Not Normal, Illinois

Not Normal, Illinois

Peculiar Fictions from the Flyover
Edited by Michael Martone
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/26/2009
Format: Paperback 21 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-21022-7
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Author Michael Martone is the national winner of the 2013 Indiana Authors Award

Do Midwesterners have a peculiar way of looking at the world? Is there something not quite right about the way they see things? For such a normal place, the heartland has produced some writers who take a most individual approach to storytelling. And the result—to the delight of readers everywhere—has been stories that reveal the mystery, joy, and enchantment in the most ordinary and incidental moments of life. These 33 exceptional tales showcase the peculiarly wonderful vision of some of the region’s best-known or soon-to-be-celebrated writers. Each invites its readers to see the world through different eyes and see it anew.

Author Bio

Michael Martone is Professor of English at the University of Alabama–Tuscaloosa. He is the author of seven works of fiction, including The Blue Guide to Indiana and Michael Martone; two collections of fiction, The Flatness and Other Landscapes and Unconventions: Attempting the Art of Craft and the Craft of Art; and an anthology, Double-wide (IUP, 2007); and editor of six volumes.


“The Midwest can be derided as being the middle of nowhere, but Not Normal, Illinois makes a stong case that it's actually in the middle of everywhere. The ordered grids of farm land you see as you gaze out the window of a plane flying over this vast, unpopulated region are a deception—look closer and you'll see immense literary talent sprouting from and feeding off this fertile loam.Spring 2010”

“Just as the Midwest, this vast, various, and unclassifiable place, is not nearly so conventional as it's reputed to be, the literature of the heartland has a long tradition of original, innovative writing that is flourishing today more than ever. ”
 — Porter Shreve, author of The Obituary Reader

“Google Earth notwithstanding, those of us who live in the Midwest know it is not really a flyover zone but another intriguing planet, and the writers in this volume understand that. They have developed new fictional forms for new life forms—their stories are surprising, funny, moving, challenging, and weird in equal measure. I plan to use this collection in the earthbound classroom and hereby nominate Michael Martone for intergalactic editor-in-chief.”
 — Valerie Sayers, Brain Fever, 1996

“As a Midwestern-born-and-reared writer myself, I have always wondered where the New Stories from the Midwest and its ilk are. Michael Martone’s wonderful anthology, Not Normal, Illinois, explains this void in a way I’ve always instinctively suspected: rather than being too bland, we Midwesterners are too profoundly and intimidatingly whack. This is a funny, scary, challenging, sublime book. The Gothic South ain’t got nothin’ on us.”
 — Robert Olen Butler, Intercourse: Stories, 2008

“Michael Martone succeeds in corralling a wonderful array of tales, one that would make all Midwest folk, snapping the straps on their overalls and sniffing the apple pie on the ledge, right proud.May/June 2010, Vol. 31, No. 4”
 — American Book Review

“Thirty-three exceptional tales about the mystery, joy, and enchantment of the most ordinary and incidental moments of Midwestern life showcase the peculiarly wonderful vision of some of the region’s best-known or soon to be celebrated writers.”

“Not Normal, Illinois is a fine and strongly recommended read for any who want a sampling of mid-western philosophy.December 2009”
 — Library Bookwatch

“Here's a real carousel of a collection, stories that rotate, more or less, around the midwest of most of their settings, though "settings" would imply fiction of a more traditional sort and these outings are bright and flashy constructions, conceptual and timely to a fault, but full of fun and pathos, erudition and outrage, 33 whirling rides, all exciting and illuminating, by a number of familiar practitioners, such as Rikki Ducornet, Robert Coover, George Saunders, and some newer kids on the block, like Lily Hoang, Erin Pringle, Michael Wilkerson. The amusement continues in the contributors' notes -- all brought together by that most accomplished of literary midway barkers, Michael Martone. Climb aboard! You won't regret it.”
 — William O'Rourke, Notts and Criminal Tendencies

“This anthology is an unusually insightful one and serves an important purpose in the context of American fiction writing.”
 — R. M. Berry, Florida State University

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Table of Contents

Introduction: In the Middle of the Middle of Middletown
Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake... A Memoir, by Max Apple
Childhood; Detroit; Michigan, by Joel Brouwer
Beginnings, by Robert Coover
Some Notes on the Cold War in Kansas, by Robert Day
The One Marvelous Thing, by Rikki Ducornet
Visions of Budhardin, by Stuart Dybek
River Dead of Minneapolis, by Mark Ehling
Fuck With Kayla And You Die, by Louise Erdrich
All You Can Eat, by Robin Hemley
13 Remotely Related to South Bend, by Lily Hoang
Happy Film, by Laird Hunt
Long Walk, by Sandy Huss
Round, by Lily James
Anton's Album, by Janet Kauffman
A History of Indiana, by Jesse Lee Kercheval
Still Life with Insects, by Brian Kitely
Mobile Axis: A Triptych, by Clarence Major
The Digitally Enhanced Image of Cary Grant Appearing in a Cornfield in Indiana, by Michael Martone
Talking to my Old Science Teacher about Drawings in which I Killed Him, by Brian McMullen
A Harvest, by Glenn Meeter
Other Electricities, by Ander Monson
The Mausoleum, by Susan S. Neville
Submarine Warfare on the Upper Mississippi, by Lon Otto
Wednesday Night Reflections, Edited Thursday, by Erin Pringle
The Great War, by Josh Russell
July Snow, by Scott Russell Sanders
The Red Bow, by George Saunders
Medieval Land, by Steve Tomasula
Natural Citizens, by Deb Olin Unferth
Session, XX, by Kellie Wells
Metaphysics of the Midwest, by Curtis White
Luna Moth, by Michael Wilkerson
Baby; Pornography, by Dianne Williams

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