By Bruce Wagner
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9780743272353, 528pp.)
Publication Date: September 5, 2006
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Joan Herlihy is a semi-successful architect grasping at the illustrious commission that will catapult her to international renown, glossy de cor magazines, and the luxe condo designs of Meier, Koolhaas, and Hadid: the incestuous cult of contemporary Starchitects. Unexpectedly, she finds her Venice Beach firm on the short list for a coveted private memorial -- a Napa billionaire's vanity tribute to relatives killed in the Christmas tsunami -- with life-changing consequences. Her brother Chester clings to a failing career as a location scout before suffering an accidental injury resulting from an outrageous prank; the tragicomic repercussions lead him through a maze of addiction, delusion, paranoia -- and ultimately, transcendence.
Virtually abandoned by her family, the indomitable Marjorie Herlihy -- mother, widow, and dreamer -- falls prey to a confidence scheme dizzying in its sadism and complexity. And unbeknownst to Marj and her children, the father who disappeared decades ago is alive and well nearby, recently in the local news for reasons that will prove to be both his redemption and his undoing. Spiraling toward catastrophe, separate lives collide as family members make a valiant attempt to reunite and create an enduring legacy. To rewrite a ruined American dream.
Deeply compassionate and violently irreverent, "Memorial" is a testament to faith and forgiveness, and a luminous tribute to spirituality in the twenty-first century. With an unflagging eye on a society ruptured by naturaland unnatural disaster, and an insatiable love for humanity, Wagner delivers a masterpiece.
Bruce Wagner is the author of The Chrysanthemum Palace (a PEN Faulkner fiction award finalist); Still Holding; I'll Let You Go (a PEN USA fiction award finalist); I'm Losing You; and Force Majeure. He lives in Los Angeles.