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Martin Sloane: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Martin Sloane: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Michael Redhill(Author)

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The story of a relationship across two decades, of Jolene's search for Martin Sloane when one day he disappears from their home without warning or explanation, is told in a novel that brilliantly and movingly explores the vagaries of love and friendship, the burdens of personal history, and the enigmatic power of art.

When Martin Sloane, Toronto poet and playwright Michael Redhill's first novel, appeared in Canada, it made headlines for its decade-long gestation through 12 complete drafts. In an age when many blockbuster novels read as though they never saw an editor's pencil, Redhill's stamina and ruthless self-appraisal were enough to make him newsworthy. But all that attention to its composition raises a basic question about the book itself: was Martin Sloane worth all the effort? Martin Sloane, the protagonist of Redhill's elegant debut, is an Irish-born Canadian who makes dioramas from "found objects." Among these chanced-upon entities is the book's narrator herself, Jolene Iolas, a Bard undergrad who happens upon Martin's work and falls in love with the artist. Their affair lasts several years, until one day Martin purposefully and inexplicably vanishes. Achingly sweet in its execution, the novel explores what it means to love, as we follow a dual narrative: Jolene's attempt to recover after Martin disappears, and Martin's own childhood memories of Ireland, as retold by Jolene. "It's not really safe to love other people, is it?" asks Jolene's former college roommate Molly, in Ireland years later to help Jolene track Martin down. Redhill's book reminds us that love can be half imaginary. even Jolene's recollections of Martin's childhood must pass through the lens of Martin's inventiveness: one story that Martin tells Jolene and Molly is proven a lovely fabrication. Then, too, our sense of love is shaped by our own desire. In a surprise ending, Jolene visits someone who asks for information about Martin, to which Jolene responds: "Whatever I tell you about him will just end up being about myself." A memorable and satisfying read, Redhill's book leaves the reader with a child's sense of nostalgia and a sympathy for the impasses of adulthood.Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

2.5 (11982)
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Book details

  • PDF | 288 pages
  • Michael Redhill(Author)
  • Back Bay Books (June 19, 2002)
  • English
  • 4
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Grady Harp on October 4, 2002

    Accolades for a book of the quality of MARTIN SLOANE cannot match the intrinsic gleam of this mutifacteted jewel of creation. Michael Redhill apparently spent 10 years from the time of first release of this novel in Canada revising, polishing, perfecting this extended poem-like novel and the energy he spent is apparent only in the fact that the end result is as close to perfection as a first novel can get. This does not feel like a "over-worked, struggling idea" that some might expect of a novel revised a dozen times. We are only aware of a lustrous story beautifully rendered.MARTIN SLOANE is basically the story of a man who quietly tries to discover the events of his childhood by creating collage boxes - three dimensional constructions of art in the manner of Joseph Cornell. A recluse, he is "discovered" by a Bard College freshman by the name of Jolene Iolas who invites him to exhibit the works she cannot purchase in the gallery of her college, an event that leads to a ten year relationship between the 54 year old Martin and the 19 year old Jolene. Living in two cities they carry on a strange existence at once supportive and threatening. When Martin suddenly, by night, walks away into obscurity, Jolene mourns his absence, then proceeds with her life in temporary zones, until she finally traces Martin's 'lost childhood' to his origins in Ireland. This is a greatly oversimplified synopsis, excluding many twists and turns and characters, but that is basically our story.The beauty of this book is in the writing, the poetic use of language, the sensitive interplay of flashbacks that at times take some work on the part of the reader to determine which voice is narrating. This is a paean to the universal feelng of loss of person when age reminds us that our childhood can never be retrieved, much less be completely and wholly known or understood. Had we the ability to enter our child's space, get to know the 'me' hidden there, we might be more adept at coping with love and relationships. The dance of memory with make-believe, reality with imagination, child truth with adult fiction - all these components make this story far more than simply the enormously well-told novel that it is. This book is a work of great beauty and a gift to the fortunate reader who happens upon it. A gleamingly fine novel.

  • By CW Creative on October 17, 2012

    The story is as much an epic poem as it is a novel. What I mean here, is Michael's use of words is seductive and openly toys with the reader's expectations if the lack of quote marks to indicate that someone is speaking is any indication. This only happens early in the book and eventually, we're graced with the kind of punctuation we're used to in novels, but what would have come off as a gimmick in less capable hands, only serves to create an atmosphere in the book that kept me turning pages long after I should have called it a night.The depth of the characters quietly built up to...you'll just have to read it, and feel it, yourself.

  • By Gillian Clemson on November 2, 2016

    A well written but rather thin story that I found slow-moving at times and rather feeble at the end.

  • By Steven Reynolds on September 16, 2006

    Jolene Iolas, a young college student in upstate New York, encounters Martin Sloane's nostalgic box art (similar to Joseph Cornell's) while visiting a Toronto gallery. She begins a correspondence with the artist, older by thirty years, and invites him to exhibit at her college. The two eventually become lovers, although Martin is reluctant ever to leave his Toronto home and studio for more than a few days. Then without warning, in the middle of the night, he vanishes. Jolene is devastated. She moves to Toronto to try to find out what happened. Ten years pass, and just as she has found a new lover and almost learned to stop caring, her estranged college roommate, Molly, reconnects with her to report that there is an artist in Ireland exhibiting under Martin's name ... It's rare to find a literary novel that's also such a wonderful page-turner, but to characterize this as a mystery or a thriller would be to sell it well short. Redhill's debut is a beautifully crafted and astonishingly controlled meditation on love, loss, memory, the need to have a home, the need to contain life without being contained by it and, importantly, "the full and perfect speechlessness of things" - the way we give objects the task of bearing memory, of carrying our emotion and experience in surrogate. The mystery of what drives Martin's creativity is linked to the mysteries of why he vanished and why his work is appearing in Ireland again now. The ultimate solution is like the climax of a Greek tragedy: inevitable without for one moment being foreseeable, and it has the same kind of heartbreaking power. Technically, too, this is a wonderful novel. Redhill chooses his scenes wisely (the prelude is superbly deployed). He slips convincingly into both male and female perspectives; shifts seamlessly between continents and times. And unlike so many poets who turn to fiction, his prose is not overburdened by self-consciously elaborate construction nor by a too-musical ear. Rather, he brings to his prose the poet's gift of precision. It's remarkable how much he can evoke with so little, even with a single phrase. Strongly recommended.


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