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The God of War (Paperback)
Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List
“Twelve-year-old Ares Ramirez lives in a trailer on the desolate shores of California's Salton Sea, where he tries to take care of his handicapped brother. Silver is a gifted writer whose story of a young man struggling with the burden of responsibility takes us to places both in the landscape and in the heart that enrich us as readers and make us grateful for such storytellers.”
— Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA
The year is 1978. Ares Ramirez, age 12, lives with his mother, Laurel, and his younger brother Malcolm in a trailer at the edge of the Salton Sea, an unintentionally man-made body of water in the middle of the Southern California desert. It is a desolate, forgotten place, whose inhabitants thrive amidst seemingly impossible circumstances. Where birds fly by day across the desert sky, by night government fighter planes and helicopters make training runs using live ammunition, and an anonymous dead body floats in from the sea. These events inspire Ares, on the cusp of his adolescence, to enact elaborate fantasies of mortal combat. His membership in a troubled family marks Ares as a casualty of a different kind of war. Malcolm, age 7, is mentally handicapped, and his mother chooses not to do anything about it. Ares' struggle with the burden of responsibility -- to himself and to others -- draws him into a world of drugs, violence, and sex that he is not prepared for, launching him into a very personal battle for his own identity, one that has a lethal outcome.
"A stunning novel...Finely wrought characters and an illuminating portrait of [a] secret world...make for a powerful, often tragic tale." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Marisa Silver's The God of War is a novel of great metaphorical depth and beauty. It stays with you like a lesson well and truly learned." -- Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
"The God of War is such a stunning dive into a desert landscape few have understood and loved as deeply as Marisa Silver. It is no man's land, and every man's land -- there, her people wage epic battles for their lives, for their loyalties, and for their very fierce versions of love." -- Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales and Highwire Moon
"Marisa Silver's The God of War is as gripping as it is beautifully written. By the end I ached for these brothers, Ares and Malcolm, as if they were my own family, and I will not forget them." -- Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
"Marisa Silver is the author for whom we've all been waiting. With unabashed voice she steadily, bravely, unerringly tells a heartbreakingly beautiful story for our time. The God of War is the truest novel I've read in ages." -- Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight