Titel: Turning Bones
Autor/en: Lee Martin
UNIV OF NEBRASKA PR
September 2003 - gebunden - 194 Seiten
Farmers and pragmatists, hard-working people who made their way west from Kentucky through Ohio and Indiana to settle at last in southern Illinois, Lee Martin's ancestors left no diaries or journals or letters; apart from the birth certificates and gravestones that marked their comings and goings, they left little written record of their lives. So when Lee, the last living Martin, inherited his great-grandfather's eighty acres and needed to know what had brought his family to this pass and this point, he had only the barest of public records--and the stirrings of his imagination--to connect him to his past, and to his beginnings. Turning Bones is the remarkable story brought to life by this collaboration of personal history and fiction. It is the moving account of a family's migration over two hundred years and through six generations, imagined, reconstructed, and made to speak to the author, and to readers, of a lost world. A recovery of the missing, Turning Bones is also one man's story of love and compromise as he separates himself from his family's agrarian history, fully knowing by book's end what such a journey has cost.
Lee Martin is an associate professor of English at Ohio State University. He is the author of "Quakertown," "From Our House," and "The Least You Need to Know."
"Like the celebrants in Madagascar who practice the 'turning of bones' ritual--dancing with their ancestors' corpses--Lee Martin unearths his ancestors' stories and places them alongside his own, creating a dance of power and grace. Turning Bones is a skillful blending of lyrical prose, painstaking research, and well-wrought fiction that calls up the dead and wakes us, the living, into a freshly imagined world." Rebecca McClanahan, author of The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings "A beautiful intertwining of memoir and personal historical fiction. In a thoughtful, contemplative way, Martin works like his own private detective to make sense of his family and his place in the larger world."--Mary Swander, author of Out of This World: A Journey of Healing "Lee Martin animates his family tree with a variety and vibrancy of stunning prose engines. Rarely are story and history so effortlessly and enjoyably entwined. Rarer still is this hybrid fruit of the said intersection. Turning Bones is a miraculous and many-splendored invention." --Michael Martone, author of The Blue Guide to Indiana "Turning Bones epitomizes creative nonfiction at its best, fusing the deep, seasonal rhythms of lyric poetry and a believable story which, like a great novel, brings wisdom and tears." Jonathan Holden, author of Guns and Boyhood in America: A Memoir of Growing Up in the 50s "Martin brings his forebears to life with affection and empathy, brilliantly interweaving their stories with his own, and leaving us with a greater appreciation that our lives are but a series of intersecting tales, ones that, with luck, we add to and continue to tell."--Kathleen Finneran, author of The Tender Land: A Family Love Story "[A] lyrical, imaginative work... [T]his ambitious work weaves together many strong, intriguing people, brought together by a skillful writer for a family reunion across time."The August 15, 2003 Publishers Weekly For the complete review, see below: The last living member of his Martin family, the author attempts to reconcile the facts of his own life with the history of his ancestors in this lyrical, imaginative work. Most of Martin's relatives were farmers in the Midwest, "hard workers, but for the most part?uneducated." Because they left behind "no letters, no journals, nothing written in their own hands," Martin turns to court and county records, as well as to fiction, to re-create their past. The shifts between this fictionalized history and Martin's own fact-filled memoir may provoke some difficult transitions for his readers, but the beauty of his obviously heartfelt words makes up for this awkwardness. One of the most powerful sections in the book vividly juxtaposes a story about the day that great-great-great-grandfather Martin bought his only slave with the author's memories of the whippings he received from his own father. Martin's fictionalized writing doesn't match the skill he displays in his autobiography; he creates more nuanced portraits of the people he actually knew, while his fictional family portraits tend toward hagiography. His characters speak in vague language, especially the women in the romantic scenes; they also usually end up making noble choices, even when those choices are out of step with their times. As Martin himself shows in a chapter that describes how he lied to the police, his father and a judge to avoid a hearing for a car accident, even good people sometimes make bad choices, something few of his fictional ancestors ever do. Nonetheless, despite these minor faults, this ambitious work weaves together many strong, intriguing people, brought together by a skillful writer for a family reunion across time. (Sept.)