In the Garden of North American Martyrs

This month I participated in the The Faith and Fiction Round Table, organized by My Friend Amy, in a discussion of Tobias Wolff’s collection of short stories, In the Garden of North American Martyrs. We discussed the book by e-mail over the course of a week, and Amy has split up the conversation for the different participants to post on their blogs. Below is my part of the discussion. Be sure to check out the other links at the end of the post for the rest of the conversation.

Amy: I’m interested in what all of you think about choosing In the Garden of the North American Martyrs as the title for the collection. Do you think it works as a title to pull together this best of collection, and do you find that story to center or anchor the other stories or do you think it’s just the most appealing title from a marketing angle?

Pete: I think it’s a very fitting title for the collection. Most of the stories deal with someone struggling against something, often themselves, and losing.

Simon: In fact, the title story ‘In the Garden of the North American Martyrs’ was one of the ones which left me cold – I enjoyed the build up, but the climax where Mary went a bit crazy and macabre felt forced and didn’t work for me. I couldn’t really work out why he chose this as the title story, or even why the title was chosen for that particular story.
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Movie review: Jeff Bridges’ “Crazy Heart”

My review of the great new Jeff Bridges film, Crazy Heart, which I wrote with a friend shortly after I saw the movie last month, was just posted on the Rabbit Room blog. Here are a couple excerpts:

I’d have to say, though, there was one thing I liked above everything else about the film, and that’s what I want to spend more time talking about here: the glimpse Crazy Heart gives us into the world of music superstars, both at the height of their career and when they’re down on their luck. Working as an arranger and music copyist in the Nashville music industry, I get occasional glimpses into that world. Watching Bad Blake play for a packed house at a corner bar, seeing how he related to the crowd and how he performed, I thought of the time I was in the studio with legendary rock singer Bob Seger.


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