Mary Coin

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Mary Coin

by Marisa Silver

Blue Rider Press | July 29, 2014 | Hardcover

Mary Coin is rated 4 out of 5 by 1.
*An NPR Best Book of 2013*
*A BBC Best Book of 2013*
 
In her first novel since The God of War, the critically acclaimed author Marisa Silver takes Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photograph as inspiration for a breathtaking reinvention—a story of two women, one famous and one forgotten, and of the remarkable legacy of their chance encounter.

In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in Central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting the migrant laborers who have taken to America’s farms in search of work. Little personal information is exchanged, and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced what will become the most iconic image of the Great Depression.

Three vibrant characters anchor the narrative of Mary Coin. Mary, the migrant mother herself, who emerges as a woman with deep reserves of courage and nerve, with private passions and carefully-guarded secrets. Vera Dare, the photographer wrestling with creative ambition who makes the choice to leave her children in order to pursue her work. And Walker Dodge, a present-day professor of cultural history, who discovers a family mystery embedded in the picture. In luminous, exquisitely rendered prose, Silver creates an extraordinary tale from a brief moment in history, and reminds us that although a great photograph can capture the essence of a moment, it only scratches the surface of a life.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 pages, 9.27 × 6.33 × 1.16 in

Published: July 29, 2014

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0399160701

ISBN - 13: 9780399160707

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mary Coin "What are the real lives of people surrounding the big facts of history?" —Marisa Silver In the middle of the Great Depression, photographer Dorothea Lange worked for the United States government documenting the circumstances of migrant workers. In Mary Coin, Marisa Silver tells a fictionalized story based on the real lives of people in a famous Lange photograph: Migrant Mother. Silver's version of the story spans a century and intersects the lives of three main characters: Mary Coin, a mixed-race mother who must raise her children in hard times; Vera Dare, a photographer who captures fleeting moments and turns them into history; and Walker Dodge, a professor whose passion for the minutia of the past leads to an intriguing discovery. Mary Coin's mother, Doris, is another influential character, and her actions as a mother lay the groundwork for an important decision Mary makes later in the book. Mary Coin touches on big life themes: motherhood, loss, sex, economic disparity, and the law of unintended consequences. Silver handles weighty subjects with a subtle touch, so the story doesn't feel oppressive. She handles the light moments with strong writing, so messages don't pass unnoticed. I'm a fan of historical fiction and stories that grow out of a seed of truth, so the "realness" of this fictional book appealed to me. Silver's skill as a storyteller made it compelling reading.
Date published: 2013-06-12

– More About This Product –

Mary Coin

by Marisa Silver

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 pages, 9.27 × 6.33 × 1.16 in

Published: July 29, 2014

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0399160701

ISBN - 13: 9780399160707

About the Book

In 1936, photographer Dorothea Lange took a portrait that would become the most iconic image of the Great Depression. Her subject was Florence Owens Thompson, a 32-year-old Native American and mother of seven. "Mary Coin" is the novel inspired by that photograph.

Read from the Book

At first she thought someone had released a flock of birds into the room. The museum gallery whispered with the sound of wings and flight and she thought of the starlings wheeling through the flat Oklahoma sky, a solid flag of them waving in the currents of a wind. Was that seventy years ago? More?...
 
A child’s cry broke through. Mary, always keen to a child’s distress, turned towards the sound. And there, across the room, hung the familiar charcoal gray shapes of the image that shadowed her life….
 
The gallery had grown quieter and, for a moment, Mary was alone with the picture. She saw her reflection in the glass. There they were. Two women named Mary Coin. If they met on the street in the high heat of a summer’s afternoon, they would be polite in the old fashioned way to show they meant one another no harm. “Hello,” they would say in passing. “My, but isn’t it a wretched day?”

From the Publisher

*An NPR Best Book of 2013*
*A BBC Best Book of 2013*
 
In her first novel since The God of War, the critically acclaimed author Marisa Silver takes Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photograph as inspiration for a breathtaking reinvention—a story of two women, one famous and one forgotten, and of the remarkable legacy of their chance encounter.

In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in Central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting the migrant laborers who have taken to America’s farms in search of work. Little personal information is exchanged, and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced what will become the most iconic image of the Great Depression.

Three vibrant characters anchor the narrative of Mary Coin. Mary, the migrant mother herself, who emerges as a woman with deep reserves of courage and nerve, with private passions and carefully-guarded secrets. Vera Dare, the photographer wrestling with creative ambition who makes the choice to leave her children in order to pursue her work. And Walker Dodge, a present-day professor of cultural history, who discovers a family mystery embedded in the picture. In luminous, exquisitely rendered prose, Silver creates an extraordinary tale from a brief moment in history, and reminds us that although a great photograph can capture the essence of a moment, it only scratches the surface of a life.

About the Author

Marisa Silver is the author of the novels The God of War (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist) and No Direction Home; and two story collections, Alone With You and Babe in Paradise (a New York Times Notable Book and Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year). She lives in Los Angeles.

Editorial Reviews

A New York Times bestseller A Los Angeles Times bestseller “ Mary Coin  is quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years. ''You''ll know who you are when you start losing things,'' says one character, and the story burns  in this quietly emphatic way, only to erupt in moments of excruciating pain and beauty.  In her portrayal of a time in American history when survival was often a day-to-day thing, Silver drills down to the absolute essentials: family, love, loss, the perpetual uncertainty of life. Again and again I found myself wondering: How does she know that? Silver''s wisdom is rare, and her novel is the work of a master." —Ben Fountain, author of the 2012 National Book Award winner Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk   “Marisa Silver renders the soul of an iconic image, giving it moving life. Mary Coin is a soaring work of imagination, dedication and history.” —Mona Simpson, author of My Hollywood and Anywhere But Here   “An extraordinarily compassionate and wise novel,  Mary Coin  imagines the life of Dorothea Lange''s iconic "Migrant Mother." What emerges, in Silver''s nuanced, resonant telling, is a poignant exploration of a single life that touches many others, and a powerful, moving portrait of America during the Great Depression. Silver is one of those preternaturally gifted writers who can with the lightest of touches make the reader enter a world that feels as full
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