SEEING EYE: Short Stories by Michael Martone

SEEING EYE: Short Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fourth collection from the author of Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler's List (1990, not reviewed, etc.): 35 short-shorts, focusing mainly on the lasting images of Indiana, that are mostly excellent examples of highly skilled miniature portraiture. In the first of three sections, ""The War That Never Ends,"" Martone uses his acute sense of detail to capture vanishing ways of rural life in Hoosier country. ""What stays when even the earth gets up and moves away?"" the narrator of ""Elkhart, There, at the End of the World"" asks as he watches trailers carting modular homes across the state. In the next section, ""Pens‚es, The Thoughts of Dan Quayle,"" the author inhabits the mind of his fellow Hoosier, the former vice president, as he dedicates factories, picks out embarrassing souvenirs in Chile, and scans late-night talk shows for jokes about himself. Without going for the obvious, Martone imagines a sober and probable inner life for one of America's most inscrutable politicians: ""I am the official mourner. The shadow of death cast a few polite paces behind the aging President."" In the third--and least satisfying--section, ""Seeing Eye,"" stories draw on newspaper headlines and focus on Indiana oddities--a former Olympic swimmer, for instance, who's now a children's dentist (""Highlights""), a mail-carrier in a town whose industry is raising seeing-eye dogs (""Seeing Eye""), a woman who used to paint clock-faces with radium-soaked paint (""It's Time""). But even these one-note shorts have moments of clarity and insight. And hidden among them is a gem: ""Outside Peru"" is an unsentimental yet moving portrait of a young farmer coming to grips with the fact that he will always work the same land he grew up on. Overall: impressive, subtle portraits of perceptive Middle Americans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Zoland