Memento Park

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 May 2018

Member Reviews

Matt Santos is a non-practicing Jew and a first generation American. His father, with whom he has a difficult relationship, immigrated from Hungary in the 1950s. Matt is both surprised and puzzled when he is contacted about a missing painting that has recently resurfaced after its disappearance during World War II. The painting may have been stolen from Matt's family, and he may be the rightful heir – but only because his father has refused to have anything to do with it. Matt's search for answers leads him to Hungary in the company of his lawyer, Rachel, a practicing Jew. What he learns there will cause him to reexamine all of the important relationships in his life – his...

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The thing that struck me very quickly about this book is how elegant the writing was. The pace was, at times a little slow, but it didn't bother me for this reason. I really liked the idea of the painting being a link between past and present and I thought the mystery was well developed and the characters were, too. I enjoyed this novel and definitely look forward to seeing what the author comes up with next!
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Thanks Farrar, Straus and Giroux and netgalley for this ARC.

Amazing introspective manly man giving in to his feelings and emotions about his family, religion, and art.
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This was a difficult book. A book I wanted to like and even sort of did enjoy. The nature of the first person narration makes it a more visceral experience and perhaps the very thing that drew me to the book is also why I struggled to enjoy it. Being the daughter of a difficult Hungarian father (and extended family) I am always interested in books that involve Hungary and Hungarians. There is a deep resonance with Mark Santos’ experience of his father. I think Mark Sarvas as a writer has managed to capture truth in his work and that is something I respected, it is what urged me forward. Unfortunately, the visceral nature of the narration, the evasiveness of the narrator and the story itself...

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Fabulous read. Well paced, lyrical, beautiful story.
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4.5★
“ . . . and I can only think about all I have squandered, the astonishing lack of care with which I have blundered through life. So much beyond recovery, things that can never be restored, truths devoured by time, by neglect.”

Matt Santos is sitting in an auction house, after closing time, in front of the painting around which the people in this story revolve. The very existence of the painting, where it came from, and to whom it belongs, has raised all kinds of questions about Matt’s family history.

The auction house security guard’s shirt says VIGIL, the name of the company, but Matt reads it first as VIRGIL, so Matt addresses his internal monologue to Virgil, calling him by name...

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Fabulous!  Phenomenal writing that pierces you in quiet moments.  The story itself isn't what draws you in so much as the compelling character sketches and narration.
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A haunting elegy about fathers and sons, faith, and a painting with a past. Beautifully written and quir moving.
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There have been a number of books published these last few years about a lost and found painting which becomes the link between a past and present narrative. At first I wasn’t sure if I was up for another one like this, but the book description promised more. I’m glad I took a chance because I wasn’t disappointed. It’s about a lost and found relationship between a father and a son and about the loss and discovery of a man’s identity when he is dawn into his father’s past, but it is not a dual time line narrative. By virtue of the first person narrative, this is such an introspective novel. It begins with Matt Santos standing before the painting that has come into his possession through...

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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity for an honest review by providing me with an advanced reader copy.  

When Matt Santos, a veteran Hollywood character actor, gets a call about a painting allegedly looted from his family by Nazis in 1944 Budapest, his world becomes unglued. It's a novel of discovery, a love story of a father and a son, a mystery. Most of all, it is a novel of discovery…discovery of art, heritage, and, perhaps, faith. Well written with a great  storyline and solid character development, this is a novel of great depth, yet a fast moving, compelling read.
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MEMENTO PARK by Mark Sarvas provides some well-written historical fiction, a mystery and a study of inter-generational relationships. At the center of the story is a painting, Budapest Street Scene by Kalman, created in Hungary prior to WWII. The main character, Matt Santos, is surprised one day to learn that he now owns this valuable painting that was presumably looted from his Jewish ancestors during the war.

His immigrant father, however, encourages Matt to steer clear of the painting, perhaps reflecting on the painful memories it represents. Matt is puzzled by his father's attitude and reluctance to discuss the painting (or much of anything, really). In a misguided attempt to...

