Turns out, you can go home again.
Author and Marine Park native Mark Chiusano — who recently released “Marine Park: Stories,” a collection based on growing up in the neighborhood — rode the B train back to his native homeland for the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association’s holiday party on Dec. 11.
Chiusano spoke about the history of Marine Park and talked about how his childhood in a neighborhood that was relatively close to New York City but still very much its own world inspired his semi-autobiographical book.
“The book deals with this idea that you grew up in the city — you’re a New Yorker — but the city is very far away,” said Chiusano, who now lives in Cobble Hill. “It is almost like ‘Oz.’ It’s really far away and it’s sort of a different place. You’re kind of living on this borderland here.”
Chiusano’s book is a coming-of-age tale of two brothers who live in the neighborhood, but weaved into their lives — and the book — are stories of other colorful neighborhood characters like lovesick teens and mob minions.
The president of the civic said the collection reminded him of Jean Shepherd’s tales, who was a radio personality but is most famous for writing the story that inspired the legendary holiday movie, “A Christmas Story.”
“It’s fun if you think in terms of — and can recall — Jean Shepherd,” said Ed Jaworski, the president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association, adding that he loved the vivid descriptions of the neighborhood staples. “There are a lot of references to the park, the track around the park, the salt marsh.”
After the talk, Chiusano answered the audience’s questions — his favorite books are “Drown” by Junot Diaz and “2666” by Roberto Bolaño — and shared his advice for prospective writers.
“For me, it is a lot about keeping a schedule. I do my writing before work,” said Chiusano, who works in publishing. “If you’re waiting for inspiration, it’s not going to happen, and you’re going to be waiting for your entire life.”
Chiusano’s parents, Ken and Mary Chiusano — who are both English teachers and have another son studying English at Cornell University — said they are incredibly proud of their kids.
“It is sort of like an English teacher’s dream,” said Ken Chiusano. “They’re both going to be poor, but we think that they’re happy and they both have empathy for people — and I think they’ve gotten that from reading.”