Fiction. Winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) Gold Medal for Best Fiction from the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region. This novel-in-stories follows a diverse group of passengers on a train from Baltimore to Chicago, revealing the secrets of their past, their hopes for the future and just how intertwined their lives really are.
Journey by train from Baltimore to Chicago via the perspectives of a diverse array of passengers. They are the strangers we meet every day: a soldier slowly losing her faith in the war, a businesswoman learning to balance her job and the family she loves, a computer geek-turned-criminal, a Holocaust survivor finding hope in facing his fears, couples in love, a man dealing with the death of his parents, a poet hunting for inspiration, and a hit woman with a job to finish before the train arrives at its destination. Watch as these and other characters' lives and stories seamlessly link and intersect, quietly shaping and changing one another.
From nefarious goings-on in a Fells Point row house to prestigious partying on Federal Hill, Goodman's Baltimore is immediately recognizable and real. The stories in TRACKS stand alone, but they become stronger when linked together. A secondary character in one story becomes the main character in the next.
TRACKS examines the decisions each character faces and how those decisions, as well as their interactions with the other passengers, alter the path ahead and cast past experiences and choices in a new light.
Eric D. Goodman is the author of six books, including WRECKS AND RUINS (Loyola University's Apprentice House Press, 2022), THE COLOR OF JADEITE (Loyola’s Apprentice House Press, 2020), SETTING THE FAMILY FREE (Apprentice House, 2019), WOMB: A NOVEL IN UTERO (Merge Publishing, 2017), TRACKS: A NOVEL IN STORIES (Atticus Books, 2011) and FLIGHTLESS GOOSE (Writer’s Lair Books, 2008).
Born in San Jose, California, Eric has lived in the Maryland for the past 20 years. More than 100 of his short stories, articles, and travel stories have been published in journals, magazines, and periodicals. He is co-founder of the Lit & Art Reading Series, Baltimore’s longest-running literary salon. Learn more about Eric and his writing:
Next time I ride a train, these characters will be with me I really enjoyed this book. Was it a novel or a collection of stories? Both, if it matters. It’s nice because you can enjoy these stories about passengers on a train by themselves. But they also join together and compliment each other. A character that you think you have figured out shows up in another story, and you see them from a whole new point of view. Or things happen to them that completely change what you thought was the resolution in an earlier story. It’s not an a-to-b story, but it definitely moves forward from a to b, or in this case, from Baltimore to Chicago. I really liked the four stories about the hit man and the guy he was after and it makes me hope that the writer tries to write a thriller or crime novel one day. But after reading Tracks and Womb, whatever he writes next will be worth checking out. Riding the train won’t be the same after Tracks.
The start of a train ride, like the start of many journeys, is full of promise—yet by the end of the trip, several lives are forever changed. It is not the train itself who changes them but by its mere conveyance, but of the actions of the characters within the hollow aluminum and steel tube. For inside this train we find life, love, lust, deception, loneliness, despair, forgiveness, acceptance and finality. Each unwitting participant plays a role and we the reader, see the same events from a different perspective colored by their own biases and perceptions.
Tracks, a Novel in Stories by Eric D. Goodman expertly tells each of their stories: the fastidious Prewitt, the fearful Helen whose last train ride was considerably less than pleasant, the young lovers in full swoon, the thief-turned-reformer Gene always looking over his shoulder, the soldier contemplating life and death, Colin the over the hill poet hoping to reignite his spark, and a myriad of other characters. Each in turn, comes to a moment of epiphany, and with it, their humanity. Some decide to stay the course; others to choose a different track, flinging their day-planner –their daily schedule --and all it represents.
I enjoyed reading Tracks. The writing reminds me of John Berendt’s City of Falling Angels set in Baltimore. You can feel the grit and grime of the streets. I can picture myself strolling along the Harborplace walkway and Fells Point cobblestones turning down familiar corners as I have many a time in my visits there. His descriptions allow me to make the multitude of twists and turns. You will also enjoy each bend in the Track as the train speeds up and slows down much like our own lives. I recommend it.