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Matt Santos, a non practicing Jew and minor character actor in LA engaged to a model, is contacted by the Australian consulate because he might be the rightful owner of a painting that may have been stolen from his family in Budapest during World War II. Inexplicably, his father, with whom he has never had a loving relationship, will not discuss the painting or the family’s rightful ownership. With the assistance of an attorney, the devout Rachel, Matt travels to Hungary to seek evidence of his ownership.

This is most of all a novel of discovery…discovery of art, heritage, and, perhaps, faith. Well written with a solid storyline and good character development, this is a book of great...

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There is a lot going on in this relatively slim book.  The main character is involved in a quest to gain ownership of a holocaust era painting that may (or may not) have belonged to his family.  The quest, of course, is much more complex than that, involving his search for belonging, for membership in a larger group, and even a search for identity.  His closest relationships are complicated and yet somehow superficial.  I found it interesting that each of those relationships can be symbolized by artifacts, whose symbolism I’m still working out.
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As a book blogger, sometimes you take chances on seemingly unknown authors and their works with the hopes that you might be blown away. Well, I took a chance on Mark Sarvas’ Memento Park and I’m elated that I did. This compact yet dense novel is about memory, religion, family, relationships, betrayal, art and so much more — but is immensely readable and relatable. Focusing on a modern-day C-list Hollywood actor named Matthew Santos (note that he shares the same initials as the author, so you can draw your own conclusions), Memento Park sees him acquire a valuable painting from a Jewish artist who committed suicide during World War II in Hungary. The painting’s worth a cool couple of...

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This book is well written and somewhat interesting, but not interesting enough to me to give it more than 3 stars
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Memento Park is a story of restitution, of a man seeking to recover a painting he believes was looted from his family in Hungary during World War II. This art themed novel revolves around "Budapest Street Scene" painted by Hungarian Ervin Laszlo Kalman, history and relationships - between father and son, between client and lawyer, between Matt and his girlfriend Tracy and more.

Memento Park takes on questions of authenticity and identity. This novel is full of painting references, some authentic and some fiction. The painting "Budapest Street Scene" seemed so real that I 'googled' it and the artist Kalman and discovered that both were creations of the vivid...

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So I probably would have liked this more had I not kept comparing it to one of the greatest books ever written, The Goldfinch. Something about the fact that both books kind of center around an obsession with a single painting, albeit for far different reasons, made me yearn for Donna Tartt's effortless character study and insanely beautiful prose. This book wasn't quite at that level but I was more engaged the more I read. I liked it a lot. Something about Matt was both off-putting and yet I was rooting for him. Plus there was a legal aspect to it (without giving anything away), which always interests me, being an attorney. The title particularly has left me thinking about...

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A single Jewish man, Matt Santos, an actor in LA, is torn between a blond gentile swimsuit model and a wavy-haired devout Jewish attorney. (Is that a dated, or classic, conflict for a Jewish male protagonist?) Also, he may be able to sell for millions a painting (by an invented artist) stolen by Nazis, which has fallen into his life, if he can show it once belonged to his family. And his distant, gambling, volatile dad has a random hobby of trading in toy cars.

The actor tells his story all night, in his mind, to a security guard before the painting's auction, and then the story catches up with the auction itself. The actor calls Joe the guard "Virgil," which seems more...

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I loved this book.  I loved the beautiful writing, the very real characters flaws in all, and the story itself and the intriguing way it unfolded. The story focuses on a sons attempt to reclaim a painting seized by the Nazis but delves deep into the troubled relationship between a son and his father and opposing views about discussing and remembering the past. It deals with the expectations of ones parents and the wounds of unfulfilling them.
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Matt Santos is standing in an auction hall, looking at a picture, Budapest Street Scene by Ervin Kálmán. It will be sold the next day and he is ruminating about how this picture came to let him know more about his family than he ever did before and how it changed his life completely. His father had warned him about it, told him to let go, not to pursue the case any further, but he wouldn’t listen. So he is standing there on his own, alone, with his thoughts about his ex-girl-friend Tracy, whom he still loves, his lawyer Rachel, who helped him to get hold of the picture, and about his now deceased father.

Memento Park is not easy to summarise. It’s a novel about art, Jewish art in Nazi...

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