Read with Sharon - February 2023

Mercury Pictures Presents - Anthony Marra

One of our book club regulars sent me a note highly recommending this book for one of our monthly selections. Quite the critic herself, I thought “If Janet loves it, my guess is I will, too.” So I downloaded it on my Kindle and found myself swept away.

Not only is Mercury Pictures Presents a fabulous story, it’s Anthony Marra’s intriguing style of writing and his unlikely descriptions that makes the novel so entertaining and thought provoking. New York Times reviewer Matthew Specter provides this example from the book: A rusted-out rowboat decaying on a bank is presented as “a visual index of local fungi and a nursery for deciduous saplings.” Both clever and artful, Marra’s writing aptly reflects the characters of the story.

This month, Anthony Marra will join our book club meeting to discuss his inspiration behind the story. To accommodate his schedule, we will be meeting on Thursday, February 16 at 7:00 pm EST.

Until then, I hope you find Mercury Pictures Presents as entertaining as I did.

Buy the Book


The line between art and agitprop can be narrow, and rarely more so than in Hollywood, where people sometimes struggle to know (or care) what art is to begin with.

This notion hovers behind Anthony Marra’s elegant new novel, “Mercury Pictures Presents,” in which Artie Feldman, the improbably endearing vulgarian who runs the book’s titular studio — the sort of B-movie factory that flourished in the slipstream of Hollywood’s majors during the Golden Age 1930s and ’40s — keeps his toupee collection displayed in his office and has never met a bad idea he didn’t love.

As our country spirals into more and more discord over who did what on Jan. 6, 2021, and whether women should have reproductive rights, it seems right and proper for a novel concerning World War II-era Italian fascism to highlight how easy it is for all of us to fall prey to false romantic narratives. All the better if the author is Anthony Marra, and the book “Mercury Pictures Presents” does so through the perspective of a poorly run Hollywood film studio.

Mercury Pictures Presents - Anthony Marra

Book Club Questions


  1. What did you think about Maria and her rise in the film industry?
  2. What did you think about how Maria handled the various conflicts that


  1. There were many characters in the story. Did you identify with any of them?
  2. Which of the fictional films in the book would you have been most interested in seeing?
  3. Why do you think all the immigrants were drawn to Hollywood in the book?


  1. Did it work for you? What would you have changed?
  2. What do you think is the author’s message to readers of Mercury Picture Presents?
  3. What did you take away from the book?
  4. Are you left with any questions?


  1. Did you notice any symbolism?
  2. What foreshadowing did you notice? 


  1. Use one adjective to describe the writing itself.
  2. What would you change if you could rewrite Mercury Picture Presents?


  1. What did you love most about the book?
  2. Did the book change any views/opinions that you have?

Mercury Pictures Presents - Anthony Marra