The Least You Need to Know: Storiesby Amy Bloom (Foreword by), Lee Martin
Lee Martin’s own distinctive voice has the qualities of his favorite setting: the commonplace and middle-class turned over with a searchlight of want and need to know. Morticians and insurance men, salesmen and farmers; women hoping to make life more beautiful and less pressing with delicate, bewildering hobbies and necessary flirtations; boys who veer
Lee Martin’s own distinctive voice has the qualities of his favorite setting: the commonplace and middle-class turned over with a searchlight of want and need to know. Morticians and insurance men, salesmen and farmers; women hoping to make life more beautiful and less pressing with delicate, bewildering hobbies and necessary flirtations; boys who veer from shame to pride, from decency to irredeemable wrongs, in an afternoon; people who do not quite recover, during the time of our acquaintance, but do not give up gracefully.
Lee Martin was born in Illinois. He earned his MFA from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His stories have been widely published in journals including The Georgia Review, Story, Double-Take, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and Glimmer Train Stories. He received a Nebraska Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction (1995) as well as Individual Arts Fellowships in Fiction from the Ohio Arts Council (1987) and the Tennessee Arts Commission (1989).
A number of Martin's dull and witless men (as seen by their teenage sons/narrators) work in death-related jobs, which often cut their families off from normal lives. In the title story, a son witnesses the mental disintegration of his father, who works cleaning up crime scene fatalities. It's a job that satisfies his increasingly bizarre rage for order, an expression of the same obsessive neatness that drives his wife to distraction. "Light Opera" concerns the son of an undertaker who begins to see the appeal of his father's strange life as a constant mourner and affirms it by lying on his father's behalf. A cemetery manager leaves New Hampshire in scandal ("The Welcome Table") and assumes a new identity with his family in Tennessee, where he forces his son into early civil rights involvement, which the son rejects. Indeed, the sins of the parents often bear upon the children in these tales of justice and revenge. A father's job as a scab worker at the local meat-packing plant destroys his son's happy life in "The End of Sorry." In the long "The Price Is the Price," a Jewish merchant in goyish Evansville, Illinois, tries to win back his assimilated son by developing an inexpensive housing project for black people, but the father's business drive gets the better of him. In two short bits, old people join together out of fear ("Small Facts") and contemplate "sin and offense" ("Secrets").
Bleak midwestern landscapes well serve many of these stark and solid narratives.
- Sarabande Books
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- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)
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