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Reviews Lost and Found

Los Angeles Times

“Most of the characters in the ten stories making up this collection are profoundly alone, usually in a foreign, adopted city. They aren’t exactly lost, however, as the title might indicate: most, in fact, are willfully alone, in part no doubt because of their eccentricities. That’s what makes “The Lost and Found” an interesting book – Anne Marsella’s ability to trace the lives of misplaced people without condescension or melodrama, to imagine the everyday frictions of self-imposed exile…”


This first book, a story collection showing immense mastery of character, dialect, and narrative, won the 1993 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers. Born in Fresno, California, Marsella lives in Paris and writes largely about people of the underclasses or Third World, men and women from places like Chile, Nigeria, Istanbul, Morocco, and Mexico, slipping like a cat into myriad psyches and argots. Though she writes usually in a voice mirroring that of her characters, she fears no oddity of language, coming up with nutty tidbits that drive you to the dictionary. (When did you last use nimiety, embrangle, emulous, or partible?) In “Miss Carmen,” a Chilean woman arrives “in the Valley of San Joaquin” in California, gets a job polishing silver for a rich woman, gets a crush on a Mexican foreman but loses him, perhaps through her own small-minded pride. In “The Roommates,” Mary, a big, lanky girl from Kenya, shares a room in Paris with Selma from Istanbul, then with Selma’s lover, a Greek sweatshop foreman who also happens to be their married boss, and finally, after two years, abandons the dominating Selma to go live with an albino English gentleman in London.

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The New York Times – Daniel Woodrell

ANNE MARSELLA’S short-story collection, “The Lost and Found”, is a passport into foreign terrain not to be found on a tourist’s map. ‘”There are streets in Paris where the tourist seeking thrill and knapsack curio does not venture.” So begins a story, ‘”The Roommates;’ about two young, women. Mary (from Kenya) and Selma (from Turkey), who work in a Parisian sweatshop and share their boss as a lover.

They live on one of those streets not pointed out to tourists, and lead the sort or lives most of us don’t know much about. This is Ms. Marsella’s ambition, to take lbe reader down the unmapped streets of  the West and let us see them through a third-world sensibility: “the deracinated seekers, the beauties and the beasts [who) came to this city perhaps I because at despair or because of lust.”

Anne Marsella, who was awarded the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers for this collection. was born in Fresno, Calif., but now lives in Paris. The opening story, “Miss Carmen” is set in California, a place considered golden by the wily Miss Carmen, who has moved from Chile to the San Joaquin Valley, where “she lived in guest bedrooms In the homes of wealthy matrons.”  Miss Carmen finds in the United States a world of color television sets, Louis XIV fauteuils, beautiful homes that “can be cleaned with a pinkie… and closets filled with fiesta shoes of the mistress.” When she is gone you can put them on and iron this way.” Carmen smiles with her silver-capped “beauty tooth” as she holds out her employer’s silver trays and asks, “You wantie?” She’s a practical woman, whose “dreams never exceeded her want,”  until she meets the ranch foreman. Manuel. Manuel is a man “Like those she had left behind her in Las Pampas.” When he fails to notice that Miss Carmen even exists, all the beautiful artifacts, even the fabulous and covered Louis XIV chairs, cannot hide the fact that “the Valley of San Joaquin” is a desert.

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