From award-winning and bestselling author Anthony Marra and named by BookPage as one of the most anticipated books of 2022, Mercury Pictures Presents is Gramercy’s Book Club selection for August. An epic and dazzling historic tale that examines the lives swept up by the machines of war and propaganda and set in 1940s Hollywood, the book discussion will be facilitated by filmmaker and Kenyon College professor Jon Sherman.
A ticket to this program includes a copy of Mercury Pictures Presents at a 15% discount. It is strongly encouraged that registrants read the book prior to the program.
KENYON COLLEGE and THE DREXEL THEATRE are Gramercy's Community Partner for this program.
From Mussolini's Italy to 1940s Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures Presents is a timeless story of love, deceit, and sacrifice written by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and longlisted for the National Book Award.
Like many before her, Maria Lagana has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Born in Rome, where every Sunday her father took her to the cinema instead of church, Maria immigrates with her mother to Los Angeles after a childhood transgression leads to her father’s arrest. Fifteen years later, on the eve of America’s entry into World War II, Maria is an associate producer at Mercury Pictures, trying to keep her personal and professional lives from falling apart. Her mother won’t speak to her. Her boss, a man of many toupees, has been summoned to Washington by congressional investigators. Her boyfriend, a virtuoso Chinese American actor, can’t escape the studio’s narrow typecasting. And the studio itself, Maria’s only home in exile, teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.
Over the coming months, as the bright lights go dark across Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures becomes a nexus of European émigrés: modernist poets trying their luck as B-movie screenwriters, once-celebrated architects becoming scale-model miniaturists, and refugee actors finding work playing the very villains they fled. While the world descends into war, Maria rises through a maze of conflicting politics, divided loyalties, and jockeying ambitions. But when the arrival of a stranger from her father’s past threatens Maria’s carefully constructed facade, she must finally confront her father’s fate—and her own.
Written with intelligence, wit, and an exhilarating sense of possibility, Mercury Pictures Presents spans many moods and tones, from the heartbreaking to the ecstatic. It is a love letter to life’s bit players, a panorama of an era that casts a long shadow over our own, and a tour de force by a novelist whose work The Washington Post calls “a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles.”
Jon Sherman is an Associate Professor of Film at Kenyon College. He has directed three feature films, including the recent Columbus production, They/Them/Us, which opened nationwide earlier this year. His first film, Breathing Room, starred Dan Futterman, Susan Floyd, Edie Falco, and Paul Giamatti. It was released in more than twenty-five countries worldwide. His next film, I’m With Lucy, released in more than fifty countries worldwide, is a romantic comedy produced by Gaumont, the largest film studio in France. It starred Monica Potter, Gael Garcia Bernal, Julie Christie, Anthony LaPaglia, John Hannah and Harold Ramis. Sherman is deeply committed to developing the film community in Columbus; he serves as President of the Board of Film Columbus and a Board Member of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.