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Novels by Mary Marcus


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Goodbye Chain Store

My son used to have this amazing recording of a traveling preacher with a strong gospel voice recorded during the Great Depression. The preacher was railing against the danger of the chain store.  How on earth did he know? I only heard the recording once, driving around the south side of Chicago near the university campus. But the voice of the preacher will be inside my brain forever. His voice was far away. There was no real sound technology in those days. “No more chain stow,” he railed. My son’s car radio and all his tunes were stolen some time later and he never could find that recording again.   Now as we face the end of the chain store, and I mean specifically the closing of Barnes and Noble, the big store that was the gateway to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, I find myself wanting to stand on a street corner and rail for the return of the chain store. Our Third Street Promenade branch was never a really good book store, not like the big B & N in New York in the eighties on the Upper West Side. Or even the West Side Pavilion branch that closed five or so years ago and was replaced with a furniture store. But was it was indeed a bookstore with real books, floors of them.   Barnes and Noble I miss you, I’d cry. Barnes and Noble, who will replace you?  Barnes and Noble, you might have killed off the mom and pop, but what will we do without you? I used to complain about the Barnes and...

Missing Home

I’ve had a curious relationship with my dead mother-in-law’s house for the past ten years. And now suddenly, it’s over and done with.  I would describe the relationship as close, protective, love/hate, proud, loyal, agonizing, infuriating.  Indeed it’s as close as any relationship I’ve had to any house, since I’ve never had a house of my very own and have always longed for one.  My ten year thing with my mother-in-law’s old house encompasses all the range of feelings people have about the places where things have happened to them and to people they love, though I have never lived in the house, except for a short period of time a couple of summers ago. I wrote almost a whole novel during that time, within its walls, and though the novel has yet to be published, I hope one day it will be.  It was an odd couple of months for me. I hardly cooked a meal, I blamed it on the fact that there was only a couple of knives and forks, two bowls and maybe three glasses, none of them proper, all from the Ladies Village Improvement Society bargain box.  There was just the one sofa to sit on, as I had long ago emptied the place out for selling.  Back in the big bedroom, my father-in-law designed and everybody called “the motel” there was one uncomfortable bed and a broken down vintage, modernist chest of drawers so splintered, every time I reached in, I invariably had to retrieve the tweezers and alcohol.  Yet it was one of the happiest summers of my life. In the early...

The Coyote Next Door

The word on the street is the coyote that has been stalking our neighborhood since the end of the summer is living in the abandoned house across the way. The neighborhood eyesore, the one with the huge yard filled with falling down fences, trailers and such. I can see it from my second story living room window. To be honest, I’m not opposed to the place. It’s the single hold out against the hand of the developer. When we moved here about ten years ago, it was a quiet Japanese neighborhood where you could walk to eat sushi or noodles on Sawtelle, a four block area with no chain stores, not a single one.  You can still walk to eat sushi or noodles, but many of the old places are gone and now there are outposts of upscale chain restaurants and two burger joints. Young tattooed hipsters from all over town now fill the sidewalks. I have nothing catty to say about hipsters, or restaurants. But, I’m growing  weary, weary of three story condos with football fields of plate glass. I miss the old ladies who graduated from Manzanar High School, who have died and whose children have sold the land for development.  In their place are the arrivistes who drive Porsches and live in condos that take up every square foot of land. Parking is becoming a problem. Lot more rich white folks than there used to be. Amidst all of this growing boom, now the urban coyote. Is it a he or a she? My neighbor and friend Kady swears it’s a she. And I’ll go with...