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Men in the Making Hardcover – October 25, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156034441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156034449
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,430,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"I haven't been hit so hard by a collection of stories in a long time. I put this book down feeling literally stunned. Think of great stories like Larry Brown's 'Facing the Music,' Frank O'Connor's 'Guests of the Nation,' Barry Hannah's 'Drummer Down,' Alice Walker's 'Strong Horse Tea.' Think of the stories that nearly tore your heart out when you read them. If you don't believe me, open this book right now and read, just to name one, 'The Only Good Thing I've Heard.' Then you will." --Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury "Story by story by story, Bruce Machart gets his guys right: the crosswise emotions, the briar patch of thoughts suffered by men who either think too much or too little--the misfires and self-deceptions and tall tales, the tragic goofiness of liking mistaken for loving, the need to hide under the covers until real life goes away, the belief that speed is the answer to every question, that more is better and more of more the best. Men in the Making can't possibly be Mr. Machart's debut collection of stories, for these are the yarns of a young master of the form."--Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once

"What I admire most about Bruce Machart's Men In The Making is everything. Filled with revelatory and often gritty truths about love and work and family and courage and also defeat, he has given the world one of the most powerful short story collections you will ever encounter. I'm not joking here, if you can read this book and not be moved, it's time to go have your head checked out."--Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All The Time

"Bruce Machart is one of our most ambitious and fearless young writers. With Men in the Making, he has composed a remarkable paean to the complex fragility of the American male. I read these stories in a state of tender amazement." --Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life

About the Author

BRUCE MACHART is the author of The Wake of Forgiveness. His fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, Story, One Story and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Best Stories of the American West. A graduate of the MFA program at Ohio State University, Machart is Assistant Professor of English at Bridgewater State University, and he lives in Hamilton, Massachusetts.


More About the Author

BRUCE MACHART's fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, Story, One-Story, and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Best Stories of the American West. A graduate of the MFA program at Ohio State University, he currently lives and teaches in Houston.

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Customer Reviews

As with The Wake of Forgiveness, I can understand if this book is just too much for some readers.
Pasiphae
A lot of the writing is almost stream of consciousness, but it is written not to confuse but to illuminate.
L. Wilson
The ten short stories included in Bruce Machart's Men in the Making are all good, all well worth reading.
not a natural

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The titular Men in the Making are men learning to accept responsibility and to value their friends and family. Most of them have dirt under their fingernails: they work in sawmills; they farm; they clean the messes made by hospital patients. They live in Texas and Arkansas and Oklahoma. They drink Lone Star and listen to Conway Twitty and Willie Nelson on the jukebox. They spank their children without worrying whether it's politically correct.

Most of the men in Bruce Machart's collection of ten stories are enduring growing pains. They are physically or emotionally scarred. Their wives and mothers have died or abandoned them. They're often longing for something they can't identify. The stories are slices of lives that have already been badly sliced.

My favorite of the ten, "What You're Walking Around Without," is about a man who, after falling from an oil rig, is "stricken with purposeless afflictions, with a lazy eye and a bum leg and a nervous tic, with a hand he can't hold steady enough to touch a woman the way a woman wants to be touched" -- a man who curses himself for resisting his pre-accident girlfriend's pleas to take her virginity, who saved himself for marriage (and protected his girlfriend's virtue) because he believed that to be God's desire. Marriage to the girlfriend is no longer an option (she wants a "whole man"); he now deems himself unfit to marry any woman. As his thoughts return to those long nights of passionate embraces, he cannot understand why his piety was rewarded with pain, why he was left to live. After years of brooding about "a world all too willing to inflict wounds at random," a few words spoken by a neighborhood boy start him on a path toward acceptance of his fate and a better understanding of the life he must live.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Wilson VINE VOICE on September 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Half of us are born male.

If we live long enough we become adult males.

However, it takes real work to be a man. It takes pain, and loss, and hope, and love.

In "Men in the Making," Bruce Machart tells ten stories about men who are facing a variety of difficult situations or the aftermath of those situations. There are few quick and easy answers to their problems, but the protagonists keep going and do what they can to protect their loved ones and themselves. They work hard to make sense of our very confusing world.

I read a couple of blurbs that compared Machart to a more famous author. Don't be mislead: Machart is better. In a few pages he creates understandable, admirable characters in realistic situations. (OK, maybe the protagonists' actions in "Among the Living..." are not as realistic as the rest of the stories.)

Machart's writing is clear and crisp. A lot of the writing is almost stream of consciousness, but it is written not to confuse but to illuminate. It succeeds admirably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on October 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Short stories are tricky. It takes a lot of skill, perhaps even more skill than it takes to write a full length novel or a novella. Capturing a theme, a moment, a feeling within the confines of a few short pages is a difficult task, even for the most qualified of writers. That is why many collections of short stories fail to make a dent in the literary world. There are some who have mastered this genre and who have made a name for themselves. Andre Dubus is one of them.

Sadly, Bruce Machart is no Andre Dubus.

Mind you, I raved (and I mean RAVED) `The Wake of Forgiveness', Machart's debut novel. It was sharp and detailed and intricate and provocative and profound on so many levels. It remains one of my favorite reads of the past year, possibly my favorite, and one of the greatest debut novels I've ever read. It really showed a true author at his finest. Sadly, this collection of short stories has taken Machart down a notch in my list of truly inspiring writers. He still shows promise, but nowhere near as much as he showed on the outset. This collection is sorely one-note, a tad too aware of itself and wholly underwhelming.

This is not what I expected. I mean, when I saw the name Bruce Machart I was thrilled. I swept in like a vulture to snatch this book up because, like I said, his debut novel BLEW ME AWAY. I wanted to gobble this up as soon as it arrived and I found myself staring in wide-eyed disbelief as I read the first few pages of the first story and realized that this was NOT the author I just rabidly praised a few months back.

Oh, it's the same guy...it's just not the same guy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Nobles VINE VOICE on September 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In reading this book, which I did in one sitting, I was reminded of a line in the song "It sure can get cold in Des Moines" written by Tom T. Hall: "Life is just like that, sometimes."
The stories in this collection are of men facing some real crisis in their lives and trying to cope with them in the only way many men in similar situations do, by sucking it up and going on with their lives without really believing they will ever win the pursuit of happiness race. By men in similar situations I mean men in the south with scarce funds and a minimal education. That is not to say they don't have a deep sense of right and wrong. It simply implies they live on the edge financially, emotionally, and educationally and when adversity strikes they are more vulnurable than others in a world they really do not understand and that does not make allowances for their ideas of manhood that they have been taught since childhood. Some of the events experienced by the men are not all that uncommon in life but they don't seem to be prepared for it due to their concept of what it means to be a man.
Machart reminds me of the authors William Gay and Larry Brown in that he presents the protagonists in his stories as down to earth real people struggling in a world that somehow has passed them by. Their humanity is evident but is not enough to protect them from what is ultimately some of life's unfairness and tragedy.
This is first rate writing that pulls no punches and nails almost perfectly the psychic of many men in the 21st century. This book is well worth the readers time and will remain in your memory long after you have finished reading it...perhaps, like me, for the second time.
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