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Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins Paperback – January 25, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews


Martone's gentle, thoughtful, and wry tone informs these pitch-perfect segmented essays on growing up and moving on, on the mythic Midwest, the subtropical South, and the gloomy sunless Northeast. His concerns in this collection are about the act of creative 'transformation' whether the creative act is personal or aimed at an audience. The ordinary always transforms into the extraordinary in these wonderful, complex, and circling essays.

(Robin Hemley author of Turning Life into Fiction)

Martone's essays are dazzling high wire acts in the 'theater of betweenness'―enacting and exploring elusive states of being and becoming. Watch Martone cast his father as a green, velour, female millipede mascot! See Coach Bob Knight perform as a dazzleflauge trickster! Observe the word 'gawk' turned into an epistemological adventure up an elevator shaft and beyond! Postcards, racing, eye charts, the Midwest and much more are read as ciphers, mysteries, forms to turn this way and that in the light of both reason and play. While Martone tunes his ever-alert ear to the 'logo' in logos, he also addresses 'the texture of absence, the heft of loss, the substantial mass of all that.' In this compelling simultaneity, he achieves―in essay after essay―a deeply humane register.

(Lia Purpura author of On Looking)

The thing that's so frustrating about Michael Martone is that his wonderful mercurial tendencies don't let those of us in nonfiction completely call him our own.

(John D’Agata author of Halls of Fame)

Racing in Place is a fine collection of essays, a worthy addition to the genre that Montaigne set in motion.

(Steven Harvey Fourth Genre)

About the Author

Michael Martone's story "The Death of Derek Jeter" recently appeared in Esquire. His short fiction, essays, and articles are widely published. Martone's books include The Flatness and Other Landscapes and Unconventions, both published by Georgia. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alabama.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (January 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820330396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820330396
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,470,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Michael Martone's Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins is a collection of essays enveloping the idea of `place' - the stories, the histories, the physics and philosophies. Americana history pervades his essays as his innervating location is Indiana, his home state, which he proves to be only deceptively vapid. and I think that he is using `place' as a way to generalize about life. It appears ordinary, filled with ordinary events and people, yet there is something remarkable about life that begs re-examination from multiple perspectives and reflections. This is precisely what Martone does: fleshing out the commonplace until it reaches significance.

In catering to our shortening attention spans, Martone generally constructs his essays as multiple small paragraphs organized by a number, word, heading, or question. I like this method in that it is another way in which the author can give a commentary, an interpretation. Its effect varies in each piece, though the straight numbering did little more than number. In `Still Life of Sidelines with Bob', the headings are more related to those seen in a magazine article whereas in `My Father Has Been Turned into a Monstrous Vermin', they are summaries of each segment. I particularly liked how divided his one essay, `Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Moon Winx', into multiple `essays' on the X, astronomy, lunatics, auditing, folly, etc. It re-emphasizes his premise of variably angled pieces. `Country Roads Lines with Running Fences' has questions as headlines, generic interview-like questions that prod him to comment on the Midwest, the leaving people who say `it's a good place to be from', and the meaning of fences.
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