On a personal note, I met Eric Goodman at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in May 2012, and decided that his was one of the books I wanted to read. My only regret is that I took so long to read it.
Tracks relates a train journey from Baltimore to Chicago through the eyes of a number of passengers and the conductor. Each has their own reasons for being on the train, and their own stories but for a time their paths cross and in some cases affect the course of their fellow passengers' lives. This is effectively another book of short stories tied together by the intersection of the characters' lives and a common location. However there is also a definite progression in the story with events affecting more than one character unfolding as the journey advances.
The passengers represent a real cross-section of society, from the soldier who is questioning the morality of the war he has fought and the widowed Holocaust survivor to the computer nerd turned criminal and the hit man with a job to carry out on board. There are couples looking for lifelong happiness and wondering how to achieve it, and others cheating on their partners. As someone who spends a fair bit of time on trains it is a great concept that takes the time-killing game of making up stories about other passengers to a whole new level.
I was so drawn to some of the characters and could entirely identify with the situations they were dealing with. Others who fall way outside anything I know were well depicted, and while this book adopts a certain economy with descriptions I felt I could picture them all. It was interesting to see how different travellers were dealing with similar situations in very different ways, and to see how brief encounters could impact on their lives.
I loved this book, the subject matter and the style, unfussy yet beautiful. Well worth a read!
Eric Goodman's novel-in-stories captivated me, not once but twice! And I found the second reading even richer, as I delved into the lives of passengers on a train traveling from Baltimore to Chicago. Goodman skillfully weaves his stories into a seamless "track" - not a sleeper in the bunch! He allows us to see his characters in numerous stories - sometimes as features, other times as accessories. The author takes us on a journey beyond the faces and facades of passengers, revealing their inner doubts and hopes. I found myself caring deeply for these fictional characters, empathizing with their dramas and dreams. As the hit man, Charlie, concludes: "So many people going in the same direction, yet all headed for different places." I grew up in a train family. Both my grandfather and his brother worked for the B&O and Pennsy lines, respectively. Train stories whistled throughout my childhood. I remember Grandpa Joe describing the dining cars on some of the older trains, and wrote a poem called "Train Talk." Eric Goodman's "Tracks" renewed that conversation for me. These stories stir a gamut of emotions - adults are complicated creatures after all. This is a book that resonates with honesty, as well as entertains. You will want to stay aboard until the ride ends. Let's hope Eric Goodman chooses to write a sequel. After all, he left us in Chicago, and we need to get back to Baltimore! "Tracks II" appeals.
Eric Goodman is a great writer, and a terrific observer of the human condition. I reviewed this wonderful book when it was published, and urged readers to hurry out and buy it. I stand by my urging and say buy this book.
Part of my review at NYJB said, "“The train has a way of transforming a person. Sometimes passengers become aware of things they didn’t know before boarding. Something about the stillness on a moving train, being around people and alone at the same time. They’re neither here nor there—in transition. That frees them up to do things or say things they might not ordinarily do or say.”
Set on a trip from Baltimore to Chicago, Tracks is a novel-in-stories, with the story of each passenger standing alone as well as working as part of a greater whole. There is an accretion that amounts to more than the sum of each individual story as you move through the book."
There are so many great things about this book. First, if you have a bit of a short attention span or a crazy hectic life, like me, the format is perfect. Each story can stand on its own of if I find myself with more time I can keep reading. I'm not a critic of any notable regard but Eric really did fantastic with his "Novel in Stories", there is truly something for everyone, love, heartbreak, regret, history, joy, violence...everything life has to offer Eric has captured and wrestled it into words on paper. Its reading about the lives of real people and how they effect each other though they might not even realize it. I have it on my Kindle and a hard copy and have not only read, but re-read several of the stories...its the perfect travleing companion. If you ever have the chance to hear Eric do a reading I highly reccomend it...nothing quite compares to hearing a story told by its creator.
