Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Given World by Marian Palaia

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

Marian Palaia's debut novel The Given World is a haunting narrative about the Vietnam War--and yet, there's not a single bullet fired in combat, there are no scenes of jungle patrols in its pages, and we don't see any embittered veterans rolling their wheelchairs through the bureaucratic stink of VA hospital corridors. No, The Given World treats the war in a much more oblique and tender fashion, seen primarily through the eyes of a young girl named Riley whose brother Mick is drafted into military service in the early chapters of the book. When the family gets the news that Mick has gone MIA in Vietnam, Riley's world starts to fall apart and she spends the rest of the book trying to find both Mick and herself, traveling from Montana to San Francisco to Saigon and several other compass points in between. The Given World is one of those novels that feels like it was written with a pen dipped in the heart's blood of its author. That's why I wasn't surprised to hear Palaia allude to this in the book's trailer: "The characters in the book are, for the most part, composites of people I knew. A couple of them have died, and writing about them made me incredibly sad and incredibly happy. To be able to capture their personalities and really put them on the page in a way that people who also knew and loved them are able to recognize them--that was really a gift." Likewise, The Given World is one of the better gifts I've given myself this year. The closing chapters in particular really punched me in the heart. Watch the trailer then go buy the book.

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