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Martin Seay

Goodreads Author

in The United States


Member Since
April 2007

Martin Seay is the author of the novel THE MIRROR THIEF, published by Melville House in May 2016. Originally from Texas, he lives in Chicago with his spouse, the writer Kathleen Rooney.

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Martin Seay Hi Pj, thanks for the note, and sorry for the slow reply! I need to get better at figuring out this whole Goodreads-author-interface thing, clearly. I…moreHi Pj, thanks for the note, and sorry for the slow reply! I need to get better at figuring out this whole Goodreads-author-interface thing, clearly. I am very grateful for the time and attention that you've given TMT; given its length I'm always thrilled when anybody reads it ONCE, never mind twice. That said, I also tried to write it in a way that would replay rereading, and therefore I'm particularly gratified that it was better on the second go-round. (I often say half-seriously that reading is just a necessary precondition for rereading; given your fondness for Woolf, Joyce, et al. perhaps you agree.) So far as the next effort goes, it'll be a few years before you have to budget time for a new book from me; I'm currently absorbing, digesting, scheming my next move, and so forth. (Which is to say you have enough time to read TMT a third time. Not that I'm suggesting that!) Thanks very much for taking the time to drop me a note; I very much appreciate it!(less)
Average rating: 3.03 · 1,883 ratings · 397 reviews · 4 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Mirror Thief

3.01 avg rating — 1,838 ratings — published 2016 — 13 editions
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“As he reads, his eyes graze each poem's lines like a needle over an LP's grooves, reassembling them into uniform arcades. What he is looking for is key: a gap in the book's mask, a loose thread to unravel its veil. He tries tricks to find new openings- reading sideways, reading upside down, reading white space instead of text- but the words always close ranks like tiles in a mosaic, like crooks in a lineup, and mock him with their blithe expressions.”
martin seay

“Often we are told, and rightly so, that we can know God by knowing ourselves, for we are made in His image. We are not base, it is said, but divine. Yet this, perhaps, is saying too much. For even in our baseness—in our excrement—we might discern the work of our Creator. All things come from God, Crivano says. Even shit can be sublimed. But should it be? Tristão fixes Crivano with a fierce glare. Then he steps to the windows, and with a smooth sudden motion slings the chamberpot’s contents into the canal below. The liquid strikes the surface with a weak slap. Should it be sublimed? Tristão says. Should it be transcended? When we seek to do this, is our desire truly to know God? Or is it to know that God truly is as we always have imagined him: the perfect distillate of our corrupt selves? So—we are made in the image of God. Have we considered what this might mean? Innumerable are the egos in man, Paracelsus writes, and in him are angels and devils, heaven and hell. Perhaps God too is like this. Pure and impure. Is it so difficult to imagine? A God of flesh and bone? A God that shits? His voice chokes off, as if overwhelmed by some passion: rage, sorrow, Crivano can’t guess which. Tristão drifts away, toward his own approaching form in the mirror-talisman; the image of his torso gradually fills the glass. With the silver window eclipsed the room seems to grow smaller; Crivano shuffles his feet to keep his balance. I want to know, Tristão says, how God is unlike us. I want to know how our eyes become traitors. To know what they refuse to see. I no longer seek to transcend, nor even to understand. I want only to dirty my hands. To smell. To feel. Like a child who plays with mud. I believe the key is here— His fingers brush the flat glass before him; they’re met by fingers from the opposite side. —but not in the way that others have said. The Nolan warned us of this. Do you remember? He said the image in the mirror is like the image in a dream: only fools and infants mistake it for the true likeness of the world, but likewise it is foolish to ignore what it shows us. Therein lies the danger. Do we look upon these reflections without delusion, like bold Actaeon? Or, like Narcissus, do we see only what we wish to see? How can we be certain? With love in our hearts, we creep toward each shining surface, but we are all haunted, always, by ourselves.”
Martin Seay, The Mirror Thief

“If one is to wield power, he says, then one must control the image of power. Or”
Martin Seay, The Mirror Thief


Vote For 1 Book For September 2016- Top 2 Win

Hello From the Gillespies Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney by Monica McInerney
For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....
  5 votes 31.3%

11/22/63 11/22/63 by Stephen King by Stephen King
Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
  5 votes 31.3%

Pinkertons Sister Pinkertons Sister by Peter Rushforth by Peter Rushforth
Trapped in a suffocating life of convention and party chatter, Alice Pinkerton has turned to the liberating worlds she finds in literature. Pinkerton's Sister is a novel for readers, who will thrill to recognize a kindred in Alice's references to our most beloved literary characters: Jo March, Jane Eyre, Leo Bloom, and Hester Prynne, among many others, grace these pages.
  2 votes 12.5%

The Mirror Thief The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay by Martin Seay
The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world's most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination—was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing?—the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology, and subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. But for any of the development team to leave the island was a crime punishable by death.
  2 votes 12.5%

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke by Susanna Clarke
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
  1 vote 6.3%

Titans Titans by Leila Meacham by Leila Meacham
Texas in the early 1900s, its inhabitants still traveling by horseback and barely familiar with the telephone, was on the cusp of an oil boom that, unbeknownst to its residents, would spark a period of dramatic changes and economic growth. In the midst of this transformative time in Southern history, two unforgettable characters emerge and find their fates irrevocably intertwined: Samantha Gordon, the privileged heiress to the sprawling Las Tres Lomas cattle ranch near Fort Worth, and Nathan Holloway, a sweet-natured and charming farm boy from far north Texas.
  1 vote 6.3%