Tracks by Eric D. Goodman is a expressive and reflective novel told in stories or what some would call a short story collection published by Maryland-based publisher Atticus Books, and unlike other short story collections, there are very few weak stories, if any. Each protagonist in the story is on the train headed somewhere and each of their lives is in transition, from a young woman on the verge of promotion who must decide between lover and career to a man and woman at the end of their years who must face their fears. Goodman is adept at ensuring readers care about his characters in just a few pages, and even though the end of each story comes quickly, there is rarely a sense that there was more to the story that was not told.
Though I question whether this collection of interwoven stories is truly a novel, as the subtitle claims, the overlapping of narratives and the appearance of characters as bit players in other characters' tales adds intrigue to the collection as a whole. Every one of Goodman's characters is in transition, moving away from their past and toward their uncertain futures as the train they inhabit for a day or two inches its way from Baltimore to Chicago. Goodman is a skillful storyteller, ending each segment at just the right place to keep the pages turning, but his real skill is in creating characters whose flaws are as familiar as their dilemmas are relateable. I cared about all of them to one degree or another. And, though I wanted to see each and every predicament resolved, I applaud the author for leaving some of them hanging.
I received a copy of Tracks by Eric D. Goodman from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The setting: a train. The characters: its passengers. In a series of overlapping short stories, the latter are introduced. As each takes the spotlight for a story, as the train makes its steady way from Baltimore to Chicago, the tales of those aboard unfold.
My first thought when I heard about Tracks was that the premise and the way the novel’s format reflected it sounded quite intriguing. Goodman pulls these off even better than I’d hoped. I’ve never read anything quite like Tracks.
Train rides on Amtrak can often be very long and when I'm not reading or doing work I'm often wondering of the stories of other riders. So Tracks was right up my alley. I enjoyed the development of many of the characters and also enjoyed how several of their stories became intertwined. Overall a worthwhile read.
I only gave it 3 stars because it's just not my kind of book honestly.
I'm a sucker for fiction, fantasy, love, etc so this story doesn't have that at all. But to take myself out of the biases of my own opinion it's an interesting story. I like that is shows you while all those people are on the same train they are have different stories to tell - it's a nice reminder that we don't know what's going on in the lives of others or what they may be dealing with. Though personally I was hoping more for a climax to the story where all the stories merged and presented a issue to be resolved but it was more a look into the people of the train. To me it was a look into the people we see around us all the time which made it very intriguing to me in that sense.
After reading Goodman’s Womb: a novel in utero, I decided to go back and take a look at his earlier book, Tracks. I’m glad I did. Womb might have the more original concept, but I liked Tracks even better. This novel in stories is all about passengers on an Amtrak train. Each passenger has his or her own story, many of them taking place in Baltimore (where the train starts) or Chicago (where it ends). But they also interact in the train. And the best character of all has to be the conductor, who shows up in all of the stories, and also has a couple stories as the main character. All aboard for Tracks!
I found this book at a bookstore in Federal hill, I work on the railroad myself which is why I was drawn to it. I loved reading this book. Every chapter was a new story, and the author intertwined each one so well. Every character had a defining feature, the dragon fly, tattoo, silver hair, etc. that made it very easy to keep track of who is who. As someone who lives in Baltimore I thought it was really cool to have a book mention places I frequent. The author is incredibly talented and I would recommend this book!
This is a unique novel and a fun read. Like each car on the Amtrak train, each story opens the life of a particular passenger on a trip from Baltimore to Chicago. Goodman connects these lives in fascinating and poignant ways. The writing is well done, the characters have depth and there's some mystery that makes you not want the trip to end. The perfect book for summer travel, whether your mode be car, plane or train.
I loved the premise of this book, short stories all intertwined into a novel. Some of the stories I really enjoyed, like the older Jewish woman visiting the holocaust museum. Loved the references to Baltimore since it is my home town, but I think this novel needs something. The stories oscillated between points of potential greatness to pat same old same old expected story line. I think this author has potential and hope that he can make the leap to the next level.