Marquit, Amanda 1986(?)–
Marquit, Amanda 1986(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1986.
Shut the Door (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Teenage novelist Amanda Marquit was a student at the Professional Children's School in New York City when she published her debut novel, Shut the Door. An accomplished pianist and ballet dancer, she studied dance at the School of American Ballet, dramatic arts at the Stella Adler Sudio of Acting, has performed original compositions for piano and guitar, and has written several poems and short stories.
Marquit's novel is "the story of a dysfunctional suburban American family told from four points of view," commented a writer on ElevenMagazine.com. Husband Harry, feeling stifled and stagnated in his marriage, consorts with prostitutes and revels in the freedom found in a business trip away from his family. Wife Beatrice, the perfect suburban homemaker, finds that, without Harry, there is nothing in her life that gives her any meaning. Neglected daughters Lilliana, sixteen, and Vivian, seventeen, "grapple with problems that read like the worst case scenario of every parent's fears—promiscuity, drink, drugs, self-mutilation, and anorexia," the ElevenMagazine.com writer remarked.
While Harry is away, Beatrice blithely continues cooking his favorite meals, as if by some sort of domestic magic she can bring him back unchanged. Lilliana engages in frequent casual sex until she develops a crush on her guitar teacher, a college student who resists her advances. In response, Lilliana develops the habit of cutting herself with a fearsome variety of sharp objects. The more restrained Vivian abruptly experiences a role-reversal, dying her hair, getting tat-tooed and pierced, developing anorexia, and seeking admittance to the "mean girl" clique at school. Through it all, Beatrice edges closer to a catastrophic nervous breakdown.
Inspired by her reading of Nabokov's Lolita, Marquit started the novel at age fourteen as a short story written during a summer drama program. She finished the book two years later. Marquit attributes luck and timing to the publication of her novel. After she finished the book, Marquit and her parents asked a family friend, a nonfiction agent, for advice on submitting the book to fiction publishers. The agent "became really interested in it himself, and he wanted to take me on," Marquit said in an interview with Boris Kachka for New York Magazine. "I was really lucky."
A Kirkus Reviews critic observed that Marquit "skillfully interweaves recurring motifs," including physical rooms that serve to isolate the characters from each other—Beatrice's kitchen, the girls' bedrooms, Harry's hotel room. In the novel's "shocking close, implacable ironies descend on the family, but the heavy-handed, one-dimensional portrayals cheapen the thrills," the reviewer noted. "It's to Marquit's credit that she makes an effort to get inside the heads of all four of her characters," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who also found echoes of Joyce Carol Oates in Marquit's "breathy, italics-heavy narration and dark subject matter."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Shut the Door, p. 933.
New York Magazine, January 17, 2005, Boris Kachka, "Teen Novelist: Amanda Marquit."
Publishers Weekly, December 20, 2004, review of Shut the Door, p. 37.
Teen Vogue, February, 2005, "People Are Talking About …," p. 74.
US, January 31, 2005, "US Musts—Hot Book Picks," p. 90.
ElevenMagazine.com, http://www.elevenmagazine.com/ (February 16, 2005), "Modern Day Lolita."