is visited by dead people: her mother, her aunt, and friends Elaine, and Andrew -- ancestors all, back from the dead, and visible to Daniella and her friend Sandy. Daniella accepts their help to find out more about the apocalyptic dream that won’t leave her. Images in her paintings begin to match experiences with a hydrogen bomb explosion in the Central Pacific’s Bikini Atoll, unleashed by the U.S. Government in the 1950s on a culture and ecosystem. Until she finds their source, these dreams frustrate her instincts for love and her sense of identity. In the end, Daniella finds out how self acceptance can be obtained.Paul Nelson, author of Refrigerator Church
About the author
Laura Marello’s first novel Claiming Kin (Guernica Editions 2010) was a finalist for the Paterson Prize in Fiction and nominated for the PEN/Bingham Award. Her second novel, Tenants of the Hotel Biron (Guernica Editions 2012) was given a bilingual staged reading at the Gallerie Ivana Gavardie in Paris the fall of its release. Her third novel, Maniac Drifter was released from Guernica Editions in 2016. Marello’s The Gender of Inanimate Objects and Other Stories was shorlisted for the Saroyan Prize from Stanford University Library. Marello’s poetry chapbook Balzac’s Robe was the second finalist for the Finishing Line Press New Women Writers Award. Marello has written twelve books. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, and a Fine Arts Work Center Provincetown Fellowship. She has benefited from residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Millay, Montalvo and Djerassi.