Stephen-Paul Martin

Stephen-Paul Martin

Stephen-Paul Martin is a widely published writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. From 1980–1996 he edited Central Park magazine in New York City. The Gothic Twilight, a collection of his fiction, was nominated for the National Critics Circle Book Award in 1992. He now lives in the House of Seven Mammals.

The Ace of Lightning

The Possibility of Music

History as fiction, fiction as history.… It’s fascinating to see how successful Martin will be as he moves from one fictional riff to another, playing fiction off history and history off fiction in one humorous, absurd, and serious tale after another.

Kirkus Reviews

The Ace of Lightning

Stephen-Paul Martin

The Ace of Lightning, by Stephen-Paul Martin (FC2, 2017)

2017

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-1-57366-058-7

eBook
ISBN 978-1-57366-869-9

Buy

Stephen-Paul Martin’s The Ace of Lightning is a series of interconnected stories focused on a turning point in Western history: the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria which triggered World War I, and the mysterious circumstances that led Gavrilo Princip to shoot and kill the heir apparent to one of Europe’s most powerful empires.

Far from being a conventional work of historical fiction, Martin’s collection asks readers to think about what truly constitutes history. What would the past look like if history was written under the influence of Mad Magazine and The Twilight Zone? What happens when the assassination in Sarajevo becomes “the assassination in Sarajevo,” when Gavrilo Princip becomes “Gavrilo Princip,” when the past and the present shape a textual future that looks suspiciously like a past that never was and a present that never is?

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History as fiction, fiction as history.… It’s fascinating to see how successful Martin will be as he moves from one fictional riff to another, playing fiction off history and history off fiction in one humorous, absurd, and serious tale after another. Some riffs are off-key but this is an ambitious and original effort well worth checking out.

Kirkus Reviews

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Stephen-Paul Martin is a longtime, masterful, postmodern storyteller, whose characters’ meditations often blend together with his narrators’ essay-like ruminations in unexpected, comic, recursive, explosive, and subtle ways. Delineating a sinister, deeply absurd world which has both annihilated the capacity for laughter and repeatedly, urgently demands it, The Ace of Lightning takes us inside historical necessity, where time is fluid and Martin’s comic imagination runs wonderfully rampant.

Mel Freilicher, author of The Encyclopedia of Rebels and The Unmaking of Americans: 7 Lives

Stephen-Paul Martin has, for many years, brilliantly wrestled with the problems posed by his own chosen material/experience. Entering his witty contemporary monologues, the reader unravels the great questions: does a person anticipate his or her own actions, as one word in a sentence anticipates the next? Or is an event an explosion of contingencies that arrive fully integrated?

Fanny Howe

The Possibility of Music

Stephen-Paul Martin

The Possibility of Music, by Stephen-Paul Martin (FC2, 2007)

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-1-57366-134-8
2007

eBook
ISBN 978-1-57366-801-9
2008

Buy

Wildly funny, Stephen-Paul Martin’s The Possibility of Music is an imaginative reconstruction of America in the early twenty-first century. What would our post-9/11 society look like if it were viewed through a series of funhouse mirrors? Each of Martin’s stories is a response to this question, a prose exploration that redefines what it means to write fiction in a world in which the Sistine Chapel has become the Mall of America. Nightmarish at times, playfully amusing at others, Martin’s prose is relentlessly inventive and challenging, relocating the experimental tradition of Joyce, Kafka, Borges, and Marquez in a contemporary context in which intelligent communication has become both impossible and increasingly necessary.

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Language, of course, was the only way I could tell myself what I knew. Yet once I told myself what I knew, I was trapped in a verbal reduction, a grammatical picture of something that was not the thing itself, something like the difference between a fishbowl and the sea.

These words, from a brilliant story called “A New Kind of Happiness,” pinpoint the very special quality of Stephen-Paul Martin’s fiction. On the one hand, there is, as Wittgenstein put it, nothing outside of language; on the other, even language, this author knows, is never enough. So, “between a fishbowl and the sea,” Martin spins his arresting tales, tales full of surprises and yet reassuringly “normal.” The Possibility of Music is a joy to read.

Marjorie Perloff

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Stephen-Paul Martin has, for many years, brilliantly wrestled with the problems posed by his own chosen material/experience. Entering his witty contemporary monologues, the reader unravels the great questions: does a person anticipate his or her own actions, as one word in a sentence anticipates the next? Or is an event an explosion of contingencies that arrive fully integrated? “I didn’t expect to become a composer,” he begins one story and this one statement articulates the magnificent and entertaining wrestling match he performs with time and act in each of his beautifully crafted stories.

Fanny Howe