The Big Green Tent The Big Green Tent by Lyudmila Ulitskaya by Lyudmila Ulitskaya
The Big Green Tent is the kind of book the term “Russian novel” was invented for. A sweeping saga, it tells the story of three school friends who meet in Moscow in the 1950s and go on to embody the heroism, folly, compromise, and hope of the Soviet dissident experience. These three boys—an orphaned poet; a gifted, fragile pianist; and a budding photographer with a talent for collecting secrets—struggle to reach adulthood in a society where their heroes have been censored and exiled.
  0 votes 0.0%

The Other Boleyn Girl The Other Boleyn Girl (The Tudor Court, #3) by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory
A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamourous court in Europe and survived by following her heart.
  0 votes 0.0%

America's First Daughter America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray by Stephanie Dray
In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
  0 votes 0.0%

16 total votes

Topics Mentioning This Author

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Busy as a Bee Books: This topic has been closed to new comments. Book Nomination Thread: Summer Reading List 24 25 May 21, 2016 05:51PM  
Busy as a Bee Books: This topic has been closed to new comments. Summer Reading (July/August) Book Selections 69 40 Jul 01, 2016 07:12AM  
Busy as a Bee Books: The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay 3 6 Aug 21, 2016 05:02AM  
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“Jazz presumes that it would be nice if the four of us--simpatico dudes that we are--while playing this complicated song together, might somehow be free and autonomous as well. Tragically, this never quite works out. At best, we can only be free one or two at a time--while the other dudes hold onto the wire. Which is not to say that no one has tried to dispense with wires. Many have, and sometimes it works--but it doesn't feel like jazz when it does. The music simply drifts away into the stratosphere of formal dialectic, beyond our social concerns.

Rock-and-roll, on the other hand, presumes that the four of us--as damaged and anti-social as we are--might possibly get it to-fucking-gether, man, and play this simple song. And play it right, okay? Just this once, in tune and on the beat. But we can't. The song's too simple, and we're too complicated and too excited. We try like hell, but the guitars distort, the intonation bends, and the beat just moves, imperceptibly, against our formal expectations, whetehr we want it to or not. Just because we're breathing, man. Thus, in the process of trying to play this very simple song together, we create this hurricane of noise, this infinitely complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions.

And you can thank the wanking eighties, if you wish, and digital sequencers, too, for proving to everyone that technologically "perfect" rock--like "free" jazz--sucks rockets. Because order sucks. I mean, look at the Stones. Keith Richards is always on top of the beat, and Bill Wyman, until he quit, was always behind it, because Richards is leading the band and Charlie Watts is listening to him and Wyman is listening to Watts. So the beat is sliding on those tiny neural lapses, not so you can tell, of course, but so you can feel it in your stomach. And the intonation is wavering, too, with the pulse in the finger on the amplified string. This is the delicacy of rock-and-roll, the bodily rhetoric of tiny increments, necessary imperfections, and contingent community. And it has its virtues, because jazz only works if we're trying to be free and are, in fact, together. Rock-and-roll works because we're all a bunch of flakes. That's something you can depend on, and a good thing too, because in the twentieth century, that's all there is: jazz and rock-and-roll. The rest is term papers and advertising.”
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy

“He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought that the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

“I am here because of a certain man. I came to retrace his steps. Perhaps to see if there were not some alternate course. What was here to be found was not a thing. Things separate from their stories have no meaning. They are only shapes. Of a certain size and color. A certain weight. When their meaning has become lost to us they no longer have even a name. The story on the other hand can never be lost from its place in the world for it is that place. And that is what was to be found here. The corrido. That tale. And like all corridos it ultimately told one story only, for there is only one to tell.

The cats shifted and stirred, the fire creaked in the stove. Outside in the abandoned village the profoundest silence.

What is the story? the boy said.

In the town of Caborca on the Altar River there was a man who lived there who was an old man. He was born in Caborca and in Caborca he died. Yet he lived once in this town, in Huisiachepic.

What does Caborca know of Huisiachepic, Huisiachepic of Caborca? They are different worlds, you must agree. Yet even so there is but one world and everything that is imaginable is necessary to it. For this world also which seems to us a thing of stone and flower and blood is not a thing at all but a tale. And all in it is a tale and each tale the sum of all lesser tales and yet they are the selfsame tale and contain as well all else within them. So everything is necessary. Every least thing. This is a hard lesson. Nothing can be dispensed with. Nothing despised. Because the seems are hid from us, you see. The joinery. The way in which the world is made. We have no way to tell what might stand and what might fall. And those seams that are hid from us are of course in the tale itself and the tale had no abode or place of being except in the telling only and there it lives and makes its home and therefore we can never be done with the telling. Of the telling there is no end. And whether in Caborca or Huisiachepic or in whatever other place by whatever other name or by no name at all I say again all tales are one. Rightly heard all tales are one.”
Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

“Bad taste is real taste, of course, and good taste is the residue of someone else's privilege.”
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy

“It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.”
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

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