Bullet Collection, The

(ISBN: 1-55597-376-0)
Graywolf Press (Publisher)
2003 Saint Paul
307 pages
Size: 6 1/4" x 9 1/4"
Language(s): English

Haunted by events her family is reluctant to discuss, the narrator Marianna, recounts the fragmented, delicate story of her and her older sister growing up in wartime Beirut. Throughout their childhood, Marianna watches Alaine collect the detritus of war—bullets, grenades, shrapnel, a gas mask. These objects, some taken from corpses, line Alaine’s bedroom shelves, a catalog of her retreat into a profound depression against which her family is powerless. For all their effort to endure the daily violence without, the war enters within, transforming their home into a place of danger and secrets. Marianna, ever watching, listening, becomes her older sister’s keeper, desperate to solve the mystery of her sorrow. But once the family moves to America, Alaine changes, bewildering Marianna in her apparent newfound peace. Recovering from her own near-fatal depression, Marianna finds herself dwelling in past and present at once, telling the stories that no one else seems to remember, and in this way seeks to join the threads of her two lives. In lyrical, dreamlike prose, Patricia Sarrafian Ward mines both the stunning, exotic landscape of Beirut and the pure, defiant landscape of a child’s heart, and shows how war leaves its indelible scars on both.

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