At this point I can definitively state that I absolutely, sorta, kinda liked this one a lot. A lot. Not to the point of: Hey, check this one out! But, at the very least, to the point of: You know, you just might like this one. I don’t know. For whatever reason(s), when I see FC2 as the publisher, I expect something edgy, provocative, who knows? But this one is a gentler told, humorous rather than funny, endearing, but with a prevailing intelligent sensibility, sort of novel(?).
In Michael Martone’s Michael Martone, Martone presents a series of Contributor’s Notes (42 of ‘em) plus an Acknowledgment, an About the Author, and a Vita, each of which begins: Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, except for the Acknowledgment and the About the Author. After the introductory phrase, each note takes a variant path and seems to describe multiple Michael Martones, in lives that could not have happened, couldn’t have overlapped, at odds with each other, but, in a way, from and through which, one begins to have a sense of the author, if not as he is, then as how he might want to be known…or not. Did I mention that one of his writing instructors, and one of the blurbers for the writing of Michael Martone, not necessarily for Michael Martone, is John Barth, and that, to some, might matter a lot.
It was hard for me not to read this and consider the writing of César Aira, who also will frequently use a character of his own name, and the writing of Enrique Vila-Matas’ Bartleby, & Co., each using his Notes in his preferred manner, and at least one of the Contributor’s Notes must be said to be… hold on, now… wait for it… even though I know a variant of this word is hard for some to swallow…is Kafkavinoesque, in that the Michael Martone presented morphs into a giant bug and the Note begins to repeat itself, as if on a cold winter’s night.
What I can’t be sure of…what leaves me feeling as if it was the early ‘70s and I’d just put down the bowl rather than a bookmark, is the sense of literariness I get from other works, something lacking in the totality of its incompleteness (another throwback to an early consciousness). Then, again, sometimes I ramble.
Since I almost always try to include some quotes:
Of all the things that hadn’t happened to Martone during his life to that point (both factual and fictional) in which, he believes, nothing much happens or is supposed to happen, this event was as much such nothing as ever happened.Then, again, I also liked the Dedication:
Or. Of all the things (both factual and fictional) that haven’t happened to Martone during his life, this event was as much of nothing as he ever experienced.
Or. Of all the things (both factual and fictional) that haven’t happened to Martone during his life, nothing more significant than this nothing has ever happened.
Or. Nothing more significant than this nothing hasn’t ever happened.
For Mother and Father, co-conspirators.