Memento Park

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

Definitely a mixed reaction on this one. It’s an intriguing tale for those who care about its core points - fathers and sons, Jewishness, survivors of WWII - but elsewhere veers between a kind of essential crudeness and an excess of self-absorption. Yes, this is admittedly the central character’s besetting sin, but the editor might have done more to control it, soften its load. The whole book feels like early work, a little too emphatic, in need of subtlety, but there is talent evident here as well  and with luck better to come.
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Matt Santos has had the misfortune of completely misunderstanding his father. He thought he knew enough about Gabor Szántós’ life in Hungary during the war and after to explain his gruffness, his obsession with toy cars, and his reluctance to talk about the past. But after Matt learns that a rare painting might have been stolen from the family in 1944 at the beginning of Mark Sarvas’ Memento Park, he finally starts to see how little he really knew.

Matt has done his best to distance himself from his father. Gabor was a tough man to live with. He would get angry for the smallest reasons. His toy cars were sacred and not to be touched. Any talk about the past was ruthlessly suppressed. When...

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This story morphs and disguises throughout, an occasional love story, a story of faith, the complications of a father son relationship, and the recently rediscovered painting "Budapest street scene" which has it own story. There were moments of sheer brilliance, I really enjoyed the moments when Mark directly addresses Virgil, a security guard at the auctioneers house, and the device the author uses to feel we are being directly communicated to as the readers in this master class of the slow reveal.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in more literary writing, art, history, and the complications of love and family.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me...

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There were many reasons I requested this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was born and raised in Hungary, I am Jewish and my family lost many members during the Holocaust. I grew up in communist Hungary and left for America way before the fall of communism. I have been back a few times after the fall, I have been to Memento Park, the title of this novel and I have seen the shoe memorial at the shore of the Danube.
So, this book was very special for me for all the above reasons. With all that said, I liked the book, but didn’t love it. Matt, (Mátyás in Hungarian) is born in the United States to Holocaust survivors, who left communist Hungary in 1956 during the...

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Matt Santos’ life had hit its stride: his acting career was producing steady, good paying work; he was engaged to a kind, lovely and intelligent woman; and he had a distant but cordial relationship with his father, a Hungarian born Jew.  One day Matt is contacted by someone who informs him that he may be the rightful owner of a painting that the Nazi’s stole from his family during WWII.  In investigating this potential claim, Matt must face his ambivalent relationships with his father, his Jewishness and his fiancée. This novel is beautifully written and heartbreakingly rendered. Highly recommended.
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This is a wonderfully written novel that offers a new take on the issue of art looted from Jewish families during WWII. Matt is set on the path of proving provenance of a painting found in Australia that is believed to have belonged to his family before the war. Matt's a working actor, pretty scattered about his career, his father, Judaism, and his relationships with others in general. He's not sure he cares about this painting for anything but the money. He makes a halfhearted attempt to confirm ownership to start with, but he becomes more engaged as he learns more about that past that made his father so harsh to him.

This novel is more about Matt's journey of discovery...

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Thank you NetGalley for advanced digital copy. I give the story 4 stars but the way it was told 3 for an overall 3.5. I loved the story. It’s about fathers and sons, our faith and religion, Judaism and survivorship, and art. But the story telling was a little confusing to me as it appears he was addressing his thoughts at times to a security guard, to his lawyer, to his girlfriend and other characters. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if they were real conversations or most likely his thoughts. I felt so much for what this character was going through but the way he told the story was distracting for me. It was a confusing story telling device for me. I was also challenged sometimes by the changes...

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I am a Hungarian Jew. Matt’s journey is my journey. Can I write a review of this book, which I found so deeply moving that is not colored by my own experiences? I doubt it.

So, with that being said, I was extremely taken with Matt’s trip to his family roots in Hungary. Sarvas has written a beautiful novel about self-discovery by dealing with family history. The catalyst for his journey was the attempt to discover the true owner of a valuable painting done by a Hungarian artist, and stolen by a Nazi.

During the legal battle to prove his family ownership, the reader is given a view into the pained realationship between Matt and his father. His happy California existence is tested and...

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