Michael Martone—author of twelve books of fiction and nonfiction and contributor to Harper’s, Esquire, The Best American Essays and The Best American Short Stories—will celebrate the release of a new book of short stories along with two of his former students, Michael J. Lee and Christopher Hellwig on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Antenna Gallery.
Martone has taught at the University of Alabama since 1996, and previously at Harvard and Syracuse Universities. Frederick Barthelme said of Martone’s new collection, Four for a Quarter (FC2): “Reading Michael Martone’s FOUR FOR A QUARTER is like flipping through radio stations in your car in the middle of the night in West Texas, a wash of wonderful elegiac fragments, memories, anecdotes, haunting bits and pieces of ordinary days, from Beatles’ backstories to the Eat Mor Chikin cow, from Santa Claus to baseball under the lights to six sad ways to lose a baby. Always engaging, at times funny, utterly affecting, this remarkable collection leads us through a dizzying collage of times, places, people and things, sights and sounds at once thrilling and scary.”
Martone is at once a brilliant orator and a captivating showman. A staunch enemy of boredom, his readings are often punctuated throughout by sidenotes and anecdotes, calls for audience participation (though, for those of you who attended the Jesus Angel Garcia reading, fear not, there will be nothing pornographic), and general tomfoolery. Below is a video of a lecture on Homer that Martone gave at the University of Houston-Victoria in 2009, which he prefaces by asking all members of the audience to turn their cell phones on.
Martone’s former students Michael J. Lee and Christopher Hellwig are accomplished fiction writers living in New Orleans. Their collaborative fiction, published under the byline The Brothers Goat, has appeared in Sleepingfish and Conjunctions.
Michael J. Lee is the author of the short story collection Something in My Eye, forthcoming this year from Sarabande Books. Francine Prose selected the book for the 2010 Mary McCarthy Prize in short fiction. Lee’s stories have appeared in 30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Writers, edited by Blake Butler and Lily Hoang, as well as The Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly Review, and other places. He is fiction editor of the New Orleans Review and recently finished writing his first novel. Prose had this to say about Something in My Eye: “I was drawn to Michael J. Lee’s line-up of loners and drifters, imperiled children, and haunted psychos neither because I want to hang out with these bad boys, nor because I plan to cross the street when I see them coming, but because the invitation to inhabit their minds, to see the world through their eyes, and to watch their often unsettling stories play out in space and time enables Lee to do all sorts of extremely interesting things with consciousness and language.” Read Michael Lee’s account of studying under Michael Martone at Room 220.
Christopher Hellwig is the author of Gerner’s Retired Lives of Gunslingers, a forthcoming collection of fictional biographies of gunslingers. An excerpt from that book appeared in the most recent issue of the New Orleans Review and was republished on Press Street’s Room 220. His fiction has also appeared in Fairy Tale Review, WebConjunctions, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of New Orleans and Delgado Community College.
This reading is part of the Room 220 Live Prose at the Antenna Gallery reading series.