The Book Cellar
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mary Coin, a masterful, intimate story of two young girls, joined in an unlikely friendship, whose lives are shattered in a single, unthinkable moment.
Miggy Brenneman is a wild and reckless seven-year-old with a fierce imagination, hellbent on pushing against the limits of childhood. Ellen is polite, cautious, and drawn to her friend's bright flame. While the adults around them adjust to unstable times and fractured relationships, the girls respond with increasingly dangerous play. When tragedy strikes, all the novel's characters grapple with questions of fate and individual responsibility, none more so than Miggy, who must make sense of a swiftly disappearing past and a radically transformed future.
Written with searing clarity and surpassing tenderness, The Mysteries limns the painful ambiguities of adulthood and the intense perceptions of an indelibly drawn child to offer a profound exploration of how all of us, at every stage, must reckon with life's abundant and unsolvable mysteries.
Marisa Silver is the author of six previous works of fiction, including the novels Mary Coin, a New York Times Bestseller, and Little Nothing, a New York Times Editor's Choice. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and been included in The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Silver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Public Library's Cullman Center. She teaches at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and lives in Los Angeles.
“The central question of this richly layered novel asks how well we can truly know another person. The characters here came to life for me and I felt in my bones their loneliness, their sorrow, along with their moments of generosity, their joy. I will think about them and root for them for a long time.” - Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of ASK AGAIN, YES
“Marisa Silver uses language as she would a sharp needle: to stitch, and to puncture, in her examination of people who are as vivid and anxious as the tragic souls of Richard Yates.” - Rachel Kushner, New York Times Bestselling author of THE MARS ROOM
“This exquisite gem of a novel digs deep into the longings of the human heart. Funny, compassionate, sorrowful, and tender, The Mysteries is an insightful and emotionally astute exploration of how love can both heal and fail us. I couldn’t put it down, and I will be thinking about these characters for a very long time.” - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, New York Times Bestselling author of THE NEST
“Marisa Silver’s vividly alive and wondrously precise THE MYSTERIES stirringly explores marriage, friendship, betrayal and a shattering moment of loss that offers grace and salvation. At its pulsing heart center is the delightful and ungovernable Miggie. A heroine and novel I won’t soon forget.” - Maria Semple, New York Times Bestselling author of WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE and TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT
“Family and friendship are the central mysteries of Silver’s latest novel, which is set against the tumult of the early 1970s and features a fraught bond between young girls.” - The New York Times Book Review
“Silver’s unsettling study of the painful effects of change channels the bitter nostalgia of Rick Moody.” - Publishers Weekly
“From the mysteries that captivate two little girls to those that confound four adults, Silver’s luminous exploration of foundational relationships catastrophically altered by a gut-wrenching accident reveals the poignancy and vulnerability that underlie so many human contracts. Whether writing in the precociously gleeful voices of two guileless children or the increasingly jaded tones of damaged adults, Silver achieves a powerful and gripping authenticity that captures the confusion and, yes, the mystery of both innocence and maturity.” - Booklist, starred review
“This story is not a mystery as we all expect, but a mystery of how people react to one another. Silver’s approach to these characters is dynamic not in the relationship between the families as much as the relationships within the families... The Mysteries is character driven, and the reader will get wrapped up in each character’s purpose and the story’s theme. A definite keeper.” - New York Journal of Books
“Silver paints an evocative picture of the early ’70s. This compelling domestic drama, with heartbreak at its center, depicts the everyday mysteries that lead up to the big one.” - Library Journal
“[The] chapters are written with a keen ear for the voices of children, filtered through the syntactic elegance that marks the entire book. In this way, language becomes character; Miggy and Ellen, as well as their parents, are embodied as much by what they think as by what happens to them.” - Alta
“Silver’s latest novel is centered on the unusual friendship between two seven-year-old girls, named Miggy and Ellen. One is carefree, raging, and rowdy, while the other is cagy, wary, and observant. When the world’s cruelty pierces the girls’ bubble, Miggy and Ellen must come to terms with the vicissitudes of life.” - Alta, “14 New Books for May”
“In The Mysteries Marisa Silver faces the big mystery and the lesser, among them the mystery of personality, with her trademark clarity, her gorgeous sentences, to savor and underline, and her all-around brilliance. A Silver novel is always cause for celebration.” - Jane Hamilton, author of A MAP OF THE WORLD and WHEN MADELINE WAS YOUNG
“Clear-eyed and devastating, Marisa Silver's The Mysteries is full of wisdom about grief, but also about the joys of childhood. Silver is the rare writer who can write in any register, about any age and state of being.” - Karan Mahajan, author of THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS
“With deep clarity and grace Marisa Silver winds this beautiful story of grief and love and of the thread that connects mothers and daughters to each other, and to the work of living.” - Jade Chang, author of THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD
“The Mysteries is a profound work of American portraiture. Each of the six interconnected characters in The Mysteries is rendered with masterful specificity, most especially the two vivid little girls around which the worn-out adult world turns. Marisa Silver sees with clear eyes and writes with dignity. Her compassion for ordinary hurt brings to mind the work of William Trevor and Yiyun Li. The Mysteries moved me almost to discomfort, but then released me into a broader understanding of intimacy, childhood, grief, and the very passage of time. Like the best of fiction, this novel broke my heart, then put it back together.” - Amity Gaige, author of SEA WIFE
“Even a loyal, longtime reader of Marisa Silver's outstanding previous stories and novels might be unprepared for the power and delicacy of THE MYSTERIES. I found it to be a novel of almost unbearable intimacy. As one character, Celeste, thinks: "She's never learned to trust the idea of family." For good reason, as the complexities -- and profound mysteries -- of family life form the beating heart of this stunning, uncanny novel.” - Peter Orner, author of MAGGIE BROWN AND OTHERS: STORIES