Martin, Eric B. 1969-
Martin, Eric B. 1969-
Born 1969, in Portland, ME; son of Joel (an attorney) and Joyce (a professor) Martin; married Meredith McMonigle (a teacher). Education: Graduated from Duke University; University of Texas, master's degree.
Novelist and educator.
San Francisco Writers' Grotto.
Fulbright fellow; James A. Michener fellow; American Short Fiction fellow; Northern California Book Award finalist for Winners.
(Editor) The Campfire Collection: Spine-Tingling Tales to Tell in the Dark, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.
Luck, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2000.
Winners, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
The Virgin's Guide to Mexico, MacAdam Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2007.
Eric B. Martin is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels. "Maine in the winter, where I grew up, was all about books," he told Curled Up with a Good Book interviewer Luan Gaines. "Reading and reading and reading and eventually you want to get in the game yourself. I wrote as a kid, I wrote as a teenager, I wrote as a young adult. I loved novels. Short stories and poetry and journalism never really interested me much. So the novel was what I wanted to write."
Luck, Martin's debut title, is inspired by the author's own experiences working on a tobacco farm in North Carolina while attending Duke University. The novel concerns twenty-one-year-old college student Mike Olive, the son of a wealthy tobacco farmer, who returns to his hometown of Cottesville, North Carolina, to document the living and working conditions of migrant laborers. Tensions rise when Mike falls in love with Hermelinda Salmeron, the teenage daughter of a worker, and learns of abuses at a plantation owned by the family of his childhood friend. According to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, Martin "deftly chronicles the plight of the Mexican migrants and illuminates the barriers that thwart understanding between Southern landowners and workers." In the San Francisco Chronicle, Ken Foster stated that Martin "does an expert job of leading his readers through the complicated physical and political geography of the North Carolina tobacco industry," adding that the author "establishes the particulars of his story—and the gentle threads that bind it together—so quickly and simply that readers will believe they are in the hands of a natural storyteller."
Set in 1999, Winners follows San Francisco chimney sweep Shane McCarthy, an aging basketball player whose fortune-seeking wife, Lou, attempts to cash in on the dot-com frenzy that grips the city. When one of Shane's fellow hoopsters, a young man named Sam, mysteriously disappears, Shane traces him to the Potrero Hill projects, where he forms an uneasy relationship with Debra, Sam's mother. Martin contrasts "the flashy, glitzy dot-com world of mostly white winners with the gritty reality of black losers in the projects, who were virtually untouched by the boom," observed San Francisco Chronicle reviewer David Moisl. "Winners is as much a historical portrait of an almost surreal moment in time as it is the story of one man's journey between two mutually exclusive worlds." According to Gaines, the novel "is vivid and engrossing, the protagonist a modern-day Everyman with heart and a conscience in a greedy, greedy world." "Expertly written, just the right blend of existential mystery with hoop dreams, and plenty of middle-aged angst to spare," noted a critic in Kirkus Reviews.
The Virgin's Guide to Mexico centers on Alma Price, a studious but troubled seventeen-year-old who flees her affluent Texas family to discover her roots in Mexico. Disguising herself as a boy, Alma boards a bus for Mexico City, while her father, Truitt, and mother, Hermelinda, hire a detective to help track her down. "Alma's and Hermelinda's narratives create a neat structure, a map with two different routes: the first drawing the second, the second chasing the first," observed Bookslut Web site contributor Jill Meyers. "Alma becomes the pursuer of family being pursued by family." "Part bildungs-road novel, part family saga and part identity lit, Martin's third novel is all heart," a Publishers Weekly critic remarked.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 1, 2000, review of Luck.
Austin Chronicle, June 22, 2007, Dan Oko, review of The Virgin's Guide to Mexico.
Boston Herald, August 6, 2000, review of Luck.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004, review of Winners, p. 1109.
Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Susanne Wells, review of Winners, p. 101.
Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME), October 1, 2000, "Trying His Luck."
Publishers Weekly, June 26, 2000, review of Luck; November 8, 2004, review of Winners, p. 32; March 19, 2007, review of The Virgin's Guide to Mexico, p. 40.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 2000, Ken Foster, "Worlds Collide in a North Carolina Tobacco Town," review of Luck; March 6, 2005, David Moisl, "As Dot-coms Engorge S.F., a Man Vanishes," review of Winners.
Texas Monthly, May, 2007, Mike Shea, review of The Virgin's Guide to Mexico, p. 60.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (August 7, 2007), Jill Meyers, review of The Virgin's Guide to Mexico.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (July 15, 2007), Luan Gaines, "An Interview with Eric Martin," and review of Winners.
Eric B. Martin Home Page,http://www.ericbmartin.com (July 15, 2007).
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (August 23, 2000), review of Luck.
SF Station,http://www.sfstation.com/ (April 27, 2007), Lisa Ryers, review of The Virgin's Guide to Mexico.