In his most profound and accomplished book to date, acclaimed author Bruce Wagner breaks from Hollywood culture with a novel of exceptional literary dimension and searing emotional depth.
Joan Herlihy is a semi-successful architect grasping at the illustrious commission that will catapult her to international renown, glossy décor 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 natural and 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.
"[Memorial] records a softening of mood and a growing curiosity about other possibilities of being...one senses a moral intelligence missing from much contemporary fiction that aspires...to a Nabokovian poise and beauty."
-- Pankaj Mishra, The New York Times Book Review
"[Wagner] creates a tender vision of modern life, one in which preoccupations with popular culture are an imperfect carapace for the vulnerable hearts underneath."
-- The New Yorker
"Not since William Faulkner have we seen anything quite like this."
-- George Garrett, Hollins University, Virginia
"Memorial is an infinitely detailed, completely engrossing picture of modern America."