This collection of more than twenty-five essays, both meditative and formally inventive, considers all kinds of subjects: everyday objects such as keys and hats, plus concepts of time and place; the memoir; writing; the essay itself; and Michael Martone's friendship with the writers David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, and Kurt Vonnegut. Throughout the essays, Martone's style expands with the incorporation of new technological platforms. Several of the pieces were written specifically for online venues, while the essays on the death of Martone's mother and father were written on Facebook while the events happened. One essay about using new technologies in the classroom was written solely in tweets.
Brooding-the book's title and the title of an essay-draws a parallel between the disappearance of early browsers and the emergence, after seventeen years, of a brood of cicadas. Throughout these essays Martone's words inhabit spaces where the reconnection to people in the past and the metaphors of electronic memory converge.
Michael Martone's effervescent new book is witty, whimsical, wise, and a little wicked. His short musings form an engaging intellectual and artistic memoir as Martone writes about everything from the school debate team to his favorite movies, the nature of keys, and the deaths of his parents. At once erudite and plainspoken, Brooding
draws us in with Martone's wry curiosity. His chapters are written as poetry, essays, koans, and tweets. This quirky, enlightening book will have you thinking differently about everything from hats to railroads to coffee to Captain Kangaroo. What a treat.
—Valerie Miner, author of Traveling with Spirits and The Low Road
Court jester, philosopher, provocateur, smarty pants: Michael Martone, is this allowed? You have a glorious and weird brain, and you don't seem to care who knows it. Brooding on your Brooding
makes me glorious and weird too, makes me glad that this world has all the books in the world, and just when we think we have what we need, you go and pull a stunt like this. Thank God.
—Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
Michael Martone, an accomplished essayist and éminence grise of the American form, has no patience for stultified tradition. A beloved trickster and serial disrupter, he prefers to find the materials for art not in the 'sanctioned precincts of appreciation' but at 'crosswalks and . . . crossroads.' And his latest collection, Brooding
, is less a curio cabinet filled with Victoriana-as his title would playfully suggest-than a brilliantly bulging, Duchampian Boîte-en-valise
. In all of the forms and shapes of its pieces, Brooding
is a varied display evidencing the range of Martone's mature virtuosity.
—Julie Checkoway, author of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory
Michael Martone has drilled a hole in genre so deep Martone himself has fallen through, and he has brought us all down with him. So now here we all are. Far out, and more real than ever. Surrounded by earth and echo, and holier than whole. Trespassing through the depths of Martone, we begin to understand that postage stamps are poems, and stories are alive, and trains are weather, and posts are prayers, and form is formless, and minutia is a god worthy of a hearty dissection, and mischief is protocol, and the past is future. Down here, I can almost hear the dust singing hallelujah.
—Sabrina Orah Mark, author of Tsim Tsum