Merullo, Roland 1953-
Merullo, Roland 1953-
PERSONAL: Born September 19, 1953, in Boston, MA; son of Roland A. (a lawyer) and Eileen Frances (a teacher) Merullo; married Amanda Stearns (a photographer), October 20, 1979. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1975, M.A., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Marly Rusoff & Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 524, Bronxville, NY 10708.
CAREER: Served in the Peace Corps in Micronesia, 1979–80; worked as a carpenter, c. 1983–90; Bennington College, Bennington, VT, teacher of writing and literature, 1993–. Visiting lecturer, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, 2000–.
AWARDS, HONORS: PEN New England/L.L. Winship Prize finalist, 1998, for Revere Beach Boulevard; Maria Thomas Fiction Award, Peace Corps Writers, 2003; Massachusetts Book Award, 2003, for Revere Beach Elegy: A Memoir of Home and Beyond.
Leaving Losapas, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1991.
A Russian Requiem, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
Revere Beach Boulevard, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.
In Revere, in Those Days, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2002.
A Little Love Story: A Novel, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2005.
Passion for Golf: In Pursuit of the Innermost Game, Lyons Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Revere Beach Elegy: A Memoir of Home and Beyond, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including Boston Globe, Outside, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Forbes, Yankee, and Details.
SIDELIGHTS: Roland Merullo has traveled extensively, and has set his novels in countries he has visited. While writing Leaving Losapas, Merullo supported himself by working as a carpenter, and the novel took seven years to complete. It is set in Micronesia, where Merullo served in the Peace Corps, and is the story of Boston-born Leo Markin, whose faith in both his religion and the military are shaken by his experiences as a Marine during the Vietnam conflict. Merullo followed with A Russian Requiem, set in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. The protagonists are American diplomat Anton Czesich, who is coordinating a relief program, and Sergei Propenko, his Russian counterpart, and the story revolves around the politics and lives of these men.
Merullo's Revere Beach Boulevard is the story of four days in the lives of an extended Italian-American family living in an Italian neighborhood in Revere, Mas-sachusetts. Narrated by a Catholic priest who has known them for years, the novel traces the various family members: daughter Joanie, a television news reporter; son Peter, a gambler; Vito, the hard-working father; and Lucy, the mother who watches over them all.
When Peter finds himself in impossible debt to a loan shark, his family gathers around to help him, leading to deadly trouble. GraceAnne A. DeCandido wrote in Booklist that the book "will create a shiver in the hearts of Italian American readers and gather up those who aren't in a rush of empathy." Francine Fialkoff concluded in the Library Journal that Revere Beach Boulevard contains "intricate story lines and fluid writing."
Revere Beach Elegy: A Memoir of Home and Beyond is a collection of essays about places that include Merullo's hometown of Revere. He tells of the disappointment of parents who felt that he wasted his fine education at Exeter Academy and Brown University when he took jobs like driving a cab and working in the Peace Corps while beginning his writing career. He writes of his difficulties in documenting the culture of a South Pacific clan and a trip to the Italian town where his wife's grandmother was born, and where they were greeted with great hospitality. Library Journal contributor Nancy R. Ives felt that "Merullo writes with warmth and a refreshing openness that will endear him to readers."
Although it is a work of fiction, there are parallels in the life of Merullo and the protagonist in In Revere, in Those Days. Anthony "Tonio" Benedetto, who at eleven lost his parents, is raised by his grandparents in Revere, loving people who gently guide Tonio through their example. He leaves behind his family, which includes his boxer uncle Peter and cousin Rosalie, to enter Exeter on scholarship. The story is a meditation on class, and also race, as Tonio's black roommate is also from a family much less privileged than most of the boys at Exeter. A Kirkus Reviews critic described In Revere, in Those Days as being "emotionally complex, politically intelligent, beautifully written: Among the best from a novelist in the classic American tradition."
Jake Entwhistle, the protagonist of A Little Love Story: A Novel, is a carpenter and artist whose girlfriend, Giselle, died aboard Flight 92 on September 11, 2001. Jake meets Janet Rossi, the assistant to the Massachusetts governor with whom she has been having an affair, and a victim of cystic fibrosis who may die before she receives a lung transplant. Jake takes on the task of finding a donor and a doctor as his love for Janet grows. Booklist reviewer Carol Haggas felt that this novel is more than its title implies. "This is not a little love story. It is, quite utterly, grand."
Merullo, who wrote a previous book about the game of golf, includes God as a golfer in Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth. God seeks help from a deceased pro who plays on heaven's 8,187 courses with players who include Moses and Buddha. Bill Ott noted in Booklist that Merullo not only gets the game right, he also "writes with wit and subtlety rather than trying to pound inspiration into our heads with a titanium driver."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Merullo, Roland, Revere Beach Elegy: A Memoir of Home and Beyond, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2002.
Booklist, September 1, 1993, Thomas Gaughan, review of A Russian Requiem, p. 35; September 1, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Revere Beach Boulevard, p. 66; November 15, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Revere Beach Elegy, p. 540; August, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of In Revere, in Those Days, p. 1924; July, 2005, Carol Haggas, review of A Little Love Story: A Novel, p. 1900; September 1, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth, p. 56.
Boston Magazine, September, 1993, Sarah Wright, review of A Russian Requiem, p. 35.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2001, review of Revere Beach Elegy, p. 1537; July 1, 2002, review of In Revere, in Those Days, p. 910; June 1, 2005, review of A Little Love Story, p. 606; August 1, 2005, review of Golfing with God, p. 809.
Kliatt, May, 2003, Barbara Gorman, review of Revere Beach Elegy, p. 33; January, 2004, Nola Theiss, review of In Revere, in Those Days, p. 18.
Library Journal, August, 1993, Stephanie Furtsch, review of A Russian Requiem, p. 153; August, 1998, Francine Fialkoff, review of Revere Beach Boulevard, p. 133; November 15, 2001, Nancy R. Ives, review of Revere Beach Elegy, p. 69; September 1, 2002, David Nudo, review of In Revere, in Those Days, p. 215; September 1, 2005, Nanci Milone Hill, review of Golfing with God, p. 132.
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2002, Rita Giordano, review of In Revere, in Those Days; August 24, 2005, Rita Giordano, review of A Little Love Story.
Publishers Weekly, November 16, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Leaving Losapas, p. 43; August 2, 1993, review of A Russian Requiem, p. 63; August 10, 1998, review of Revere Beach Boulevard, p. 370; October 30, 2000, review of Passion for Golf: In Pursuit of the Innermost Game, p. 54; December 3, 2001, review of Revere Beach Elegy, p. 50; August 12, 2002, review of In Revere, in Those Days, p. 276; June 13, 2005, review of A Little Love Story, p. 29; August 1, 2005, review of Golfing with God, p. 43.
School Library Journal, February, 2003, Molly Connally, review of In Revere, in Those Days, p. 173.