Marinovich, Matt 1966(?)–

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Marinovich, Matt 1966(?)–

PERSONAL:

Born c. 1966; children: one daughter. Education: Emerson College, M.F.A. Hobbies and other interests: Jogging, hiking, fishing.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Brooklyn, NY.

CAREER:

Writer.

WRITINGS:

Strange Skies: A Novel, Harper Perennial (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Salon.com, Quarterly Open City, Mississippi Review, and Other Voices. Contributor to anthologies, including What If? and Bridging the Gap.

SIDELIGHTS:

Matt Marinovich received his M.F.A. in creative writing at Emerson College, studying under famous writers such as Grace Paley. In an interview with Cicily Janus in Eclectica, Marinovich stated that learning from Paley was "pretty great." Marinovich added that she "had a way of sticking up for students the rest of the class dismissed. She'd wait for us to all make fools of ourselves as we criticized someone, and then she'd show us how we'd completely missed the point. She had an almost physical knowledge of what good writing was. You could see her face light up when she heard something she liked." Since receiving his M.F.A., Marinovich has contributed to periodicals such as Salon.com, Quarterly Open City, Mississippi Review, and Other Voices. He has also had his work published in the anthologies What If? and Bridging the Gap. In 2004, Marinovich was diagnosed with skin cancer, and he told Janus that having "cancer pissed me off, basically. I felt kidnapped by bad luck. I got back at that bad luck by writing [my] novel."

That work, Strange Skies: A Novel, was published in 2007. The story features protagonist Paul Mauro, a thirty-eight-year-old who watches his brother's life as it is overcome by fatherhood. Of course, Paul now wishes to avoid the same fate, even though his wife wants to have children and is stridently pressuring him into doing so. Paul, however, has just had a growth removed from his arm that could possibly be cancerous. Paul tells his wife they should wait for a diagnosis before deciding to get pregnant, but when Paul goes to the doctor, he finds out that he is perfectly healthy. Paul, however, decides to tell his wife that he has terminal cancer in order to avoid having children. He then begins to act as if he's about to die, has affair with a woman who really does have cancer, and ruins his marriage in the process. Ironically, Paul soon learns that he really does have terminal cancer. Sick and alone, he meets a young boy who also has cancer, and he finally begins to understand the importance of being a father.

Critics found much to praise in Strange Skies. Commenting on the novel's ending, which brings about Paul's comeuppance, Pajiba reviewer Constance Howes stated: "There is a hot, rebellious quality to Strange Skies that is appealing until the sad, cold truth of the main character's arrogance is revealed. He is not set apart from humanity because he chooses to be or sees some hidden, complex truth, he is disconnected because he is a coward." While a Kirkus Reviews critic thought the novel is "perhaps too glib," the critic also thought it is "fast-paced" and "entertaining." A Publishers Weekly contributor called Strange Skies an "artful debut," adding that the protagonist is "an unusually self-aware scoundrel." Howes additionally noted that the novel "asks us to think about the type of people we are versus the type of people we pretend to be." Commenting on the novel's dark tone, Marinovich told Janus: "Writing dark is a thrill for me. Seeing people's reactions to it can be enlightening, though. I'd take my daughter to the playground and one of the moms said, ‘I liked your book,’ but at the same time I noticed there was about ten feet of bench separating me from her, as if I were going to make some Paul Mauro-type move on her. It's pretty funny. I'm already having playground anxiety about my next book, which is turning out to be just as dark."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Strange Skies: A Novel.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of Strange Skies, p. 29.

ONLINE

Eclectica,http://www.eclectica.org/ (June 15, 2008), Cicily Janus, "An Interview with Matt Marinovich."

Matt Marinovich Home Page,http://www.myspace.com/mattmarinovich (June 15, 2008).

Pajiba,http://www.pajiba.com/ (September 20, 2007), Constance Howes, review of Strange Skies.