M. Sarki's Reviews > Alive and dead in Indiana

Alive and dead in Indiana by Michael Martone
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May 01, 2012

it was ok
Read from June 25 to July 08, 2014 — I own a copy

Alive and Dead in Indiana is a good enough book, but nothing I would want to hang my own hat on if I were the author. Gordon Lish was the editor. Michael Martone, a writer Martone would claim Lish would later diss in public and act as if he did not know him. Lish is like that sometimes. Perhaps more often than not. Lately he has been dissing a few others so Martone shouldn’t feel he is being singled out and picked on, or even in select company. It happens to some of the best of them. I am not sure why it happens, but I do know when Gordon Lish has felt slighted in any way from somebody he has championed or helped pave the way by getting a first book published he tends to hold grudges. Long and hard and rarely, if ever, released and let go of. I have compiled quite a list of these confirmed past, and now discarded, bedfellows and sweethearts. Only the most religious of these anointed literary types ever remain in good stead with him. I count myself as one of the lucky ones, but sure to know my ending is eventually to come in some form or another. It simply has to be. It is only another playing piece in an elaborate board game.

It goes without saying the importance Lish has had in making stars of some of his brightest lights. Raymond Carver without a doubt is the best Lish has had to offer us, but of late even Carver has been said by Lish to not measure up much when it comes to good writing. I am not sure if old age is playing a more extensive role in these latest Lish bashings, but I would bet it has something to do with all his negativity. There isn’t a whole lot for Gordon to crow about these days as he ends the line of his long teaching career and reputation as a first-rate but tyrannical editor. His own books he has authored have never been big commercial hits or had first printings of over five thousand copies. Most titles have instead been remaindered, and none have gone on to second printings. That is not to say that Lish is not a fine writer. He is. And Michael Martone might be one as well, but by the measure of the words in this book he still has much to prove.
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Reading Progress

06/25/2014 marked as: currently-reading
06/25/2014 page 15
13.0% "Gordon Lish was his editor and also wrote his great dust jacket flap. I read recently where Martone got his feelings hurt when he ran into Lish at some literary function and Lish asked him, "Do I know you?""
06/26/2014 page 44
38.0% "Not too bad."
07/06/2014 page 84
73.0% "An OK book, but not sure what Lish saw in this as something worth publishing."
07/08/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Ben (new)

Ben Interesting notes on Lish but is this a review of the actual book? The stories themselves sound interesting.


message 2: by M. (new) - rated it 2 stars

M. Sarki I admit this is a rather a pathetic review of the actual book which was only "OK" for me. But I do think the notes on Lish are important, and for some, perhaps interesting. When I write a "review" there is no formal method other than what the book actually inspired me to write about, if anything. Obviously, there were few stories that moved me in any way.


message 3: by Ben (new)

Ben Thanks my man, these notes are certainly appreciated. Lish, from what I've read, is a bit like (ugh) Harlan Ellison- sharp literary mind, repugnant, petty human being.


message 4: by M. (new) - rated it 2 stars

M. Sarki I am not familiar with Harlan Ellison. Should I be? Is there something in particular I should read?


message 5: by Ben (new)

Ben I'm by no means an expert but any of his short stories from the 70's.


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